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Charm.  A small medallic item, of less than one inch diameter, with a loop and intended to be worn. It is usually two-sided and it differs from a pin  or button in that it has no reverse attaching device. Charms are usually worn from a bracelet or necklace. If there is no loop present, it is a medalet. Some manufacturers of charms offer the same design in a variety of mountings (so the design may be a charm, or pin, or medalet, or mounted in other ways, as a stickpin, say). Thus charms are considered a medallic jewelry item. The appeal of a charm is its diminutive size, as a miniature of, perhaps, a larger item of the same design.  When a charm is made from a portion of a large medal it is called a breloque (a portion of the design is reproduced from the larger item). Charms are often miniature amulets, highly symbolic and often of superstitious design, as such, they are small talismans. All small coins are susceptible of being made into charms (by the addition of a loop or bezel); American examples include the California fractional gold pieces and silver three-cent pieces. U.S. presidential inaugural medals were issued in charm size (quite rare).

excerpted with permission from

An Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology

For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators


Roger W. Burdette, Editor

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