Antique Bracelets & Bangles
Antique bangles and bracelets are such wonderful items to find, especially when they are in good condition. As you can imagine, jewellery worn on the wrist really has to be really well-made to survive 100+ years, and so it's always a treat to find an old piece in good condition. We stock vintage bracelets and bangles in gold and sterling silver, and set with a variety of old gemstones from diamonds to rubies to opals. All bangles are sent quickly and securely via Royal Mail within the United Kingdom, and worldwide via DHL Express.
Bracelets and bangles have been coveted and worn, like most jewellery, for thousands of years. A multitude of ancient torque (torc) bangles from the Iron Age have been uncovered, buried in old settlement sites or at the bottom of peat bogs, and are now displayed in museums around the world. These early arm ornaments were status symbols; they denoted wealth or nobility or that the wearer was a brave warrior. Today our reasons for wearing them may be purely aesthetic, but nonetheless the popularity of the bracelets and bangles remains just as high as it ever was.
Antique Victorian Bangles
Bracelets were the most coveted ornament of the Victorian romantic period and were generally worn in large numbers on each arm. During the daytime they would be worn against the wrist, and in the evening over white evening gloves, or on the skin between the glove and the elbow. A typical Victorian bracelet was the coiled snake, with more expensive examples sporting diamonds, opals, rubies or garnets. Jarrietiere or 'garter' bracelets were popular during this period and resembled and strap and buckle in design. Flexible link bracelets were also favourites and often featured a detachable gem-set pendant.
Bangles during the Victorian era would be made from highly decorated sterling silver, or in gold with clusters of gemstones, in particular garnets, turquoise or pearls. By the 1890s, half hoop bangles set with diamonds, sapphires, pearls and opals rose in popularity. Typical of this time are multi-hoop bangles, where the backs are composed of two or three fine gold wires.
Vintage Gold Bangles
The fashion of wearing three or four bracelets died out at the dawn of the Edwardian era. While women still wore bracelets and bangles, they did so more modestly, and tended to limit one to each arm. Thinner bracelets with a row of calibre cut gemstones or of gem-set decorative links with a chain back become popular, the stones often contrasting in colour.
Preferences shifted slightly during the 1920s and 1930s, when wider, linear bracelets were the preferred arm ornament of the times, set with colour contrasting gems in a geometric pattern. Van Cleef and Arpels specialised in the production of bracelets inspired by pharaonic Egypt, where as Cartier chose India as the inspiration for their creations. The 1920s also saw a rise in popularity of commemorative charms hung from chain bracelets. Art Deco bangles, thin and gem-set, were worn in numbers on the wrists of both arms at night, and during the day hoops carved in jade and other hardstones were popular.
Why buy a vintage bracelet?
Many vintage bracelets and bangles made from the mid-century onwards emulated the antique styles already discussed. Solid bangles with ornate designs are cast in 9ct gold and set with contrasting gemstones like sapphire and diamonds, and Cartier bangles today are still largely produced with a nod towards the aesthetic of the Art Deco era. Both gold and silver torque bangles remain some of the most popular purchases for wrist wear, along with chain bracelets in styles like figaro and curb. Given that the modern consistently tries to copy what has come before it, it makes perfect sense to purchase a vintage bracelet or bangle where you can. Not only are you then the owner of a piece of history, but you've also got yourself an item of jewellery so well made that is has survived many many years of wear, and will likely survive many many more.