Charmed, I’m Sure . . . and a giveaway!

Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here. The other day I was looking for something in my jewelry box and came across my old charm bracelet. Remember those? Or maybe what you remember is something called a charm bracelet that looks entirely different. It depends, I suppose, on how old you are.

I was born in 1947. In 1963, at least in Liberty, New York, where I grew up, THE gift almost every girl got for her sixteenth birthday was a sterling silver charm bracelet. If she had a sweet sixteen party, her friends might give her charms as gifts, but if I remember correctly, she more often bought them for herself, because every charm was supposed to signify something that was not only special but also personal. Some girls had bracelets bulging with charms. It was a wonder they could even lift their arms. Others, like me, were either on limited budgets or were pickier about what they wanted to commemorate.

My charms (the ones on the bracelet—let’s not get snarky here!) are few and far between, but each one definitely had and still has meaning. The first, traditionally, was the one that said “Sweet Sixteen” and mine, in the spirit of the times, also featured high heeled shoes. 1963, remember? Not that far out of the 1950s. We’ve come a long way, baby.

The ballet dancers were the first charm I added. I took ballet lessons through my junior year in high school. Because I was the tallest girl in the class and because I didn’t take toe lessons, I ended up playing the role of the prince in two consecutive recitals. Concurrently, and during my senior year, my focus was on plays, hence the comedy/tragedy mask and the trombone. Why a trombone? Because we did The Music Man as our high school musical my senior year, an experience that had a huge impact on a lot of us. Thank you, Gary Eckhart, art teacher and director extraordinaire.


You’ll notice another charm between the dancers and the mask. It’s a bit out of order, since I graduated from high school at seventeen (diploma charm), but the drinking age in New York State in 1965 was eighteen, so even though by then I was living in Maine, I had to add something to mark the occasion. I also brought a half gallon of legally purchased dark rum back to college after Christmas break that year. I kept it hidden in my knitting bag. I wasn’t a big beer drinker, but I thought beer steins were cool, and my first alcoholic drink ever (rite of passage!) was a beer.

Moving on, there are only two more charms. I guess I just wasn’t into charm bracelets the way some girls were. One is the seal of Bates College. The other is a wedding bell.

Now that I’ve rediscovered the charm bracelet, I’m going to have to think of a way to work it, or at least a charm bracelet, into one of the plots in my Deadly Edits series, where the amateur detective is just a little younger than I am and (what a shocker!) has a great many of my high school memories.

What about you, dear reader? Did you wear a charm bracelet in your younger days? If you did, please share, and tell us about some of your favorite charms.


GIVEAWAY: X Marks the Scot has no charm bracelets in it, but this eleventh entry in the Liss MacCrimmon series has just been published in hardcover. I have one copy to give away to someone who comments on this post. The winner will be randomly chosen by one of my cats.


Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett is the author of more than fifty traditionally published books written under several names. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries and the “Deadly Edits” series (Crime & Punctuation—2018) as Kaitlyn and the historical Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries (Murder in a Cornish Alehouse) as Kathy. The latter series is a spin-off from her earlier “Face Down” mysteries and is set in Elizabethan England. New in 2017 is a collection of short stories, Different Times, Different Crimes. Her websites are and



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34 Responses to Charmed, I’m Sure . . . and a giveaway!

  1. Crystal Lyn Toller says:

    I remember charm bracelets. Avon sells charm bracelets in their jewelry but not like yours. Love your charm bracelet.

  2. Mo says:

    I’d forgotten all about mine until I read this and after digging into the back of my jewelry case I found it. Sadly I don’t remember what most of the charms commemorate. The ones I can place are a little person in a cap and gown for Jr High graduation, and hand/dove thingy for my Confirmation, a Maid of Honor emblem for my sister’s wedding, map of Florida for my first trip there, a cap for high school graduation, and a tassel for college graduation. And of course there a “16” charm. Thank you for the trip down memory lane.

    • kaitlynkathy says:

      You’re welcome. I wish now that I’d collected more charms. Maps of states I lived in would have been cool.

  3. This makes me wonder. What did teen guys get? I can’t remember anything similar. Teen angst maybe? Anyhow You already have a great title possibility for such a book Charmed, I’m Sure.

  4. Lea Wait says:

    I still have mine! And two of your charms are also on my bracelet — the diploma, and the comedy and tragedy mask (for working at a summer theatre in Maine.) My also includes a typewriter (!) and an upright piano (supposed to be the old church pump organ I bought and played), a silver link from my great-grandfather’s watch chain, and, maybe most precious, a tiny book (yes, it opened) titled the name of the high school newspaper I edited, with tiny pictures of the advisor and the three guys who were my assistant editors there. BTW — I also have a charm bracelet (gold) that my grandmother had made for herself, with small Victorian pieces of jewelry and stick pin heads, in memory of her family. Fun memories!

  5. Patricia Rynes says:

    I never had a charm bracelet, but I have read all your books and loved them, can’t wait to read your next one.

  6. karaleigh2 says:

    I love charm bracelets and yours is lovely. I had one without much on it too–I don’t even know where it is. But my uncle got me one in New Orleans, with all the charms already on it. I loved it and still have it. I’ve also visited New Orleans myself now several times–good memories.

  7. Annette says:

    I love this series.
    Thanks for a chance to win.

  8. Barbara Ross says:

    My mother had one and my grandmother and now I have both of them, making the charms particularly meaningful.

  9. Monica says:

    I have my mom’s charm bracelet. (12 years older than you). She had a 45 RPM record as one of hers. I’d have to find it again to see what else. That’s the one I remember.

  10. Autumn Trapani says:

    I love the stories associated with each of the charms. What a treasure! Thank you for sharing.

  11. Kathleen Kendler says:

    I remember my mother’s charm bracelet. I was never a fan of things hanging from my bracelets. My pandora only has beads, the hanging charms tear up my arm.

  12. Laurie Graves says:

    I am ten years younger than you are, and charm bracelets were no longer in fashion in the 1970s. But my mother and grandmother had them. 😉

  13. Cheryl Smith says:

    I had one and got one with my grandchildren on it and stuff they did.still have them.

  14. Jim Elliott says:

    Here kitty, kitty, kitty!
    Um. I mean. I never got a charm bracelet, but I spent a LOT of time reading. And still do. 🙂

  15. Nancy Miller says:

    My parents gave me a silver charm bracelet for Christmas but there were no charms on it until my birthday in March. I was older than 16 since I was in college then. They sent me a tiny cornet charm (I had been in the band) which got lost inside the box and my roommate suggested that they had sent an empty box as a joke. I was not amused and eventually found it hidden in the packing. One of my prized charms was a moose. When my husband, 3 young children and I traveled west to Manitoba with our brand new trailer we seemed to meet one problem/breakdown after another. We did NOT see a moose. I was convinced that if we had seen a moose it would have been in the middle of the road and we would have hit it. So the moose was to commemorate our good fortune in NOT seeing a moose. I still treasure the bracelet.

  16. I didn’t have a charm bracelet – I didn’t have any charm…. But I did have a pin from my first book that had little charms hanging from it – a knife, a gun, a club….

  17. Donamae Kutska says:

    I had a charm bracelet too. In the sixties

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