Christine's charms

I have mentioned my glamorous GF Christine before, and how I admire her magnificent vintage gold charm bracelet. Christine: French teacher; considerate, funny, frank friend; avid traveler, bombshell.

I was at her home recently, and asked if I could photograph it. Here it is in one view of its gorgeousness.

Many of the charms are jeweled, and all are overscale– huge, really– dating, we think, from the '40s to '60s. It's the bracelet of a traveler, with charms from most continents, with an emphasis on Europe, and one University of Toronto charm, so we're guessing she's an alumna.

The photo at left
is a bit blurry; I will blame the Manhattan her partner, Jim, served me. But I wanted to show the carved ebony Blackamoor head (just to the right of centre, and on its side) and a jade and gold disc.

It's the lavish jewels on most charms (jade, turquoise, tanzanite, tiger's eye, amethyst, pearl, and ebony) and high-carat gold that make her bracelet remarkable.

Christine found her treasure at a Toronto art and jewelry auction, and asked the imperturbable Jim to bid for her, a great strategy when your heart is racing and palms sweating. The bracelet sold for more than the estimate, but not (as Jim recalls) hugely over.

A charmed life

Beladora has a honey of a charm bracelet on her site, with an assortment of enamel and 12k and 14k gold charms dating from the '50s to '80s, $2,450.

Here's another world-traveler's trove, a collection from the '30s through early '60s from Ruby Lane seller 2 Sisters Jewels. Twenty seven charms, many jeweled or movable, in 10k and 14k on a 14k bracelet, $1,850.

Christine, though a mere child (not quite 50) did what I'd do: chose the most stunning bracelet she'd seen.

But starting your own is always an option. Your investment can be done in increments, and your friends or family can have the fun of choosing charms for you.

I'd start with this tailored vintage 14k bracelet from Ruby Lane seller Vintage Jewells, $450. (Silver charm bracelets are appealing too, but, captivated by Christine's, I'm partial to yellow gold.)

n I'd go to town buying sentimental antique charms, like this petite 18k disc with a white enamel terrier ($235 from Ruby Lane's The Three Graces) or a jeweled Tour Eiffel (which needs some pearls replaced), $85 from Ruby Lane's Mur-Sadie's Jewelry.

A charm bracelet is the story of a life, yours or someone else's. Either way, it is a lighthearted, and personal accessory, unique to it's collector. Christine's is, according to her, a pleasure to wear. And each time, she thinks of the unknown adventuress whose memory endures, on her arm.


mette said…
A charm bracelet. Yes, I´d like to have one! When my daughter was young, I started to collect small charms for a silver bracelet of mine, to be given to her. I saved my cents and every time I found something cute, I would add it to the bracelet. Gold was beyond my budget at the time, and I think that silver is so nice for small girls. She still has it, treasures it, and remembers every occasion the bracelet got added with a new charm. Your friend has a gorgeous bracelet. It must be quite heavy! With a bracelet like that, you don´t need much more jewelry. Btw, the little terrier is so cute!
Laura in TO said…
Sad to say my well filled charm bracelet from the 60s onward was stolen with lots of other v. loved jewelry. Now in a quandary: start a new one so late in life? recreate the old one as best I can, or just let it go....sigh...I love charm bracelets!
Susan B said…
I've been loving vintage charm bracelets too, and if I find one in gold at a price I can afford, will probably jump. I've tried a few on and know that I'll probably need a link or two removed as my hands and wrists are small, and the weight of the charms on a normal-sized bracelet tends to make them slip off.
Duchesse said…
metscan: A wonderful tradition! I have my sister's silver charm bracelet started in the '40s. Christine's is heavy but not uncomfortable to wear.

