Are you interested in old antique and vintage charms? Maybe you are just starting a collection. This buyers guide will assist you in your choices.
Antique and Vintage Charms
Antique and vintage charms are highly collectable and most regularly added to bracelets but sometimes to other chains such as necklaces or to a suspension brooch. They do add great movement to a piece of jewellery when hung in this way. They can be collected by theme, age, material, colour or maker. Some collectors like just to find moving or opening examples. The range available does seem endless, every week I find one I've not seen before. Any object you can imagine seems to have been immortalized as a charm at some stage.
Charms have been worn throughout history right from the ancients up until today. Being found in all shapes and forms and they are made of a multitude of different materials. They are also called amulets or fobs ( perhaps a little larger than the average ). Victorian ladies sometimes wore them suspended from their Chatelaines and why not wear a pair of matching ones as earrings? Traditionally a bracelet was bought blank or with just one charm attached and the lucky wearer was given or purchased an additional piece to mark significant events in her life until there were thirteen in all. Most collectors could not stop at the traditional number thirteen and many bracelets are seen much fuller than this or they are added to a second chain. The older ones we see are not threaded onto a bracelet like modern Pandora and other makes, they hang via an O ring which gives lots of movement to the jewellery.
Buying Charms today
If you are looking to purchase one today you have a wide choice. There is always the simple option of buying a new piece however you will find that these do not generally have the quality of an older piece of jewellery, you are more likely to see another person wearing the exact same piece. Buying antique also comes with a history attached to them which adds to their sentimental value. Please do consider the size of the charm you are buying. Small ones can become lost on a bracelet full of chunkier charms. If you chain is lighter weight then smaller charms are best and larger charms for a larger link chain.
A young girl could be given a silver cat or horse to signify her favourite pets. A girl passing a ballet exam might be given a ballerina, a key for her 18th birthday, an “I love you spinner” from her first boyfriend and a crystal studded ring in a box upon her engagement. When she got married a bible and an opening church would be added to the bracelet and a stork on the birth of her first child. Travel was also marked with an aeroplane, boat or a silver and enamel shield from each place visited. Other favourites include cars, spinning wheels, cherubs, clocks and St Christophers. Some people collect along a particular theme. Interesting ones I have seen are the signs of the Zodiac, buildings of London, breeds of dog or puffed hearts. Some just collect opening or articulated ones set with crystals. It is also possible to collect by manufacturer such and Nuvo or Chim. These are all genuine vintage items which come as they were made up over 30 or more years ago.
Gold, of course, is much rarer and more expensive. Normally I would recommend that you collect either gold or silver charms on a separate bracelet – mixing these materials may well lead to a disproportional amount of wear to the softer ones. Please remember that whatever type you collect I am happy to help you with your selection and send additional photographs if required. It is easy to add a charm to your chain, you can use a traditional O ring which needs a pair of pliers in each hand to twist open and closed, take it to you jeweller who will solder it in place for just a few pounds . Alternatively, you can use a modern clip but this looks a little out of place on the pieces here. Have you any antique and vintage charms. Please tell us about them.