They say that in London, you are never more than a meter from a Pandora charm. At least that’s what they should say, so omnipresent is this charming phenomenon. What is most remarkable about this is the fact that the greatest ambassador of the charm bracelet landed on British shores only seven years ago. In no time, Pandora opened 220 stores and decorated countless wrists with sterling silver bracelets loaded with charms in the shape of hearts, cupcakes and daisies. The brand now considers the United Kingdom as its second market behind the United States. And if Pandora is not alone in its charm offensive, it is to the charm bracelet what Ikea is to flat furniture.
But what about this brand, a company that is joined by a host of competitors to dominate the affordable jewelry market, which has charmed the capital – and indeed, the whole country – by lining their jewelry boxes with London buses and sterling silver teapots?
For many, the success of the charm phenomenon is intrinsically linked to our sentimentality. As a company, we have long looked to jewelry to mark important occasions. This modern day equivalent takes the tradition of setting milestones to a new level. About to start a new job? The four leaf clover charm is the perfect starting gift. Newly married? Give the gift of a church bell charm. There are also charms dedicated to celebrating newcomers to the family, ‘big’ birthdays, pets, hobbies and iconic landmarks, not to mention a series of styles dedicated to seasonal vacations, from Christmas trees to Easter Bunny.
This tendency to wear our life on our sleeve reflects our collective demand for products that offer an element of personalization. It is also a sign of a change in the way women buy jewelry. While the purchase of rings and bracelets was once primarily a transaction between a man and a woman, many of today’s most successful jewelry brands are those aimed at girls, with friends buying for. friends, daughters for mothers and sisters exchanging. This inclusive attitude is also evident in the brand’s affordable price, with charms priced as low as £ 20.
But Pandora’s enchanted existence was not intentional. In fact, the company – founded in Copenhagen in 1982 by husband and wife Per and Winnie Enevoldsen – started life designing rings. The idea for a bracelet arose years later when the brand’s small sales team noticed that customers were buying necklaces loaded with pendants and wrapping them around their wrists instead. In 2000, the Pandora charm bracelet was born.
Nowadays, what started with a range of just 16 charms – including a sterling silver heart that still holds the bestseller title, with over three million sales since its launch – spans over 700 charms and represents 75% of worldwide turnover. .
But despite its mass appeal, Pandora remains a hand-finished operation. Last year, its factories in Thailand, which employ a team of 12,000 skilled artisans, produced more than 100 million pieces of jewelry and set 2.6 billion gemstones. Yet each charm goes through 17 individual processes, from polishing and plating to enamel painting, passing through a total average of 30 pairs of hands. To meet demand, Pandora is set to open a new eco-friendly factory in Chiang Mai early next year – and naturally, it’s shaped like its best-selling bracelet.