Today when we think of charm bracelets, the first things that probably come to mind are the modular products of contemporary Italian companies like Zoppini and Unodomani. But charms and charm bracelets have a rightful place in the pantheon of fine jewelry, and there’s no better place to begin than Victorian England.
Queen Victoria wore charm bracelets during her reign, making them a popular fashion accessory among noble Europeans. Sterling silver hearts—some set with precious or semi-precious stones, some puffed up in a style called répoussé—were as popular then as they are now. Hearts with beaded edges were frequently adorned with symbols of love (Cupid’s bow and arrow) or good fortune (shamrocks). Usually one of the hearts on a bracelet would open with a key so the piece could be removed from the wearer’s wrist.
Though not charms in the strict sense, teeth and claws were also favorite Victorian adornments for bracelets. Another practice was to use a bracelet as the armature for a collect...
One of the most highly collectible types of Victorian charms is the mechanical charm. The word "mechanical" refers to any charm with a moving part, such as the legs of Can-Can dancer that kick when you push a lever, or the limbs of a jester that bend when a little chain is pulled.
At the end of the 19th century, charms of all sorts were offered to give wearers a chance to express their personalities. Ride a bicycle? There’s a bicycle charm for you. Into horses? Pick up a gold horse head with a swinging chain below it. And, of course, there were lots of lockets, into which you could put a treasured photograph or some other secret keepsake.
By the 1930s, charms and charm bracelets reflected the Art Deco design sensibility that was in the air. One stunning example that sold recently at Christie’s featured a platinum bracelet studded with diamonds, from which dangled 11 members of a gem-studded band—the straight sides of each cut stone gave the little horn players, guitarist, and other musicians an angular, ’30s look.
Some of the most collectible charms from this period are those created for fraternal organizations such as the Masons, Odd Fellows, and Elks. The Elk charms were perhaps the most interesting in that they often featured real walrus or deer teeth. Another material that you wouldn’t see used today is ivory, which was, ironically, routinely carved into the likeness of elephants.
Less controversial today are the vintage charms made out of plastics such as Bakelite and celluloid. Charms for the latter were shaped into animals (cats, alligators, monkeys, to name but a few), devils and skulls, and mythical creatures (the winged horses are especially nice). There were even charms in the shape of comic-book characters of the day, such as Orphan Annie and Moon Mullins.
One of the many companies that bounced back and forth between fine and costume jewelry was Walter Lampl. Based in New York, the firm was one of the leading producers of charms through the 1950s, when it boasted more than 750 different styles of charms in one of its catalogs.
Lampl charms were made of gold or silver and were often embellished with pearls, rubies and other stones. Lampl heart charms featured enameling and machine-made, guilloche backgrounds, while its mechanical charms were some of the most inventive around. For collectors, Lampl charms are relatively easy to identify because they are one of the few charms with a maker's mark (look for "WL" in a shield).
Indeed, the 1950s was a terrific decade for charms—if you are considering putting together a vintage charm bracelet, you might want to focus on items from that era. Lampl made 14-karat gold charms for the Marchal Company, which sold everything from charms for new moms (storks, strollers, shoes, high chairs, etc.) to charms for high-school students (report cards, school bells, pencil sharpeners, diplomas, and the like). And if that sounds too domestic, choose charms relating to nightlife, such as a lamppost holding up a drunk, an ashtray with a stubbed out cigarette, and a barrel labeled "For Emergency Only" that was designed to hold a couple of aspirin to soften the blow of the inevitable next-day hangover.
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Recent News: Charms and Charm Bracelets
Source: Google News
NEW: Red Sox Legend Jim Rice at Alex + Ani Charity Event TonightGoLocalProv, May 23rd
The company has a special Jimmy Fund Charm Bracelet that also celebrates and supports the partnership between the two Boston institutions. To see the bracelet online, go here. Charmed by Charity featuring Jim Rice and Red Sox Wives, Thursday, May 23,...Read more
Fantastic Under £50 Diamond Event Coming Soon at The Jewellery ChannelPR Web (press release), May 23rd
Not forgetting bracelets, customers will be delighted with the gorgeous yet affordable choices, such as an eye-catching charm bracelet with a single white diamond on each of the beautifully crafted charms for only £28.99, plus an elegant yet...Read more
Police Blotter: Boyfriend Burglarizes Woman's Home for $6K in Laptops, Gold ...Patch.com, May 22nd
The crook got away with a Sony laptop, two MacBook Pro laptops, Dell laptop, Nintendo Wii, five gold rings, two silver pendants, two gold and silver chains, a gold charm bracelet and two gold diamond studs. Motorcycle Stolen from 15th Street A thief...Read more
Goons punch straphanger for iPhoneBrooklyn Daily, May 21st
When the woman returned about five hours later, she noticed her three laptops, Nintendo Wii game console, five gold rings, two silver pendants, a pair of gold diamond studded earrings, and a gold charm bracelet, was missing. There was no sign of forced...Read more
PANDORA Introduces Dazzling Openwork Pave and Sparkling Stone CharmsThe Herald | HeraldOnline.com, May 21st
The strength of the PANDORA charm bracelet is the detailed design, the high quality and the unique threaded bracelet system (U.S. Pat. No. 7,007,507). The affordable luxury collections include customizable charm bracelets, rings, earrings, necklaces...Read more
Style Scene: Get your skin ready for summerTulsa World, May 21st
The limited-edition sterling silver keepsake is created exclusively for Dillon, can be attached to a charm bracelet or used as a pendant and features a snake with the words Year of the Snake. You were born in the Year of the Snake if were born in 2013...Read more
Sign ups open for June 8 fun run to benefit the Roundhouse AquariumBeach Reporter, May 20th
Among the prizes are: gift baskets, a body board, dinners, fitness club membership, a child's party, a charm bracelet, and high-value gift certificates from numerous merchants. Following the race, there will be a raffle with more prizes. Raffle tickets...Read more
Silvertone "Keys To My Heart" Marcasite Charm Bracelet is the Perfect Gift for ...PR Web (press release), April 30th
Our new Silvertone "Keys To My Heart" Marcasite Charm Bracelet is the perfect gift for Mothers Day. Each charm is decorated on both sides with incredible detailing, resembling filigree, with each clear crystal sparkling like a diamond. Its a stunning...Read more