A brief history of bracelets: curiosities and symbolic meaning

Who invented bracelets?

The history of bracelets, in particular, dates back to 5,000 BC: according to the National Geographic Society, the most famous bracelet and recognised symbol of Ancient Egypt was the 'Scarab bracelet', a symbol of rebirth and regeneration that was considered a powerful amulet (like the scarab, which was a symbol of resurrection).

Where does the name bracelet come from?

By definition, the armband is an ornament of the arm, specifically the humerus, forearm, wrist, but also the ankle. The term bracelet comes from the Greek brachile meaning 'of the arm' and the Latin brachiale.

When was the first jewellery born?

The history of jewellery has very ancient origins, even dating back to the period before Christ. Gold, in particular, was most likely the first metal used by human beings. The very first jewellery was made from herbs, shells, teeth and horns. It was only later that it became customary to use copper and bronze, eventually giving way to gold and silver (after the Bronze Age). Gradually, jewellery became a symbol of wealth, a decorative element and sign of power: with this in mind, the symbolic significance of bracelets became ever stronger.

Thanks to some research, bracelets that seem to date back more than 40,000 years were found in Russia: despite their widespread use in ancient times, originally the wearing of bracelets was not related to style requirements, but - as in the case of Greek soldiers, for example - to actual requirements and convenience. Indeed, the armbands of Greek soldiers were useful for protecting their wrists during battles, while the soldiers of ancient Rome wore them on their left arm as a symbol of their military valour.

Women, on the other hand, wore bracelets as ornaments: the most common women's bracelets in ancient Rome were reptile-shaped and were worn on the arms, above the elbow. It was a 'form of rebellion': the ideal of womanhood contemplated by the mos maiorum, after all, required sobriety and a rejection of vanity. Yet, in everyday life, Roman women wore earrings, rings, jewellery to embellish their hairstyles and hair and, of course, bracelets. The most commonly used model of bracelet was the one in the shape of a snake with emerald eyes, considered to be a real talisman linked to Isis, the Egyptian goddess of life, healing, fertility and magic, whose cult had now become part of the Roman religion.

The history of bracelets, from the Middle Ages to the present.

Up until the Middle Ages, bracelets were used by both men and women, before becoming mainly a women's accessory: the symbolic meaning of bracelets slowly changed, giving way to the Christian values of humility and decorum, only to return to the scene as an ornamental accessory during the Renaissance. Renaissance women, in particular, used clothes and ornaments to define their identity, express their wealth and distinguish themselves by their social background.

Over time, in the more modern years and between the World Wars, jewellery became more and more minimal, until the 1950s, when the goldsmith's art met the world of fashion. In the immediate post-war period, Christian Dior brought femininity back into women's clothing, a change that also radically influenced the style of jewellery. Diamonds thus became casual, less elitist, and it was in 1948 - in fact - that the message 'A diamond is forever' appeared in major jewellery advertising campaigns, which made what until a short time before had been considered an accessory for the few a pop and attainable element.

From this time on, men also started wearing bracelets again, making them the most widely used and varied accessories. It is probably the past that has influenced our style today: although in different ways, men and women have always worn jewellery, bracelets and necklaces. Today, men's bracelets are available in every colour and shape, style and value.

The symbolic meaning of the bracelet: what does it mean to give a bracelet as a present?

Giving a bracelet as a gift means expressing and sealing a deep bond with the person receiving it. Although it is a widely used accessory, the bracelet is strictly personal: types, shapes, colours make it unique and can define a very precise style, each time different. When you give a bracelet as a gift, remember to imagine it on the wrist of the person receiving it! If it reflects his or her style, you are on the right track.

But what is the symbolic meaning of the bracelet? Besides sealing a special relationship, when it's given as a gift, symbolically the bracelet represents an endless cycle, a spherical image that in turn symbolises perfection, absolute regularity.

The meaning of a bracelet can vary depending on the type of jewellery chosen, according to colour or shape. Braccialetti Aua created and creates bracelets with coloured beads inspired by places, landscapes and cities. Personalising a gift is easy: try to think of a memory that links you to the person you thinking of, or alternatively have a look at this article in which we suggest 5 gift ideas for him.

Which wrist do you put your bracelets on?

In general, a bracelet is worn on the wrist of the right arm while the watch is worn on the wrist of the left arm. However, this rule can be broken. Here are 5 tips on how to wear and match several bracelets and how many bracelets to wear:

  1. If you have a bracelet and a watch, wear both on the same wrist. Leave your right arm free and concentrate your accessories on a single point. The same rule applies if you do not know how to wear several bracelets;

  2. Matching jewellery is not so difficult, or at least not any more: don't worry if you wear gold and silver at the same time, but look for a combination that matches your style;

  3. Change often: if you use your bracelets a lot, change them! Vary and have fun with the colours and match the bracelets according to the chosen look and occasion;

  4. Don't overdo it! Avoid making your arms and wrists heavy, assess the proportions and fit of the bracelets according to the proportions of your wrist;

  5. Choose the right colours: avoid style overload. For example: wear one neutral bracelet for every two coloured ones, avoid combining metal bracelets, watches and other bracelets. Choose a harmonious style!

Types and names of bracelets in alphabetical order.

There are different types of bracelets on the market, here is a list of the most popular ones:

  • Rigid bracelets, or bangle bracelets: these are the rigid bracelets, also called bangle bracelets, or 'slave' bracelets;

  • Beaded bracelets, often made of rope, with coloured beads, just like our Aua bracelets;

  • Bracelets with charms;

  • Mesh bracelet, made of interlaced silver links;

  • Cuff bracelet, i.e. the kind of wide, slave-style bracelet that covers the whole wrist;

  • Hand-kissing bracelet, a very fashionable accessory, inspired by oriental traditions, consisting of a very fine and thin chain that wraps around the wrist and through a thread reaches the base of the middle finger;

  • Multi-strand bracelet, tubular, rigid bracelet;

  • Elastic bracelet, there are various types, also in silver;

  • Fortune bracelets, typical bracelets to buy at the beach: colourful, made from cotton filaments. They originate from Brazil and have a peculiarity linked to an ancient belief whereby these bracelets were endowed with a mystical power capable of transferring a wish from the mind to the bracelet itself. This is also why it is traditional to make a wish before tying them on your wrist!

  • Anklet or bracelet to be worn on the ankle: this is a foot bracelet that is very popular in summer.

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