As a kid, my dad would take me to the mall to pick out new charms for my charm necklace. Despite his best intentions, the process was excruciating. Somehow all of my preteen identity angst turned charm shopping into total trauma. Was I supposed to highlight my roller skating obsession or divulge my nerdy violin skills? Share my BFF status with my cool new friend or faithful childhood pal? Wear my initials in girlie curlicues or badass Brooklyn fonts?
Belying their diminutive size, charms have a way of saying a lot. Scaled-down renderings of our pastimes, dreams and preferences, each tiny charm brings to vivid life an intimate part of our personality. Viewed together as a collection, they can be quite revealing indeed.
So here I am, two decades later, faced with the ultimate charm challenge: navigating the holy grail of French charms without crying out for daddy.
Recognized as an “Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant” (Living Heritage Company), Bijoux Commelin is a 19th century family-run jewelry company that specializes in charms and translucent enamels. One of the oldest manufacturers of charms in France and the only company in Paris to perpetuate the art of handcrafted miniatures, Bijoux Commelin boasts over 2,000 miniatures in its ravishing repertoire.
(A word of advice: peruse their site to get your bearings before your visit.)
Each design is crafted by hand using ancestral techniques that have been handed down and perfected from one Commelin generation to the next since the company’s founding in 1880. The jewels are all made out of fine metals and come in multiple sizes to match the breadth of your budget (count 40E-300E for each charm depending on size, complexity and material).
The company’s true treasure trove is its collection of French monuments. From the Eiffel Tower to the Concord Obelisk by way of Sacre Coeur the Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame, they have them all, beautifully and faithfully reproduced.
Imagine strutting around with an entire collection of your favorite Paris haunts strung around your neck? It would be strange, striking and a cool conversation starter. If only I had known about them back in Junior High!
*Ask about their made-to-measure services if your heart’s set on a custom design.