Laura: Oh no! While one can never replicate a collection, beginning again might be a pleasurable endeavour.
Belle de Ville said…
My mother made two charm bracelets for me, one gold the other silver. I did the same for my daughter.
Now I like themed charm bracelets with themes like travel, dogs, or hobbys.
I just watched a great movie from 1942 starring Irene Dunn who wore a fabulous charm bracelet in every scene. I love to see through old films how these bracelets were worn in the 1940s and 1950s. Usually they were just a simple rounded link chain with huge dangling charms....totally glam but impractical for today if you spend anytime typing on a keyboard.
Shelley said…
When my Aunt Rita died, she left me her jewelry. There are many nice pieces, but her charm bracelet is one of my very favourite and I wear it often, remembering her.
materfamilias said…
Oh, what a lovely assortment! Makes me think of poking around in some fabulous vintage jewelry shop, except I don't even have to go outside and can do the wishful window shopping right from home -- thanks!
Sevenbeads said…
I had a silver charm bracelet as a teenager. I haven't worn it in years. It gave me so much pleasure to collect the charms whenever I visited a new place. Now where is it?!
sisty said…
This makes me so sad, too,because I lost the one I started a few years ago. It had come undone twice, I knew I had to get a safety clasp on it, but.....oh, well. Maybe it'll turn up one of these days. (Though it was annoying when it came time to type or write, I have to admit).
Maggie said…
Duchesse, funny how things like charm bracelets are unbelievably cool. Can be sentimental and funky at the same time. Nina Garcia puts them in under "C" in her book THE ONE HUNDRED. Ebay usually has lots for sale. Expect to pay a bundle for a nice one. Are you ever really too old to start one? Now that's a seriously troubling thought.
Frugal Scholar said…
I have a 14k charm bracelet from childhood. I love it, but the charms catch on EVERYTHING.
Duchesse said…
Belle: What a wise mother. That way a contribution could be relatively modest or more lavish. I love this idea.
Shelley: To inherit a charm bracelet seems to me the perfect luck- a charmed life indeed.
ma: One day I'll spring for one! I have precisely one gold charm and no bracelet right now.
What a Splurge: Do hope you find it, they are too special to languish in a box.
sisty: Think I know how you feel. Losses through my own negligence sting worse than theft b/c it's my own doing.
Maggie: Guess not too old, it's just that what I buy now has to look OK when I'm a LOL! And can I afford more than one or two charms a year? A friend's mum just bought herself serious diamond earrings for her 80th so guess you are never too old to enjoy beautiful jewelry.
Frugal: Ooooh. Yes they can catch, are jangly and not keyboard friendly but- so full of character and stories.
crunchycon said…
You have a charm with my dog on it! How sweet!

I had charm bracelets as a girl, and they're now among my treasures. I lived overseas as a youngster and these hold many memories of my travels and of the people (parents, godparents) who used to give them to me. I don't wear them as it annoys me to have something clanging on my desk or rattling around my wrist (a watch I can stand). If there's any way I can overcome that, I'd wear mine again in a heartbeat as I love the look.
Duchesse said…
crunchycon: There is no way around the jangle, other than changing one's tolerance. Christine wears hers when she isn't working.

One of my friends had her charms taken off a bracelet and put on a necklace.
Lisa said…
I've been wearing a charm bracelet since I was a kid. My sterling silver one is a bit of personal history of my life up until about 30. Enter the gold bracelet, a Valentine's Day present from my husband. I try to do different charms other than the expected, ie instead of the Eiffel Tower after my first trip to Paris, I had a remaining franc but in a gold coin frame and soldered to my bracelet.(Did the same to coins from England and Bali). When my son made Eagle Scout, they give out pins for each parent. It went to the jeweler's the next day for a custom frame and soldered to my bracelet. Ditto for the pin the Air Force gives to parents of recruits graduating from Basic Training. Anybody can buy a charm but mine are priceless.
Duchesse said…
Lisa: I've thought about having charms made, too, as you say, deeply personal and one of a kind.

Anybody can buy a charm but not all charms are equal. Design and workmanship make some charms far more beautiful than an ordinary souvenir-shop piece.

Your bracelet sounds wonderful!
It was very sad to know that Laura lost her charm bracelet from the 60s. I have seen many new designs in the rystal elegance jewelry now a days and there are many good designs. But due to rise in gold prices, its getting very difficult to get the jewelry. I am trying to get something as an alternative for the golden things.
Duchesse said…
Crystal Elegance: Are you perhaps commenting in order to promote your jewelry on my blog? Your website features crystal set in gold plate, which has its place, but would not earn a window in Passage des perles.

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