- Wherever in the World You May Be -
How Military Jewelry Can Connect You to Your Military Heroes & Friends
Life as a military spouse brings unique challenges and experiences that give us a renewed perspective, appreciation for the small things, newfound strength, and the courage to embrace change. We know these things to be true, no matter which military branch we are affiliated with, because of a few common threads that unite us.
While living in a never-ending loop of “see-you-laters” that are an inevitable consequence of frequent relocations that often take you further away from loved ones, and the time spent apart from your hero during deployments and training, you lean on the milspouse friendships you make every step of the way. So, when the sad day comes to give big hugs until you reunite again, military jewelry can serve as a personal and meaningful everyday reminder of your military family - whether they’re the ones who share your name or the ones you choose with your heart. Everyone in this tight-knit community, from spouses, significant others, family members, and friends, uplifts those who bravely and selflessly volunteer to serve and protect our country.
HOW THE HISTORY BEHIND EACH BRANCH OF THE U.S. ARMED FORCES INSPIRED MILITARY JEWELRY PIECES
Each service branch of the U.S. Armed Forces is genuinely extraordinary - from the history to the meaning behind the insignia, colors represented, and some fun facts you might not know. And after reading, you’ll be able to scout out how these tidbits inspired our military tribute bracelets and other jewelry that service member spouses and loved ones wear with pride and honor each day.
The Second Continental Congress founded the Army in 1775, making it the oldest service in the U.S. military. In age, it surpasses the country it serves! The Army has most definitely evolved since its original task of protecting the freedom of the 13 colonies to now defend the American people as the world’s top fighting force on the ground.
SYMBOLISM OF THE INSIGNIA
According to the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry, “The central element, the Roman cuirass, is a symbol of strength and defense. The sword, spontoon (a type of half-pike formerly used by subordinate officers), musket, bayonet, cannon, cannon balls, mortar, and mortar bombs are representative of Army implements. The drum and drumsticks are symbols of public notification of the Army's purpose and intent to serve the nation and its people. The Phrygian cap (often called the Cap of Liberty) supported on the point of an unsheathed sword and the motto, ‘This We'll Defend,’ on a scroll held by the rattlesnake is a symbol depicted on some American colonial flags and signifies the Army's constant readiness to defend and preserve the United States.”
COLORS REPRESENTED & THEIR MEANING
The official colors of the U.S. Army are black and gold. Black symbolizes knowledge and jurisprudence while gold symbolizes achievement and honor.
Have a pair of sunglasses you can’t imagine leaving your home without, particularly Ray-Bans? You can thank U.S. Army Air Corps Lt. General John MacCready for that. He requested Bausch & Lomb to create glasses for his pilots to help block the sun and lessen their nausea and headaches. As a result, the Ray-Ban brand was born.
Much like the inception of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy dates all the way back to October 13, 1775. In its first few years of existence, the original fleet was made up of commercial sailors in their own ships as part of what was known as - yes, you guessed it - the Continental Army. The primary mission of those sailors was to stop any shipments coming into the country from the United Kingdom. Fast forward a little more than 20 years, and the Navy was officially established on April 30, 1798. With an array of components such as operating forces, the surface fleet, the submarine fleet, and the shore “support” establishment, this branch can take on the enemy from anywhere in the world.
SYMBOLISM OF THE INSIGNIA
The flag of the U.S. Navy features an eagle with its wings spread, suggesting it’s defending a ship at sea. You can also see that nautical imagery is included such as a circular rope around the central insignia.
COLORS REPRESENTED & THEIR MEANING
The official colors of the Navy are blue and gold and are referenced in the branch’s march song, “Anchors Aweigh.” As the words go, “Blue of the Mighty Deep; Gold of God's Sun. Let these our colors be. Till all of time be done, done, done."
Thanks to the U.S. Congress, the Secretary of the Navy has been in charge of naming ships since 1819. For the most part, names are formed by the Naval Historical Center as a result of suggestions made by the public, sailors, retirees, and naval history. The Chief of Naval Operations formally signs and takes those recommendations for the current year’s building program to the Secretary. He or she then considers that list, along with his or her own thoughts, and announces the new names at appropriate times. For those ships named after individuals, a christening takes place by the oldest living female descendant of that individual and for ships with other name sources, it’s traditional to honor the wives of senior naval officers or public officials.
