Once you start exploring the world of charms, it’s hard to stop yourself from looking for them everywhere and buying more than you could ever use (which I guess is true of any collection).
The great thing about a charm collection though, is that they are small, light, and wearable, so unlike pottery for example, they are not going to take up a ton of space in your home and just sit on a shelf and collect dust. And even vintage or antique pieces can be very affordable. You can start collecting any type you want, of course, but sometimes, focusing on a particular kind makes things a little bit easier.
Here are a few suggestions:
Since charms have been around for thousands of years, there are plenty of them out there, ranging in price from a few dollars to several thousands. Costume jewellery from the last century is a very popular, and varied, vintage category. Decide on a theme (puffy silver heart bracelets, movable charms, coins, good luck charms, etc.) or a certain decade and hunt for charms from that period.
Cracker Jack Charms
Celluloid charms were made in the 1920s-1940s and there are tons of them available on the market. They can be plain (a whitish color) or painted and some even have small gold accents. To make sure that what you’re buying is an actual Cracker Jack, look for a “Cracker Jack” or CJ stamp on the piece, and you may also want to consult an expert before you hand over a lot of cash.
Charms by a Specific Designer
Focus on just one designer and build your collection around that brand. You can go with vintage/antique fashion jewelry – there are plenty to chose from (for example Coro, Hobe, Kramer), or a contemporary designer (Juicy Couture, Rona K, Sydney Evan, Rembrandt charms). Some have been around for a long time and are still in production, such as Raymond Yard, Danecraft, or James Avery, which gives you the best of both worlds.
A Particular Animal
I love elephants, and it seems many other people do too, because you can find a huge variety of elephant charms from almost every time period in every material. Pick a favorite animal and build your collection around that.
A Specific Material
Focus on one particular material, like bakelite, silver, copper, etc. This is obviously a huge category, so you may want to narrow it down to for example silver typewriters, or 14k gold charms from the 1950s.
Where To Find Collectible Charms
These days, anything can be found online, but flea markets, antique stores and shows, estate sales, auctions and yard sales, both at home and in other countries can be great sources. If you’re traveling abroad, read up on the history of charms in that particular country, so you know what to look for (and check out our “Charms in Other Languages” post so you know what they are called in the country you will be visiting).
Also, don’t forget to tell everyone you know about your charm collecting hobby! They make perfect gifts, and we all struggle with what to buy someone for the holidays and other special occasions. This way, your friends and family will know exactly what to get you.