Charmed: Annina Vogel’s Swallow
There’s a memory I’d like to share: I was maybe five or six years old, visiting my grandmother’s house on Winslow Street. She had one of those boxy bungalows from the 1970s — modern in intention yet filled with the shadows and memories of her past. Sometimes we’d sift through old albums and she’d point to photographs taken when she married my grandfather (he was a handsome sailer, she a sharp-minded beauty) but this particular afternoon we took to the floor of her powder room. From there she pulled out her keepsake box (that tiny treasure chest tucked between perfume bottles far beyond their expiration date) — it was the box I always dreamed but never dared to open and, with great care, she pulled out her charm bracelet.
Charm bracelets were all the rage for the kids in my neighborhood, we all wanted one and soon found ourselves collecting divided hearts spelling be/fri-st/end and shiny silver apples marking our parents’ trips to New York. But none had moving pieces like my grandmother’s, our plain silver ones paled in comparison to my grandmother’s technicolor tokens. Many years later my grandmother gave her charm bracelet to me. I still review it from time to time.
In a sense, charms are a way of returning home. Like the swallow in Victorian symbolism, charms return you to that place, even if just emotionally. Legend has it that the swallow returns to the same resting spot every season, making them the symbol for true love.
These days charms have evolved beyond the jingling, jangling bracelets of youth — they’re worn on necklaces, rings, brooches or even as a single statement on a chain bracelet. London-based jewelry designer Annina Vogel has cultivated this evolving trend with her extensive collection (and knowledge) of Victorian charms and repurposing them on long chains and bespoke rings. Well-versed in the ideology of 19th century Britain, Vogel interprets her charming discoveries beyond their current meaning or memory. Having amassed hundreds (if not thousands) of charms spanning over 150-years, each of her pieces are one-of-a-kind. Only available at Bergdorf Goodman in the United States, Vogel has introduced an almost-forgotten way of preserving and revealing memories in a delightfully unexpected way. In this new monthly series, Vogel will reveal a new charm and the history behind it. We’ll see you again in May.