The history and heritage of the U.S. Air Force ties to the creation of the Aeronautical Division of the U.S. Signal Corps on August 1, 1907. The initial aircraft of this division was made up of kite balloons before ultimately acquiring its first official airplane from the Wright Brothers in 1908. World War I was the moment when its aviators could test their limits, while also providing the U.S. with a better picture of the role American pilots can play in combat. Therefore, the division was separated from the Signal Corps and became the U.S. Army Air Service. Fast forward to 1947, when a total revamp and reorganization of the U.S. military took place, the U.S. Air Force was formed, finally making it an independent and equal branch of the DoD.
SYMBOLISM OF THE INSIGNIA
As seen on the branch’s emblem, the 13 stars represent the 13 Original Colonies of the United States. The grouping of three stars at the top of the design, however, portrays the three Departments of the National Defense Establishment - Army, Navy, and Air Force. Meanwhile, the crest includes the American Bald Eagle, symbolizing the United States and air striking power, with its head turned to the right - suggesting facing the enemy and looking towards the future. The shield, divided with the wavy (nebuly) line formation to depict clouds, is filled with the heraldic thunderbolt to portray striking power in the air. Lastly, the Roman numerals beneath it indicate the year 1947, when the Department of the Air Force was established.
COLORS REPRESENTED & THEIR MEANING
The official colors of the U.S. Air Force are ultramarine blue, representing “the sky” - the primary stage for its operations, and yellow, representing “the sun” and the excellence that is required of Air Force personnel.
The Air Force tracks Santa Clause. Yes, it’s true! Every December since 1948, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) follows the big man in red’s movements as he delivers presents to boys and girls around the world.
Founded in 1775, the Second Continental Congress first ordered two battalions of Marines to be brought up for service as landing forces with the recently-formed Continental Army. That 1775 group, however, was known as the Continental Marines, and it wasn’t the United States Marine Corps just yet. When the Revolution ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1783, just as the Navy was disbanded, so were the Continental Marines. It wasn’t until 15 years later, when President John Adams signed into law a congressional act, that the U.S. Marine Corps was reborn.
SYMBOLISM OF THE INSIGNIA
The Marine Corps emblem consists of an eagle with spread wings atop a globe on the Western Hemisphere, with a “fouled anchor” (meaning it’s become hooked onto something in the ground or has its cable wound around it) in the background. The eagle is the symbol of the nation, the globe of worldwide service, and the anchor of the branch’s close ties with the Navy.
COLORS REPRESENTED & THEIR MEANING
The official colors of the U.S. Marines are scarlet and gold. On the dress blue trousers of all officers and noncommissioned officers, you’ll find a scarlet stripe, or “blood stripe.” It’s said to commemorate the casualties at the battle of Chapultepec, Mexico.
The Marines’ very first battle took place in none other than the Bahamas. On March 3, 1776, a force under Captain Samuel Nicholas’ command invaded the beaches of the British-held island of New Providence, searching for military supplies. The mission was successful and they ended up seizing a few brass cannons and mortars, which were later used by George Washington’s Continental Army.
On August 4, 1790, the history of the U.S. Coast Guard commenced when the first Congress gave the go-ahead to construct ten vessels to enforce federal tariff and trade laws, and to prevent smuggling. In its early days, the branch was known as the Revenue Marine and the Revenue Cutter Service. In 1915, it received its current name under an act of Congress that joined the Revenue Cutter Service with the Life-Saving Service, with the mission to save life at sea and enforce the nation’s maritime laws.
SYMBOLISM OF THE INSIGNIA
The Coast Guard seal features a pair of golden crossed anchors overlapping a life ring with the words “Semper Paratus” inscribed within it, a shield bearing seven white stripes and six red stripes with a blue cap field, and the outer rim of the seal is lined with a gold rope. What’s worth calling attention to are those two Latin words, which mean “Always Ready.” It’s the motto of the brave men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard as they answer the call when lives are on the line at sea.
COLORS REPRESENTED & THEIR MEANING
The official colors of the U.S. Coast Guard are Coast Guard Red, Coast Guard Blue, and White. According to Military.com, “The color red stands for our youth and sacrifice of blood for liberty's sake. The color blue not only stands for justice, but also for our covenant against oppression. The white symbolizes our desire for light and purity.”
An “average day” for the Coast Guard isn’t so average. According to the U.S. Coast Guard Boating Resource Center, the Coast Guard typically conducts 109 searches and rescues, saves ten lives, seizes 169 pounds of marijuana and 306 pounds of cocaine worth $9,589,000, and investigates six vessel casualties per day.
And there you have it, just a brief look into the past and you can quickly see how intertwined, yet different, each branch of the military really is. All that rich history and symbolism was the perfect canvas for creating military jewelry with meaning.
