How to Choose a Traditional Charm Bracelet

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There are two factors to consider when selecting an appropriate starter charm bracelet for traditional charms (as opposed to European, Italian, or slider charms): first, the size of the bracelet itself; and second, the style of the bracelet relative to the size, number, and age of the charms you want to put on it.

SIZE...

Wrap a tape measure around your wrist. If you don't have a tape measure, use a length of string or even a narrow strip of paper and mark where it meets around your wrist. You will need a bracelet about 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches longer than your wrist measurement, depending on how tight or loose you prefer to wear your bracelet and how much drape you like — i.e. how far up your arm and down your hand you like it to move. One inch is the standard rule of thumb.

Bear in mind that very chunky and thick bracelets will "wear" shorter than they measure, since the flat measurement represents the outer circumference. The inner circumference, which lies against your wrist, will be slightly shorter. Be aware too that if you really load your bracelet down, all those jump rings take up space too and will push your bracelet out from your wrist, making a longer length necessary.
Don't forget to consider your own proportions when choosing your bracelet.

STYLE...

Also to be kept in mind is the size and proportion of the charms you intend to put on this bracelet. Smaller, daintier charms generally call for a lighter, more slender bracelet, and vice-versa for very large or oversize charms. It's also nice to keep in mind the age of your charms. If you're assembling a bracelet of Victorian charms, you'll want something in the chunkier style of that era, possibly with a padlock heart clasp, or perhaps a bangle. If you're putting together a bracelet of vintage puffy hearts from the 1940s, the fashionable charm bracelets of that time were narrower.

An additional consideration is the style of the links. Cable chain consists of round or oval links at right angles to one another; each can hold a charm. The traditional curb link is a gently twisted link that lies flat against the wrist. A double curb link consists of paired links, again gently twisted to lie flat against the arm. Every link or paired link on these bracelets can hold a charm, or even two (one on each side) for a delightfully clustered effect. There are triple link bracelets and some quite elaborate multiple-link style. Links may be plain, chased, or embossed with a pattern.

Another style of starter charm features larger charm-holding links alternating with a twisted smaller pair of links. Only the larger links can hold a charm, and usually only one charm. This style of bracelet can hold less charms but will showcase them further apart.

You may even a find a bracelet with novelty-style links, such as heart shapes, or an old-fashioned vintage bangle with tiny loops that each hold a charm.

The effect you prefer — clustered, or spread out — should dictate your choice of link style. Don't worry about a safety chain or lack thereof. Some bracelets come with them, but they can actually be a liability because they may get tangled with the charms.

IN SHORT...

So to sum up, consider your own proportions as well as those of your charms. Fit the bracelet to your wrist first, and then be sure it will complement and accommodate your charms. Choose a link style that most effectively showcases your charms as you prefer to see them and that suits the age of your charms.

If you find yourself truly succumbing to charmania, there are a number of excellent eBay Guides to charms and charm bracelets at www.ebay.com/guides.
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