Things to beguile the charmless (Part 1)

Saturday 3 December 2011, 5.21pm HKT

WORD NYMPH’s article “Charmed, I’m sure” has suitably inspired me to write about jewellery.

Charm bracelets — what else?

The Christmas/New Year/Hogmanay/boozing/cash-elimination holiday season is upon us. As Word Nymph points out in her article, charm bracelets have always been one of the most popular gifts to be had for any occasion. Very fetching they are too.

A vintage sterling silver charm bracelet with 45 charms, valued at US$450


A charm bracelet’s biggest plus point is that it’s going to be an heirloom for your descendants, who, in this day and age, are highly likely to turn out to be dogs, wogs and clogs  — who might just try to bump you off, get at the bracelet (and other baubles) and then flog it at the friendly local pawnshop for drug money.

But honestly, if you truly love your progeny, you really should leave something behind for them to convert into money for buying contraband. Did your ancestors leave anything for you to do that? There’s your answer.

Of course, your consolation is that future heirloom can become your instrument of revenge: what will be an instrument of revenue for your descendants, goes to prolong their drug-addled misery.

What it all means

Point blank, it means you’re loaded. The prices of those little dingly-danglies are not exactly to be sniffed at — which means you’d have to be ‘in the black’ in a serious way to own a charm bracelet with more than three of those buggers.

Now, on to a deeper, more cultured, more acculturated, more socioculturally meaningful meaning of owning (or wanting to own) a charm bracelet — regardless of your sex, mental condition and (importantly) bank balance.

(I’ll speak slowly since there are Ph.D.’s reading this.)


In a way a charm bracelet encaptures the apparent thinking that must have went on behind the result. It shows your consideration for the person — that you actually cared enough about him or her (or yourself) to put the grey matter to work. (Or lack of, as the case may be.)

And since new charms become added to the bracelet from time to time to represent significant events in your life — remember that near-death experience from the drug overdose, or the Saturday Night Square-Up with transvetite goths at the local bordello pub? — the whole shebang grows along with you down through your sordid, drug-rotted years.

(People presumably grow with age in one way or another, though mileage may vary for some people.)


The vendor (where the above picture comes from) has a wonderful suggestion:

“My suggestion to you, if you know that your Mother or Grandmother has a Vintage Charm Bracelet — is to have [her] tell the story that [her] charm bracelet contains. And to have [her] do that in front of a video camera, this could be an incredible and easy way to gather and collect a part of her history, that might otherwise be lost.” (Link)

Of course, your mum’s or grandma’s back story could turn out icky. The charm bracelet could actually turn out to be payment for a bit of leg-over behind the steering wheel at the local park at night.

That’s because the thinking behind the charm bracelet can be a minus point too. Some of us (even most) have a talent for bungling the thinking department, resulting in some bizarre choices of charms, which don’t exactly advance the image of either the giver or the wearer.

Like, for instance, that time a friend of mine bought a rather unusual charm and bracelet for his whore girlfriend. Now, broadly speaking, an uncommon design means the item should worth a bob or two. Trouble was, my friend’s charm came in the shape of a satyr doing — how to say? — a cunning linguist act.

Yeah, viva la différence! and all that. Please, don’t go down that road just to be different.

An eclectic mix of 13 charms soldered onto the bracelet, including a spinning onyx and malachite set fob, articulated fish, and a large flexible skeleton


Price can be a minus point too. Charms of fairly good quality and design aren’t expensive but they’re not cheap either (as you shall see in Parts 2, 3 and 4 of this story). Fortunately, you don’t have to buy one every year.

Not to put too fine a point on things, even an expensive charm probably costs a lot less than all the other bland, brain-damaged gifts combined that you had to buy for your ungrateful family and relatives for this holiday season.

Who makes the best charm bracelets?


You could say Tiffany & Co. of New York City and Pandora A/S of Denmark are the Optimus Prime and Megatron of charm bracelet makers. (You decide which one is which.) Both companies are ‘the ultimate’ — they offer the most options of charms, bracelets and other doodads in different metals (silver, gold and platinum). Tiffany and Pandora charm bracelets are high class, high quality and high priced. But they great to have, and worth blackmailing people for.

Pandora bracelet with trollbeads

Pandora is perhaps best known for its twist on the classic charm bracelet. In year 2000, Pandora launched a line of bracelets that have a patented threading system that allows charms to be placed, added and rearranged easily and securely.

The basic Tiffany bracelet: highly recognisable, but highly counterfeited

Tiffany’s major problem is that its jewellery is one of most heavily counterfeited items in the world. Because most Tiffany jewellery is made in sterling silver, counterfeit Tiffs are not particularly expensive to fabricate, and further made more economical by the use of tin/silver alloys to give that platinum sheen so characteristic of Tiffany.

However, with a (genuine) Tiffany or Pandora on, you’ll never look cheap or ‘chav’ — you’ll invariably be seen as moneyed, if not anything else — though you could be laughed at as a moron if you wore their stuff ‘incorrectly.’

Tiffany and Pandora jewellery are not exactly easy wear. Both have a ‘pitch’ to them that makes it hard for most people to wear those baubles convincingly. It’s the same kind of deal with Ermenagildo Zegna and Hugo Boss suits, which are quite difficult for most men to wear well on the bod.


Juicy Couture (headquartered in Los Angeles) markets itself as a high-end but affordably priced clothing line aimed at the younger set. In North America and Europe, Juicy Couture is favoured by women in the 20-25 age band. In Asia, their customer base seems much older, around 25-40 — indeed, the tonier-looking bunch of 40- to 50-year-old women in mainland China would chance their looks on Juicy Couture once in a while.

I don’t know if Juicy Couture have charm bracelets, but I do know they have bracelets. (Not exactly a helpful observation, I know.)


Chances are, most Asians won’t have heard of Claire’s, Justice and Icing. These three store brands operate either wholly or mainly in North America, maybe with some European operations, but basically zero presence in Asia.

Claire’s is an accessory and jewellery retailer with 3,000 stores across 33 countries. Customer base is girls and young women. The company runs two store brands: the Claire’s brand itself and Icing.

Icing stores target young women between 19 and 28. Its merchandise has a higher price point and is more mature in flavour. Icing doesn’t offer licensed merchandise, so the stores carry less merchandise than most other branded storechains, and that helps it to create a less ‘overstuffed’ feel to customers.

The Claire’s brand is aimed at even younger females. Interestingly, Claire’s has done over 80 million ear piercings in its 25 years of operation, more than any other retailer has done.


Justice is a brand of stores run by Tween Brands Inc. (previously Too Inc.). Justice sells clothes and lifestyle/personal care products at a value price aimed at girls age 9 to 14. Justice has no presence outside the USA, so it doesn’t count for the rest of us.

* * *

Continues in Part 2

One for the boys and what to get as a minimum

* * *

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

Images: Vintage charm bracelet with 45 charms via Fine Estate Sales ♦ Big skeleton charm bracelet via Welded-Bliss ♦ Pandora bracelet via shopenzed ♦ Tiffany bracelet via My Jewelry Planet.

5 Responses to “Things to beguile the charmless (Part 1)”

  1. Ed Hurst said

    Yes, Juicy does the charm bracelets, and some model come pre-loaded. Not that I care a whit, but I happen to know.


    • You are absolutely amazing! I’ve got Juicy just a stone’s throw away from my place – and I don’t know what they’ve got. However, I do see a lot of women in their 40-somethings buy the most outlandish garb there. I don’t think any of them realise the stuff is for much, much younger women…


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