Bracelet Buying Guide – All You Need to Know
Since time immemorial, men and women have adorned themselves with bracelets and wristbands of various materials. The word ‘bracelet’ has its origin in the Latin word ‘bracheum’, which means, arm. Bracelets had been worn by people of Sumerian civilization in 2500BC and later by the Egyptians in 2000BC. They were worn by men and women as a means of displaying their wealth and opulence. They also had religious connotations attached to them. It is interesting to note that even today, bracelets are being worn for almost the same reasons!
Types of Bracelets
Bracelets are ornaments that beautify your wrists. Their uniqueness is exemplified with every flick of the wrist. The sound of their jingle announces the presence of the special person who transforms every day of life worthwhile. There is no dearth of varieties in bracelets. They are chosen according to the occasion, outfit and the budget. The less expensive bracelets are bought to pander to one’s whims and fancies! However, there are a few bracelets that are considered necessary in every woman’s collection. Have a look at them.
These are the most traditional of bracelets, and are by far the most popular. These bracelets are usually worn in multiples. They have a solid circular frame and are slipped into the hand. Bangle bracelets are available in fine jewelry type as well as fashion jewelry type.
Fine jewelry bangle bracelets are available in valuable metals like gold, silver and platinum. Gold bangle bracelets studded with precious stones are considered to be of premium quality and are much more expensive. They could cost 10 to 15 times more than the fashion bracelets made of other materials.
There are so many choices available in bangle bracelets that it is often wiser to narrow down your options. Bangles are chosen depending on the material and style of the bangle. Since most bangles have a fixed circumference, attention should be paid to this factor.
Bangle bracelets by material
All bangle bracelets of the past were made of either wood or some such light- weight material. They are available today also but have been supplanted by a wider variety of materials.
Gold bangle bracelets
These are the all-time favorite bracelets that exude a timeless appeal with their sleek, shiny look and sheer sophistication. They are available in various widths and designs. Pure gold is soft and cannot be molded easily. So, alloys are usually added to pure gold to render them suitable for intricate designing. Purity of gold is measured in Carats. Pure gold is 24C, but the gold in ornaments will be 22C or 18C. Gold, being a rare metal is quite expensive.
Gold plated bangle bracelets
There are casual occasions that may require a stylish presence without the traditional touch. Gold plated bangle bracelets lend you such a look. They come in several sizes and varying widths and are most often worn in stacks. It is fashionable to mix and match many designs of bangles. They are not very expensive and yet appear so! Typically, such bangles are made using just a few grams of gold and look authentic enough for that late evening stroll.
Sterling silver bangle bracelets
Rather than fine silver bangle bracelets that tend to get blackened with time( due to oxidation), many prefer buying bracelets in Sterling silver. It is a shiny silver of high quality that looks stylish, when worn alone and when combined with bangles of other material. Importantly, it does not tarnish and maintains its shine through the years.
Plastic bangle bracelets
Bangles of plastic came into use during the 1950s. Early plastic bangles were made of Bakelite or Lucite. You may be able to spot some of them even today in stores that sell antique and vintage jewels. They are very durable and are unbreakable. They are preferred for daily wear. Contemporary plastic bangles are made from a host of manufactured – plastic materials. They are ideal for small children and people who have allergy or sensitivity to metals.
Metal alloy bangle bracelets
A light, tinkling sound is always associated with bangle bracelets. If you want your life to resonate with this musical sound, certainly opt for bangle bracelets made of metal alloy. Most of the alloys are coated with paint and decorated with gold filigree and small mirrors. Some are single bands with intricate designs.
Bangle bracelets of wood
These are light – weight bangles made of wood. They are then painted in bright colors and often given a varnished finish. Such wood bangles are embellished with carved work or inlaid stone work. Bangle bracelets of wood are popular because they are versatile accessories that can be worn with any outfit.
