A few months ago I was bemoaning to a new friend the phenomenon that is Pandora jewellery – the charm bracelet of the current decade. My response to the jewellery is relatively complicated, at times contradictory, and no doubt quite snobbish.
Happily she agreed with my general dislike of said jewellery line, and furthered her response by referred to them as ‘troll beads‘. This amused me greatly, I chortled, I had not heard this phrase before (maybe I don’t go out much?).
A few weeks after our conversation I was looking through my free local weekly (glossy) newspaper and found the below advertisement for … Troll Beads.
Yes, they’re real. I’m not sure if my friend knew they existed; I didn’t before seeing the advert. After reading a little on their site, I see many similarities with Pandora in that they both identify with origins in Denmark and their emphasis on ‘uniqueness’ or ‘individuality’ or ‘customising’. [A blog story here investigates which came first and give a little history on each.]
Is the popularity of Pandora, and similar jewellery, evidence of a resurgence in the use of jewellery as personal markers, personal collectable objects to indicate status (as opposed to singular objects, under the mantra of the more the better)? I’m not sure there was ever such a decline in order to have a rebound… but I do wonder exactly what it is about these items that has ‘hit a nerve’ so to speak.
The lines promote ‘uniqueness’, and celebrating life milestones. However the language used is not actually ‘unique’ but readily identifiable to others… hence my thoughts that they are a form of social marking or identification in a form that is recognisable by others (for they have saturated women/fashion magazines and I’ve seen adverts on television).
What attracts women who buy these for themselves, or those who purchase them as a gift, to this particular jewellery? Do the self-buyers want to build up a piece of jewellery over a lifetime that has their own timeline ‘written’ in beads? Do those who buy them as gifts see them as a good option for never again needing to suffer not knowing what to give that person next birthday / present-occasion? Do they want because others have it and it will be recognised by others? My intention is not to be facetious here, I am genuinely looking at this objectively and am interested (as an aside, the concept of mapping ones life is something I’ve previously explored and it is still an idea that bubbles along in the background of my mind).
A few acquaintances have mentioned that they were considering buying Pandora for a loved one (not my aforementioned new friend, heavens no!). I’ve suggested to them that they spend a smaller amount of money (yes, smaller, buying the naked bracelet and then adding beads over time can add up) on something that is truly unique. But then again, I do have a vested interest in supporting local jewellery makers!
Update: after writing the above, I found a very interesting opinion about Pandora jewellery expressed on TheVine, here. That reminds me, I think it’s ugly too.
To end on a happier and somewhat tangential note, I went searching for the history of Pandora: “In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman on earth. Zeus ordered Hephaestus, the god of craftsmanship, to create her and he did, using water and earth. The gods endowed her with many talents; Aphrodite gave her beauty, Apollo music, Hermes persuasion, and so forth. Hence her name: Pandora, “all-gifted”. When Prometheus stole fire from heaven, Zeus took vengeance by presenting Pandora to Epimetheus, Prometheus’ brother. With her, Pandora had a jar which she was not to open under any circumstance. Impelled by her natural curiosity, Pandora opened the jar, and all evil contained escaped and spread over the earth. She hastened to close the lid, but the whole contents of the jar had escaped, except for one thing which lay at the bottom, and that was Hope.” [from Pantheon.org]
And lastly, ‘Pandora’s Box‘ the name of a 1929 German film [see here] – cool!
Update (31st January 2010): ooh, now ‘fashion’ writers are telling us ‘how’ to wear charm bracelets [here], which for me continues the treatment of them as style accessories and completely removes the ‘personal’ …
Update (4th February 2012): it has been a long time since I read the ThingsBogansLike blog, but have found they wrote a Pandora post a while ago.