Charm bracelets have been around for thousands of years, but the trend for wearing them has changed and developed dramatically during this time.
For instance, one of the most iconic images of a charm bracelet is that of bored jeweller Tiffany and Co, who introduced their first charm bracelet in 1889. This was a silver link bracelet with just one charm, a dangling heart. This heart charm has since gone on to become something of a trademark for Tiffany's.
Charm bracelets and the wearing of charms dates back as far as 600 BC with materials such as clay and bone being used. It is also thought that back then charms were worn as a sort of talisman to represent good luck and fight off evil spirits.
The meaning and functionality of charm bracelets has also changed with time. In wartime, soldiers would bring home charms as a form of trinket for their loved ones, something made by a local craftsman that could be kept and worn as a memento of the place in which the soldier saw action. The 1950s saw these bracelets popularized by children, who would collect charms to represent different events and special occasions that occurred as they were growing up.
However, the latest incarnation of charm bracelets have been largely created in Europe, particularly Denmark where the brand Trollbeads led the resurgence during the seventies. These charm bracelets were of a modular design, meaning that charms were built to fit a particular threaded system employed by that make. For example, Pandora, another Danish jeweller and currently the market leader with over 900 different types of charms, uses a patented system which means their charms will not fit on other bracelets. These systems also ensure that charms fit securely onto their intended bracelet, where they can be added and removed with ease.
In addition, many charm companies include optional spacers or clips, which are a form of smaller charm that remain in a fixed position on the bracelet as a way of sectioning off charms and stopping them from sliding around the bracelet. Other brands that use threading systems in their bracelet design include Lovelinks by Aagaard, Chamilia and Links of London.
Since Europe leads the charge when it comes to manufacturing these charm systems, they also proved to be hugely popular in North America. The main draw of these more modern charm systems is the versatility they offer. Bracelets are still available as chain links, and these can take a limited number of dangling charms. However, more common are the solid bracelets which charms can be twisted onto. The bracelets are typically available in polished silver, oxidised silver, gold and sometimes leather.
Likewise the charms are crafted from a number of different materials and this, along with their design can affect the price veryly. Usually charms, or beads as they are sometimes referred to, are made from sterling silver, but are also available with enamel detail, semi-precious stones and gemstones, 14k gold and even wood.