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From the Dawn of Man to Alex and Ani, Charm Jewelry is Still Loved

Posted on April 29 2020

Gold charm bracelet
From prehistoric times to Tiffany to Pandora to Alex & Ani, Charm bracelets have an appeal that never seems to fade. Charms have been around practically since the dawn of mankind. There is actually archaeological evidence that charms were worn as long ago as 600 to 400 BC. The charms that have been unearthed from prehistoric times were most often talismans or amulets worn to keep evil spirits away, to bring the wearer good fortune, or to make the spirits happy. The earliest charms were fashioned from animal bone, wood, or stone or whatever people could get their hands on; sometimes gemstones were used if they were available. Ancient charms have been discovered in Africa, Europe, and other parts of the world. Many time these charms were not worn on bracelets but worn as necklaces or carried within the wearer's clothing. 

It's very interesting that early Christians often wore charms carved into the shape of fish, often hidden in their clothing, to identify them as Christians to other Christians during the time of the Roman Empire. During the Middle Ages, people wore charms to identify their family origin or to indicate their alliance to a specific ruler, political party, or religion. In medieval times, knights wore charms under their armor in the form of amulets to keep them safe in battle.

Some years later, in the later part of the 1800's, Queen Victoria created a charm bracelet fashion craze across Europe. She loved her jewelry and brought the charm bracelet into fashion, especially among the wealthy class of Europe. Queen Victoria enjoyed wearing her charm bracelets and giving others gifts of personalized charm bracelets. People wanted to be just like the queen with their jingling charm bracelets and showing off their wealth. 

In the earlier part of the 1900's charm bracelets were still growing in popularity.  Even though the Great Depression was a time of great difficulty and a lack of money for most Americans, people still enjoyed inexpensive keepsakes. Women wore bracelets and necklaces with charms made from scraps of broken jewelry, hand-carved trinkets, or even little items they found. The affluent people of the 1920s and 1930s enjoyed wearing charm bracelets made of gold and platinum and set with diamonds and other gemstones. 
During World War II, the appeal of charm bracelets continued and even ramped up a notch. Soldiers often purchased charms and small pendants to mail or bring home to their girlfriends who were waiting for their loved ones. The charms quite often represented where the soldiers were stationed, so they had sentimental value as well. There was a huge spike in popularity of charm bracelets in the United States during these years and continued into the 1950's and 1960's. Girls and women loved their charm bracelets; popular movie stars, such as Joan Crawford and Elizabeth Taylor, often wore charm bracelets, adding fuel to the trend.

Next, in the early 2000's came a phenomenal craze that I would have to say, almost no woman in the USA could fully escape (and I was at the front of the line) ...Drumroll...PANDORA! Of course, there were many similar brands like Troll but the name Pandora was synonymous with the beaded style of charm bracelets that practically everyone was wearing! Pandora, a Danish company, started selling their signature beaded charm bracelets in the early 2000s. That style of charm bracelet reached a peak of popularity around 2010 but still continues to be sold and worn.

Lastly, after the Pandora craze came another jewelry tidal wave called Alex and Ani. The New Age jewelry line catapulted to stardom a few years back and is still going pretty strong. These bracelets are very reasonably priced, lightweight wire bangles (very appealing at the time because one of the problems with Pandora bracelets was that they could be quite heavy and expensive) These New Age bracelets are supposed to be infused with Positive Energy, giving the wearer, among other things, divine direction, supernatural protection, and enlightenment. I actually started the B.BéNI Jewelry line, which at first was mainly charm bangles, because I wanted to offer women of faith, who were uncomfortable with New Age jewelry, a Christian or faith-based alternative. 

It seems that charms and charm bracelets are here to stay. They have been with us forever in one form or another. I absolutely love charms on bracelets and necklaces as well. Who knows what the next big trend or craze in the world of charms will be? I sure wish I did! Enjoy your charms ladies, I know I love mine. Happy jingling! 
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