* Prices may differ from that shown
Charm bracelets and the type you add your own beads to, such as Pandora and Lovelinks have been extremely popular for quite a few years now and as a result there are many copycats out there at a variety of prices and usually of a quality to match. Chamilia are probably known as one of the newer companies although they were founded in America in 2002. Price and quality wise they seem on par with Pandora, but with the added bonus that their wares are more widely available. I haven't seen a Chamilia store, but Ernest Jones and H Samuels stock the products as do many online jewellers. Because of this, Chamilia can often be found discounted or on special offer. My collection had a lovely huge growth spurt in the January sales courtesy of H Samuels.
I will confess that Pandora is my first love (when it comes to charm bracelets of course). I was very lucky to receive a bracelet with one bead as a gift a few years ago and since then I have been able to add a few more beads to it. I even bought myself a clip, to stop the beads from sliding around the bracelet, but the weight of the beads means that it always hangs under my wrist and only the plain bracelet can be seen, the only remedy is to fill it completely. When you have spent a lot of money on beads you really want to show them off and my collection is growing far too slowly for my liking!
On a night out I noticed my fellow Pandora obsessed friend was showing off some very nice beads on a bangle and no matter how much she moved about, the beads stayed put, smack in the centre of the bangle. Problem solved! It took a fair bit of hinting/ begging, but my darling husband eventually bought me one for my birthday last year.
As you may have guessed, the bangle is made by Chamilia. There are two types available, both in the torque style, meaning that it doesn't fasten or join. The ends of the Flex bangle overlap each other and the Solid bangle (which I am reviewing) has a small gap between the ends. They are made of sterling silver which is very flexible and easy to get onto the wrist, although both designs do have a choice of three sizes which should accommodate most people. As my husband chose mine I didn't have any choice in the style or size, but he did very well and I am more than happy with the way it fits.
There are rounded caps on each end of the bangle, which need to be pushed in and twisted to remove. This can be a little fiddly to begin with as they are only the size of a pea, I recommend changing beads over a towel placed on a flat surface to stop them rolling away and getting lost. They are flat either side and stamped with a circle and a C in the middle and the hallmarks can be found on the outside edge. There are also two small, round, polished beads which fit really snug and need a bit of force to push on or off the bangle. They are designed to sit either side of the additional beads you add and they stop the beads from sliding around and keep them in the centre.
Instead of being perfectly circular, the bangle is oval in shape, which is why it doesn't twist around the wrist and end up with the weight of the beads pulling it down underneath where they can't be seen. Of course there is a vast range of Chamilia beads to choose from, but my Pandora beads also fit this bangle. There are no screw pieces on it, as there are on the bracelets, so I imagine most brands would thread without problem.
Aside from the fact that the beads or the bangle do not slip under the wrist, I also like that you only have to add a few beads to make it look really good. You can add as many as you wish, even fill it if you want, but in my opinion it looks best with three or five beads. The RRP price for the bangle is £65 and beads can cost anything from £15 for a plain spacer up to about £200 (ish) for a 14 carat gold one - there is a HUGE range to choose from. I wear this bangle so much more than my Pandora bracelet because it looks complete with just a few beads and although my Pandora collection really needs to grow, I can't resist spoiling myself with Chamilia beads whenever possible, because I can then easily change the look and colour with only a few beads and they are so often on offer. There are also starter packages available as with the bracelets, so you can buy the bangle with a bead or three for a slightly reduced price (than if all items were bought seperate) but I really recommend searching on the internet for bargains. I personally have bought online from H Samuels, Ernest Jones, John Greed and Market Cross jewellers with no problems, usually free delivery and some great offers.