During the Civil War, Confederate Lt. George Dixon was shot point-blank on the battlefield but survived when the gold charm a sweetheart had gifted him stopped the bullet. So when Dixon set off on his last mission (commanding the H.L. Hunley submarine just outside the Charleston Harbor), his lucky charm was in his pocket. While his mission to sink a Union sloop was a success, the Hunley went down as well, and Dixon and the rest of the crew perished. As for the charm—it came to light again after the wreck was recovered in 2000. Inscribed on its face: “Shiloh, April 6, 1862: My life Preserver, G.E.D.”
Though all charms may not carry such storied lives as that iconic Charleston relic, the trinkets can mark milestones throughout the years—and your nuptials are no exception.
To weave details from her courtship with Graham Lucas into their wedding day at the French Protestant (Huguenot) Church last May, Laura Bojarski pinned charms to her bridesmaids’ bouquets (above).
“My bridesmaids and I talked about the story behind each charm,” Laura says.
Another way the keepsakes are incorporated into Big Days is with a “cake pull”—a Southern ritual from Victorian times that West Ashley’s Ashley Bakery continues to entertain today. A cake is placed atop charms tied to ribbons, the loose ends of which cascade down the cake stand. After the couple cuts a slice, each attendant pulls a ribbon and keeps their charm.
Area jewelers offer charms for any budget (typically $15 and up). Especially suitable for Lowcountry weddings are sweetgrass baskets, palmetto trees, and horse-drawn carriages. Other options include ironwork patterns from gates throughout town, or the steeples of ceremony spots like St. Philip’s, St. Michael’s, and St. Matthew’s churches. And though sterling silver charms are most prevalent, many Charleston vendors offer gold, enamel, and bejeweled varieties, too.
“It’s the memento aspect that makes charms so special,” says Stacy Gould, who, along with her husband, Scott, has been casting charms in their Princess Street workshop G2 Silver for nearly three decades. “There’s a moment or a memory behind each and every one,” she says. And what could be more meaningful than a memento from that momentous day?
Find Holy City-themed charms (and many more) at these local jewelers
Charleston Charm (online only)
(843) 729-9346; www.CharlestonCharm.com
Charleston Collections Gifts
(843) 556-8911; www.CharlestonGiftsOnline.com
Croghan’s Jewel Box
(843) 723-3594; www.CroghansJewelBox.com
Gold Creations: Fine Jewelry
(843) 577-4862; www.GoldCreationsChas.com
Historic Charleston Foundation
(843) 724-8484; www.HistoricCharleston.org
Kiawah Fine Jewelry
(843) 768-5357; www.KiawahFineJewelry.com
Polly’s Fine Jewelry
(843) 884-2447; www.PollysJewelry.com
(843) 416-3174; www.Reeds.com
(843) 849-8488; www.Skatells.com
(843) 723-2625; www.SouthernCharm-Jewelry.com
Photographs by (Charms) Ruta Elvikyte; (Bouquet) Jennifer Bearden