The three biggest collectible-bead companies in the United States are Trollbeads, Pandora and Chamilia, though dozens of companies are gradually jumping into the markets.
Trollbeads and Pandora are Danish companies; Chamilia is American.
Trollbeads was invented in 1976 by a young Danish silversmith, Soren Nielsen. He created a small, refined pearl in silver from a wax model and oxidized and polished it. Then he drilled a hole through the pearl.
That first Trollbead, "The Mask," can still be found in the collection.
Pandora's charm bracelet was launched in 1999 in Denmark. Today, it's a global brand sold in 18 countries. There are 35 workers in the head office in Copenhagen and 1,000 workers at the company factory in Thailand.
Chamilia was founded in Minnesota in 2002, by Killian Rieder and Jeff Julkowski. Rieder, a former designer with Polo, wanted the brand to allow women to change and customize their jewelry to fit the mood, moment or occasion, like a chameleon that changes in its environment (hence the name "Chamilia.")
The line has handcrafted beads of Italian Murano glass, colored stones, 14-karat gold and sterling silver that pair with companion bracelets, bangles and necklaces.
For more on each company, visit pandora-jewelry.com; trollbeads.com and chamilia.com.
- Evelyn Theiss, Plain Dealer Reporter Beth Gilmore of Shaker Heights thought she was immune to the, ahem, charms of such jewelry. "I knew people who had them, and I just didn't get it," says Gilmore, 47.
Then at her son's hockey game, another mom showed off her new Chamilia bracelet and explained what some of the charms represented. Beth's husband, Jim Gilmore, observed that Beth seemed intrigued.
Soon, she herself owned a Chamilia bracelet, and her children and husband had the answer to what to give her on Mother's Day and other gift-giving occasions - more beads....
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