These trinkets have enjoyed many a trending wave and once again they appear to be at the crest of a gargantuan revival, especially in the travel-retail industry where charm bracelets seem to hang from every woman’s wrist.
But the latest trend is attempting to reinvent itself yet again “It’s a new take on a classic idea” says Julian Mullins, travel retail director for Pandora jewellery UK. “I mean, charm bracelets sort of came into popularity from sailors going around buying little gifts for their wives when they travelled. They would bring charms back and have them soldered on to a bracelet
These keepsakes would be kept for a lifetime and would be passed down through the family almost as an heirloom. “Pandora is all about providing charms for those ‘unforgettable moments. It’s basically allowing individuals to really dress something how they feel and bring back those special moments for them,” says Mullins, suggesting that these moments could be anything from celebrating the birth of a child to a great holiday. “All of those little individual pieces that make up the charm bracelets themselves are special and significant to you.”
Trisha Gregory, senior marketing manager at Chamilia, believes that the appeal of these charm bracelets is the customisation aspect. “Behind every beautiful design is a beautiful designer: you. That’s the philosophy of Chamilia.”
Gregory’s romantic sentiment about their jewellery is echoed by Mullins: “You take a look at it and there are billions of combinations. No two bracelets are the same. Some people like a lot of colour; some people like just silver or just gold.”
Pandora uses a blend of 14k and 18k gold, silver, white gold, Murano glass, and an impressive selection of precious stones such as sapphires, opals, moonstones and freshwater pearls. Chamilia uses “combinations of 14k gold, sterling silver, Italian Murano glass, Swarovski crystal elements with coloured and natural stones,” says Gregory.
Because the consumer can purchase from such a huge variety of different designs and materials, women are not embarrassed if they come across another wearing a charm bracelet. “If two women walk into a room and they have the same top on, generally they will shy away from each other and move to opposite corners of the room. But if two women see each other with Pandora bracelets on, it provides them with an opening conversation.”
Daivd Butler at Clogau Gold thinks that women love the fact that they can collect charms. “I bought my wife a bracelet with two beads recently and now every time I travel abroad I have to buy a new bead before I return home. It’s become expected.” Butler points out that charms are easy gifts for a man or woman to buy for loved ones.
The demand for charm bracelets has increased beyond the jewellery industry’s wildest expectations. “In the ‘90s Pandora was a small company, but [by] the 2000s the [company’s products were being sold] in Australia and America, where business sky-rocketed,” says Mullins. Although Pandora as a company was founded in 1982, its iconic charm bracelets were launched in 2000. Since then, Pandora has literally conquered the market. “In the year 2000 we produced less than a million units of jewellery, and in 2009 it was over 42million,” says Mullins.
Clogau Gold expects sales of its new Royal Charm collection to go through the roof. “The day after the Royal wedding [between Kate Middleton and Prince William] was announced we had a range of Royal charms on the drawing board,” says Butler. “They will be available to buy at the end of March in plenty of time for the Royal wedding.”
Chamilia has worked out how to put its signature stamp on the market as well. The travel-retail channel is something which it takes very seriously. “Chamilia recently introduced a free-standing tower display that was specifically targeted at the duty-free customer who appreciates high-end products delivered with speed and convenience,” Gregory explains. “It prompts the customers to choose their favourite bracelet type, glass bead colours and theme beads, resulting in a beautiful personalised bracelet that can be worn immediately.”
It is no secret that Pandora and Chamilia face fierce competition from other brands which produce comparable products, and they need to plan carefully to remain competitive. “Chamilia continues to provide innovative products to keep consumers intrigued with the ever-changing possibilities of personalising their jewellery,” says Gregory, while Mullins is brutally honest about his competition: “There are other companies out there making similar products and while some of them are excellent, they don’t have the look, feel or the emotions that Pandora has. And they aren’t as successful.”