The bracelet as a piece of jewelry is about 10.000+ years old. Every tribe or nation has its own tradition and favorite style, shape, and material to make it from. With all this information, from ages ago and from different cultures, you might say that you know all the tips and tricks to choose the right one for you. But do you?
To choose the right one you might want to know its history and what style in that history and traditions suit you most. And I guess you want to know what tips there are to choose the right one for your features. Well… all the answers are in this blog.
Read it all, or use the ‘table of content’ to go to the part that interests you most!
In the Old Times
In the Altai Mountains in Siberia, Russian archaeologists find in 2008 a grave in a cave with the part of a finger. And some artifacts, including a bracelet, that is 42.000 years old. They find in 1995 an obsidian copy in Turkey, that is 9500 years old. Archaeologists find out that the Egyptians wear them already in 5000 BC. Unbelievable that a piece of jewelry that is so trendy in our days already exists 42.000 ago. And that in those days people find the time not only to hunt or gather food but also take the effort to decorate themselves.
Maybe wearing bracelets are not so trendy and common about 40.000 years ago. But there is enough evidence that 7000 years ago in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and in China, people wear them on a more daily basis. They are made of shells, feathers, and grasses. We assume that they serve religious or spiritual goals. Like in Egypt priests and highly placed people wear this type of jewelry decorated with a scarab, which represents rebirth and regeneration in those days.
Later they make them of bronze and copper. Around 4000 years ago artisans are able to make bracelets of gold and silver. And they have a decoration of stones and shells. The archaeologists think that only rich people wear them as a symbol of status and wealth. About 3000 years ago the Egyptian artisans make them of gold or silver with inlaid designs of gemstones that are found in Africa. From this time (the New Kingdom in Egypt) they know that rich people do not wear bracelets because of religious reasons but as a decoration.
Highjacked by men
They get really popular in the old Greek and Roman world. Greeks even invent the word ‘bracelet’ which comes from the Greek word ‘brachile’. This means ‘of the arm’. The old Greek wear them on the upper and lower arm, for decoration. Soldiers wear leather or metal copies or cuffs on their arms to protect them. This part of the uniform is later stolen by the Romans.
The rich Romans love to wear golden bangles in the shape of a snake. It is mostly the men who wear them and the men bring the bracelet, with their armies, through Europe. And like every trend that is popular one time and vanishes the other period, in the Middle Ages in Europe (500-1500 AC) they lose their popularity.
And in the Far East
On the other end of the world, in China, they make a real art-making bracelet of jade, as from 2000 BC. Later they are made of gold and the craftsmen etch patterns of natural objects in the golden ones. In India, glass multicolored bangles become very popular and that trend lasts until today!
Back in Europe, in the 17th century, women get their hands on the bracelets. They are thin, mostly bangles, and decorated with ivory and coral. And the variety with charms gets trendy, the little charms on the bangles are hot in the Victorian Age. Of course, you are not supposed to wear only one, but the more the merrier. The bracelet gets bigger and bigger. Decorated with a cameo.
In the prude, 18th and 19th-century women wear dresses with long sleeves and the bracelets dangle nice and happily under the sleeves on the hand of the woman. They are big and decorated so that everyone sees them. But at the beginning of the 20th century, women start wearing dressing without sleeves. From that time on the upper bracelets, decorated with diamonds and gemstones get popular. You wear them on the upper arm of women and mostly for the rich and famous girls in town.
In the 21st century, the craftsmen make it from every material imaginable and they get favorites also from the less fortunate women. You see the ones, made of glass, leather, bone, beaded, charm, etc. Until today this jewel stays popular and even now a new trend is coming up: small ones of gemstones with 3 or 4 together in a set.
The most expensive one in the world
It is dangerous to start with a header like this. Things become more expensive every year, so maybe there is somewhere in the world a copy more expensive than the Wallis Simpson Cartier Panther bracelet. Having said this, I want to tell you the story of this excellent piece of jewelry.