Some of my favorite military jewelry pieces that I designed in collaboration with the lovely gals (and fellow military spouses) at R.Riveter can be found within the Military Branch Bracelets collection. There’s a military tribute bracelet for each branch of our Armed Forces – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. You should be able to spot some symbolic colors and gemstones after reading about each branch!
I will say, it wasn’t easy to capture the spirit of each military branch on a string of gemstones because decades of history, sacrifice, and deep pride are not things you can see, but are only things carried in your heart. The inspiration came from the colors of each military seal and branch uniform, and the gemstones are symbolic of those colors. It’s my hope that they’re a constant, treasured reminder of your military hero and an anchor to what’s most important in your life.
While your loved one serves our great country as a service member of one of the branches that make up the U.S. Armed Forces, it’s important to reflect on the fact that you, too, play an essential role.
FAMILIES SERVE TOO: THE IMPORTANT ROLE YOU PLAY AS YOUR HERO SERVES IN AN ACTIVE DUTY BRANCH
No matter your experiences - whether as a service member spouse, significant other, family member, or friend - each role is an essential part of the mission as your hero serves in an active duty branch.
Spouses and significant others take on the difficult task of holding down the fort while the time spent apart eventually surpasses the time spent together in a given year. Not to mention, they find the strength to weave together a tribe - from one duty station to another. Parents take on the never-ending feelings of concern about their “baby,” no matter if they’re at “home” thousands of miles away or serving overseas. Children take on the constant moves, being uprooted from one school to the next, and holidays and birthdays celebrated without their other parent.
Each family member has their own unique perspective while experiencing a PCS, TDY, deployment; you name it. Often, these trials and tribulations bring a range of feelings from loneliness to a low sense of belonging (as illustrated in Blue Star Families’ annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey). It’s more important than ever for military families to feel connected and supported - not just to their loved ones but also to their military and civilian communities. Having something special to wear as an everyday reminder, like military jewelry, can help do exactly that!
THE NEED FOR CONNECTION & SUPPORT: HOW MILITARY JEWELRY CAN HELP
Currently, there are more than 1.3 million active duty military members serving our country, making up less than 0.4 percent of the American population.
Let that statistic sink in for a minute.
Therefore, year after year, the civilian-military divide continues to be an issue. It’s no wonder why military family members often experience hardships. It’s easy to feel as if you’re not seen, heard, understood, and cherished.
That’s where military jewelry comes in. While it may seem as if a military tribute bracelet or pair of earrings is simply a piece that looks pretty or compliments your style, it’s so much more than that. Consider it part of your everyday armor you slip around your wrist, connecting you to your purpose, your community, your hero - reminding you that you’re not alone on this journey - while also inspiring you to find your inner strength to carry out your duty of uplifting your service member and those around you.
Knowing that something small, yet meaningful, can keep you connected to what matters most will help you navigate the tough times. So, are you ready to pick the perfect piece? Who knows; maybe you’ll spot a spouse at the commissary wearing a similar style or encourage each your family members to purchase the same military tribute bracelet - uniting you near or far.
WHERE CAN YOU PURCHASE MILITARY JEWELRY?
Want to know one of the most amazing things about the military family community? There are a good number of spouses and service members - both active duty and veteran - who’ve taken the leap into the world of entrepreneurship to bring their talents, in the form of products and services, to the world. Their endeavors allow them the opportunity to not only change the unemployment rate among the military spouse community and ease the transition from active duty, but also defy the odds of having a career despite uncertainty and sacrifice.
I’d like to introduce you to just a handful of the spouse and veteran-owned military jewelry businesses, and their owners, as a way to show my appreciation for all they have done and continue to do for the military community.
HOPE DESIGN LTD.
- Lauren Hope is the mastermind behind Hope Design Ltd. As a military spouse herself, she handcrafts military jewelry and accessories to honor our country’s service veterans and heroes. From brooches to bracelets, earrings, pins, custom collections, and more, each piece is truly something special and unique.
photo by Hope Design, Ltd.
