Fashion & Style

What to put on a charm necklace

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Charms can be engraved for a personal touch
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Deciding what to put on a charm necklace can be a fun and symbolic journey

The wearing of charms dates back to ancient times, when tribal people wore shells, stones, and small bits of wood as a means to ward off evil spirits. The popularity of our current version of charm necklaces and bracelets, however, was most likely inspired by Queen Victoria in the 1800s whose love of the fanciful adornments started a fashion trend with the European upper class. Our love for dangling trinkets and symbols from our necks, wrists, and ankles has endured ever since.

Charm necklaces can be whimsical or deeply symbolic. Charms come in nearly every possible shape and symbol, and can be made of any kind of material, from the finest 24 carat gold to plastic and carved wood. They make wonderful gifts for literally any occasion, as the possibilities of personalizing are endless.

For the Professional or Hobbyist

This is a great way to give a unique gift to the professional or hobbyist who has it all. For a teacher, look for charms of tiny books, rulers, and apples. A doctor or nurse would appreciate a chain bedecked in the symbol of the Red Cross, perhaps a stethoscope or lab coat, and the Greek medical symbol, the caduceus (the staff with the intertwined snakes). You might even find one inscribed with the medical professional’s adage, “First do no harm.”

For the sports enthusiast, you can find shrunken replicas of balls and equipment of every kind along with miniature team jerseys and other gear. A nature photographer would appreciate tiny cameras, soaring birds, and trees. If the recipient is a musician, there are any number of musical instruments you can find, along with treble clefs and musical notes.

Bookworms are especially fun charm recipients. Depending on their taste, they might like a necklace showing off not only tiny books, but also interesting symbols from their favorite stories, chosen genres, or relating to their favorite authors. Think ravens and pendulums for Edgar Allen Poe fans; striped cats, hourglasses, and teapots for those who adore Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; and magnifying glasses, pipes, and a blue carbuncle for Sherlock Holmes aficionados.

For the Occasion

Charms are wonderful ways to commemorate life’s special occasions. For a graduate, think graduation cap, a scroll (to symbolize their diploma), and perhaps a pendant engraved with their graduation year. A perfect Mother’s Day gift would feature charms symbolizing each of her children, etched with their names and dates of birth, or even showcasing each child’s birthstone.

There are trinkets for all of the major holidays—Christmas trees, Menorahs for Hanukkah, and jack-o-lanterns for Halloween. A new birth can be memorialized with tiny cribs, the newborn’s zodiac sign, and the baby’s date and time of birth. You can even put together a memorial charm necklace to commemorate the passing of a loved one, filled with things to symbolize all of that person’s favorite things, from particular hobbies they might have had to favorite flowers to simple icons like hearts to indicate the love you feel for them.

For the Journey

The wonderful thing about charm necklaces is that they can be added to over the course of time. Whether starting a chain for the beginning of a literal journey—a vacation, for example, or a backpacking trip across Europe—or to commemorate life’s journey, you can find add a little something to symbolize each stop along the way.

A travel chain is interesting in that you seek out trinkets specific to each location on your trip, things which carry a deep connection to each place you visit. This type of collection is one that can even become a family heirloom, passed along to your children or other family members.

A life journey chain is one that is deeply personal, and can be started at any phase of life. This is one you add to as time goes on, at certain notable moments. You might add a charm when you get married, when you have a child, when you accomplish a major life goal (like climbing Mt. Everest, getting your diploma, or earning your businesses’ first dollar), or when you experience a particularly painful loss. It is a way to document your life in visual, symbolic form. This type of chain is a commitment, like a wearable scrap book. And it is one which you will cherish forever.

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