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 collection of jingling, sterling silver coins.
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...
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
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Several car owners have been left shaken and short of transport after a series of burglaries. Two cars were stolen in the early hours of this morning in Ware, as well as the keys to a third vehicle and two more attempted burglaries where the offenders...Read more
Mother who suffered stillbirth starts new not-for-profitKokomo Tribune, September 26th
She wore that hospital band until her mother gave her a charm bracelet honoring Hudson that could replace it. When Howell's original due date neared, she started making a list of things she could do to make that day easier. She kept coming back to one...Read more
Dublin's 55th Theater Festival, Fabergé's Charm Bracelet and MoreWall Street Journal, September 25th
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Brighton's Power of Pink Campaign Marks a Dozen Years of Making a Difference ...PR Newswire (press release), September 25th
Additionally, the company is delighted to offer its first customizable charm bracelet for the Power of Pink. The Coachella leather bracelet allows customers to create a one-of-a-kind gift for a loved one by adding beautiful Brighton charms and beads...Read more
Arcade's Main and More event Oct. 2The Daily News Online, September 25th
New for this year is the ability for visitors to buy a unique 'Arcade Main & More' souvenir charm bracelet. For $10 people will get a base bracelet and the first charm. Then, as you visit businesses throughout the event, you can continue to collect the...Read more
9 Investigates: Parents of fatally beaten college student file civil lawsuitWFTV Orlando, September 24th
He was a Florida State University student and former athlete at Doctor Phillips High School. Taylor said she carries his ashes in a charm bracelet, saying "He's with me every day." Trent and his college roommate were home for Easter weekend in April...Read more
Antioch 11-year-old, mother lead fight against juvenile diabetesLake County News Sun, September 23rd
Dante and Tiffany Brooks hug their 11-year-old son Ayden as they greet people at a fundraising event on Friday, Sept. 19, to benefit the Walk to Cure Diabetes in Libertyville on Oct. 5. | Yadira Sanchez Olson/Sun-Times Media. Eleven-year-old Ayden...Read more
'Charm' us: Let us hear your Pandora storyNew Jersey 101.5 FM Radio, September 9th
Pandora 'Charm Us' Contest Form. We want to hear your best Pandora charm story. Let us hear the special story behind your charm bracelet or let us hear why you've always wanted one! Name*. First Last. Phone*. Town*. Email*. Tell us your Pandora charm ...Read more