Bangles Buying Guide – All You Need to Know
In a world where trends change almost every day and styles change by the hour, there are a few accessories that have maintained their positions fairly well. Bangles are one such. Bangles are among the oldest of adornments. They have a rather interesting history.
The earliest evidence of bangles has been unearthed in the pre -historic site of Kalibangan, in India. There were bangles of terracotta, copper, and shell in the excavated ruins. In Africa and the Caribbean, bangles were called, ‘manilla’ or the infamous slave -trade money. After the abolition of slavery, they have taken a new avatar as symbols of status, instead. Elsewhere in the world, they have become essential fashion embellishments. Bangles have indeed come a long way!
A bangle is often considered an ornament that is both simple and elegant. The word itself originates from the Hindi word, ‘bungri’, meaning glass. In South Asian and Indian cultures, bangles have importance. They are considered to denote social and economic status. Glass bangles of vibrant colors indicate a happy marriage and a gold bangle proclaims prosperity.
Symbolically, a circular bangle, with its rigid shape, represents continuity, unity and eternity – because a circle is never broken.
This is the reason the bangle is considered an auspicious sign of wellness in many cultures around the world.
Types of Bangles
Bangles are versatile pieces of jewelry that are crafted to complement any outfit. Bangles reflect the wearer’s taste and personal style. They can add a definite touch of finesse and grace to a woman’s hand. These charming wrist embellishments can make great gifts too.
There are numerous types and styles of bangles which could be worn alone or mixed and matched to complement or to contrast the colors and style of your outfit. They may be classified according to their basic construction.
Bangles according to their construction
The Solid Bangle
This is the most popular and traditional bangle of all constructions available and is preferred by buyers because of ease of wearing it. It is also the strongest and sturdiest of bangles and could be worn every day. It slips over the hand and sits on the wrist. This bangle can be difficult to fit if the exact size of the wearer is not known. The bangle could come to a grinding halt at the knuckles, if the size is not right.
The Expanding Bangle
Some circular bangles are not totally solid but consist of a small opening into which both ends of the bangle can be pushed together, and then slid into the hand. The bangle can then be expanded as it is moved up the hand. Size can be adjusted as the opening allows for compression and expansion of bangle.
The Hinge (or Spring) Bangle
As indicated in the name, this bangle is slid into the hand by opening a spring or hinge. Then the wearer secures the bangle by closing the hinge. This bangle is the easiest to wear because of the hinge or spring.
Bangles according to Occasion
Bangles that are worn for special events are designed to dazzle onlookers. Such bangles are typically made of gold, silver, platinum, or the universal stunners – diamonds! These expertly crafted and intricately designed (often, hand-crafted) bangles come with an equally impressive price tag. Designer bangles are encrusted with diamonds and other gem stones. These bangles are usually very delicate and need to be handled with care.
Bangles that are worn every day or casually, are made to be more sturdy and durable. They are made of materials like copper, sterling silver, plastic, rubber, Bakelite and wood. Sometimes, alloys like stainless steel or rose gold are also used.
These are traditional Indian bangles that are worn as a single bangle, and are often slightly thicker than the traditional bangle. Their designs are frequently inspired by animals or figures from mythology.
Bangles according to Material
The material with which the bangle is made will decide the bangles’ price, as well as its appearance. Here is a short list of the more common materials used for making bangles.
Traditionally, gold bangles are probably the most popular bangles. This could be attributed to the shine, durability, and the tensile strength of gold. Needless to say, a gold bangle is also preferred because it is a valuable investment.
These bangles were quite popular during the 19th and 20th centuries. Though they are also as sturdy as the gold bangles, they have a setback of getting tarnished, over time. To prevent this oxidation and the discoloration accompanying it, silver ware must be cleaned regularly.
Copper is probably the oldest of the metals used to make bangles. Copper is believed to have properties that help alleviate the discomfort and pain caused by orthopedic ailments like arthritis and chronic rheumatism. Copper is also added to gold to make an alloy called rose gold which is popularly used in making bangles.
These are the ultimate luxury in bangles. Even a simple diamond bangle with a single row of well – set diamonds can phenomenally increase your elegance quotient! Diamond bangles are typically set on yellow gold and white gold. For the best shine and brilliance, choose a diamond color grade no less than 1 and Clarity grade no less than S12.
Gemstones are also a good choice to consider setting in gold and white gold bangles. Gemstones may not be stunners like diamonds, but are capable of casting a spell on you with their subtle beauty. Gemstone bangles are perfect for casual, as well as official parties. They also serve as wonderful gifts.
Sterling Silver Bangles
This is a high quality silver alloy, widely used in crafting bangles. Sterling silver has distinct advantages over fine silver. Sterling silver is not only shinier, tarnish-free, but is also less expensive than silver. It is also easily available in contemporary designs.
Bangles of Wood
Wood is also among the older materials employed in making bangles. Most of the vintage bangles are made from a wide variety of wood of various shades of colors and different thickness. Care must be taken to see that the wood is not damaged, nor has any sign of rot. It is always better to buy wooden bangles coated with shellac or any similar sealant.
Many casual, and a few vintage bangles are made with manufactured plastics. Plastic bangles were most famous from 1940 to 1960, and the trend seems to be repeating now. Bakelite is the sturdiest of all manufactured plastics and Lucite is among the weakest.
