One of the most versatile and universal of accessories, arm adornments have been worn by both men and women since the prehistoric era. Bracelets are often steeped in cultural significance, with symbolism that can vary depending on where you are in the world. And often, their only requisite function is to be beautiful.

Of course, bracelets can also be practical – from telling time to alerting others of a medical condition. They can denote relationships, such as the friendship bracelets worn in childhood, as well as meaningful heirlooms, like a cherished charm bracelet, a wedding bangle or something special inherited from a beloved grandmother.

Why we wear bracelets – history and symbolism of arm candy

Bracelets, arm bands and anklets have historically carried special meaning in various cultures. Ancient Egyptians were considered the first to wear bracelets solely for fashion, whereas Greek soldiers wore leather bracelets for the pragmatic reason of protecting their wrists during battle. Vikings and Celts wore arm rings as a rite of passage into adulthood, an oath of allegiance to the gods, and even as currency. It wasn’t until the Middle Ages onward that bracelets became more commonly associated with women.

Lot 196: An Antique Natural Pearl Convertible Bangle Bracelet/Brooch, circa 1860, Lot 199: A Retro Ruby, Diamond and Gold Bracelet, circa 1945

For instance, in the South Asian diaspora, it’s traditional for a bride to wear multiple bangles on her wedding day, gifts from the family, and in China, baby girls were often given a bangle skillfully cut from a single piece of jade as protection from evil and to promote good health. In Western culture, bracelets can still carry sentimental or spiritual meaning, but are most often worn as stylish accessories to be removed at day’s end.

Bracelet basics – styles, types and materials

Early bracelets were crafted with organic materials, such as grass, wood, shells, hair and bone. Folk jewellery could be made from horn, teeth or beads. Later, metals like copper and brass were most often used, as well as gold and silver and platinum for fine jewellery. Bracelets have also incorporated man-made materials like glass, enamel and ceramic.

Lot 121 (Fall 2019): A Multi-Coloured Sapphire, Diamond, Enamel, Silver and Gold Bracelet, by Moira

Let’s take a look at some of the more popular and enduring bracelet styles:

Bangles

Bangles are generally rigid, formed of a complete hoop of round or oval shape, or covering the wrist only partially and known as penannular, sometimes hinged or spring-mounted for easy wearing and also of simple pull-on style.  They can be made of plain gold or platinum or be adorned with diamonds, coloured gemstones, or engravings.

Slender versions may be worn singly, or enjoyed as multiples for their stackable wearability; chunkier bangles, especially those featuring a prominent raised design can be worn solo as more of a statement piece.

Lot 9: A Diamond and White Gold Bangle, Lot 40: A Sapphire, Diamond, Ruby and White Gold Bangle Bracelet, Lot 266: A Diamond and Two-Tone Gold Bangle Bracelet, by Sabbadini

Strap and Link Bracelets

The most all-encompassing bracelet types range from symmetrical, asymmetrical, tapering, straight, undulating, foldable, plain or elaborately decorated with allover motifs. Typically, bracelets can be composed of articulated bombé or flat links and often have a convenient clasp closure.

Lot 340: An Impressive Diamond and Platinum Bracelet, circa 1950

Lot 247: A Ruby, Sapphire and Gold Bracelet, circa 1970

Lot 338: A Diamond and Platinum Bracelet, circa 1950

Tennis bracelet

Another most-coveted item to adorn the wrist is the classic line bracelet, designed entirely with a flowing row of diamonds or alternating with a series of coloured gemstones. Although this particular style dates back to the 1920s, the name “tennis bracelet” wasn’t dubbed as such until the 1970s, thanks to American tennis player Chris Evert. She famously wore bracelets during her matches, a novelty on the tennis court at that time. During the U.S. open in 1978, Evert noticed the bracelet she had been wearing had fallen off and play was stopped until it was found.

Lot 38: A Diamond and Platinum Line Bracelet

Lot 45: A Sapphire, Diamond and Gold Bracelet

Lot 302: A Diamond and Gold Line Bracelet

Lot 96: A Sapphire, Diamond and Platinum Line Bracelet, Birks

Lot 120: A Ruby and White Gold Bracelet

Lot 190: A Sapphire, Diamond and Platinum Line Bracelet, circa 1930

Charm bracelet

The original charm is thought to be the beneficent Egyptian “evil eye” bead worn to ward off the glare of evil, protecting the wearer by “charming” or deflecting malevolent spirits. It was adopted by many neighbouring cultures and is still prevalent today.

In the West, charms gained popularity during World War II with the return of soldiers from their time abroad, bringing home tiny, easy to carry gifts for wives and sweethearts. Post-war, charms were a popular memento used to represent travel experiences for tourists, later expanding to encompass other memorable occasions in life such as weddings, births and anniversaries. Delightful animal and good luck whimsies showcased the wearer’s personality, with endless options available.

Lot 24 (Fall 2018) A Gem-Set, Platinum and White Gold Charm Bracelet, circa 1930

Is it a watch or a bracelet?

Intriguingly, sometimes it manages to be both a practical timepiece AND a gem studded bracelet: a diamond-set hinged cover pops open to reveal a watch dial; a detachable diamond-set dial cover converts to a petite clip brooch; a case smoothly reverses to impress with diamonds; a strap can be entirely composed of multi-coloured gemstones.

