Bracelets were one of the first adornments dating back to 2680 B.C. Egyptians wore bracelets made of Silver and Gold. Going much further back in history, The Cro-Magnons, wore necklaces and bracelets made from bones and teeth.
The Early Greek soldiers wore bracelets as part of their uniform on the upper and lower arm. These were made from leather and metal. These also served as protection. This was later adopted by Roman soldiers who wore bracelets for protection.
China, dating back to 2000 B.C., cuffs and bangles of jade were worn. These were carved by the craftsmen of that period. Gold bracelets in China were carved with animals, nature or mythical creatures. Gold bangles were found in India also from the same period.
Roman bracelets shared many of the design patterns of necklaces and earrings from that era. The ever-popular ball earrings from that era were nicely matched with a ball style bracelet.
Engraved bangles and snake bracelets were very popular during Roman times. Bracelets made of a twisted coil with lion head ends were commonplace, as were the two-part bracelets ending with a pair of lion heads.
The Hercules knot bracelet is recognized as a Roman-era piece. The Roman’s were very creative in the designing of their jewelry. However, they still borrowed from Greek motifs. Palmettos, fleeing dogs and acanthus leaves, all of the Greek origin, were often seen in the designing of Roman jewelry.
Stones and glass were often used in Roman bracelets. Gemstones were commonly found set in eyes. Open bands were cut to represent a row of ivy and entwined with pearls. Many of the leaf and berry bracelets were heavily adorned with decorative glass. The wealthier women could be seen wearing bracelets layered in bezel set emeralds.
During the Georgian time (from 1714 – 1837) it was very fashionable to wear matching bracelets, worn in pairs. These may include bangles and cuffs. Paris jewelers were known for their gold bracelets set with pearl edging Gold was 18 karet or higher, and gold jewelry was completely handcrafted. The process started with a jeweler’s apprentice hammering blocks of gold to the correct thickness, then the Master jeweler would create the jewelry.
The Victorian era, (1837 – 1901) brought changes to the fashions of women, including jewelry styles. Earrings grew long and dangled, bracelets became rigid and were normally worn in pairs. The buckle bracelet became very fashionable.
The jewelry of the Victorian era expressed sentiment, and bracelets were no exception. Bracelets would contain lockets or charms with pictures or hair of a loved one, and engravings were common
Early Victorian jewelry enjoyed some mystic with hidden meanings being popular. The acrostic bracelets where the first letter of each gemstone spelled a word of friendship were very popular. For example, a bracelet set with Lapis, Opal, Vermeil [hessonite garnet] and Emerald would spell Love.
The Art Nouveau period once again saw changes to fashion and jewelry. Chameleons and serpents entwined themselves around bracelets. The mystical Egyptian scarab was found on bracelets and rings. Other popular creatures included dragonflies, butterflies, bees, peacocks, swans, and even bats. This was a very figural period attached to nature.
If jewelry did not depict creatures it depicted flower blossoms or flower buds.
From 1910 to 1939 women’s fashions saw sleeveless or short sleeve dresses appear. The result was flexible bracelets and bangles worn on the upper arm. These arm bracelets were often adorned with gemstones or diamonds.
From 1940 to 1949 US designers were greatly influenced by the designs from the French house of Van Cleef & Arpels. Bracelets with the ribbon of hexagon lines centered on fine gemstones fastened with heavy clasps became very vogue.
From 1950 to 1960 daytime saw simpler lines for not only gold bracelets but necklaces as well. Gold mesh or twisted wire bracelets were very popular.
From 1960 to 1970 bracelets became more flexible and were often set with gems. Bangles became more rigid and were often seen set with random diamond placements.
From 1970 to 1979 bracelets were flexible and often set with tiny baguettes. Delicate and dainty bracelets were vogue.
From the 1980s to now bracelet fashions have been mixed and varied. Bracelet styles have become more of an individual fashion statement than a trend. Gold has always remained popular as have gems, however, sterling silver has become very popular and recognized for its versatility and wearability at affordable pricing. In the last few years, we’ve also seen an increase in demand for titanium bracelets.
Today a women’s fashion statement is about her! What she likes, what she feels good in. So your bracelet wardrobe can be whatever you want. Wear a dainty gem-set gold bracelet or an armful of clunky bracelets.
Your fashion statement is about who you are, so feel free to be you!