Today’s charm bracelets are regarded as accessories. However, historically charm bracelets were worn by both men and women for religious and political purposes or to demonstrate their status within society.
The first charm bracelet is said to have appeared in the Neolithic era. Men would collect pieces of wood or stone and shape these to form charm bracelets which were worn to signify someone’s status and rank within society and aid the passage to the afterlife.
Knights and kings in the Middle Ages would wear charms to illustrate their family origin, profession and political inclination or even use them in battle to fight off the enemy. The Renaissance saw a shift in the role of the charm bracelet: the wealthy classes would no longer utilise charms, but the general public would continue to do so for both practical and religious purposes. It was not until the early 20th century that the charm bracelet, in its modern interpretation and use, came about. It is believed that Queen Victoria set the trend for using charm bracelets made from small lockets, glass beads and family crests for purely decorative purposes.
The trend continued through the 20th century and became truly widespread after the end of World War II. As soldiers returned home, they purchased little handmade trinkets to give to their sweethearts. They were regarded and collected, like today, to embody memories, emotions and good times.
In the 1960s, charm bracelets became increasingly popular as 18th birthday gifts for girls or as wedding and engagement presents. After being given a few different types of charms at a time, a girl or woman could build up a collection which she could interchange to match the relevant outfit.
The sentiment which lies in the gift a charm bracelet and the ability to change the facets to the wearer’s desire has meant that they have maintained their immense popularity even in the modern era. Nowadays, celebrities, women and girls across the world collect these desirable accessories not only as fashion statements but also to promote charities and religion and the sentiment which derives from wearing them. Not only that, but charm bracelets are also just fun, making them a desirable collectable.
More recently, fashion designers such as Louis Vuitton have embraced charm bracelets as the must-have accessories for any occasion, elevating them to glamour status. This just goes to underline their timelessness and emphasises the fact that a charm bracelet is always likely to make a great gift for someone.