When did charm bracelets become popular?

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Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria is credited with putting charm bracelets on the map
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They have had a long shelf life, but when did charm bracelets become popular?

Men and women have been donning jewelry since the beginning of time. Originally, charm bracelets were associated with magic, protection and mystery. But exactly when did charm bracelets become popular? Although they don't look exactly like the charm bracelets that we know today, a 30,000 year old charm bracelet was discovered in Germany, which is proof that charm bracelets have had a long shelf life. The charms on this bracelet were intricately carved out of mammoth tusks.

A charm is a decorative pendant that hangs from a bracelet. It can be anything -- but ideally the charm should mean something specific and important to you. It’s like wearing a memory on your wrist.

Charm bracelets have always been popular, although their popularity has waned at times as is the case with all fashion trends. Currently, traditional charm bracelets, which are a link style bracelet with small silver or gold charms attached, are very much in demand, just as they were thousands of years ago.  Also popular are Italian charm bracelets, which are small icons that link to one another to create a bracelet.

During the Neolithic era, men carried “charms” or pieces of wood or stone to ward off enemies. During the age of Egyptian Pharaohs elaborate jewelry that was made of metals and stones was worn.

In Egypt, charm bracelets were an integral part of preparing for one’s death and the desire for a prosperous life after death. The charms were considered protective devices as well as status symbols and were identification tags so that God could guide the newly departed, as well as his possessions, to the appropriate status level in the afterlife.

The ichthys or fish charm was worn underneath the garments of Christians during the Roman Empire, which they would reveal to identify themselves to other Christians so that they could access worship activities that had been forbidden by the government and which were held in secret. Jewish scholars would slip written passages from Jewish law into small golden amulets that were worn around their necks.

Charm bracelets were in vogue during the Middle Ages when knights wore them to announce their rank and family origin. The charms worn by knights in the Middle Ages were used to protect themselves in battle and to create havoc for their enemies. Incantations were said in conjunction with wearing the charm.

In Africa, charms were made from shells. The weapons belonging to African warriors were wrapped in charms, which told how many “kills” had occurred. The charms signified the warrior’s strength.

Queen Victoria loved charmed bracelets and is credited with giving them the decorative style that they still have today. Prior to Queen Victoria, charms were generally worn to ward off evil. She made it acceptable to wear them for fashion reasons. Queen Victoria was quite the romantic. When she was apart from Prince Albert, she would wear her charm bracelet. Some of the charms contained locks of Albert’s hair.

When soldiers came back from overseas after World War II, many brought charms from foreign countries to their loved ones. As a consequence, charm bracelets were in vogue during the 1950s and were the number one gift that females asked for.

There is no gift that is more personal, precious and, of course, charming, than a charm bracelet. Today’s charm bracelets are positively gorgeous. Sterling, gold and elaborate enameled charms are easy to find. Italian charm bracelets are highly collectible. They are a new take on the old version of a charm bracelet.

One of the most appealing aspects of a charm bracelet is that you can add or remove charms. If you decide you no longer like a particular charm, remove it and replace it with something else.  It’s like having several bracelets in one. You can change the look, the style and the color theme depending on the charms that you choose.

When your new baby is born or a grandchild arrives on the scene get a charm that is representative of this new life.  Wearing a family-themed charm bracelet is comparable to wearing a family tree with all the momentous occasions of your life right there for you to see on your wrist, or as some refer to charm bracelets, “history on your wrist.”

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