How Charming: A Brief History of Charms

Charms have been synonymous with jewellery since the early ages of the craft.

15/03/2023     Jewellery & Gems


Charms have been synonymous with jewellery since the early ages of the craft. There are many different ways that charms can be used to personalise pieces of jewellery and bring more meaning to a piece; charm bracelets are significantly popular for this reason. People often buy charms or receive them as gifts to commemorate a life event; a rattle charm for a baby being born, an Eiffel Tower charm for a trip to Paris, a boat charm for a love of sailing, etc.


Also referred to as talismans or amulets, these additions to existing jewellery pieces like chains or bracelets were worn by people in the Bronze Age and in Ancient Egypt to ward off negativity and evil, and to bring good luck to the wearer. Lot 343 in the March auction features a ‘nazar’ charm, also known as the evil eye. This symbol has been worn for thousands of years, with the thoughts that the eye will bounce the evil thoughts and negativity back on the wrongdoer.


The reign of Queen Victoria saw a shift from charms thought to possess powers to the use of them as personal symbols. The Queen was always seen wearing a charm bracelet, with gold charms of oval form with enamel and diamond decoration; she also wore a charm bracelet gifted to her by her husband, Prince Albert, with nine enamel hearts containing the hair of her children. The charm bracelet was given to Queen Victoria in 1840 after the birth of her first child, Victoria, and another heart was added each time she had another child.



                                                                                        Lot 155


The Second World War saw a revival in the interest in charms, as soldiers wanted to bring home easily packed trinkets and gifts for their sweethearts from across the sea. The tradition of traditional charm wearing continued until the 1970s; that was until mechanical charms that had movement incorporated into their design became all the rage. Charms by Nuvo were extremely popular, and revolutionised these small jewellery pieces, inspiring other manufacturers to incorporate hinges and moving parts to their charms.


In this month’s auction, we have a number of mechanical charms available for bidding. Lot 250 is a 9ct charm in the form of a gold bag by Fred Manshaw from 1963; this lot has clubs that move within the bag. Lot 256 is a 9ct charm of a vintage car in which the wheels turn and the bonnet can be lifted to see a miniscule engine. Lot 277 is a 9ct gold charm in the form of a perfume bottle with a removable lid and can actually be used! If you do not have a bracelet or chain to add them to, we also have a variety to choose from this month.



                                          Lot 250                                                                                     Lot 256


                                                                                                Lot 277 

Newsletter Signup