Posted on September 25, 2015 by Mary Hood | 1 Comment
The delightfully feminine jingle of a charm bracelet is only one of its endearing features. Charm bracelets come from an ancient jewelry tradition of wearing special tokens to ward off evil and bring luck. Ancient charms were made with shells, animal bones, gems, rocks, wood, and clay. For example in what is now Africa, 75,000-year-old shell charms were found. Meanwhile, in what is now Germany, charms of mammoth bone dating back 30,000 years were discovered. Ancient Egyptians used charms as symbols to show identity to the gods upon entering the afterlife.
The practice of wearing protective amulets helped ancient Romans stay close to their religious faiths. During the Roman Empire, Christians wore the fish symbol hidden in their clothing while Jewish scholars would tuck small, written passages of Jewish law into amulets worn around their necks.
Queen Victoria (reigning during 1837-1901) popularized charm bracelets as a fashion statement among the noble classes. She is also credited with starting the mourning charm trend, in which a lock of hair of the deceased is carried around in a locket charm, an image of the deceased is mounted on a charm, or a charm or bracelet is carved from black material (usually jet). Accompanied by the Industrial Age, when, for the first time, charms could be produced in large quintiles, the Victorian Period launched charm bracelets as we, more or less, know them today.
The 1920s witnessed glamorous additions to charm bracelets as platinum, diamonds, and other gems were incorporated into many bracelet designs. The charm bracelet trend evolved once again when soldiers returning from WWII brought their sweethearts charms from European cities where they were stationed.
Screen stars Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Crawford could be seen sporting beautiful charm bracelets in some of their popular films, further fueling the trend. Consequently, charm bracelets saw a another boom in popularity in the 1950s. After a period of decreased popularity, the charm bracelet trend resurfaced in the 2000s in the form of customizable Italian charm bracelets.
In contemporary use, charm bracelets may mark milestones in the wearer’s life (like the birth of a child), personal and aesthetic interests, and/or social groups (like sorority letters).