Guide to Buying Charm Bracelets

If you collect vintage and antique silver or gold charms and charm bracelets, you'll find a wealth of choices on eBay-it's a charm collector's dream. But as more and more people fall under the spell of vintage charms, prices have risen, and so have the risks of buying unwisely. I've been selling charms on eBay for almost six years (I'm an avid collector myself), and in those years the pitfalls have multiplied. It's crucial today, as never before, to become an educated collector-you can find the most wonderful charms, but you can also fill a bracelet with counterfeits. Here are some tips to help you on your way, whether you've just discovered vintage charms or been collecting all your life.

Take Your Time

When collectors first see all the terrific vintage charms available, they often get carried away with enthusiasm. They bid wildly, convinced that they'll never see a charm again. After a few weeks and a ton of money, they notice that the wishing well charm they spent $50 on has appeared ten times since from various sellers and usually goes for $15. So don't rush into bidding without taking a little time first to research and watch the market-the time you spend will be the best investment in your collection that you can ever make. Just about every charm was mass-produced to one extent or another and will come around again, sooner or later. Save your big bids for charms that are genuinely scarce or very much in demand.

Choose a Theme (or Two or Three or . . .)

It's a good idea to have a theme in mind before you start buying, so that you don't end up with a random pile of charms that don't work together. Your theme can be as broad or as narrow as you like. You can put together a bracelet that tells your life story, one filled with remembrances of a special vacation or of many, a bracelet of charms related to your profession, one of all jeweled charms or all hearts or all animals or all zodiac charms. You can choose all mechanical charms, or all 1940s charms. One of the most clever bracelets I've seen is a Time and Money bracelet, chock full of clocks of every sort, along with a variety of mad money charms, ingots, and coins from around the world-both ingenious and attractive! Here's my personal bracelet of food and cooking charms:

Generally speaking, you'll have a more successful bracelet if you use charms that are fairly similar in size, era, and material. Large, chunky English openers can overwhelm and even damage delicate charms of the 1940s, Victorian and 1950s charms are seldom a good match, and although I personally love gold and silver mixed on a bracelet, combining rhodium-plated sterling charms with non-rhodiumed ones can be problematic. But of course you can make a bracelet with whatever you like-it's your personal statement.

Is It Really Rare?

This falls under the "know the market" umbrella, but it's worth a special mention. Everytime I browse eBay, I see vintage charms that are described as rare that are, in a word, not. Sometimes it's a seller deliberately hyping their wares, hoping to get higher bids. More often, though, it's a seller who is not very experienced with charms and who equates "I haven't seen it before" with rarity. There may be no intention whatsoever to deceive, but that doesn't mean the claim is true. So take claims of "RARE!" with a grain of salt, unless they're from a seller with years of experience.


Have you tried the flea market?

2009-10-13 17:57:28 by Cavvy

Some of the ones in my area have those charm vendors who sell all sorts of charms and bracelets for them to go on. Or you could check your local crafts store, for example: AC Moore, Michael's, Joann's, Hobby Lobby. Also some of the big box retailers are starting to carry charms since it's the holidays. The one I work for is carrying all sorts of charms for kids such as ballet shoes, tennis, soccer ball, etc. They are 10-14K gold charms, but I would imaging that there would be silver ones too.


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