Charms are one of those jewelry styles that are always around. It’s just that sometimes they are more fashionable than others. Right now, the look is on fire. More about that in a later, first a little history of charms.
Queen Victoria of England, who ignited so many jewelry trends, made charm bracelets popular in the nineteenth century. She had one that, according to the Royal Collection Trust, she wore “constantly.” Most of the gold charms on her bracelet were oval and heart shaped lockets with black enamel designs.
Flash forward to the 1920s and 1930s, delicate charms covered in diamonds and semiprecious stones were the mode. Cartier made a charm bracelet of gem-set Latin crosses for the Duchess of Windsor. Each charm was inscribed with a significant date or event of her life with the Duke.
The golden era for charms began in the 1950s and kept going strong through the 1970s. Elizabeth Taylor had a couple of charm bracelets from the period. Her pieces featured classic charm themes: humor, travel, children, good luck signs, birthdays, anniversaries. Like any great charm bracelet, the pieces were a personal scrapbook. When they hit the auction block with her estate at Christie’s in 2011, one of her bracelets had a high estimate of $35,000. It sold for $326,500.
So what’s inspiring the charm renaissance today? An interest in amulets, jewels and gems that promise some sort of protection, is at a peak of popularity. Charms also fits into the “new vintage” movement in fashion. Perhaps the biggest difference style-wise between the charm jewels of yesterday and today is that women are wearing their charms around their neck instead of around their wrist. A charm necklace brings everything a woman loves quite literally close to her heart. A necklace is also far more practical than a charm bracelet that could seriously interfere with the all-day typing away on computers and phones.
Following are some of the most dynamic charm necklaces around right now. Somehow, I feel if Queen Victoria were alive today, she would be loving these looks. No question Elizabeth Taylor would have a few charm necklaces in her jewelry box.
One of the most impressive charm jewels of the season, indeed it has acted as an editorial lightning bolt to bring the style to the forefront, is the Gemfields x Muse charm necklace. A handful of designers, specially chosen by Muse showroom and Gemfields, created charms with responsibly sourced colored gemstones for the collaboration. (See all the charms on Moda Operandi.) “We decided on charms for the collaboration because they are an eternal talisman and today that is something we all really need,” explains Jennifer Shanker from Muse “I don’t think you can have enough hearts or peace signs. I particularly adore Elena Votsi Globe charm. You could special order the emerald to mark your favorite place. She put the first example on New York City where Muse is located.”
Jennifer Fisher has over 200 charms in her collection. The pieces come in a range of cool styles from little enamel unicorns to diamond stars and zodiac symbols. “I think people who choose to represent what they love in life on their jewelry, shouldn’t have to feel that they are confined to something they find in a case that everyone else already has,” explains Jennifer. “We have a lot of loyal customers who have grown with us, and have charm necklaces they have been building for the past 10 years.”
Dezo by Sara Beltran includes several charms that are a perfect reflection of the overall beachy aesthetic of the collection. There are shark’s teeth and shells carved from gems. Sara put several charms together on a neck wire with some breathtaking stones to make a statement charm choker.
Alison Lou’s collection has dozens of pendants that could be added to a charm necklace. In one jewel, she has assembled five emoji face pendants—Angry, Cry Baby, Tongue Out, Bashful and Party Animal—covering a full range of emotions.