When a young silversmith called Søren Nielsen crafted the first ever Troll bead from silver in 1976, he had no idea of the huge success story which would grow from that single bead. Dubbed “the Mask” because of its six faces showing a different expression on each side of the bead, it was to become the first in a long series of Trollbeads which were to adorn the wrists of people the world over.
Initially, the beads were sold in a small jewellery shop owned by Svend Nielsen, father to Søren and sister Lise Aagaard. As the demand Troll beads made from different shapes, colours and styles grew, so did the business. Still a very much a family affair, the Aagaard-Nielsen connection can still be seen today, with different members of the family taking responsibility for some aspect of the company. Lise Aagaard took the helm in distribution and export, making Trollbeads available to those in countries all over the world. Due to their versatility and universal capacity to convey different messages to the wearer depending on what beads they wore, they became a worldwide hit.
In response to requests for the beads to be made in different materials, Troll beads became available in a spectrum of materials including glass, semi precious and precious stone, gold and wood. As well as being decorative, a Troll bead could have another purpose. Themed beads made it possible for the wearer to buy a specific bead for a special occasion, such as a birthday or anniversary, or to remind the wearer of a special place or time. In this respect, the beads were not dissimilar to traditional charm bracelets in how the Troll beads could be displayed as a kind of “story” pertaining to the wearer’s personal history in some way. Some of the original beads even referenced the Nielsen-Aagard’s Danish heritage, with beads being made to represent ancient myths from their native home.
Since the 1970s, Trollbeads have experienced something of a revival, and are now ubiquitous, adorning the wrists of people everywhere. It is surprising that they ever experienced a lull in popularity, given their timeless quality and versatile nature, but a taste for all things “retro” coupled with individuality being a by-word for 21st century fashion (As oxymoronic and contentious as that concept might be), the humble Troll bead has once again been catapulted into the limelight, with celebrities such as Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jessica Simpson and Emma Watson seen wearing the bracelets.
A new generation of Trollbead wearers are now wearing the beads to celebrate milestones reached and achievements made. The unique design of the bracelet also means that the beads are interchangeable, allowing for a multitude of different bead combinations. This versatility, along with the retro appeal and charming theory behind Troll beads goes some way to explaining their renewed popularity.