What is a Charm Bracelet?

Paulla Estes
Paulla Estes

A charm bracelet is a simple chain that wraps around the wrist, but it has links large enough to attach charms to them. Charms are small decorative pendants made in a variety of shapes, colors, and designs, and they often signify a special event or relationship. They might include jewels, miniature animals, signs such as hearts or stars, tiny photo frames, initials of the wearer and her friends, or special engraved items from loved ones. This type of bracelet can hold charms of all types, representing gifts, friendships, or special occasions.

A charm bracelet with tiny ladybugs and other small, colorful charms.
A charm bracelet with tiny ladybugs and other small, colorful charms.

The history of charm bracelets goes back to ancient times when charms were worn to please the gods, to ward off evil spirits, or to gain entry into the afterlife. During the middle ages, they were worn by knights to their signify rank and family origin. Queen Victoria is responsible for giving charms the decorative and stylish purpose they bear today. Her bracelets showed the world that they could be worn for fashion rather than superstition.

Queen Victoria raised the rank of the charm bracelet from superstition to fashion.
Queen Victoria raised the rank of the charm bracelet from superstition to fashion.

At the end of World War II, soldiers returned from foreign lands with charms for their wives and sweethearts at home. This trend carried into the 1950s when charm bracelets became the number one gift request for girls and women, on which they wore charms to represent important milestones in their lives. Since the 1950s, as fashions have evolved, this bracelet has risen and fallen in popularity, but in the past decade, charms have become popular once again.

Charm bracelets often represent friendship.
Charm bracelets often represent friendship.

A charm bracelet can be worn as casual jewelry or for formal occasions, depending on the style. One can be worn by anyone, but these bracelets are especially popular with pre-teen and teen-aged girls. Friends often enjoy wearing matching charms or charms split in half, with each friend wearing part, to signify the close friendship. Girls might wear the initials of a special boyfriend or have his picture in a tiny charm frame. A bracelet might have all matching charms or charms that are all similar, such as state flags, tiny furniture, people, sports insignia, pets, or travel remembrances. On the other hand, one may have all differing charms of various shapes and sizes.

Charms can represent important milestones.
Charms can represent important milestones.

Charms are wonderful gifts for people who have such bracelets. They can be giving to acknowledge milestones such as a birthday, Christmas, graduation, prom, wedding, or giving birth to a baby. Someone who wants to give a charm but isn't sure what type to buy might consider giving an entirely new bracelet so that the recipient can begin collecting a second set of charms.

Charm bracelets might help someone celebrate their birthday.
Charm bracelets might help someone celebrate their birthday.
Paulla Estes
Paulla Estes

Paulla is a freelance writer and website editor who currently lives in Maine. Paulla has a B.A. in English Literature from George Mason University and over 15 years of experience as a freelancer. She relishes the flexibility and consistency of working on wiseGEEK articles, as well as the opportunity to constantly learn something new.

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Discussion Comments


@burcinc-- That's so nice. I think that's why many women wear them, so that they can be reminded of the people and the things they love.

Do you know that you can get dates and names inscribed on charms as well? Jewelry stores that sell gold or silver charms for bracelets can do this.

The great part about getting them inscribed is that you can leave them to your kids or grand-kids in the future. It will be a kind of family heirloom or keepsake.


@ankara-- I used to feel the same way! But then I got married and gave birth to my daughter and two years later my son. My mother gifted me a charm bracelet and a different symbolic charm at each of their births.

Now I always wear this bracelet. When my kids are at school or somewhere else, I fee close to them with this bracelet. They are my lucky charm.

I personally find charm bracelets old fashioned. My grandmother wears them, therefore I don't!

@literally45-- Yes, there are charm bracelets in many other cultures. They may not look exactly the same as ours. The charms and bracelet chains might look different, but it's still charm bracelets.

In fact, one of my favorite Indian actors, Salman Khan, wears a charm bracelet constantly. I wasn't aware that there are charm bracelets for men until I saw him wearing one. It's not feminine at all. It's a thick chain with a blue stone charm in the center.

He has been wearing this charm bracelet for years! He believes that it brings him luck and protects him from evil and never takes it off. I think his fans are also very used to his bracelet. I can't even imagine him without it.


@Mykol-- That sounds really nice! I didn't even know that there are gemstone charms. I've been wondering about what I should get for my mom for mother's day. And a gemstone charm sounds like the perfect gift. She wears a charm bracelet constantly, so I think she will like it.

The best part about charm bracelets is that if you get bored of the charms, you can always take them off and replace them with other charms. So you can keep the actual bracelet for a long time.

I tend to get bored of fashion jewelry really fast. I just don't like wearing the same thing constantly. If I get a charm bracelet, I might not get bored because I'll be able to change charms every now and then.


I think charm bracelets are unique to American and European culture right? I've been to Asia and the Middle East and I didn't see anything like charm bracelets over there. Usually popular fashion trends carry over to other countries, but charm bracelets seem to have remained unique to our culture and I like that.

My favorite type is the bead charm bracelet with floral designs on them. I think they look really nice and I have many different colors of them to match what I'm wearing.

I don't really wear charms that represent something in particular. But recently, I adopted a cat and I'm considering getting a little cat charm for my bracelet. I think it would be cute and when I'm away at college, it will remind me of her.


I like charm bracelets that have special meaning. One of my good friends has 5 children and one year her kids gave her a gemstone charm bracelet.

There is a gemstone for each of their birthday's and this is a very elegant and exquisite looking charm bracelet. I know several women who have a mother's ring, and this is similar except it is in the form of a charm bracelet.


I never realized charm bracelets were originally used to ward off evil spirits. I am a big fan of charm bracelets and love the feel of charms dangling from my wrist.

I have quite a few fashionable charm bracelets, and am glad that Queen Victoria introduced these as fashion statements instead of something superstitious.


I am a big animal lover and still have the charm bracelet I was given when I was younger. Everyone knew I wanted animal charms for my bracelet, so most every birthday or special occasion I would get a charm.

I have different kinds of charms for cats, dogs, and horses. There is no way I could pick a favorite as all of them have some kind of special meaning to me.

I never wear my charm bracelet and it just sits in my jewelry box, but every time I see it, it brings back a lot of good memories. This charm bracelet wouldn't have much meaning to anyone else but me, but it has a lot of sentimental value for me.


Charm bracelets were very popular when I was a girl, and they seem to be coming back in style. Our family took a trip every summer, and I always like to buy a charm as a souvenir of the different states we traveled to.

I don't know what ever happened to my charm bracelet, but I remember that I had charms of at least 10 different states. Colorado was one of my favorite states, and I still remember the "Colorful Colorado" charm that I bought for this bracelet.

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