BANG BANG BALLISTIC JEWELRY
- This female veteran-owned military jewelry company is founded by Shanna Rodenberg, who while serving in Kabul, Afghanistan, used her camera to escape the “war scenario” and connect to her inner artist. Today, she creates pieces out of spent bullet casings and ammo rounds for those of the military community alongside her business partner, Fred Bassett, and considers it her therapeutic mission while continually honoring those who’ve served our country.
photo by Bang Bang Ballistic Jewelry
- This shop’s story begins with four military wives. After sharing in the experience that comes with this life, they desired to have something that would help celebrate those significant memories. Thus, the Nomadés Collection came to fruition in 2009, and now, it encompasses a team of consultants all over the world to help women tell similar stories through bracelets, necklaces, accessories, and accompanying military journey charms, duty station charms, and life’s journey charms.
photo by Nomades Collection
- As the daughter of a Marine and an Army spouse for more than 10 years, Colleen started making jewelry as a hobby when she found that the pieces being sold at the Post Exchange didn’t exactly match her style. Today, she’s perfected her designs, creating unique military jewelry for military spouses and moms. And if you’re an EOD or Ranger Regiment family, she has collections just for you, too!
photo by Her Hero Jewelry
The entrepreneurial mindset among the military community expands much wider than just military jewelry. If you’re interested in supporting additional military spouse and veteran-owned businesses, explore Shop Military’s robust directory.
Lauren Hope, owner of Hope Design Ltd., started #ShopMilitary to bring awareness to all of the military spouse and veteran-owned businesses around the world so patriotic civilians can directly support them and their families.
It’s not a charity, instead it’s a movement that you can join. Best of all, if you’re a veteran-owned or military spouse business like mine, add your company listing to the directory for free! As soon as you do, you’ll get the chance to spread the word about your business and the story behind it. We know firsthand, as we’ve had the pleasure of sharing our story of the #ShopMilitary movement and the impact the milspouse community has had on our business!
If you’re on the hunt for meaningful military jewelry such as military tribute bracelets or military branch bracelets in particular, Charliemadison Originals is another military spouse-owned shop that offers collections designed with you and your loved ones in mind!
"It's the perfect gift for my sister-in-law who is deployed to Antarctica! A constant reminder that we're with her in spirit and thinking of her always. Thanks for providing such a beautiful product with so much meaning and inspiration."
WHY CHOOSE CHARLIEMADISON ORIGINALS?
Military families are near and dear to my heart. After all, American heroes make up three generations of my family. My husband proudly served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years, sending us, along with our two daughters, around the world - all the way to Okinawa, Japan - and back. Although he’s retired now, we'll always be a military family at heart, which I credit to influencing our company’s mission, and gifting me with compassion and purpose.
From my husband, to my father, my father-in-law, my grandfather, sister-in-law, uncles and cousins.......just a few of the heroes in my family.
I understand you because I am one of you. I know that no matter where the military sends you and/or your American hero, you long to feel connected to your service member family. Most importantly, you deserve to be reminded daily of the resiliency, bravery, strength, and devotion of both yourself and your loved one.
For that reason, I’ve designed a few military tribute bracelet and military branch bracelet collections with you in mind - for both my shop and in collaboration with R.Riveter. These can serve as the perfect meaningful gift for yourself or that special person in your life, from your military spouse BFF to your mother-in-law!
"The Milspo Pride bracelet was a gift for my niece and she absolutely loved it! The colors are beautiful and the packaging and personal touch was perfect. Beautiful reminder of her husband's service and I know she will wear it with pride. And, it warms my heart to know that a percentage of my purchase will go towards charities that support military members and their families. Thank you Charliemadison for another original design."
MILITARY TRIBUTE BRACELETS
The idea behind these bracelets, in particular, came from my desire to honor those who have sacrificed so much for the freedoms we enjoy today - from the fallen to veterans, active duty, and their families. May we never take their service for granted.
Here are the military tribute bracelets that make up this special collection:
From the sky to the seas to the mountains and everything in between, the gemstone colors of this bracelet symbolize the places around the globe that the five branches of our Armed Forces serve, protect, and defend. Our military heroes and their families are united in service and mission - from the fallen to veterans to active duty. Wear the Home of the Brave Bracelet with pride, like your everyday armor, to remind you that you’re connected to your American hero, supported by your military community, and that you’re not alone on this journey.
Courage: the unwavering ability to take action even when you encounter disapproval from others or are staring danger in the face. It takes a little bit of audacity, boldness, bravery, and grit whether you’re facing a PCS or deployment, weaving together a tribe at your new duty station, or holding down the fort at home while your hero is away. Wear the Courage Bracelet as your everyday reminder to trust that the same courageous spirit that carries our heroes into battle also lives in your heart and will guide you when you reach the next fork in the road.
Army . Navy . Marines . Air Force . Coast Guard
When the other half of your heart is deployed, time seems to pass at a snail’s pace and loneliness walks beside you wherever you go. Staying connected to what matters most will help you navigate the tough times. Each day of deployment, slip this bracelet around your wrist as your everyday reminder that your hero is always in your heart even though there are miles between you. When the deployment ends, continue wearing In My Heart as your badge of honor to remind you of the times you were braver than you seemed and much stronger than you knew.