Though very delicate and susceptible to breaking easily, glass bangles have remained a firm favorite for many. They are also considered an auspicious symbol by some cultures. Glass bangles are marked by their tinkling noise which is gentle and musical.
Rajasthan Lac Bangles
Rajasthan, in western India, is a place known for its colorful regional outfits and fashion accessories. Among the many varieties of bangles available there, the most popular are the Lac bangles. Lac is the scarlet secretion of an insect called Lac.
Each Lac bangle is unique in its design. Some Lac bangles are plain, but most of them are studded with glass pieces, bright stones, and sometimes, even with precious stones. Jaipur is the city most popular for this work. These bangles of great craftsmanship are now available online too, due to universal appeal.
Hyderabad is a city in southern India which is known all over the world. It is specifically famous for natural pearls. Pearls sold in Hyderabad are said to have a special luster. There are also several vintage and ethnic styles of bangles available in Hyderabad. They can be purchased online too. Take a look at the intricate work on the bangles.
How to measure your Bangle Size
It is very important to determine the size of your hand before buying a bangle. A bangle that is too small will be difficult to slide in and out of your hand. A bangle too large is prone to slip off easily and get lost. Standard size of a bangle ranges from 6 cm to 8 cm in diameter.
For an accurate measure of the diameter of the bangle, press your thumb on the middle of the palm, and make a fist. Take a strip of paper and wrap it around your fist. Mark the point where both ends of the strip overlap. Tape the strip at that point. This will be the inner diameter of the bangle. If the paper bangle’s diameter measures 8 cm, then the bangle you buy has to have an inner diameter of 8cm.
In case of bangles with hinges, add 1″ to your wrist size for average fit. Add 1 1/2″ to your wrist size for a relaxed fit.
Tips for wearing your Bangles
It is easier to acquire bangles that conform to your size and style, than it is to flaunt them fashionably, and to your advantage! The way you wear your bangles in harmony with your attire, will speak volumes of your impeccable taste. There is no dearth to the number of ways you can mix and match your bangles to bring out their beautiful best. Here are a few suggestions that will help you. You will discover that a lot of effort does go into getting that ‘effortless’ look we all try to achieve!
- Make a solid statement with a single, solid bangle. It could be a simple gold or white gold bangle with a row of diamonds or precious/semi -precious gemstones. This bangle could be paired with your watch, to exude that timeless appeal! Try matching with bangles of different textures too, as it is the current trend.
- Single bangles made of gold or sterling silver are ideal for daily wear. They match all outfits, have a classic look and are the durable ones with no maintenance.
- Pearl bangles have been staple favorites for centuries, for a good reason. They can blend with any other bangle(s), and yet, make their presence felt.
- Avoid large and chunky bangles made of metals to your workplace. Clanging can draw undue attention in a formal setting.
- Glass bangles are an absolute no-no, for ‘sound’ reasons.
- A combination of wood and metal bangles can create a neutral tone. Or, you could mix and match a beaded bangle with a chain link bangle.
Stacked and Layered Bangles
The best way to emphasize contrast is to use multiple bangles of various colors, textures, thickness, and materials. Bangles of neutral tones, like those of metal or wood, can be used with a choice of colored clothing. If using stacks of colored bangles, follow these simple guidelines.
- Stack your bangles only in one arm. Leave the other arm bare. You could sport a big ring on the other hand, though.
- Wear your best, glittering bangle in the middle of the stack, as a point of focus. Or perhaps, wear a watch in the midst of many bangles.
- You could wear 4 to 6 bangles for daily wear. Gold or sterling silver is popular options for every day wear.
- If you wish to wear colorful bangles, either use different shades of the same color, or contrasting colors in succession, to create a dramatic visual. Try to blend in some neutral shades in between, to even out the colors.
It would be a tasteful contrast to add pearl bangles with smooth textured bangles. Or, a diamond bangle with multiple smooth textured bangles. Traditional bangles are well suited for stacking. They are available in fine gold or as costume jewelry. Glass bangles of various colors and patterns, when mixed and matched, can create a stunning visual effect.
Tips for storing your Bangles
It is always good to have a collection of different types and styles of bangles to suit different occasions. But buying bangles is just the first step. Storing bangles and maintaining them is a more important duty. Gold bangles are probably the easiest to maintain. The smoother and plainer they are, the easier it is to preserve them.
Silver bangles need periodic polishing/cleaning to maintain their shine (that they are prone to lose, due to oxidation). Bangles with stones or gems encrusted on them, need to be stored in boxes, in order to keep away dust. They also need to be cleaned periodically with a soft brush.
There are many types of storage available. Here are a few of them.
Special tips for buying Gold Bangles
Gold bangles are a good investment. Gold is durable, tarnish -free, best suited for frequent wear. If you have decided to buy a gold bangle, consider the following.
- Decide on the budget. This will play the deciding role in selecting the bangle.
- Pure gold is very soft and cannot be easily molded. So, opt for 22K/21K/18K gold if you are looking for intricate designs.
- Remember that hand – crafted gold bangles will cost much more than machine – made ones. This making charge is also included in the price of the piece.
Hope you are now ‘armed’ with enough information to go shopping for the perfect bangle. We are sure all this knowledge will come handy! Happy Bangle shopping!