Making Charm Jewelry For Modern Tribes
Charm jewelry has been around for eons, indeed Queen Victoria was quite the fan of and even gifted charm jewelry to people. It was during the Victorian period that charm jewelry rose in popularity due to her use of charms as a fashion accessory, because before charms were typically worn for protection.
Charm jewelry dates back as far as 30,000 years ago, worn because they were though to offer protection against evil. They were also viewed as a harbinger of good luck, hence the term 'lucky charms'.
The Kings and Queens of ancient Egypt wore these talismans as part of their elaborate headpieces, with one of the most popular charms being a scarab beetle. Even as long ago as 75,000 years, early man wore shells, wooden charms and tusks for personal adornment, these too were charms of a sort.
Charm jewelry in modern society
But what place do charms have in the modern world today? In terms of contemporary jewelry for instance. Contemporary jewelry takes the crafts of yesteryear and offers a wearable alternative suited to the modern man, or woman as it were.
As a jewelry maker observing the range of charms now available today in the modern marketplace, it occurs to me that there isn't much of range at all. I also note that we largely use the same charms we have used for centuries, with very little in the way of deviation.
Society has changed hugely in its habits and lifestyle over the last 200 years or so, largely brought about by influences such as the industrial revolution and the Internet era (The Information Age), yet we're still wearing the same talismans we've always worn.
Pandora the jewelry shop to an extent has attempted to bridge the gap to the modern world, I notice they have charms such as musical instruments, a globe, and a robot . Having said that they are also rammed to the rafters with the same old bog standard hearts, stars and moons that everyone else sells, and has done for time immemorial. We are also guilty of tailgating on the past.
They've been very successful as a retailer, and their attempt at modernised charms probably plays some part in that, while at the same time playing it safe by still offering the timeless classics.
An introduction to tribes
I've noticed that society is split up to what I have come to refer to as 'tribes', related to their personal interests and socio-economic positioning. This is a massive opportunity for jewelry makers to identify tribes (we could also call them target markets) and create contemporary charm jewelry specifically for them, instead of looking continually to the past for inspiration.
Charm jewelry readily available
Before we talk about tribes and what sort of tribes we now have in modern society, I will run through some of the classic long-standing charm jewelry we still see available to buy today.
Heart charms – Probably the most prolific of charms, we have the heart. Who can blame us for having a long-standing love (excuse the pun) of heart charms. Even we're guilty of it with our David Bowie Labyrinth necklace and our Vegan necklace. Hearts are a worn out symbol, but they're not going anywhere soon.
Angel charms – Angels are symbolic of protection and love, so they're still protective talismans in the way charm jewelry was originally used. It is said that an angel charm is to remind someone they have a guardian angel watching over them. I'm not keen on them personally, overly cute and twee for my liking, and almost as worn out as a heart charm.
Padlock charms – a popular timeless charm and actually I still like it. Apparently a symbol of long life and good health. Not sure how that relates to a padlock, but note that it is as usual cited as a protective symbol, showing that things really haven't changed over the last 75,000 years!
Star charms – Associated with achievement and success, probably the most boring jewelry charm out there next to hearts, but still just as widely used. It's often combined with a crescent moon charm, also very common.
Butterfly charm – This syrupy charm (too cute for my taste) dangles off just about everything, let alone just charm jewelry only. We can barely escape butterflies, they're everywhere, when will people tire of them? Never it seems. Butterflies are linked to resurrection and transformation.
Other super popular and charms that have stood the test of time include dolphins, dragonflies, anchors, keys, and turtles.
Charm jewelry for modern tribes
So I've mentioned tribes repeatedly, because they're something I've mulled over of recent years. I began to notice that as a collective and globe-trotting society which (on the whole) no longer groups itself racially, we still cluster into tribes regardless.
We are no longer even necessarily territorial, as we now encourage free movement and trade worldwide (though some are resistant to that, cough Brexit cough. Territories are old news but we still subconsciously gather into other types of tribes regardless.
Each tribe has a tendency to find it difficult to relate to other people who are very different from their own particular tribe, and each tribe even has a specific way of dressing and behaving. I'll have to give an example of some tribes I have observed so that you can understand what I am referring to.
The culture tribe
People who have aligned themselves with the culture tribe are the sort of people who consider themselves intelligent and educated.
They're the sort of people who though they can enjoy and appreciate Kevin Hart's new movie The Upside, deep inside their soul they're feeling incredibly smug that they already watched its French language forerunner Untouchable many years beforehand.
Foreign movie watching. Tick.
Reading proper books. Tick.
Coffee shops. Tick.
Voting against Brexit. Tick.
Scouring the skyline for misogyny at every turn. Tick.
The culture tribe deserves a range of high quality precious charms that speak to them and their ideologies. Ideas for charms they may enjoy include books, movie reels, a Frida Kahlo head and other famous artists, a coffee bean, a tea bag, a pen, a pencil, an Imdb logo (probably get sued over that one though), a Hitchcock profile jewelry charm.
The vegan tribe
The vegan tribe grow in number day by day, and many members of this tribe actually consciously behave as a collective, with a shared ideology and hashtags abound on social media. The collective tribe mission is to educate others and share knowledge with one another.
There has been a staggering 600% rise in veganism over the last 3 years, as more and more people become concerned about global warming, rising sea levels, and air pollution. In essence, humanity has become afraid that radical measures are now be required to have even a hope of reversing the damage we have done.
Now there is such as thing as vegan jewelry, but as with most of the charm jewelry available to buy, often its low quality mass-produced silver plated fare.
The ultimate symbol of the vegan is of course an avocado and I have actually spotted some gorgeous avocado charms and pendants in 925 sterling silver. Other food or plant related charm jewelry for vegans could include a generic plant symbol, or a bean charm - because believe me vegans live off beans.
Other charm jewelry potentially appealing to the vegan tribe would be animals that we have eaten in mass. Animal charms such as pigs, cows, chickens, sheep may prove popular and if creating those charms myself, I'd place a heart on each animal charm. Either a cut out heart or engraved.
Selling to tribes
Some of this charm jewelry already exists for purchase - the coffee bean and books, and the avocado charm mentioned, but often unique charms are difficult to find in precious metals like 925 sterling silver.
Charm jewelry production is often on the cheap, is silver plated and it takes quite the dig around to find high quality charms made from 925 silver. Personally if I was considering charm jewelry, I'd prefer something of sufficient quality, something durable that could become an heirloom.
It would be beneficial if there were a collective shop selling sterling silver tribe charm jewelry. Rather than scouring the entire Internet for each every scattered piece because it is so niche and all you can find in most shops is stars and hearts.
I'd call this shop something like 'Your Tribe'. The brand would identify modern tribes and create collections just for them, and it would invest millions in becoming a dazzling rival to Pandora. We can dream.
As mentioned, Pandora are the closest to offering something more modern and niche with their charm offerings, but still mainly stock generic charms over and above niche pieces.
Other modern tribes I'd spotted include celebrity tribes, fitness tribes (fitfam!), and vanlife tribes (#vanlife), there are many more.
Which tribe do you belong to?