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The Charming History of Charm Bracelets

Published February 18th, 2020 by Annapolis Jewelers

Ever wonder about those bracelets with all the different trinkets hanging off them? Who came up with them and how long have they been around?

Charm bracelets have taken a new turn in recent years, but they've been a staple of self-expression for centuries. What charms mean has also shifted over time, but the underlying purpose has remained the same. The long history of charm bracelets speaks to our desire as humans to self-identify and express what matters most to us.

What Are Charm Bracelets?

A charm bracelet is simply a piece of jewelry, worn around the wrist, that you can add small tokens to. These tokens, or charms, can change a charm bracelet's meaning, making it easy to constantly update your old jewelry.

History of Charm Bracelets: Who Wore Them First?

Charm bracelet history dates back to prehistoric times. They were carved out of rock and bone and attached to cords of leather.

These are perhaps related to the first meaning of the word 'charm.' It was a synonym for 'song' or 'incantation.' This speaks to how anthropologists think the first charm bracelets were used. 

Some charms were worn to protect individuals from evil spirits. Others were thought to bring about good fortune. It's believed that all ancient charm bracelets connected to spirituality in some way.

Charm Bracelets of the Middle Age

Even knights and ladies of the middle ages wore charm bracelets! These charms often identified a person's background, heritage, political affiliation, and religion. These were some of the first charm bracelets to be fashioned out of metal. 

Charm Bracelets of the Modern Age

How have charm bracelets changed in recent years? Here's a look back on charm bracelet history since the Victorian age.


In the 1800s, charm bracelets became a symbol of fashion and wealth. Queen Victoria wore them, making them a highly sought-after item. The jewelry company Tiffany and Co opened in 1837 and became known for their high-end pieces. They came out with a charm bracelet, reinforcing the item's upper-class reputation.


Throughout most of the 1900s, the charm bracelet remained the same in form and function. The big thing that changed was their accessibility. Charm bracelets began to be produced on a wider scale and were more affordable. Vintage charm bracelets were often passed down from mother to daughter or new bracelets were purchased as gifts.  


Starting in the late 1990s and into the 2000s, charm bracelets began to change. Bracelets of the '90s experimented with using image-bearing links instead of dangling charms.

And modern charm bracelets have abandoned the dangling charm (for the most part) in exchange for round ones. The new, doughnut-shaped pieces slide onto a thick, round cord and are interchangeable.

Why Haven't Charm Bracelets Gone Out of Style?

Personalized jewelry continues to grow in popularity, so it's no wonder that the charm bracelet has stood the test of time. With the history of charm bracelets reaching back so far, they are a testament to the self-expressive nature of jewelry.

If you'd like to make a charm bracelet, think about what means the most to you. What accomplishments are you most proud of? When you're ready to get started, get in touch with us.

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