This month is ‘bracelet month’ at FlorenceJewelshop. And preparing this, I wondered ‘how old is the bracelet’? or better ‘do YOU know how old the bracelet is? As a historian, I know that people in the Old Times adorned themselves with leaves and shells, and they made mostly necklaces out of natural material. But what about the bracelet??? Well, I started digging and found some very interesting information about the bracelet I would like to share with you.
The bracelet was worn in the Old Times
In the Altai Mountains in Siberia Russian archaeologists found in 2008 a grave in a cave with the part of a finger and some artifacts, including a bracelet, that are 42.000 years old. In Turkey they found in 1995 an obsidian bracelet, that is 9500 years old. And archaeologists discovered that the Egyptians wore bracelet already in 5000 BC. Unbelievable that a piece of jewelry that is so trendy in our days already existed 42.000 ago. And that in those days people find the time not only to hunt or gather food but also took the effort to decorate themselves.
The bracelet in the East
Maybe wearing bracelets were not so trendy and common about 40.000 years ago, but there is enough evidence that 7000 years ago in Egypt, Mesopotamia (country between the Euphrates and the Tigris in Irak and surroundings) and in China people wore bracelets on a more daily basis. They were made of shells, feathers, and grasses. Likely they served religious or spiritual goals. Like in Egypt priests and highly placed people wore bracelets decorated with a scarab, that represented rebirth and regeneration in those days.
Later they made them of bronze and copper and around 4000 years ago artisans were able to make bracelets of gold and silver. And those bracelets had a decoration of stones and shells. The archaeologists think that these bracelets were only worn by the rich people as a symbol of status and wealth. About 3000 years ago the Egyptian artisans could make bracelets of gold or silver with inlaid designs of gemstones that were found in Africa. And from this time (the New Kingdom in Egypt) they know that rich people did not wear bracelets because of religious reasons but as a decoration.
The bracelet got highjacked by men
The bracelet got really popular in the old Greek and Roman world. The Greek even invented the word ‘bracelet’ what comes from the Greek word ‘brachile’. This means ‘of the arm’. The old Greek wore bracelets on the upper and lower arm, for decoration. The Greek soldiers wore leather or metal bracelets or cuffs on their arms to protect them. This part of the uniform was later stolen by the Romans.
The rich Romans loved to wear golden bangles in the shape of a snake. And it was mostly the men who wore the bracelets and the men brought 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) the bracelets lost its popularity.
The bracelet in the Far East
On the other end of the world, in China, they made a real art making the bracelet of jade, as from 2000 BC. Later they were made of gold and the craftsmen etched patterns of natural objects in the golden bracelets. In India, the glass multicolored bangles became very popular and that trend lasted until today!
The bracelet for women
Back to Europe, were in the 17th century the women got their hands on the bracelets. They were thin, mostly bangles and decorated with ivory and coral. And the charm bracelet got trendy, the little charms on the bangles were hot in the Victorian Age. And of course you were not supposed to wear only one bracelet, but the more the merrier. And the bracelet got bigger and bigger. Decorated with a cameo or medaillon.
In the prude, 18th and 19th-century women wore dresses with long sleeves and the bracelets dangled nice and happily under the sleeves on the hand of the woman. They were big and decorated so that everyone could see them. But in the beginning of the 20th century, the women started wearing dressing without sleeves and from that time on the upper bracelets, decorated with diamonds and gemstones got popular. Those bracelets were worn on the upper arm of women and were mostly for the rich and famous girls in town.
In the 21st century, the craftsmen could make the bracelet from every material imaginable and the bracelets got favorite also with the less fortunate women. Bracelets of glass, leather, bone, beaded, charm etc. Until today the bracelet stayed popular and even now a new trend is coming up: small bracelets of gemstones that are worn with 3 or 4 together in a set.
There is so much to say about bracelets. And it is great to see that not only the women of today love the bracelet, but that even 42.000 years ago the bracelet was there. I wrote a small booklet about what bracelets are available today and who can wear what bracelet best. Your bracelet should make you sparkle, so you have to choose the right ones! The booklet is free and just send me the address I can send it to. Click on this link or the image of the booklet to get to your free download.