Lot 168: A Lady’s Multi-Coloured Gem, Diamond and Stainless Steel ‘Potpourri’ Wristwatch, Corum

Bracelets in June 2021 Important Jewels Auction


  • An Art Deco Diamond and Platinum Bracelet, circa 1920
    Est: $6,000 - 10,000

  • A Ruby, Diamond and Two-Tone Gold Bracelet
    Est: $4,000 - 5,000

  • A Diamond and Gold Bracelet
    Est: $3,000 - 4,000

  • An Impressive Diamond and Platinum Bracelet, circa 1950
    Est: $30,000 - 40,000

  • A Sapphire, Diamond and Gold Bracelet
    Est: $2,600 - 3,600

  • A Sapphire, Diamond and White Gold Bracelet
    Est: $2,000 - 3,000

  • A Retro Ruby, Diamond and Gold Bracelet, circa 1945
    Est: $4,000 - 6,000

  • An Antique Natural Pearl, Diamond and Enamel Convertible Bangle Bracelet/Brooch, circa 1860
    Est: $3,000 - 3,600

  • A Ruby and White Gold Bracelet
    Est: $2,000 - 3,000

  • A Diamond and Platinum Bracelet
    Est: $3,000 - 4,000

  • An Antique Diamond and Platinum Line Bracelet, circa 1915
    Est: $2,000 - 3,000

  • A Diamond and Platinum Bracelet Watch, Longines
    Est: $4,000 - 6,000

  • A Diamond and Platinum Bracelet, circa 1965
    Est: $7,000 - 9,000

  • An Art Deco Diamond and Platinum Bracelet, circa 1920
    Est: $6,000 - 8,000

  • A Diamond and Platinum Bracelet, circa 1960
    Est: $14,000 - 18,000

  • A Sapphire, Diamond, Ruby and White Gold Bangle Bracelet
    Est: $3,000 - 4,000

  • A Diamond and Platinum Bracelet, circa 1950
    Est: $14,000 - 18,000

  • A Natural Pearl, Diamond and Platinum Bracelet, circa 1960
    Est: $8,000 - 10,000

  • A Diamond and Gold Line Bracelet
    Est: $1,200 - 1,600

  • A Diamond and White Gold Line Bracelet
    Est: $3,000 - 4,000

  • A Ruby, Sapphire and Gold Bracelet, circa 1970
    Est: $5,000 - 6,000

  • A Sapphire, Diamond and Platinum Line Bracelet, Birks
    Est: $3,000 - 5,000

  • A Citrine and Gold Bracelet
    Est: $3,000 - 4,500

  • A Sapphire, Diamond and Platinum Line Bracelet, circa 1930
    Est: $2,000 - 3,000

  • A Coloured Diamond and White Gold Bracelet
    Est: $3,000 - 4,000

  • An Amethyst, Diamond and Pink Gold Bracelet
    Est: $6,000 - 8,000

  • A Multi-Coloured Sapphire and Gold Bracelet
    Est: $3,000 - 4,000

  • A Diamond and White Gold Line Bracelet
    Est: $1,000 - 1,400

  • An Onyx, Diamond and White Gold Bracelet
    Est: $800 - 1,000

  • A Diamond and White Gold Bracelet
    Est: $5,000 - 6,000

  • A Red Jadeite, Diamond and White Gold Bangle Bracelet
    Est: $1,000 - 1,200

  • A Gold Bracelet
    Est: $5,000 - 6,000

  • A Gold Bracelet
    Est: $2,600 - 3,600

  • A Diamond and White Gold Bracelet, circa 1920
    Est: $2,000 - 3,000

  • A Diamond and White Gold Line Bracelet
    Est: $1,500 - 1,800

  • A Sapphire, Diamond and Gold Bracelet
    Est: $3,000 - 4,000

  • A Peridot, Sapphire and White Gold Bracelet, Zancan
    Est: $1,400 - 1,800

  • A Diamond and Platinum Bracelet, circa 1940
    Est: $6,000 - 8,000

  • A Diamond and White Gold Bracelet
    Est: $4,000 - 6,000

  • A Sapphire, Diamond and Silver Bracelet
    Est: $14,000 - 18,000

  • A Diamond, Onyx and Gold Bangle Bracelet, by J.P Bellin
    Est: $5,000 - 7,000

  • A Diamond and White Gold Bracelet
    Est: $2,000 - 3,000

  • A Diamond and White Gold Bracelet
    Est: $5,000 - 7,000

  • A Diamond and Two-Tone Gold Bangle Bracelet, by Sabbadini
    Est: $4,000 - 6,000

  • A Ruby, Sapphire and Gold Bracelet, circa 1970
    Est: $5,000 - 6,000

  • A Diamond and Gold Bangle Bracelet
    Est: $2,600 - 3,600

  • A Diamond and White Gold Bracelet
    Est: $1,400 - 1,800

  • A Diamond and Platinum Line Bracelet
    Est: $5,000 - 7,000

IMPORTANT JEWELS

June 16–23, 2021

This collection features many impressive diamond strap bracelets from the 1920s to the 60s, elaborate echoes of glamorous and exciting times. Covet, need or want larger diamonds? Enticing choices include a selection ranging from over 3 to over 8 carats, some to adorn your fingers, others for the ears. Perhaps you’d prefer a 10 carat cushion-shaped stunner or an eternity band set with emerald-cut diamonds, each from De Beers. Also on offer are various other engagement rings, classic solitaires and the refined simplicity of diamond straight-line bracelets and ear studs, too.

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