Symbolic of the colors of military camouflage, the Honor Bracelet is a tribute to those who have fought through tough times, stood behind what they believed in, and sacrificed for a cause much greater than themselves. Wear this bracelet as an everyday reminder of your strength, pride, loyalty, and integrity and of those brave souls who have come before you!
Red, white, and blue - the colors of the American flag and the iconic symbol of the freedoms we are blessed with every day. Yet freedom does not come without sacrifice - and those freedoms are protected because of the sacrifices of the brave men and women of our Armed Forces, who selflessly serve our country. Wear the Freedom Bracelet as a reminder of those who have fallen in service, those who have served, and those who serve today to protect the freedoms we enjoy. Let us never take them for granted!
Resilient, brave, strong, devoted – qualities that live in the heart of a military spouse (Milspo). They show strength with every relocation, deployment, and lost job; they’re resilient - making a new home and forming new friendships at each duty station; and they are fiercely devoted to the family and military hero they love. Designed by Charliemadison Originals’ founder, also a military spouse, this bracelet is a tribute to the Milspo way of life – despite the uncertainty and sacrifice that military life brings, Milspos face each new challenge with grace and bravery.
"I absolutely love the quality and thought that goes into the design of each bracelet. This is my 5th Charliemadison bracelet; I proudly wear Freedom, Peace, and Honor on my left right with Grounded and Focus on my right wrist. They empower me, provide me energy and inspire me. I have referred friends, family and colleagues. Also, as a military veteran, I am honored to support a top-notch and quality organization - Charliemadison Originals!"
MORE MILITARY JEWELRY COLLABORATIONS WITH R.RIVETER
In addition to the Military Branch Bracelets collection I shared earlier, I’ve also had the pleasure of collaborating with R.Riveter on several more meaningful jewelry pieces. Take a look below - I think you’ll love these, too!
YOUR MILITARY JEWELRY PURCHASE FROM CHARLIEMADISON ORIGINALS GIVES BACK
If you spotted a bracelet that you’d love to slip on your wrist as your everyday reminder or gift to a special friend, you will feel happy knowing that your purchase gives back. When you shop from Charliemadison Originals, your support expands much wider than my family of four. It also helps me carry out my mission to give back to organizations that uplift service members and their families.
To honor my family, whose military roots run deep - spanning three generations and three branches of service, as well as the military community we love so much, we donate 5% of all sales to organizations such as:
- Semper K9 is an organization founded by a veteran with a mission to improve the lives of veterans with their incredible service dogs. Founded in November 2014 by Christopher and Amanda Baity, Semper K9 rescues dogs from shelters and trains them to be service dogs at no cost for disabled service members. Read about our donation to Semper K9, which included a special gift from a veteran with a heart of gold.
Holbrook Farms is a nonprofit charity located in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, and each year they host the Survivors of Heroes Retreats - dedicated to providing all-expenses paid getaways for military survivors, widows, and families who have lost their loved ones in military service. The experience offers survivors an opportunity to get away and spend time with those who have gone through similar tragedies, helping them through their grieving process. Read the story behind our donation to Holbrook Farms Retreat.
Operation Purple Camp offers a free week of camp to military kids who have a parent who has returned from a deployment, is gearing up to deploy, or is trying to adjust to a new normal after an injury. These kids get to spend a week with other kids just like them as they adapt to and overcome the stressors of military life. What’s most remarkable is Operation Purple Camp has served nearly 62,000 military kids since 2004, and the memories made last a lifetime. Read about our donation to Operation Purple Camp.
- What began in 2013 as a BBQ for members of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group at Ft. Bragg, NC, to join together to honor and remember two of their former teammates, Mike Duskin and Riley Stephens, has become so much more. Since then, the team has been providing active duty members of the Special Operations community and their families the opportunity to honor our fallen and advance their careers and family life, despite extended deployments and separation.
- The team of sweet ladies at The Milspo Project is genuinely passionate about empowering and educating military spouse entrepreneurs. Together, they continue to provide resources and support to this community in particular through live events, meetups, a monthly book club, and so much more.
"The Freedom bracelet is just the accessory I was looking for. It’s simple yet classy, and it supports military charities which is a huge plus in my book. Service was excellent and the bracelets arrived quicker than I expected. Thank you for supporting military families."
All that to say, when you order from my small business, it’s not just me doing a happy dance. It’s also the many others you’re helping me serve! Now, I’m leaving you with a mission for the day: find your chosen armor, in the form of military jewelry, to wear as a daily reminder and connection to your purpose, your community, your American hero - guiding you throughout your journey as the loved one of a service member.