Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Charm Bracelets - a mini-museum . . .

I believe in memory and the way objects are understood to hold memory, to tell stories and act as place markers. That is not only what a Family Museum is all about, a Charm Bracelet does the same – it holds memories. What makes them endearing is that there is a story contained in each and every one of those charms as they artfully jingle and dangle from wrists. Now back in fashion. Guess the trend is coming full circle.

When I was a child, I admired and longed to touch the sparkly charms swinging from silver or gold bracelets adorning fashionable women. I do not recall seeing such bracelets on my relatives or my mother’s wrist, but I do remember a stylish friend of hers having one in gold. She was rather wealthy, therefore, could afford such a collection of bubbles. I would have loved to of asked her questions about the origin and meaning of her charms, but alas, I was much too shy. Then one day my wish came true.

When I turned sixteen, my parents bought me a charm bracelet affixed with a collection of tiny trinkets that had absolutely no meaning or connection to me. The one and only befitting was the Sweet 16 Heart. The charms that still baffle me today are the ice cube tong, a cylinder cage with a pair of dice, a tambourine, a basket of flowers, a dagger, a wish bone and a cat. The cat I understand because I had several cats that drove my mother crazy. As time went on, charms that told of the important moments to me found their way onto my bracelet. My husband loved buying charms for me because they spoke a silent language of love. Eventually, my children bought me charms. That’s really what my charm bracelet is; a miniature storybook of my life. Now my bracelet is full of charms from the places I've visited, a myriad of milestones  and other meaningful events and people who are woven into the fabric of my life. And it’s not finished, as my story is still being told. 

The charm bracelet is a piece of jewelry so reflective of its wearer that it doubles as a figurative profile. I think that it is a bit of a disappointment that charm bracelets are not more explicitly defined as memory bracelets because it tells the story of a life. As the purpose of this blog is to encourage the preservation of family history, the charm bracelet can be used as a narrative device. Here’s a suggestion: if your Mother or Grandmother has a vintage charm bracelet, have them tell the stories their charms reveal. And have them do it in front of a video camera. This could be an incredible and easy way to gather and collect a part of their history that might otherwise be lost.

If you have a charm bracelet, look at it with new eyes. This is your story, a literal scrapbook of your life. Now, if you do not have one and always wanted one, it is never too late to start collecting the charms that represent your lifetime. You can either start with brand new gold or silver charms available at jewelry stores. The latest design in charm bracelets is the Pandora Bracelet with its
threading system and high-quality charm selection.They are a bit bigger than the traditional charms. Or you can go to an antique store and be overwhelmed by a plethora of vintage charms, some still attached to the chain bracelet or for sale individually. There is also an abundance of charms and bracelets available online. Here are two:  New silver & gold charms & bracelets  Vintage sterling silver charm bracelets 

Elegant, classy and fun, Charm Bracelets are a great way to make your own individual fashion statement. They are for the most part not name branded, or designer themed, and not all current and vintage charms are gold or silver.  There is a variety of others such as copper, brass, celluloid, plastic, wood, stones, gems, etc. You can collect an eclectic mix of charms representing your favorite hobbies, keeping them as spaced or as packed as you please, or you can search for charms of a single motif based on a theme, such as a Christmas bracelet.  Or they can even be a wacky.
For example, this one made from miniature foodstuffs. Charm bracelets can have a great sense of humor! So have fun putting a charm bracelet together for yourself as well as someone you love.

Any here is a bit more fun: Watch the movie “Auntie Mame” starring Rosalind Russell, and see her dangle her charm bracelets has she plays her role in a Broadway Play, upstaging the star and closing the show on its first night. What a hoot!