Charm bracelets offer a stylish way to express your own unique history, so it’s no wonder they’re so popular with, well, pretty much everyone! And one of the most common questions ALEX AND ANI fans ask us is, “When did people start wearing charm bracelets?” The fact is, this form of jewelry has a long and storied past – there’s evidence of rudimentary charm bracelets dating as far back as 75,000 years. Since that time, the bracelet has evolved from a simple stone amulet to the customizable, stackable accessory we wear today.
Ancient Origins in Amulets Long before #CHARMEDARM Instagrams, people wore charms for luck, protection, and to ward off evil spirits. Archaeologists have found evidence of Egyptian pharaohs being buried with charm bracelets made of metals, gems, and rocks. Experts believe they wore these amulets to help the gods identify them in the afterlife. There is also evidence dating back 75,000 years ago of African hunters carrying charms made of stones, clay, shells, and animal bones, and in the area that is now Germany, there’s evidence of the practice of wearing carved mammoth tusk charms dating back 30,000 years.
Victorian Style Charm bracelets became a popular fashion accessory with personal meaning in the Victorian Era, which was 1837 to 1901. During this time, England’s Queen Victoria often wore a charm bracelet with a gold chain and lockets that is now on display at Kensington Palace. That royal fashion statement inspired many women to wear their own charm bracelets adorned with glass beads and lockets.
A World War II Boom The charm bracelet experienced a resurgence of popularity during the 1940s, when American troops were deployed to Europe and Asia for World War II. Soldiers would bring back small tokens from their tours to give to their stateside sweethearts. Women attached these keepsakes to bracelets, ushering in a new era of charm bracelets as memory keepers.
Mid-Century Milestones After the souvenir keepsakes proved to be so popular during World War II, American companies began manufacturing charms in the 1950s. It became tradition for young girls to add charms symbolizing milestones such as birthdays, marriage, or the birth of a child.
Charm Bracelets Today In the modern era, people continue to wear charm bracelets to express their interests, history, and beliefs. When ALEX AND ANI was founded in 2004, the company amplified the charm bracelet concept through the idea of stacking, representing a modern, even more customizable approach to wearing the classic accessory. With new collections debuting every season, there are now more ways than ever to express your unique mix of interests and values, with charm bangles reflecting your love of art, favorite charities, power colors and more.
Written by Caila Ball-Dionne