Oh So CHARMing

Design Idea E711 Bracelet
by Leslie, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Charms are favorite jewelry embellishments used to create themes or personalize designs. They're hot today, but they aren't a new phenomenon.

Wearing, holding or giving charms, talismans and amulets has been a staple of human history. ICU (''Evil Eye'' or ''All-Seeing Eye'') charms popular in the Middle East and Greece are thought to give protection from bad luck or evil. Mexican milagros (miracles) are small charms that depict parts of the body and other shapes, used by the devoted as petitions to various saints for help or thanks. In China, charms are sometimes sewn in clothing for protection, good luck and prosperity. In the modern United States and Europe, charms are used as an expression of the wearer's style, life history and wishes.

As charms expert and author Tracey Zabar describes it, charm bracelets are "history on a wrist." Every season, charms make an appearance on fashion runways in new, fresh ways. We're seeing bolder, brighter charms than ever before and on nearly every accessory imaginable.

What is a Charm?

Charms are recognizable shapes smaller than 30mm (otherwise they are labeled as focal components) and have a single loop or hole at the top. Most of the charms available to jewelry-makers are made of sterling silver or ''pewter,'' although materials can also include precious gold, plated brass, stainless steel and non-metal materials.

Drops are incredibly similar, but may also include religious symbols. Charms and drops (as well as pendants) are used for more than just jewelry, including zipper pulls, purse embellishment and scrapbooking. These components are especially popular for kumihimo or braided-style designs, throwback charm bracelets, gemstone stretch bracelets or quick-and-easy minimalist pendant necklaces on snake or ball chain.
Current Charm Trends

Spell it Out
Letter charms are showing up on jewelry, purses and even shoes to make a statement without actually saying a word. Spell monogrammed initials, a name, a brand, inspirational words or even go for something sassy. While words in jewelry and on accessories certainly garner attention on their own, letters on the runway are extra noticeable when they're completely blinged out with pavé-set rhinestones or colored with vivid enameling.

Find Your Center
Cultural symbols continue to reign in the accessories world for men's, women's and unisex designs. These charms bring a new level of personalization by allowing customers to pick and choose words or images that hold a deeper meaning. Jewelry isn't just about being pretty (though these designs certainly are attractive); it's also now about conveying a sense of self. Especially popular charm symbols include the tree of life, Hamsa hand, cross, Om symbol and other images of spirituality, along with words such as ''Namaste,'' ''breathe'' and ''believe.''
Oh So CHARMing

Oh So CHARMing Awareness and Charity
Speaking of conveying a deeper meaning, these charms focus on displaying support or fundraising for causes near and dear to the wearer. Affirmation charms have uplifting messages and awareness ribbons correlate to specific causes including the famous pink ribbon for breast cancer. Rounding out this selection of charms are hearts, angels, wings and words such as ''hope'' and ''strength'' or phrases including ''never never give up!'' Lots of our customers use these types of charms in their jewelry as a way to give back.

It's a Gift
Charms also make an ideal gift.
  • Know someone who is crazy about music?
    Fill a bracelet with pianos, drums, harps and other musical images
  • Going to a baby shower?
    Embellish your gift wrap with bottle, teddy bear and diaper pin charms.
  • Giving a special dinner party?
    Choose charms which remind you of each guest, sew them to a napkin or add to a wine charm and encourage them to take it home as a remembrance.
  • Want to thank your beautician over the holidays?
    Make a tassel out of beauty themed charms that she can use to mark her tools.
  • Need something for your fashionista best friend?
    Create a purse charm she can clip on to whichever bag she's going with today, whether that’s Louis Vuitton or Zara.
  • And how about your kids' favorite teacher?
    Make a pair of jangly chandelier earrings featuring sterling silver A, B, C's and she'll think you're absolutely charming.
Of course there are a multitude of other themes to design around with charms including special occasions, sports, hobbies and more all available on the charms landing page. You might not be able to buy the Juicy Couture, Prada or tri-gold Cartier charms featured in magazines, but chances are you'll be able to find--or make--an affordable counterpart. Create jewelry designed around your customers' interests and you're sure to charm them into a sale.

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Oh So CHARMing