Anyone who keeps up with trends knows that some unintentional matching, be it with friends or strangers, is all but guaranteed. But with the latest jewelry trend, the paradox seems to have broken. For once it’s possible to follow the pack while still staying totally unique. Behold: the charm necklace.
The name of the game is individuality. Charms have existed since the Neolithic Era as a means of warding off evil, and they began to map the life of the wearer during the Ancient Roman Empire. By Queen Victoria’s reign, the jewelry was completely divorced from its original context of protection. In the most recent decades, the simple Tiffany & Co. charm bracelet has long dominated the conversation. But lately, a new emphasis on eclectic statement pieces is taking over—namely the more obvious necklace. As shoppers are realizing the necklaces are perfect sentimental pieces for any personal style, jewelry designers are seeing the effects of the new charm necklace obsession.
Susan Korn, the New York-based jewelry designer behind the label Susan Alexandra, was surprised to see charms take off when she began offering them in her store around 10 years ago. “It became a really, really popular offering right away,” she says. “It’s still the number one best seller—and it’s been several years.”
Korn was shocked that the ornaments, which she made as symbols of protection and gratitude during a rocky time in her own life, had such resonance with total strangers. “They’re very personal and nobody else in the world will have the same one as you,” she says. The persisting interest in charm jewelry is something that continues to influence Korn’s business practices. While customers can make customized necklaces within her shop, she realizes that people also want the ability to mix and match with other trinkets in their collections. “We’re gonna have them as little clips so you can take them on and off your own jewelry,” she says. “Our number one best seller of the whole year is just the loose charms.”
Alexis Nido-Russo, founder and CEO of the jewelry brand Local Eclectic recently introduced charms on the company’s in-house label, Family Gold. “We bought what we thought was two months of supply, and we sold out within 48 hours,” she says. Nido-Russo made a TikTok detailing what baubles and talismans she would include on a necklace that she would give to her now-4-year-old daughter before she goes to college. For her, these necklaces allow feelings and memories to transcend time, letting us latch on to specific places in our lives. “Going away to college is going to be a very emotional time and that my daughter would have something to remember the past with is just very beautiful and magical,” she says.