Serious Charm

French World War One "Sweetheart Bracelet" with Croix de Guerre and Battle Medallions (LEO Design)

Tangible items accrue even more relevance during times of drama, uncertainty or an encounter with life-and-death anxiety.  A simple token can become an emotional lifeline when one's beloved is in peril—and may never return alive. Such was the case for hundreds of millions of people—spouses, children, parents and friends—who sent a loved one (usually a young man) off to fight in World War One.  70 million soldiers fought.  10 million soldiers died (alongside another 10 million civilians killed).  20 million people sustained serious physical injury.  And we are still coming to terms with the extent of the emotional trauma the war inflicted.

This French "Sweetheart Bracelet" might have been given by a young soldier to his girlfriend or wife.  It is a collection of ten copper "charms": five Croix de Guerre interspersed with five battle medallions commemorating specific conflicts fought at Reims, Verdun and Pont-a-Mousson (all three in France) plus Ypres and Louvain (both in Belgium).  The bracelet may have given its wearer a feeling of closeness to her beloved, or, perhaps, was a way of honoring his service (whether he lived or died).  What (today) may seem gruesome, would have had incredible significance 107 years ago—as it would today under similar circumstances.  Click on the photo above to learn more about it.


Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (

We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques ( or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (

Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248