Pendants vs. Charms: What Are the Differences?

woman in black long sleeve shirt holding her pendant
Photo by cottonbro on

When shopping for jewelry, women generally purchase what they like. They never think about what type of jewelry they are purchasing. If it catches their eye, they spend the money. However, the time may come when they are asked what type of necklace they are wearing. If this situation arises, the woman will want to know if they have a pendant or a charm.

Having this information is of great help to the people. They know what to ask for when shopping in person or what search terms to enter when they wish to buy a necklace online. Many people use these terms interchangeably, but the two styles are not the same. Every person should be aware of this before shopping at Adina’s Jewels so they find exactly what they are looking for with ease.

Merriam-Webster defines a pendant as “something suspended, such as an ornament (as on a necklace) allowed to hang free.” This serves as only one definition of a pendant and is the one that applies to jewelry. In contrast, the dictionary defines a charm as “a small ornament worn on a bracelet or chain.” Although this provides a broad definition of each item, consumers may want more information.


Pendants tend to be larger than charms and often feature a bail. The bail is the loop on the piece that connects the suspended ornament to the chain. Jewelers incorporate the bail into the pendant when designing the piece. They solder the bail to the pendant or use a separate element to attach the pendant to the chain.

Jewelers don’t use pendants on bracelets in most cases. The size of the pendant makes it uncomfortable on the wrist. Nevertheless, jewelers have done so in the past. Individuals who love vintage jewelry can attest to this. Jewelers offered medallion charm bracelets during the 1940s. These bracelets include a large medallion that many people would say falls into the pendant category. The wearer would need to determine if the charm fits into the pendant or charm category in this situation.


Charms typically lack the bails seen on pendants. At times, jewelers include a bail with a charm, but they try to avoid doing so as it can make the charm bulky and unattractive. If they choose to attach the charm to the necklace or bracelet with the help of a bail, a jump ring is usually included. Small bails and jump rings are best if they must be used.

Jewelers use a variety of fastenings to replace the bail on a charm. Jump rings, lobster claw fasteners, link locks, and split rings are commonly seen on charms meant to be used with bracelets. However, the jeweler may choose to solder the charm on the jewelry rather than using a separate fastener.

Individuals find charms on necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings. Some people choose to wear the charm alone while others purchase a charm holder to incorporate several charms into one piece. Charm bracelets have been popular for many years, as each bracelet is unique. The charms selected vary by the wearer. Today, women invest in charm necklaces and replace the charms as desired. Some ladies also choose to wear a charm on their ankle bracelets.

Jewelers also refer to European-style beads as charms. These beads typically come in a round shape, but other styles can also be purchased. The bead comes with a hole in the center and may be used with either a snake chain necklace or bracelet.

Italian charm bracelets differ from the conventional charm bracelet people think of when this term is mentioned. These bracelets feature interlocked links, and some Italian bracelets feature dangles. However, they aren’t necessary on this piece of jewelry to qualify as an Italian charm bracelet.

Charm Pendants

Charm pendants go by many names. A person might hear pendant charm, mini charm pendant, or mini charms and wonder what the speaker is referring to. Charm pendants are smaller pendants. Some feature a bail and may include either a jump ring or a hole at the top of the pendant. This allows the item to be used with a necklace, bracelet, or anklet. Charm pendants often come in groups of three or more when used on a necklace.

Mini-charm pendants are charm pendants, only smaller. European-style beads are typically bead charms, while mini-pendants are those which are between 1/4″ and 1″ in size. They come with a range of attachments, allowing them to be used with necklaces or bracelets, depending on the person’s mood and the jewelry pieces they have available to them.

Mini-charms are rarely seen in jewelry pieces. Although they are charms, people use these pieces when doing various crafts. The mini-charms might appear in a scrapbook or on a card, for example. Nevertheless, when purchasing a bracelet for a young child, consumers often find these pieces incorporate one or more mini-charms into the design. At times, a jeweler may include a mini-charm with larger charms or with a pendant when creating a jewelry piece. It all depends on their vision and the materials available.

Cake charms appear on cakes, as their name suggests. The smallish charms have been used in wedding cakes since the Victorian era. The baker ties a ribbon to each individual charm and then puts the charms under the cake or inside it. Each person in the wedding party gets the opportunity to select a charm during the shower. They may then keep the charm as a memento of their participation in the event or use the charms to make a unique necklace or bracelet.

Fobs served as a type of charm in the late 1800s. The charms didn’t always appear on bracelets and necklaces at that time, however. People would find these charms on chatelaines and watch chains. At times, the charm was decorative, but that wasn’t always the case. It could be the charm served a dual purpose, such as when it was a key that could be used to open a lock.

Understanding the key differences between charms and pendants is of great help when shopping for jewelry. If you have any questions about which category a piece falls into, don’t hesitate to ask. Reputable jewelers will be happy to share this information so you get exactly what you need.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.