While charms have never really gone out of fashion, they tend sometimes to be temporarily retired to jewellery boxes and neglected for a while by fashion editors and commentators. However, it is never long before someone glamorous is pictured in the social pages or featured in a magazine bearing a beloved bracelet or necklace of beautiful charms and suddenly they’re on trend once again.
Throughout history, film stars and fashionistas have been photographed wearing cherished charms, with jewellery designers quickly going to work to make available to the rest of us similar creations. Possibly the most celebrated has been a gold charm bracelet of Elizabeth Taylor’s that charts the milestones of her extraordinary life. It includes on it a locket that opens to reveal four medallions, each inscribed with the name and date of birth of one her children. And there is an engraved clapperboard commemorating her 1967 film ‘The Taming of the Shrew’. The bracelet was sold at Christie’s auction of the actress’s jewellery, in December 2011, for US$326,500.
Elizabeth Taylor’s friend, Wallis Simpson stated in reference to her own perceived lack of looks, “… the only thing I can do is dress better than anyone else” and it is said that she and Liz were forever trying to outshine each other with their spectacular jewellery collections. (Taylor was reportedly particularly taken by a brooch of three diamond plumes, symbolising the Prince of Wales and given to Wallis by Edward, and at a 1987 auction famously outbid Prince Charles, who had in mind to buy it for Diana.)
It is likely, however, that Wallis’s favourite piece of jewellery was a charm bracelet given to her by the King while their relationship was still being conducted in secret. It started as a chain of diamonds onto which platinum crosses encrusted with gemstones – diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, amethysts and aquamarines - were added over the course of a decade and Wallis was rarely seen without it, even wearing it at her wedding. Edward had each cross inscribed with a personal message and they commemorated anniversaries and key dates in their relationship. Madonna was so enamoured of the bracelet, an exact replica of which was created for her movie about the Duchess, that she requested to keep it but, instead, now wears a similar design that was created for her by Cartier.
Another Duchess with a cherished charm bracelet is Princess Kate. Hers was a wedding present from the Duchess of Cornwall, her step-mother-in-law. On it is a disc shaped charm that has Camilla’s monogram on one side and Kate’s on the reverse and the Princess wore it at a variety of events that followed her wedding, including Wimbledon and for her Armed Forces Day engagements.
Actress Keira Knightley attributes much of her success to her lucky charm bracelet, a collection of her grandmother’s charms on her grandfather’s watch chain, with a few recent additions. A sword and a boat, both gifts from her agent, were added when filming for Pirates of the Caribbean began.
Combining personal and deeply reflective themes with fun and celebration, Mariah Carey’s ninth album was rather aptly entitled ‘Charmbracelet’. And, another disco diva has, just this week, launched her own collection of charms and charm bracelets. Speaking about her new venture, Jennifer Lopez said that the collection has been created to “embrace the attitude of being fun and elegant at the same time” and let each woman express her personality through her jewellery, celebrating what is unique and beautiful about her.
This is what we believe makes charms so special. They can symbolise almost any interest, passion or place and express the essence of their wearer like no other jewellery, whether they be JK Rowling, Jennifer Anniston, Oprah Winfrey, or you and me.