Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pandora Is No Longer A Box

Jewelry usually stands out at gift-giving time, and these holidays just past were no exception. Thus, there I was, frequently admiring a watch or necklace or bracelet someone had received as a gift. One of my sisters, for one, has her wedding anniversary in December, an occasion frequently marked with a piece of jewelry. This year's pick was different, she said. She embarked on a quest for Pandora, a do-it-yourself bracelet, consisting of a silver chord that threads through any number of beads or charms, chosen to suit the wearer's style, taste and memories.
    As my sister relayed the story, I remembered the clunky bracelet picture that recently had popped up on a huge billboard along one of the roads in my daily commute. Pandora, which I always thought of as a mythical box, is now a charm laden bracelet that will keep showing up.
    Cost For A Pandora Bracelet

    My daughter's friend, Katerina, just got a Pandora bracelet over the holidays. Her grandparents got it for her upon seeing it on a trip to South America. It has four charms on it so far: one for her good grades in her last report card, another in the shape of a musical note for keeping her music lessons, and two others for her two pets. "It's the coolest thing," Katerina says, holding up her adorned wrist. She still has plenty of room for more charms, and plenty of occasions ahead of her to claim them.
    I think the Pandora makers are definitely on to something. You can keep adding charms and changing its look, and for somebody who has decided to wear it, it's a great gift at any time.
    Not surprisingly, Pandora has its look-alike: Chamilia. And as it turns out, the entry of Chamilia in the market sort of opened a Pandora's box. (Pun intended, just indulge me.)
    Pandora sued Chamilia for infringing its patent for the bead-threading system. The  court ruled that competition is good and Chamilia could keep making the bracelets. Pandora, however, only sells to retailers that carry it exclusively, so you won't find both brands in the same store. And there still are differences between the two, which are detailed here: And neither here nor there, but should you want to know, Pandora originated in Denmark in the 1980s, and went worldwide in 1999.
     The Pandora (and Chamilia) bracelets have been growing on me, mostly because no two bracelets will look the same, and I find that very cool. You get to be your own jewelry designer. You can also make it more or less expensive, depending on whether you go with silver, gold or more gold. Same with the beads, some of which have precious stones.
     Now, Pandora might also prove there's a reason why jewelry designers get paid, after all. My sister and her husband went all out and ordered a Pandora starter kit with $800 worth of beads she found lovely, to lace around the sterling silver chord. We never got to see it. After finishing all the threading, it just didn't look right, she said. Somehow, the whole wasn't as good as the sum of its parts. She didn't love it. She returned it. If you're spending $800, you really should love it every time you look at it, she said.
     I agree.