Mrs. Wallis Simpson was three times divorced American lady who married King Edward VIII. He had to resign as a king and became the Duke of Windsor. But there was enough love to cope with that. Edward gave an expensive diamond and onyx bracelet in 1952, made by Cartier in the shape of a panter.
After her death in 1986 part of her jewelry was auctioned at Sotheby’s, including the panter bracelet, and in 1987 Mohammed Al Fayed (the father of the boyfriend of Princess Diana) bought it for $1.400.000. In 2010 the extraordinary piece of jewelry came on the market again.
Someone with a lot of money in his or her pocket bought it for $12.400.000, although some little gemstones were missing. And that is amazing, not only because of the missing gems but also because the estimated value was 3 times less than was paid by the buyer.
Still, it is a remarkable piece of jewelry. Imagine, the shape of a panter, decorated with diamonds and onyx, that is so long that you can drape it over the entire wrist, closed with a clasp.
7 Interesting traditions
Traditions are everywhere in life. There are even bracelet traditions. And very old bracelet traditions too! But serious: a bracelet, a piece of (beautiful) jewelry, is the object or subject of many wonderful and interesting bracelet traditions. And celebrations. Curious…? Well, let me tell you about them.
traditions in Greece
The bracelet is very popular in Greece, with men. It is a part of their army costume and made of gold or bronze. How that turns out into bracelet traditions is not known. Probably it starts at the parties of the half goddesses of Eleusine. Here the life of goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone is celebrated.
And where the participants wear a red thread on their right wrist and their left ankle. After years and years, a tradition ‘Martis’ starts. On the last day of February mothers in Greece make red and white bracelets for their children. On the first of March, the spring season starts there and the sun starts shining bright. The bracelets protect the children from sunburn. You keep the bracelets on the wrists until the last day in March. On that day you put the bracelets in the trees for the birds to use as nest material. And there are more interesting bracelet traditions.
traditions in Bulgaria
You find about the same bracelet traditions in Bulgaria, like ‘Martenitsi’. The bracelet has the same colors as in Greece (red and white). But the end of the bracelet has the shape of a doll: a male and a female one. You make the bracelet of yarn and wear it from the first of March. Until the day the wearer sees a stork, as a blossoming tree or a swallow, the symbols of spring. This bracelet tradition is inscribed on the Unesco list of ‘the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’.
The traditions in the Victorian Era
In the Victorian Era, according to tradition, the groom gives a set of bracelets to his future wife. The girl wears one of the bracelets at the start of the engagement. And she puts the second one on the wedding day. The wives pass the bracelet set on to their daughters. These habits become bracelet traditions.
In Europe, we have unofficial bracelet traditions. Little children get a birth bracelet as a present from the family. The bracelet is a chain bracelet with a small plate with a nice text on it.
The traditions in India
In India, the bracelet traditions have everything to do with marriage. The bracelets have different colors to symbolize energy (red), wisdom (blue), or purple (independence). On their wedding day, the bride wears a lot of crystal bracelets. With perfume and oils, the girlfriends of the bride try to get as many bracelets as possible on the arm of the bride. And the smaller the better (that brings luck). It is a very bad omen when a bracelet breaks before the husband dies. When he dies the widow breaks her crystal bracelets as a token of mourning.
Although bracelet traditions starts a long time ago, there are some habits, related to the bracelet, that start not so long ago. But definitely becomes a tradition when we wait a little bit longer. And I like to mention two of them.
These ‘bracelet traditions’ get popular in the United States in the eighties of the last century among teenagers. They are first seen in the demonstrations to protest against the disappearance of Mayan Indians and Guatamaltec peasants. The religious groups take the friendship bracelet to the United States to use in political demonstrations.
