Bracelets and bangles have been worn since primitive times, made of wood, shells and stones, worn by both men and women. They have religious connotations for some faiths and are used in marriage ceremonies as a symbol of commitment.

During the 17th century bracelets became a must have piece of jewellery. Georgian designs featured gold with pearl edging and coral, as well as using gold mesh and silk ribbons.

The Victorians favoured the charm bracelet as they loved the symbolism of the individual charms, which may have included hair or a photo of a loved one. They also enjoyed wearing acrostic pieces where the initial letters of the gemstones featured would spell something meaningful – like Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby, Diamond – REGARD!

Bracelets made from entwined wore or mesh were popular in the 1950s & 60s and tended to be more plain in design. In the 1970s, bracelets were more delicate and were often set with small baguettes. The tennis bracelet style features an even line of diamonds or other gemstones threaded together by a gold or platinum chain. It is so named due to tennis player Chris Evert losing her bracelet during a match when it flew off, and then not resuming the game until it had been found! Previously it had also been known as an eternity bracelet.

Cuffs are actually very on trend in 2024 but have been worn by Greek & Roman soldiers as a symbol of protection. Coco Chanel brought them back into fashion in the 1930s by regularly wearing her favourite silver and enamel pair in photographs, sparking a trend.

The current fashion for stacking bracelets and bangles mean that everyone can create their own look, and antique pieces can be worn very effectively with contemporary pieces.

Originally published in the Purbeck Gazette 4th March 2024.