When I first saw a reference to Italian charm bracelets, it piqued my interest. I’d loved charm bracelets ever since I was a girl, when my great-aunt gave me a sterling silver charm bracelet engraved with my name and birthdate and sporting a charm that looked just like my little lab-mix pup. I think charm bracelets are a great way to wear a pretty piece of jewelry that expresses your own personality through your choice of charms. But I’d never heard of Italian charm bracelets, and vowed to learn more.
It turns out that the main difference between a traditional charm bracelet and and Italian charm bracelet is that rather than dangling from a chain, the charms are flat links that attach to a stretchy bracelet.
Italian charm bracelets were first developed in 1987 in the village of Sesto Florentino, Italy by jeweler Paolo Gensini, founder of the jewelry firm Nomination. Called the composable charm bracelet, the bracelets were intended to appeal to both men and women. The bracelet quickly grew in popularity, helped along by professional soccer players who sported the charm bracelets. Other companies began producing the bracelets, which came to be known as Italian charm bracelets. By the 1990s the craze had spread to the United States, and today the bracelets and their charms are easily obtainable in shops and online.
Building a Bracelet
The first step to building an Italian charm bracelet is selecting a starter bracelet. Starter bracelets come with blank links that owners can pop off and replace with more personalized charms. They are available in small, medium and large sizes, with 17, 18 and 19 links respectively. After the bracelet is selected, purchase a few charms to replace the blank starter links. Bracelet owners can fill the bracelet all at once, or carefully select charms a few at a time. They can also switch charms on and off the bracelet for variety.
The charms come in a dazzling variety of styles, materials and prices. There are stainless steel charms as well as charms fashioned from 14k gold. Enameled styles are popular, as are engraved links. Charms can depict a favorite hobby or particular interest, feature the photos of loved ones, boast a colorful birthstone, spell out a name, serve as a medic alert or simply show a pretty flower or color.
Nomination, the original Italian charm bracelet company, still produces some of the better quality options along with firms like Zoppini and , however there are numerous firms out there making fun charms for Italian charm bracelets.