If you didn't inherit a collection of your grandmother's charms, then you've probably amassed some sentimental pieces to commemorate the important moments in your life. I've been thinking a lot about the word "commemorate," and how it relates to memorial jewelry. It seems that when we collect charms, we're using a jewel to partner ("co") with a memory, triggering this memory over and over when we wear/see/touch the jewel. Miriam-Webster's dictionary says:
When you remember something, you are mindful of it. It's appropriate, therefore, that "commemorate" and other related memory-associated words (including "memorable," "memorial," "remember," and "memory" itself) come from the Latin root memor, meaning "mindful." Some distant older relatives are Old English "gemimor" ("well-known"), Greek mermēra ("care"), and Sanskrit "smarati" ("he remembers"). English speakers have been marking the memory of important events with "commemorate" since the late 16th century.
The definition of "charm" is rich with meaning too:
1. the chanting or reciting of a magic spell : incantation : a practice or expression believed to have magic power.
2. something worn about the person to ward off evil or ensure good fortune : amulet. "wore a rabbit's foot as a good-luck charm."
3. a trait that fascinates, allures, or delights the charm of this imaginative story : a physical grace or attraction —used in plural "her feminine charms" : compelling attractiveness "the island possessed great charm"
4. a small ornament worn on a bracelet or chain "Her sister presented her with a sterling silver charm for her bracelet."