My 7 year old daughter made me yet another charm bracelet the other day. She had taken an interest in beading a little over a year ago, which developed into making jewelry, and now has narrowed in focus to specifically making charm bracelets. She is creating them for all of her friends and family members. She is getting pretty good. Or should I say we are getting pretty good. Fortunately we live in a place where we have a selection of craft stores to browse. What I’ve discovered is that the smaller shops seem to have a wider selection if not more unique materials. I’ve also found that the counter people are craftspeople themselves and if you catch them when they are not too busy they are more than happy to engage with you. I love learning. My daughter loves learning. So we were all in as our guide, Cathy, began showing my daughter examples of different clasps, charms, trinkets, combinations and ideas. When she started talking about the history of charms and I found myself drawn in.
Interestingly enough part of the history of charm bracelets includes the belief that some charms could ward off evil spirits. Apparently some people still believe that. But there are all sorts of other reasons why people create and wear charm bracelets as well as all sorts of supplies used to create them. Some are quite expensive, from shiny metals to real gold and silver with diamonds and other gems inlaid. Leather, linked chain, plastic, glass, ceramics. A customer who came in to one particular craft shop bought a tiny little urn on a sterling silver clasp. She told us that she intended to fill it with the ashes of her beloved pet. After I explained to my daughter the process of cremation she confided in me that the ladies’ dog must have been small. Adorable right?
My reason for wearing is much simpler. I wear my bracelets because my daughter wants me to; because she says it will make me think of her when she is with her mom. Like I need help with that. And because, as she says, it will bring me good luck. But the history of charms I found interesting. The trinkets and charms in some cultures indicated your status, your rank or position within a group or tribe. They were awarded for personal achievement, to remember an important occasion or event, and even to pay tribute to the life or death of somebody important. Other than ornamentation of the body, the main reason for wearing charms seems to be the preservation of memories. 25,000 years old is the oldest charm bracelet our guide personally knew of, which I believe she said was ivory. However, a quick Google search tells of a 40,000 year old stone charm bracelet. Either way, I’d say that the idea is working.
My daughter and I make charm bracelets for the same practical reasons. For every bracelet my daughter has made me I have a memory. Like the one she created in Seahawks blue and green after they lost last year in the playoffs. The charms include numbers of the final score. Maybe she thought it important that I not forget. With each bracelet I have the memory of being with her as she made them and knowing that she thinks about me when she is away. Some she made from scratch materials and took her a few visits to finish. Creating her charm bracelets is for her posterity as well. How much of the time we spent on our creations will she remember? I’ll tell you now she has a knack for detail and sentimentality to boot. Not only will she will remember all the little things but she will remember them long, long after I am gone.