Thursday, February 4, 2010

Perfectly Charming: the Charm Bracelet

The charm bracelet has been called “a feminine autobiography on a chain.” I would agree – and go further to call it a living keepsake … totemic bling …a conversation starter … and a really good group gift.

Just a few years ago (or so it seems), the families from my son’s kindergarten class coordinated to give the teacher a silver charm bracelet at the end of the school year. Each student contributed a charm that symbolized:

(a) something distinctive about the gifter's personality or interests (an obsession with sharks, perhaps) or

(b) something the gifter identified with the giftee (hey! She wears shoes!) and/or

(c) a moment or experience they shared together (a field trip to the pumpkin patch, a study unit on Johnny Appleseed, whatever).

The gift was popular, personal, inclusive, and didn’t cost a lot. A home run.

A charm bracelet makes a good group gift for many milestone events -- think birthdays, retirements, engagement parties or graduations. When I turned 40, my friends put together a bracelet that is a perfect little chain-full of memories – it reminds me of my friends, of that specific birthday, and of the fun times we’ve shared. I don’t wear it often, but it is a totem of my history that I absolutely treasure.

You can find sterling silver charms at fine jewelry stores, cheesy tourist traps, and lots of places in between. There are potentially good sources online at, and EBay is always a possibility too.

In a 2004 NPR interview with "Charmed Bracelets" author Tracey Zabar, we are reminded that "'To charm' also means to attract, and these bracelets do exactly that. They draw the eye to one's wrist, where a compelling tale unfolds. And if modern-day charms don't cast spells in the ancient sense, they do contain a powerful force: memory, in the form of personal history."