I WISH I’D THOUGHT OF THAT

Great ideas that I wish I’d had. The Anywayup cup. The Ugg boot. The Filofax. It must be fantastic to have an idea that everyone else likes so much that they all buy one. Or two.

A case in point is my Pandora Bracelet. For those not in the know, Pandora is a type of charm bracelet. First you buy the basic bracelet in either silver or gold. It is a plain rope chain which is divided into three sections. £55 for a silver one. Over a grand for a gold. And then you are off. The idea is that you fill your bracelet with charms. There are hundreds to choose from. Star signs, letters, animals, abstract designs, Murano glass. In fact almost anything you can imagine has been fashioned into a charm. And once you are in they’ve got you. It’s addictive. Filled one bracelet? Buy another or a necklace or swap your charms depending on your mood. You could go on forever.

I got the bracelet for my birthday. My husband and each child spent ages poring over the website and each chose a bead that meant something to them. I was delighted. Then I went to the Pandora shop in Leeds to spend my birthday money. The shop is a little boutique in the Victorian Quarter, Leeds’ exclusive shopping district. It’s managed by a lovely and somewhat camp chap who is incredibly enthusiastic about his product. “Do you find that your beads slip round your bracelet and all bunch at the bottom?” he asked with his brightest smile. Well, now he came to mention it…. and so he sold me a couple of clips which ensure that the beads stay in the particular third of the bracelet where they have been placed. £46.

Then I started to look at the charms themselves. I thought a bit of colour might be nice and was encouraged to choose a colour and stick to it for fear of my Pandora looking a “mess”. My favourite colour is blue so that was easy enough. I chose two beads with pretty blue enamelling designs. £80. Birthday money spent. That didn’t take long.

Over the next few weeks I bought myself a rather cheeky looking rabbit and a little bear with a button nose. £40. Christmas, Mothering Sunday and wedding anniversary all brought more charms from friends and family. And then I committed the cardinal sin.

As is often the case with a good idea, Pandora has been copied. There are now four or five retailers doing similar bracelets all with a different range of charms. Most of them are cheaper than the Pandora originals but this has the added bonus of allowing you to fill your bracelet more quickly. Lovelinks, for example, sell boxes containing five glass beads for the same price as about two and a half Pandora Murano glass ones. As I wandered passed a jewellers, a box of vibrant greens caught my eye. I thought this might give me a bit of variety and so I bought it. And that was it. I was a Pandora trollop! I felt horribly disloyal but the temptation of filling my bracelet was too strong. It’s true that the diamante sparkles fell off the fake beads but you have to look really close to notice.

Now my bracelet is multi-coloured ( the chap in Leeds will have a fit when he sees it) and almost full. It gives my family and friends endless gift possibilities and any duplicates can always be exchanged so everyone can buy with confidence. Which brings me to my original point. What a simple idea. With such a wide range of products there is something for everyone. You can buy gold, silver or a mixture of both so there is something for every pocket. They make fabulous presents for all kinds of occasions . All you have to do is buy the chain and off you go. Mr Pandora must be laughing all the way to the bank.

What do you think? I'd love to know...