Charm Bracelet Dos & Don'ts
A charm bracelet is a story for life. Whether it begins in babyhood, childhood or adulthood, the charms and the stories they tell, will be treasured always in sterling silver or solid gold.
Each beautiful charm bracelet is as individual as the wearer but there are a few tips to keep in mind when creating charm bracelets for kids or adults.
Apart from the size, there is no real difference between gold or silver charms for a girl or a woman. A fine childhood bracelet with little charms can be worn into adulthood if the chain is long enough or can be extended with a few links.
Chunky charm bracelets with big charms might be too big for a young girl to wear often, but she will enjoy wearing it for special occasions as she grows and watching the story grow as charms are added along the way!
Charms for smaller children are usually between 5mm and 15mm. Charms for adults range between 5mm and 25mm but charms of all shapes and sizes can look great worn together with a little thought given to the arrangement.
A lifetime bracelet might start with a few tiny charms spread evenly around the bracelet, filling the gaps with larger charms as the child, and the story, grows.
Charm Bracelet Chains
It is worth considering the best chain to use before you start as it can be an expensive job to re-solder a bracelet full of charms at a later date if the initial bracelet is not strong enough.
As long as the links are big enough for a jump ring or clip to thread through, a charm can be attached to just about any charm bracelet, however, it is important to check that bracelet links are solid and soldered. Hollow link bracelets or unsoldered links can wear quickly and cost money for repairs or replacements or lost charms. Choosing well in the first place will save on later costs.
If you're planning on one or two charms a fine chain will work. If you are planning on adding lots of charms it is important you choose a bracelet that will be sturdy enough to hold the weight. Each little charm on its own may be light, but a lifetime of charms will be quite heavy!
Charm Bracelet Lengths
There may only be a few centimeters of difference between the length needed for an average woman's charm bracelet (19cm), charm bracelets for girls (17cm) or a baby charm bracelet (16cm) but those cms can make a big difference!
If the bracelet is to be worn through life you can choose an adult's length bracelet and have a jeweller remove some of the end links. Store the extra links somewhere safe so they can be attached again when needed.
As another option, an sturdy adult length bracelet can be clasped at any point along the links and moved along as the child grows. If you don't like the dangle, clip it up with one of Oh My Giddy Aunt's clever little grow clips!
Alternatively it is possible to start with a baby length bracelet extend it at a later date but matching the exact chain may prove to be a bit of a challenge.
Attaching Charms to Bracelets
Traditionally, jewellers attached charms to bracelets permanently by soldering the jump rings through the links of the chain. Soldering is still one of the neatest, most secure ways to attach charms but it does require a visit to the jeweller. Today, there are a number of other ways to attach charms to bracelets but it is important to decide whether you want charms attached permanently, or able to be moved around. You can also decide whether you would like a jeweller to attach the charm for you, or if you would like to do it yourself.
Attaching options can be permanent; Soldering or Link Locks or non-permanent: Split Rings or Parrot, Lobster or Clip-On Clasps or Threading on to a chain,
Silver or Gold Charms?
In the past people tended to wear one or the other - silver or gold - but these days most people wear both depending on the jewellery, the outfit or the occasion. Two and three-tone jewellery that mixes sterling silver or white, yellow and rose gold opens up a whole world of possibilities!
Apart from the colour, cost can be a deciding factor. Most sterling silver charms are priced between $9.95 - $29.95 while solid gold charms range between $49.95 - $495.95. Price makes a big difference when there are 10 or 20 charms on a bracelet. Often a 9ct gold charm bracelet will have a few select charms whereas a sterling silver charm bracelet can be full of lots of jinglejangles.
Choosing two-tone or three-tone jewellery means you can add a mix of charms in a variety of gold colours or sterling silver too!
To ensure solid gold charms don't get lost in the playground, some families have a tradition of giving a child a gold charm for each milestone birthday but not adding the collection to a bracelet until the 16th, 18th or 21st birthday, when the wearer will be old enough to look after the whole collection and a beautiful bracelet.
If you are storing charm bracelets for a while it is important to keep them away from water or moisture, in a sealed bag or box and preferably wrapped in a soft cloth. If the sterling silver does tarnish a little over the years it can be easily polished clean.
A note of warning about plated charms. While they are a lot cheaper, silver and gold plated charms are costume jewellery, not precious jewellery. They may look pretty while they are shiny and new but plating will not last. Oh My Giddy Aunt only sells solid 9ct or 18ct gold or sterling silver charms, mostly made in Australia, that can be polished to look as good as new for generations to come.