I have loved charm bracelets since my Mother first showed me hers, with a collection of heart charms from her girlfriends. My bracelet and first charm, a heart, were gifts from my grandmother. I was in the seventh grade and it sparked my interest in collecting and commemorating
Nancy, a middle school friend, gave me my second charm, a silver skate. I added a charm from every country I visited in Europe following high school graduation, and assorted others. I stopped collecting charms for that bracelet because it is noisy and heavy; its jingle causes people to turn their heads, probably expecting a dog.
I started another charm bracelet with elephant charms on it. I have always liked elephants and now have upright elephants, elephants on all four legs, 3-D elephants, cartoonish elephants, raised and lowered trunk elephants and more. It is an amusing bracelet and appropriate for wearing to certain political events.
Several years ago my Mother gave me a gold charm bracelet that she had purchased at an auction. Some of the charms were garish and I removed them. I kept the sweetest ones, all engraved with love messages from “Greg” to “Olivia”. My favorite is a simple heart with a tiny stone, engraved “Olivia, mia bella madonna. Vostra amare mio vito.” Loosely translated, it says that Olivia is his beautiful woman and the love of his life.
What a wonderful sweet man Greg must have been. They would have been my parents’ ages, having children in the 40’s and 50’s, the dates on the charms. Olivia was very lucky. Greg was too.
I wear the bracelet in part because it symbolizes what must have been a beautiful and loving relationship. I have added a few charms of my own, including gifts from friends, my Father’s youth ring, and a charm given to my Mother from one of her dear friends.
Probably a bank teller or another stranger, in a position to see my wrist, has assumed my name is Olivia. But I don’t mind. I like keeping her memory alive.
Curious to know what started the charm phenomenon, I read about charms and found that they actually date back several hundred years BC. Then they were considered sacred or protective and thought to give their wearers power over evil. They were inscribed with drawings of gods or symbols and generally made of gold.
Eventually charms became simply jewelry. In Victorian England, bracelets with charms were popular; Queen Victoria wore one with small lockets containing photographs of her children. Today there are many such lockets worn on chains or as charms on bracelets.
During WWII, charms were given as gifts to girlfriends and wives by returning American servicemen from places they had been in Europe.
I have given them to special young women in my life. As I have, I am sure they will keep them and remember the occasions that they were charmed for and fondly remember those who gave them the charms.
A charm bracelet is a special way to remember someone. The one started by Greg for Olivia feels like a little bit of good luck when I wear it. I have been wearing it a lot lately.