The friendship bracelet is a bracelet given to a friend as a symbol of friendship. Most of the time the friend makes this bracelet him or herself of thread or yarn. And using the macrame technique. The bracelet has two or three threads or someone uses a more difficult pattern. The origin of the colors and the threads are found in South America. But the decorative knots go their way back to China around 300BC. Very old bracelet traditions, you must say.
There is a special ritual around the friendship bracelets. You make one for your best friend and when you give it to him or her. You wrap it around your friend’s wrist and you wish that person something nice. The friend wears the bracelet until it drops off the wrist and then the wish comes true.
The second type of bracelet that becomes very popular is the ‘purpose’ bracelet. Under the influence of the ‘green’ movement, these bracelets are made of natural materials, like rubber. You buy them for a good cause and everybody is wearing the same color rubber bracelet or band. Just to show the world you are dedicated to that cause. The first (I know) that starts wearing this type of bracelet is Lance Armstrong. He promotes the sale of these bands to finance the research for finding medicine against cancer. This can be seen as one of the youngest bracelet traditions in the world.
You don’t only see these rubber bands as a symbol that you support a good cause. Also when you attend a pop concert or stay at an all-inclusive hotel. Or resort you will get a rubber or strong paper band to prove that you paid. This is not really meant as a piece of jewelry, but some of the bands are so beautiful, that people wear them longer than they stay in the hotel or after the concert.
A special type: the jade bracelet
Jade bracelets always fascinated me. Long-time ago I work as a tour operator and tour leader in China. It’s a very big country, with many minority cultures besides the Han Chinese. 51 dialects, that differ from English from French. With enormous barriers like the Great Wall, the Yang Tse Kiang river, or the Gobi desert. And still… in every place, I visited women wearing bracelets, made of this lovely green gemstone.
How is that possible with all the differences in culture and the impossibilities to meet each other? There must be some connection, and this green stone must be very important to a lot of people. I started a kind of search to discover where this all comes from and my goal was to get ‘No more secrets about these bracelets’
Chinese women wear nephrite bracelets!
Though China is a very large country, with many cultures and because of the great barriers and it is not so easy for the Chinese to communicate, very many women wear jadeite (and now you know it’s really nephrite) bracelets. They love the light green color or green in combination with white molts.
When you look at history you can explain this phenomenon due to the fact that Chinese emperors have the power over large pieces of land and the exact boundaries change. Since those emperors love this stone and you find nephrite in China, it is more than plausible that the people see jadeite and nephrite as ‘want to have’ items. The popularity is spread over the whole of China by the emperors and their civil servants.
Both green stones are gemstones, that symbolize heaven and eternity. And they have medical power, like stop bleeding and fever, and cure kidney and blatter problems: medical problems that occur a lot with women.
How to wear a jadeite/nephrite bracelet?
Then the practical side of wearing a jadeite/nephrite one: it is a very hard stone and not easy to break. Sure that helps when you wear it all the time. When a Chinese woman wants one she goes to a special bracelet jeweler and he measures the exact size (very tight) so that it won’t get in the way.
You don’t take it on and off, because it’s so tight that it is rather painful. And you wear the jewel on the left arm, which is practical when you have to write (and you are right-handed).
What looks best on you?
NASA, we have a problem’. Maybe not the right phrase, but we have a problem. What type of bracelet looks best on you and makes you sparkle? When there are more than 10 types available. This piece of jewelry should make you more beautiful and should enlighten your awesome points and camouflage your minor points. What type can you wear best? With so many types to choose from, I will pick the most common ones and show you who can wear them best, and what type of person should avoid them. Let’s start.
Bangles are rings with no opening. They originate from India, and Indian women wear a lot of them at the same time. These are some of the most versatile varieties at the moment and you will see them in many colors, materials, and sizes. They are very popular and trendy with women in all age groups. And I love to hear the sound of the bangles clinging together!
