Popularity boosted by 1970s fashion revival
Charms for bracelets are now the most popular jewellery gift in the country after a revival of the 1970s fashion.
The tiny gold or silver accessories for a jangly bracelet currently outsell other types of popular gifts – including watches, rings and necklaces – according to the UK’s popular gift chain, H.Samuel.
“Part of the reason is that charms are easier for a man to get right than those trickier decisions when buying other presents,” said Head of H.Samuel Brand Jeff Jones.
While their mothers used to have ‘lucky’ links like horseshoes or dice, the current generation of young women prefer modern ‘charms’ – now known as ‘beads’ – like a tiny mobile phone or cupcake!
But some choices remain timeless. Hearts and angels, which were the bestsellers back in the 1970s, remain amongst top choices today, too, according to the High Street giant.
It sells a range starting at £7.99 for a crystal flower up to £210 for a 14-carat gold heart bead, along with the more modern alternatives like a tiny gold lipstick or handbag.
Charms have been around in the UK since the Victorian days but grew in popularity after the war, when a bracelet and a single charm were bought for little girls. As they grew up they added more trinkets and by the 1960s and 70s the same girls, as adults, would build up their collections to leave to their own daughters.
Gold or silver charms were considered then, as now, a good investment to build up over the years. They would have sported a coin, such as a miniature penny or sovereign in the 1960s, but now it is more likely to be a teeny replica of a credit card.
Traditional symbols associated with little girls would have been most popular then, such as a pair of ballet shoes, though now that is more likely to be a pair of stilettos.
Jeff Jones, spokesman for H.Samuel, said the revival suited today’s men and cautious spending as much as fashion trends.
He said: "It is an easy solution for a man to buy a charm bracelet and then charms or beads later on for every birthday or special occasion afterwards. They are also perfect for ‘pocket money’ purchases too – we see a sales rise just after payday when people like to treat themselves.
"We’re all looking back to traditional ideas of heirlooms to treasure in these modern times –– and need everyday reminders of the good things in life.
"Charms and beads are also very personalised and individual so people can stamp their own identity on their bracelets.
The idea of lucky charms has been around for centuries, even the Romans wore them as jewellery, and Christian pilgrims wore bracelets with shells from places they had been to.
Queen Victoria popularised the idea further. She wore bracelets with accessories which led to people wearing charms as decoration rather than for superstition.
The trend took off again in the Second World War and beyond. Soldiers sent mementoes back to their loved ones from where they were stationed as a keepsake like a coin, or even a tiny love letter to be kept in a locket.
These were adapted to be worn on a bracelet for concerned girlfriends and wives back home. For those whose sweethearts returned, the charms were considered particularly lucky, of course.