In ancient Egypt charms were used for identification and as symbols of faith and luck. Charms also served to identify an individual to the gods in the afterlife. Medieval knights wore charms for protection in battle. Charms also were worn in the dark ages to represent family origin, religious and political convictions.
Charm bracelets have been the subject of several waves of trends. Queen Victoria wore charm bracelets that started a fashion among the European noble classes. Soldiers returning home after World War II brought home trinkets made by craftsmen local to the area where they were fighting to give to loved ones, American teenagers in the 1950s and early 1960s collected charms to record the events in their lives. Although interest and production waned through the latter part of the 20th century, there was a resurgence of popularity after 2000 and collectors eagerly sought out vintage charms. Due to the movie Pirates of the Caribbean, the fashion in winter 2006 was bracelets with little charms of swords, crosses and skulls.
They appeal to diverse customer base due to the wide range of beads available. The silver beads available start from approx. £15 ($30 US) and the range extends up to gold and diamond beads at £300 - £400. The beads can also be worn on necklaces and matching rings and earring are also available to make a complete set.
In the UK the most successful brand of European charm bracelet is Pandora, though Biagi, Chamilia and Troll beads are also very popular in the US.
This current fashion for modular jewelry builds on the success that 'Add A Bead' jewelry had in the 80's.