When you are a slim woman and your wrists are small you better wear a lot of bangles at the same time, to get the illusion of volume. Also, a tall woman can choose for wearing bangles when she wears more bangles at the same time and variate in smaller and wider bangles. The small woman can wear bangles too, but try to make vertical lines on your arm, so stacking! The vertical line principle counts also for well-figured women. But don’t wear the ones that are too small, because then your wrist and arm look like a ‘sausage’ (sorry about this).
Cuffs look like the bangle, but they have an opening and they cover about 2/3 of the wrist. It should sit tight and is not flexible, They look a bit like handcuffs, but they have closed altogether. The cuffs have their origin in Egypt when Pharao Cleopatra was in power.
A slim woman looks gorgeous with a striking cuff, that makes her arm and wrist look a bit wider and can make a statement on her arm. A tall woman needs horizontal lines on her arm so that the arm looks shorter. Wearing more cuffs at the same time (and a variation of smaller and wider cuffs) looks awesome on the tall woman. The small woman with her shorter arms looks great with cuffs that come high up, so it will create a vertical line that makes the short arm look a bit longer. A great solid cuff looks gorgeous on a well-figured woman
These pieces of jewelry are fine ones, made of gemstones and silver or gold. They come with all kinds of gemstones and all kinds of prices. A slim woman looks great with a one-strand gemstone copy. You can choose also for wearing more one-strand gemstone ones at the same time. Choose then for the more colorful ones and variate between the smaller and wider copies to make a statement on your arm. And at the same time, the variety of smaller and wider bracelets gives the illusion of softness and volume.
The shorter or smaller woman looks great with gemstone copies, when they are not too large or with a few smaller ones on top of each other. Make those vertical lines on your arm look longer.
These ones consist of beads that are twisted on a chain and linked together. Swarovski and Tiffany have a large collection of them. They can be worn by every type of woman because it depends on the kind of link that matches you best.
Oval links are great for wider wrists and smaller round links are better for smaller wrists. It is a great idea for the well-figured woman to wear a link bracelet or one that moves when you are wearing it. It should be partly over your wrist and in this way gives the arm some extra (virtual) length.
These ones look like a few bangles, fixed together, but they are connected with one clasp. The strand can be beaded or linked. Slim women with wider wrists look gorgeous wearing multiple strand copies. It makes the arm look shorter and the wrist smaller. For the smaller woman this type is only great when you make the vertical lines, so wear a lot of strands, that are not too wide.
These are stiff metal chain copies, finished with a toggle clasp of hook clasp. They have to be worn a bit loose around the wrist and sometimes together with a watch. The origin is the Omega wristwatch. The Omega variety imitates this watch.
This is made of pearls, having one or more strands and they can be worn alone or together. Loved by women with a more traditional taste. A pearl bracelet can be made with large and smaller pearls, all kinds of pearls, one of multistrand. So everybody can wear one, but pay attention to the tips I gave before.
Shamballa is made of nylon, leather, or fabric and in between are gemstones woven into the bands. The origin is Buddhistic and they represent peace and tranquillity. These types are worn mostly by younger people the women who like the Boho style.
The beads of these ones are beaded on a stretch band. They are flexible and cling beautifully to your wrist. These types normally don’t have a clasp. Stretch varieties are great and easy to slip on. But: when you have a wide hand and a small wrist the stretch band will have to stretch all the way and can enlarge, during time.
A tennis bracelet
This one is made of a thin wristband (flexible) and the clasp is made of platinum or decorated with diamonds. The origin comes from the tennis player Chris Evert, who was wearing such a one during the matches.
Most of the women can wear tennis bracelets. A large one for the larger or wider wrists and a smaller one for the delicate and finer wrists.
As told before, there are many more types of this popular type of jewelry and there are many more tips and secrets to tell about how to choose the right one to let you sparkle. When you want to know more, best ask for this free booklet FlorenceJwelshop wrote with 19 tips and secrets about the best bracelet for you.
Let me know where I can send this booklet to!
Florence of FlorenceJewelshop