As an enthusiast of antique jewelry and objects, I have a habit of collecting. From Georgian rivières to 19th century mocha-ware, each collection expresses a different facet of my personality, which is what I love about charms; the ability to mix, match, and continually build upon an assortment of tiny treasures that say something about me.
Coco Chanel famously had a host of lucky charms she always kept nearby: camellias, the number 5, and four-leaf clovers. Around the same time across the pond, Mamie Eisenhower wore a gold bracelet full of little mementos that read like a book of her life (and our country’s history): a replica of her engagement band, a miniature newspaper to mark her husband’s victory, and a key to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The tradition of charms also includes less literal but, nonetheless, quite personal interpretations. In the Victorian era, young women of a certain stature would go on a Grand Tour of Europe to see all the sights. They’d pick up small plaster cameos at each stop along the way, building a collection of souvenirs that chronicled their journey. And for millennia, evil eye amulets have been a symbol of protection across many cultures, from the Old Testament to ancient Egypt to Mesopotamia. More recently they have taken on new meaning: the eye has appeared in numerous Alessandro Michele Gucci designs, from scarves to sweatshirts to handbags, and model Gigi Hadid has carried a nazar charm for years.
Whatever their significance to you, it’s that personal, talismanic quality that makes charms so, well, charming.