Belle Decor

Charm Bracelets: Jewelry with Story

By M.K. QuinlanOctober 30, 2012

Charm bracelets have been around in some form or another for centuries. Humans carried talismans to ward off evil and bring good luck in the Middle Ages. Fast-forward to the 1950s and charm bracelets were a rite of passage for young girls—a way of charting their interests and keeping close the things they loved. 

My family’s charm bracelet tradition must have started then. My grandmother—a young mother in the 50s—had her own bracelet complete with charms for her children, a miniature state of California, a painter’s palette, and an encased grain of mustard seed. My mother—a local tennis star in her childhood—has her own bracelet covered in tennis paraphernalia and a figurine of her family's dog. To this day she carries a scar where he bit her on the lip. 

When I was around 10 years old, I was given my own bracelet, and through the years I covered it in musical notes, a cheerleader figurine, and a spitting image of my West Highland White Terrier. 

Today I wear all three bracelets: my grandmother’s, my mother’s, and my own. I love the way they hang on my wrist—so feminine—and the noise they make when I give my hand a flick. 

Most of all, I love stories they tell. I haven’t touched a piano since I was 14 years old, and the thought of my days as a cheerleader make me laugh (I was so abnormally tall as a pre-teen, they called me “Albatross”). My mother’s tennis glory days are part of a distant past. My grandmother passed away in 2008, and her children now have grandchildren of their own. It’s unclear whether or not the California charm on her bracelet was a souvenir, or wishful thinking. She wasn’t a painter, either. As it says on the back of the mustard seed charm: “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Matthew 17:20.

In the South, there are two definitions for a storyteller: someone who tells great stories and someone who tells great lies. Seems to me the charm bracelet was and will always be a place for living and dreaming.

What stories do your charm bracelets tell?