Rapaport Magazine
Style & Design

Utterly charming

Charms from eras past are a popular way to personalize one’s style, says estate dealer Annette Brandt.

By Phyllis Schiller

Image: Shelly Lubetkin

Which types of charms are most appealing to customers?

Animals and charms with symbolic meanings are notable favorites. Some of our recent favorites are a diamond hummingbird, a rooster with a ruby eye, and a diamond pig (for good luck). Everyone needs a good luck charm. Charms are purchased for all occasions, most often around Mother’s Day, anniversaries and the winter holidays.

What styles and eras are most popular?

Platinum and diamond charms and gold charms are very popular. Our charm selection ranges from Victorian to contemporary, and we have a lot of fabulous Retro finds. While our clientele is passionate about antique pieces, they all have such a unique style.

What age group does this appeal to? Do clients of different ages collect certain types of charms?

The younger crowd tends to purchase personalized charms. They come in searching for something special like a good luck charm, or a hobby or a favorite animal. They opt for a charm with which they have a personal connection.

Do customers opt for bracelets or necklaces that already have charms, or do they buy chains to fill themselves?

Complete charm bracelets are a very personal experience, and we often separate charms so they can more easily find a home. While we do have customers who purchase whole charm bracelets, it can be tough to find two people who feel the same connection and meaning to each piece. People who buy these are searching for a completed look that suits their individual style; the individual charms don’t necessarily have a deeper personal meaning for them.

Long chains worn with collections of three to four charms are a fabulous look that has great appeal. We have a mix of customers who are looking for charms with and without chains.

Is this an evergreen jewelry category, or has demand changed since the pandemic?

Antique and vintage categories change over time, and we’re still learning how demand has changed with the pandemic, compared to how trends normally change. Last year, people spent more time shopping online than ever before. When you’re not able to travel or go to dinner, jewelry is a great option. Charms have always sold; it’s a matter of presenting them to the right person at the right time.

How easy is it to source charms?

We come across charms quite often and choose the ones that speak to us. We find our inventory aftermarket, so we never know what kind we will see. I wish we could find more “Lucky 13”s, especially in diamond and platinum. Those are rare. Edwardian and Art Deco platinum charms are also hard to find.

What criteria do you bear in mind when buying charms?

We like to buy things with meanings, like figa fists and evil eyes (to ward off evil), [or] horns, clovers and horseshoes (to bring good luck). I love figural charms with colorful gems. I like to breathe new life into stickpins, especially Victorian ones, by converting them into charms. Conversions are really special, and it’s nice to make these beautiful pieces into a more modern jewelry style. Charms sell faster than stickpins, and they are much more versatile for the wearer.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - October 2021. To subscribe click here.

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