Style Snapshot: Simply Charming

There's an up-and-comer on the New York and Paris runways this year: Charms.
Style Snapshot: Simply Charming
Charm bracelets, charm necklaces and charm clothing embellishments. These fashion-forward trinkets are popping up everywhere and come in a wide selection and price range. You can spend anywhere from $1.00 for a pretty cloisonne heart to $1,000 on a Lagos diamond pavé heart.

...a bold, feminine, Bohemian, free-spirited look is the thing for spring and summer.

While paging through the fashion magazines, it doesn't take long before you discover that a bold, feminine, Bohemian, free-spirited look is the thing for spring and summer. And that's where charms and charm bracelets enter the picture. Today, using charms as a fashion statement is quite a bit different than the way it was done in the 1950s and '60s. Nowadays charms are used in all kinds of accessories. In bracelets, yes, but they are also shown dripping randomly from necklaces, earrings, belts, bags and lapels. You'll also find them as surprising additions to jeans, swimsuits, shoes and home decor.

You might not be able to buy the enameled Juicy Couture, diamond-studded Robert Coin, ortri-gold Cartier charms featured in magazines, but chances are you'll be able to find an affordable counterpart. Most of the charms available to jewelry-makers are made of sterling silver or pewter. They come with simple loops at the top or have built-in soldered jumprings. Articulated charms "charms that move" are especially popular, and come in shapes such as fish, shark jaws and snake rattles.

Wearing, holding or giving charms, talismans and amulets has been a staple of human history.

Charms are 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, also known as "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. They are 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." And if you consider the wide range of charms available, you won't have a hard time expressing your own personality. To get today's look, start with a nice chain bracelet or necklace and dot the charms randomly along the strand. Or fill the chain to the brim. Layering several charm-chains is especially chic, and if you make your own, you won't need to spend thousands of dollars to accessorize.

Charms also make a perfect gift. Know someone who is crazy about music? Fill an entire 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 and encourage them to take it home as a remembrance. Want to thank your hair dresser over the holidays? Make a tassel out of beauty themed charms that she can use to mark her tools. 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.



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