Thursday, May 6, 2021

Living a charmed life

Sterling rabbit foot. Submitted

Sterling rabbit foot. Submitted

By Richard Alan

The personal adornment of a charm bracelet or a charm hanging around one’s neck has been enjoying a re-birth in recent years. Once considered passé I’m finding them more in demand than I can remember.

The wearing or simple possession of a charm or “talisman” goes back to the dawn of time. Archaeological discoveries and excavations have brought to light thousands of miniature amulets or charms from the primordial era, an incredible 30,000 years B.C.!

So why would literally a cave person possess such things? There are many reasons to wear them, to please benevolent spirits or repel evil ones, and then there is the reason of luck, good and bad.

You can call it luck or fate, whatever our ancient ancestors believed, it controlled their entire existence. Charms were worn on every continent to attract, repel, provide safe passage, protect the abode and loved ones inside. Whether you were a prince or a pauper all classes wore them.

Superstitions and charms go hand in hand. My heritage is both Italian and Irish. (Heck of a combination, I know!) They have to be some of the most superstitious nationalities. My Italian grandmother hung peppers and garlic over the doorways to keep evil spirits out of the house. As I write I wear a red coral horn or pepper around my neck to prevent the evil eye and keep away bad vibes and keep the crazies at bay. (seems to malfunction now and then on the island!) My Irish side of the family was no different!

The ancient Egyptian kept charms and even took them into the afterlife, wrapped in their mummified remains. The Greeks and Romans were especially fond of charms and such. In his youth Augustus Caesar wore a number of charmed pendants in a leather bag around his neck until he reached manhood.

During the Dark Ages they were worn to ward off the black plague to no avail. By the time of The Renaissance, such items were considered contemptible and common and shunned by aristocrats and the highly religious but firmly entrenched by tradition with the commoners and peasants.

Large gold charms and bracelets were enormously popular in the 1950’s when friends and couples exchanged them with one another. Today charms are worn not only on bracelets but rings, pendants, anklets and earrings. I sell guardian angel charms, four leaf clover and Irish Claddagh jewelry, even charms to promote good luck fishing! There are charms to promote breast cancer awareness, to save the whales. Look around they are everywhere! Beaded charm bracelets are still popular such as Pandora and Troll beads to name just two.

I also carry a ‘pocket angel’ engraved with the word ‘Hope” in support of my dad who just recently won a bout against stomach cancer. He beat the odds. Believe what you may, call it tradition, superstitious nonsense or simple dumb luck… charms are as commonplace as they were thousands of years ago. Whether wood, stone, leather, metal or even plastic, charms are a way of life for many of us and continue to be a multi-million dollar industry.

Richard Alan is the owner of the Harbor Goldsmith of Marco Island and has been creating and repairing jewelry for over thirty five years and welcomes your questions about “All That Glitters” 239- 394-9275 or harborgoldsmith@comcast. net

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