The History of the Charm Bracelet
A Long Time Ago…
Charms have a history dating back to the Neolithic era. Humans would pick up pieces of bone, wood, or stone to ward off enemies, wearing the charms. In the Bronze age, charms were talismans with magical properties of protection and love. During the time of Egyptians, jewelry featuring charms was made of stones and metal. These creations are the first charm bracelets.
Charm Like An Egyptian…
Life expectancy in Egypt was shorter, and individuals only lived 30 to 35 years on average. Importance was placed on having wealth in the afterlife; therefore charms were used for protection after death. While living, charms indicated wealth, enhance fertility, and warded off spirits. Egyptians believed the Gods would greet them warmly into the afterlife if they had elaborate jewelry.
Doing as Romans Do…
One of the most common charms was the ichthys during Roman times. This charm was worn secretly and shown only to identify the wearer as a Christian to other Christians. Jews would also wear charms that held slips of paper with passages of Judaic law.
When Knights Were Bold…
In the “Dark Ages,” knights and royalty used charms and amulets. These charms indicated a knight’s family name, profession and politics. Charms could be used to protect a home, family and an individual.
The “Age of Enlightenment” during the Renaissance brought more emphasis on science. Those who were less educated still wore charms, though they made the wearer seem superstitious. The Industrial Revolution would help popularize charms because they could be made in mass quantities. Now commoners could wear jewelry styles previously worn by the elite.
HRC (Her Royal Charms)…
Queen Victoria was particularly fond of wearing charms that held hair or a photograph. The Queen had charms made as gifts, and her citizens were eager to follow their leader’s style. Charms became more ornate and decorative during the beginning of the 20th century.
For the Greatest Generation…
World War II saw charm jewelry rise in popularity, thanks to soldiers, who would bring trinkets home to their girlfriends and wives. These charms often featured small replicas of local landmarks. Jewelers noticed the trend and began creating charms of all types.
Chewy and Fun — Gumball Charms…
The 1940’s brought charms in gumball machines, foods and candies. Children would collect these prizes to wear them on bracelets, necklaces and chains. Popular characters were immortalized in charms, with Mickey Mouse, Little Orphan Annie, and Betty Boop available in charm form. Charm themes included animals, sports, pets and more, making them must-haves for both boys and girls.
The Charm Grows Up…
Charm bracelets were prized accessories for girls and women by the 1950’s. Many occasions and activities were represented on the links of bracelets. Girls might receive charms for their Sweet 16, graduation, or birthday. Vintage bracelets are highly prized by collectors today and can fetch thousands at auction.
The charm bracelet wasn’t popular in the 1970s, thanks to disco and gold chains. However, the 1980’s was a resurgence of charm bracelets. Teen girls collected plastic charms of telephones, favorite animals, hearts, more. Antique charm bracelets were also being bought by buyers who loved their appeal at estate sales.
Collecting Becomes Charming…
The 1990’s brought a demand for vintage charms and bracelets. Charms from the 1950’s now fetched nearly $100. eBay meant collectors could find bracelets and charms from all over the world. Even today the prices of vintage gold charms remain steady.
Charm bracelets are still popular. Other versions may be found in trendy boutiques. Indeed the fashion industry has crowned them as “hot” once again.
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