European-style charms are becoming more and more popular. Surprisingly, it was Trollbeads, invented in 1976, that started the craze (I always thought it was the Pandora bracelet that came first, but no), and nowadays, there is seemingly no end to the different brand names to choose from, and there are also many companies that make their own beads (of varying quality) that are compatible with these bracelets.
The different brands are all pretty much the same, with only small differences (Troll beads do not have threads, some beads will not fit on other brand’s chains, etc.). Interestingly, three of the “big ones” are Danish – Troll beads, Lovelinks, and Pandora jewelry, but I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, since Denmark has a long tradition of design and jewelry making.
Chamilia beads, however, are from the US. The company was started in 2002 by Killian Rieder and Jeff Julkowski and is headquartered in Minneapolis. The designs are made by Killian, a graduate of FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York. She worked as a designer at Ralph Lauren Polo for many years before returning to her native Minnesota to open her own business.
Their beads are made from solid Sterling silver, 14k gold, colored stones, Swarovski Crystals, and Murano glass, and new designs are introduced on a regular basis. They have a (very popular) special Disney collection, as well as the Cause series, which supports several different charities. If I had to pick a favorite though, it would be the Chamilia glass beads – they are all stunning.
The bracelets in this post are all examples of Chamilia bead bracelets. The first three are their own designs, and the one below is one that I put together for myself. Gorgeous, aren’t they?
How do you know that what you’re buying are authentic Chamilia beads?
First of all, always buy from authorized Chamilia retailers (who are NOT allowed to sell Chamilia charms on auction sites like Amazon and eBay). Second, look for the Chamilia mark. In 2008, the company started stamping all their products, so if you are buying newer beads and bracelets, look for one of the following marks: C, Chamilia, CHAM, 925 or Cham 925.
How are they different from Pandora beads?
Chamilia beads also have a threaded core, but the bracelet itself is one smooth piece, it doesn’t have the two “stops” you see on Pandora bracelets. Instead, to keep the beads from moving, you can use their special lock pieces, which can be placed anywhere on the bracelet.
The Disney collection is exclusive to Chamilia, so that’s another difference, and the Chamilia beads tend to be a teensy bit more affordable than Pandora’s, but other than that, they are very similar.