Vintage charm bracelets are quirky, kitchy fun; there is something innately “charming” about them.
First, they announce their presence by the jingle that happens when the wearer moves her wrist.
Second, they invite conversation. To really appreciate a charm bracelet you really need to examine each individual tiny treasure and hear its story.
I’ve noticed two main eras of 20th century charm bracelets: pre and post WW2. The earlier ones tend to have a theme, like this prohibition era beauty I came across recently with (mostly) cocktail related items:
Then you have the charm bracelet’s heyday, when American teenagers and young women in the 1950s and early 1960s collected tiny mementos to record events in their lives.
There are hobby themed charms such as bicycles, horses, ballet shoes, thimbles and musical instruments.
I see lots of lots of travel related charms like state maps, flags and tiny replicas of famous buildings.
Perhaps most magical are the mechanical charms, the ones with a moving part, like a wee ferris wheel that turns or scissors that open.
These memory filled charm bracelets revealed so much about the people who originally collected them.
Filled with tiny figurines collected over the years, charm bracelets chronicled small moments in a life and formed a visual, wearable autobiography.
All vintage pieces come with their own history. This is even more evident when acquiring someone else’s charm bracelet. It is both very personal yet mysterious and unknowable, which adds an interesting layer to the experience of wearing it.