Collecting Pandora: Bracelets & European-Style Beads for Your Wrist
In Greek mythology, the beauty Pandora was given a large jar (nope, it wasn't a "box"), and the god Zeus warned her to keep it closed forever. But what's a curious girl to do? Pandora opened the jar, of course, accidentally allowing all kinds of evils to escape. She quickly replaced the top, but only one thing was left inside the jar ... hope. Apparently, it is hope that inspired the Danish jewelry line that takes its name from this famous Greek lady.
The Pandora Jewelry line is based on a unique bracelet that features what the manufacturers describe as a "threaded system." This means each bracelet is divided into three sections by small threads, and the wearer may screw the individual Pandora beads onto any segment as she chooses. The beads move freely based on the movement of the wearer's wrist. You can read this description over a couple of more times, but it will remain confusing until you actually examine the jewelry for yourself and see it in action.
Buying the Bracelet
Purchasing Pandora is not for the faint of wallet. While a silver starter bracelet may be as low as $35, a 14K gold bracelet with 14K gold clasp will run more than $1,000 (based on the length). If the cost of gold continues to climb, so will the price of Pandora.
Once you have acquired the bracelet, the spending has just begun. Pandora produces a wide variety of attractive charms in silver, gold and silver-plus-gold - with or without gems and CZs. They can run from $25 to more than $500 for solid gold. One of the best places to purchase bargain-priced Pandora charms is on eBay as long as you deal only with sellers that have a good reputation and an impressive quantity of sales.
There also are a number of companies making knock-off charms that look good and are high quality. (There are some producing cheesy ones too, so use your most discriminating eye when making a purchase). The problem with knock-offs is the "screw-on" mechanism. You must be sure the beads will go on the bracelet easily (many knock-offs do not screw on, but slide on instead) without being forced. If you force a too-tight bead onto the bracelet, you can damage the threads.
Your Individual Look
According to the copywriters at Pandora, you can create your own look and style with a Pandora bracelet. Examples are bohemian, romantic, elegant chic, 60's flower power, the charmed sophisticate, the billionaire, the minimalist, yada yada yada. Honestly, I don't see how one bracelet looks more "bohemian" or "sophisticated" than another, though I suppose the amount of gold and real gems would tend to lean more toward that "billionaire" look.
Pandora is just a more jazzed up form of the traditional charm bracelet, but instead of charms that hang from a link bracelet (and make a lot of noise), the Pandora charms have holes in the middle and screw onto the bracelet. That means your bracelet can be anything you want it to be. Mine has charms representing all my animals - cats, dogs, horses, goats - and a few of the places I've traveled. I love to add colorful glass beads and change them to match my various outfits. Not all of my charms are authentic Pandora, a fact that makes my Pandora saleslady cringe. But they are all pretty and eye-catching and I get a lot of compliments on my bracelets.
There are other European-style bracelets on the market, including Biagi, Chamilia and Trollbead brands. All offer a selection of beautiful beads, and most are less expensive than the Pandora line. While Trollbread bracelets are actually my favorite (I have three) because they don't have the screw-on system and all brands of beads will fit, Trollbead charms will NOT fit on a Pandora bracelet. If you try to force one on, you won't be a happy camper.
European-style bracelets are the perfect gift for the person who has everything. Give one for a birthday gift ... and when Christmas rolls around, you can give a charm to add to the original present. When it comes to buying them for yourself - beware! Collecting the bracelets and beads can be addictive. And once you have one bracelet full of charms, you can easily see how a second bracelet would complement it. Plus Pandora makes a lovely line of necklaces, rings and earrings to match their beads. Don't tell me later than you weren't warned!