Collector's Corner: Charm Beads
By Michele Alice
Though charms to ward off evil or evoke good luck have existed since prehistory, Queen Victoria is credited with turning the charm bracelet into a fashion statement.
Not all charm bracelets are alike. The Italian-style bracelet exhibits the charms linked together in a manner that somewhat resembles a Speidel watchband, while the more traditional bracelet is a chain-link affair to which charms representing special occasions or interests are attached as pendants. Today, the most popular permutation of the charm bracelet centers around charm beads.
Like pendant charms, charm beads come in an almost limitless number of designs. The advantage to charm beads is in the way they are attached to the bracelet. Charm beads have holes that allow them to be easily slipped over a wire or cord. This allows the wearer to easily change, add, or rearrange the beads without the use of the traditional tools needed to secure findings (the small rings, loops, clasps, etc. used to assemble jewelry). Break up with your fiance? Just slip the bead he gave you off the bracelet! Graduate from college? Mark the occasion by slipping on a new bead. Hit it big in Vegas? Buy all the beads you need to create a matching set with necklace and earrings.
Charm beads had their origin in 1976 when Danish silversmith Soren Nielsen created the first bead, "The Mask." The depiction of the face of a troll gave the company, Trollbeads, its name. Other designs soon followed and a phenomenon was born. By the time that this new fashion statement had swept through the U.S. in the first decade of the 21st century, brands like Pandora, Chamilia, and Lovelinks had become major competitors for the attentions of bead collectors.
Prices for new beads can vary greatly depending upon design and the quality of materials. Many beads fall in the up-to-$50 range, but if they are made, for example, of 18ct gold or contain pearls or precious stones, expect to pay much, much more.
In the case of retired beads, not only are their values subject to the vagaries of the precious metals markets, but increasing rarity also has an effect. Trollbeads' sterling silver "Joyful" (#11404) originally retailed for $41.00, but at a recent online auction, it fetched a very nice $710.00. And for Trollbeads' 18ct gold "Giraffes" (#21240) that had a price tag of $325 when new, online retail sites are asking over $1000!
As with any collectible, it's easy to get caught up in the pursuit of a "must-have" specimen and overpay, or, equally bad, not recognize a great investment opportunity. In other words, it pays to know your subject. So, check out the resources listed below, and
Chamilia - Link - Official website.
Charm Chatter - Link - Check out the glossary and featured articles.
Charms and Charm Bracelets - Link - Nice article on vintage charms
Guides: Charms - Link - Check out these eBay guides written by expert Joan Munkacsi (gelatogrrl), who passed away last year (see her obituary, "Joan Munkacsi: A Charmed Life," on UlsterPublishing.com, and a tribute, "Joan Munkacsi Rest in Peace," on CharmChatter.com)
Pandora - Link - Official website.
Retired Trollbeads - Link - Sells retired beads.
Trollbeads - Link - Official website. Check out the Retired section.
Trollbeads Society - Link - History, photo gallery, forum. Sponsored by RetiredTrollbeads.com (see above)
About the author:
Michele Alice is EcommerceBytes Update Contributing Editor. Michele is a freelance writer in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. She collects books, science fiction memorabilia and more! Email her at makalice @ adelphia.net eBay ID: Malice9
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