The charm bracelet dates back to ancient times. A charm bracelet is an item of jewellery that is worn around the wrist. Charm bracelets are made up of different charms, trinkets, and pendants that typically hold special meaning to the owner of the bracelet. Vintage jewellery is jewellery that is at least 25 years old, and usually pre-owned. Because charm bracelets are still popular today, vintage charm bracelets have become a popular item amongst vintage jewellery collectors.
Some historians believe that vintage charm bracelets were once used to ward off evil spirits and demons. Each charm had its own special purpose in this quest. Today, however, vintage charm bracelets are worn simply for fashion reasons. Vintage charm bracelets are found at vintage shops, second-hand shops, and online. A consumer should be aware of a couple of things before shopping for a vintage charm bracelet, including the difference between vintage and vintage-inspired, the types of vintage bracelet styles available, and the history of vintage charms.
Vintage vs. Vintage-Inspired
One of the most important things a buyer should be aware of is that there is a difference between jewellery that is vintage and jewellery that is vintage-inspired. Vintage charm bracelets are charm bracelets that are found "as is" and originated at least 25 years ago. On the other hand, vintage-inspired charm bracelets are charm bracelets that jewellery designers have crafted new to resemble vintage fashions, usually from a specific time period or to represent a specific style.
Consumers interested in purchasing a vintage charm bracelet should be especially cautious about this distinction. It is not uncommon for sellers to mistakenly advertise charm bracelets as vintage, when the bracelet is actually vintage-inspired. Additionally, some charm bracelets come as vintage hybrids. This means that the bracelet itself is vintage and the charms are new, or vice versa. While the purchase itself is up to the buyer, consumers should do research into the vintage charm bracelet and the seller to ensure they are buying the exact item they are looking for.
Types of Vintage Bracelet Styles
There are three distinct styles that act as the base for a vintage charm bracelet. A consumer should decide at the outset which style of bracelet is desired before researching the different types of vintage charms available.
Vintage Link Charm Bracelet
The vintage link charm bracelet is the most popular charm bracelet style today, and dates back to the origin of the charm bracelet. The vintage link charm bracelet is made up of a series of links or components that are connected for the entire length of the bracelet. Each link is typically the same size and is large enough to attach a charm through the link. The vintage link charm bracelet comes in a variety of precious metals, including gold and silver, as well as two-tone styles. The vintage link charm bracelet allows each charm to dangle from the bracelet.
Vintage Italian Charm Bracelet
The vintage Italian charm bracelet arrived on the fashion scene in the 1980s, and is an alternative for those who do not like the classic dangling look of the vintage link charm bracelet. The vintage Italian charm bracelet is comprised of a stretchy band and charms that make up the links of the bracelet. Because nothing dangles in this style, each charm typically has a picture, symbol, or letter etched into the face of the charm. While this style limits the type of charms that are compatible with the bracelet, it is popular amongst consumers who do not like the dangling effect of the classic vintage link charm bracelet.
Vintage Cylindrical Charm Bracelet
The vintage cylindrical charm bracelet is named for the type of charms that are found on this vintage piece. The vintage cylindrical charm bracelet is a rounded band that holds circular charms that clamp around the band. Each charm has a symbol or image etched into the cylindrical face and spins or move around the bracelet. This vintage bracelet comes in a variety of different metals but is typically made using silver. The vintage cylindrical charm bracelet is another alternative to the classic vintage link charm bracelet, as this style also does not produce a dangling effect.
A History of Vintage Charms
Most consumers choose their vintage charm bracelets based on the style and aesthetic appeal of the charms found on the bracelet. Vintage charms that make up vintage charm bracelets hail from many different eras and cultures. As a result, vintage charms embody a unique theme or style depending on when they originated and in what time period.
The time of the ancient Egyptians marks the first appearance of a recognisable charm bracelet. Vintage charms from this era are made of precious metals and stones. Ancient Egyptians used charm bracelets to communicate to the gods their status, so that they were appropriately placed into the proper status in the afterlife. Therefore, the more elaborate the vintage charms, the higher the status of the individual.
During the time of ancient Rome, Christians wore vintage charms of "ichthys" or fish to identify themselves. During the same period of time, Jewish scholars wore vintage charm bracelets that held tiny pieces of parchment paper with passages from Jewish law written upon them. These vintage charms are very rare and hard to find today.
The Middle Ages
In the Middle Ages, vintage charm bracelets were typically worn only by kings and knights. Charms from this era represent family origin, political standing, and profession. These vintage charms were thought to protect knights and kings during battle.
The Renaissance marks a period of time when vintage charm bracelets began to be worn by those who were not part of the wealthy class. These vintage charms also represent family origin, political standing, and profession, but were mass-produced and worn by people of all status during this time period, as opposed to the Middle Ages.
Early 20th Century
Queen Victoria pushed the vintage charm bracelet from being used for practical identification purposes to fashion jewellery. Vintage charms of this time are typically glass beads, small lockets, and family crests.
World War II
World War II marked an explosion of mass-produced vintage charm bracelets. Vintage charms from this period often resemble other cultures, as soldiers used to bring handmade charm bracelets home to their loved ones after returning from overseas. Vintage charms include small bits of metal incorporated into replications of items common to people of the local culture. Platinum and diamonds are also used in vintage charms of this time.
Vintage charms from the 1940s are often referred to as gumball charms. These vintage charms are made of celluloid and came out of gumball machines and candy boxes. Vintage charms from this era range from themes such as jungle, family pets, or sports, to famous comic-book characters such as Mickey Mouse, Betty Boop, and Popeye.
In the 1950s, vintage charm bracelets became a must-have for girls and women. As a result, vintage charms hailing from the 1950s often represent major rites of passage such as a 16th birthday, a wedding, or the arrival of children.
How to Buy a Vintage Charm Bracelet on eBay
There are many different styles and themes of vintage charm bracelets available. Whether you are looking for something that time-specific, or you simply want to browse what is available, eBay has thousands of vintage charms and vintage charm bracelets to choose from. Perhaps you are looking for a vintage charm bracelet from the 1940s. Simply, navigate to the eBay website portal and type '1940s vintage charm bracelet' into the keyword search box. Once you hit click, items matching this exact description is then populated.
eBay also provides you with tools to help ensure that you are purchasing authentic vintage charm bracelets. Pay attention to seller feedback, as well as sellers that eBay has identified as Top-Rated. Top-Rated Sellers consistently deliver their items, provide adequate descriptions, and charge fair postage. Further, in order to qualify as a Top-Rated Seller, the seller must consistently receive 5-star ratings from buyers, as well as complete at least 100 trouble-free transactions per year. Utilising the Top-Rated Seller function is one way you can ensure that you are buying an authentic vintage charm bracelet.
Although vintage charm bracelets were once used as tools to ward off evil spirits and demons, today they are worn simply for fashion and aesthetic reasons. Charm bracelets hail from as far back as the time of the Ancient Egyptians and continued in popularity until at least the 1950s. After a lull in production in the 1960s and 1970s, authentic vintage charm bracelets became a sought after piece, starting in the 1980s. As a result, many modern designers have also replicated popular vintage charm bracelets to create many vintage-inspired charm bracelets.
While style and theme of a desired vintage charm bracelet is solely a personal preference, buyers can look to the different time periods to determine what kinds of vintage charms are available. Further, choosing a vintage charm bracelet style can also help narrow down a consumer's wide selection. With the right research and questions, a consumer can ensure they are purchasing an authentic vintage charm bracelet that is right for them.