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Once popular, bracelets have sadly lost their charm.

Byline: Bargain Hunter

CHARM bracelets have a long history, although originally they looked very different from the ones we're used to today.

The Egyptians are generally credited as being the first wearers of charms on bracelets and necklaces, these being part of their elaborate preparations for life after death.

Small gems carved with gods and animals were also worn on bracelets by the Babylonians and Assyrians around 500 BC, serving the function of amulets with special powers.

Through the ages charms have been worn for many religious or ritual purposes, but the sort of charm bracelet you see here was really a 20th century invention.

Gold bracelets with enamel flags or pennants, sometimes spelling out a message, were popular both before and after World War I, while also in the early 20th century it became fashionable to collect bracelets adorned with small Faberg or Faberg-style eggs.

It was in the 1920s that bracelets hung with a variety of small charms started to be produced more widely.

These were often of very high quality, made of platinum and set with gemstones, and frequently display the typical angular style of the Art Deco period.

By the 1950s the fashion for charm bracelets had spread, with most jewellers stocking small commemorative or souvenir charms that could be added gradually to a bracelet.

The quality of these charms had started to decline by the late 1960s due to increased mass production, and you generally find that good and poor charms tend to rub shoulders on bracelets dating from this period.

The bracelet shown here belongs to my wife who was first given it as a young girl. The padlock is hallmarked for 1966 and, like a lot of people at the time, she added different charms to the bracelet over the years.

My favourites are the ones with moving parts. If you turn the donkey and the tortoise's tails, their heads move quite endearingly. The swan opens up to reveal a tiny ballerina inside.

Although it is claimed that charm bracelets are coming back into fashion, the sad truth is that many silver, and especially gold, bracelets are nowadays sold for scrap because of the high gold and silver prices.

You could buy a bracelet like this one for around pounds 60-pounds 70, although because of the personal memories it represents, I know that my wife's is definitely not for sale!


CHARMING: A charm bracelet
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 29, 2010
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