The History of the Charm

The wearing of charms may have begun as a form of amulet to ward off evil spirits or bad luck.

During the pre-historic period, jewelry charms would be made from shells, animal-bones and clay. Later charms were made out of gems, rocks, and wood. For instance, there is evidence from Africa that shells were used for adornments around 75,000 years ago. In Germany intricately carved mammoth tusk charms have been found from around 30,000 years ago. In ancient Egypt charms were used for identification and as symbols of faith and luck. Charms also served to identify an individual to the gods in the afterlife.

During the Roman Empire, Christians would use tiny fish charms hidden in their clothing to identify themselves to other Christians. Jewish scholars of the same period would write tiny passages of Jewish law and put them in amulets round their necks to keep the law close to their heart at all times. Medieval knights wore charms for protection in battle. Charms also were worn in the Dark Ages to denote family origin and religious and political convictions.

Charm bracelets have been the subject of several waves of trends. The first charm bracelets were worn by Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, and Hittites and began appearing from 600 – 400 BC. Charm bracelets have been the subject of several waves of trends. For example, Queen Victoria wore charm bracelets that started a fashion among the European noble classes. She was instrumental to the popularity of charm bracelets, as she loved to wear and give charm bracelets. When her beloved Prince Albert died, she even made “mourning” charms popular; lockets of hair from the deceased, miniature portraits of the deceased.

In 1889, Tiffany and Co. introduced their first charm bracelet — a link bracelet with a single heart dangling from it, a bracelet which is an iconic symbol for Tiffany today. Despite the Great Depression, during the 1920s and 1930s platinum and diamonds were introduced to charm bracelet manufacturing. Soldiers returning home after World War II brought home trinkets made by craftsmen local to the area where they were fighting to give to loved ones. American teenagers in the 1950s and early 1960s collected charms to record the events in their lives. Screen icons like Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Crawford helped to fuel the interest and popularity of charm bracelets. Although interest and production waned through the latter part of the 20th century, there was a resurgence of popularity after 2000 and collectors eagerly sought out vintage charms. Inspired by to the movie Pirates of the Caribbean, bracelets with little charms of swords, crosses and skulls were introduced as a fashion trend during Winter 2006.

European Charm Bracelets

Since 2002, a new trend for European charm bracelets has emerged in both Europe and North America. These modular bracelets consist of a chain onto which different beads or 'charms' can be put. These beads can be sculpted to simulate anything from animals to people. There are literally thousands of beads available for these bracelets as beads can be created to reflect any interest or category.

Murano Glass

Murano Glass is a famous product of the Venetian island of Murano. Located off the shore of Venice, Italy, Murano has been a commercial port as far back as the 7th century. By the 10th century, the city has become well known for its glassmakers who create unique Murano glass. Most Murano charm beads are made using an air pump burner lampworking or torch and mandrel technique, once the mandrel was made by using an iron rod covered with a release material stuck on the top of the rod, now a copper tube has taken its place. The copper tube helps make many different shapes. The lampwork method is the most time consuming method of glass bead making, as each bead must be made individually. Using a torch for heat, murano glass rods and tubes are heated to a molten state and wrapped around a metal rod until the desired shape is acheived. Several layers of different coloured glass as well as gold and sliver leaf are used to produce the desired effect. After the bead is cooled slowly, it is removed from the rod with gives it the hole for stringing.

Bella Charms and Beads