(1) An object worn or carried for its supposed ability to bring good fortune or ward off evil or illness.
(2) A small decorative object worn suspended from a bracelet, usually part of a collection of such pieces.
Charms of this kind, of gold or gilded metal, are made in a vast number of forms, including replicas of animals, fish, musical instruments, sporting equipment, zodiacal signs; hearts, padlocks, horseshoes, and (enclosed between slices of crystal) a leaf of four-leaf clover or shamrock.
They were made from the Victorian era, in both expensive jewelled form and in inexpensive materials, and are still produced and popularly worn.
A type of bracelet from which are suspended a number of decorative charms. They have been popular, made of gold or of inexpensive ware, throughout the 20th century, and continue to be today as the variety of charms has greatly increased.
A type of finger ring supposed to possess some mystic, magical or curative power.
They bear appropriate inscriptions or symbols, or are set with a stone supposed to have supernatural powers (see ‘virtuous’ stone).
Such rings were usually not worn on a finger but suspended from the neck by a ribbon or chain.
A type of charm that was worn or used by an Eskimo shaman (medicine man) in ceremonies as a fetish and that represented the spirit which he was calling to capture the soul of his intended victim. Such pieces were carved of walrus ivory or moose or reindeer horn, with decoration of haliotis (abalone) shell and rubbed-in coloring; they were of horizontal shape, about 12 to 20 cm wide.
They were in the form of fantastic creatures representing the spirits of good or evil; one example depicted the ‘Soul-catcher’ in the form of Sisiutl, the mythical double-headed water monster who swallowed souls, and another was in the form of a ‘Spirit canoe’ depicting a combined sea-lion and octopus carrying a number of spirits.
They were made by male Eskimos and used mainly in Alaska and British Columbia during the mid-19th century.
Some comparable charms were made by the Lapps of northern Scandinavia.
Any gemstone (or the toadstone) that was formerly regarded as having protective or curative powers, either medically or psychologically, by reason of its alleged magical powers as a stone, without regard to the stone being a precious stone or even a rare stone, or to the setting (some inferior stones of this kind were set in superior-quality finger rings).
Various stones were considered to be efficacious against certain specific ailments or types of accident. Such beliefs were especially prevalent during the Middle Ages.