Sterling Silver makes up a very small portion of my jewelry collection. Yes, I still have my high school graduation ring and a lovely little engraved locket that was the only gift I can remember receiving from my grandfather who has since passed away, but the star of my sterling silver jewelry is my vintage charm bracelet.
I can remember receiving it back in the mid 70's when I was 13. It was a gift from my mother who probably didn't realize at the time, what a wonderful role this simple sterling silver charm bracelet would play in my life. Now in my late 40's (yikes, how did that happen so quickly!), this bracelet is loaded with charms that symbolize wonderful milestones and events from the first charm which was "13", to pets I had growing up, graduation, first job, birthdays (I guess I'm going to have to start watching for a 50 now!), wedding, anniversary, the birth of my lovely daughter, hobbies, places my mom travelled, places I have traveled to, methods of transportation, just to name a very few. Some have movable parts like the unique clock my mom purchased during a trip to Switzerland, some have turquoise beads, rhinestones or enamel. This may look like a standard charm bracelet to everyone else but for me, it is a wonderful and wearable journal. I can look at each charm and remember well the event that was so meaningful at the time, it was worth symbolizing in a delicate silver charm. I now have a charm on every link and am working my way around this old bracelet for the second time. Just for fun, I checked and it weighs 108 grams!
When my daughter was born, I knew I wanted to give her this same gift so we can document events in her life that are meaningful. So far, it starts with a little Kiwi bird from New Zealand symbolizing the 4 months of my pregnancy spent there, an April charm with birthstone for the month she was born, a charm of the city where she was born, one for her first big trip at the age of 3 months to meet her grandfather for the only time since he has since passed away, one for a province she has visited and the last one was for a trip she took when she was 1 1/2 to meet a niece who had just been born (this stuff happens when you have children in your 40's LOL!!). We now have a vacation booked in January and she will be getting another charm to symbolize that trip. I hope when she is older, we can sit down together and explore each charm on her bracelet and talk about what events in her life are represented by each one.
One of the most thoughtful gifts you can give are these wearable "life journals". Luckily they can still be found online and at flea markets although it is getting harder and harder to find ones that have not had charms on them at some point. There are lots of charms available in online stores so even if you can't find a charm at the time or place you want to represent, there are other options for finding the perfect one later.
To my mom, thank you so much for starting this wonderful tradition between mothers and daughters, I hope my own daughter will do the same for hers one day.
To everyone else, next time you see a vintage charm bracelet, remember that it isn't just a lovely old piece of vintage jewelry, it's a totally unique and wearable history of someone's life!