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The New Charm Bracelet: Contemporary Twists on an Age-Old Style

Charm bracelets are inherently unique and meaningful. If you think sporting one isn’t your style, you haven’t seen the latest trends.

We’re all familiar with the traditional charm bracelet. It’s a simple metal chain decorated with dangling pendants of various styles and colors. The pendants usually carry meaning: symbols for hobbies or recent travels, a child or grandchild’s name, a birthday age or timeless hearts and flowers. Because of the inherent meaning and endless individuality, charm bracelets can be a favorite for everyone from young girls to teens to new moms and grandmothers.

But the look of a traditional charm bracelet isn’t for everyone. Think sporting one doesn’t quite match your style? Think again. Today, charm bracelets go far beyond the standard open-link chain.

A charmed tradition

Charm bracelets have a long and varied history. There’s evidence of charms made from shells and animal bones dating back to prehistoric times. Charms later evolved and were made of gemstones and carved animal tusks or wood. They were sometimes used to identify with a particular religion and often as an amulet of good luck.

More recently, Queen Victoria is often credited with helping spark the modern-day charm bracelet trend and the open-link-with-dangling-pendant style we typically associate with it. The popularity of this style peaked in the mid-20th century after the end of WWII.

Today, charm bracelets have experienced resurgence — but their forms are much more varied. From leather to beads to modular links, you can now express yourself with the bracelet itself, and not just its charms.

European or bead-style charm bracelet

Around the start of the new millennium, a new fad in charm bracelets began in Europe and quickly moved to North America. This modular bracelet consists of a thin chain (metal, fabric or leather) onto which any number of charm beads can be added. Instead of dangling from the chain, these charms are threaded like beads, so they hug the wrist for a sleeker appearance and less jangly sound.

Charm beads are made from materials like glass, polymer clay, wood and precious metal. Like traditional dangling charms, they can also be sculpted to look like anything from a heart to an animal to a palm tree. The charm beads are interchangeable, so you can easily customize the piece from day to day if desired.

Popular brands of European-style charm bracelets include PANDORA®, Lovelinks and Trollbeads, and you’ll sometimes hear them referred to by brand name. Beads from any brand are interchangeable with other brands — meaning if you choose a European-style charm bracelet, like Charmed Memories™, you’ll have an abundance of charms from which to choose!

Italian-style charm bracelet

While they both differ from traditional charm bracelets, an Italian-style charm bracelet is not the same as a European-style charm bracelet. Instead of linking dangling charms or threading charm beads on a chain, with an Italian-style bracelet the charms are the links themselves. A brand new bracelet has a series of blank, flat square links that hook together to form a bracelet.

You can individualize your bracelet by replacing the blank links with unique charm links (as with traditional charms, these can range from flowers and hearts to letters and names to a kitchen blender). The links are modular and have a standard size, so you can easily swap out the charm links to match your mood or the occasion, if you choose.

This style caught hold with American tourists returning from Europe — and especially Italy — in the 1990s.

Leather charm bracelet

Is leather, with its hip and natural vibe, more your thing than silver or gold? Consider these ideas that give a casual nod to the traditional charm bracelet:

  • Opt for a European charm bracelet, but instead of a metal choose leather. Charm beads thread onto the bracelet in the same way, but a hint of leather peeking out will give your bracelet a different — and casually stylish — air.
  • Want to veer away from traditional charms altogether yet still dress your wrist with a message? Choose a wide leather cuff bracelet with a metal plate (usually inexpensive, like copper) engraved with a special saying or inspiration.
  • Leather bracelets are especially great for stacking, too!

There’s a reason charm bracelets have lasted through the ages. They’re unique and meaningful and encapsulate memories for all to see. But an age-old tradition doesn’t mean you need to stick with an age-old style if it doesn’t suit your personality. With these recent trends in charm bracelets, surely one will fit you.

Check out our great selection of looks from PANDORA® and Charmed Memories™ at Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry and Kay Jewelers.

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