The sweet, simple charm bracelet has become a popular gift for people of all ages, from small children to elderly grandmothers. One of the reasons behind the longevity of these bracelets is that they are not cookie-cutter designs; each charm is added because of a personal significance to the wearer, often because the charms were given to them by a loved one to commemorate a special event. If you have ever received this type of jewelry or would like to give a piece of charm jewelry to someone you care about, read on for a quick overview of the roots from which this modern-day tradition stems.
The idea of adorning yourself with protective jewelry—also known as amulets—can be traced back to ancient Egypt, around 3000 B.C.E. The tradition continued over time; there is evidence that the Assyrians, Persians, and Babylonians also used charms and protective jewelry in 500 B.C. E. The amulets began with simple chains made of gold or silver, to which the wearer would gradually add small hanging trinkets. These additions would be based on significant moments in the wearer’s life, or would have some other personal meaning.
Continuation Into the Modern Day
The tradition of charm jewelry continued into the modern day, gaining popularity in 19th century England. This trend was boosted by Queen Victoria when she wore lockets with images of family members, strung on a gold chain around her neck. At this time, charm bracelets began to take on a new meaning, as they transitioned from amulets to more casual, decorative jewelry that bore customizable trinkets that were personally significant to the wearer.
Popularity in the United States
The age-old tradition of charm bracelets found footing in the United States in the 1940s. This began as a result of the travels of American soldiers through Asian and European cities. While going through these areas, soldiers would find small charms that they would collect to give as gifts to wives, girlfriends, and female family members back home. After women began to string these trinkets on bracelets, U.S. jewelers began producing charm jewelry.
Although suffering a small dip in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, charm bracelets have enjoyed a significant comeback. While some people now collect them as vintage items in honor of their place in American history, charm bracelets are also now coming into their own right as fashion items. In fact, they have even been incorporated into jewelry lines created by high-fashion luxury brands. It seems that the simple charm bracelet, having enjoyed a long and storied history, is still going strong.