Gemstone bangle bracelets
Gemstones always create an aura of magical elegance around them. They are a perfect match for classy dresses and traditional wear. Topaz is one of the popular gemstones because of its availability in a myriad of colors. The base of these bangles is usually made of elasticized jewelry wire or thin metal wires.
Beaded bangle bracelets
These bangle bracelets are versatile and can be worn with different styles of outfits. These bangles are best suited for daily use. Beads can be of different shapes, sizes and materials. Hand-blown glass beads are used to make beautiful glass beads that are used to make artisan bracelets. Small – sized seeds are used to make bracelets. They are either used as a single string of beads or as several strings of beads that are intertwined. It is advisable to buy glass beads that last longer than plastic beads that are cheaper, but crack apart with age.
Specialty bangle bracelets
If you have a penchant for classic looks and grace, then vintage and antique bracelets are just the thing for you. Such regal – looking bangles can be found in vintage shops. They are made of wood, Bakelite or Lucite. Make sure to check for signs of wear and tear. Discolored and damaged bangles can be difficult to mend. Metal bracelets that are misshapen can be corrected by jewelers.
Many ethnic, regional and tribal bracelet bangles are also sold in the market. They are made of wood, metals, beads and ceramic. They are usually more expensive than the regular fashion bangles. Always check the authenticity of the bangle before you purchase it. Many different alloys are used to make ethnic bangle bracelets. Peruvian silver and Tibetan silver are frequently used. Peruvian silver is of a better quality.
For a unique bracelet, choose hand – crafted bangle bracelets. Artisans craft these bangles out of new and novel material, even recycled material.
Once upon a time, charm bracelets were meant only for little girls. Now they have joined the regular array of must-have bracelets! These bracelets start with a simple chain on the wrist. Then the charms are added, one by one, to the links. Each charm may hold a sentimental significance to the wearer. If you don’t have the time or patience to collect the charms, you need not worry. Many jewelry shops sell charm bracelets with themed charms. For instance, a tribal bracelet will have charms made of leather, feather, chunky wooden piece, and metal.
This bracelet is a loose-fitting chain or an elastic band of several stones. It is named thus after the legendary tennis star Chris Evert Lloyd who popularized this form of bracelet by wearing one to all her matches. A diamond band like this could cost from a thousand to several thousand dollars.
Pearls have a charm and beauty that transcend time and trends. A lady cannot do without a pearl bracelet in her collection. They give a touch of elegance to any outfit of any style and color. That they have done so for ages goes to prove their boundless appeal!
There are many types of pearl bracelets. Listed below are a few pearls used for bracelets.
- Cultured Pearl – It is 3 to 6 mm; White or natural in color; Fuzzy or dull in luster; Off- round in shape
- Cultured Akoya – It is 6 to 10 mm; White or natural in color; Medium luster; Off-round in share
- Cultured Tahitian – It is 8 to 16mm; black, grey, peacock, blue green, silver, steel, rose; good luster; round in shape
- Conch Pearls – 2 to 3 mm; Unique pearls created in Caribbean waters; pale cream to orange color; porcelain- like luster; rarely round
Leather bracelets are currently the popular alternatives to metal jewelry. There are many types ranging from hand – crafted cuffs to stone – studded strands. These are very popular among school students. They are inexpensive and are suitable for those who are allergic to metals.
Multi strand bracelets
As the name suggests, these bracelets have multiple strands and have the advantage of a single clasp. Wearing one multiple strand bracelet can give the effect of wearing a stack of bangle bracelets. Popular materials for this type of bracelet include beads of multiple colors, gold beads, hemp, wood beads and fresh water pearls.
Cuff bracelets have a long history fastened to them. Cuff bracelets featured prominently in Egyptian, Mayan, and Incan civilizations as essential adornments of royalty. Historical evidence shows many kings and royals flaunting cuffs as part of their noble attire. Cuff bracelets are usually broader than the normal bracelets and are worn on the wrist or fore arm.
While most of the cuff bracelets were made of metals, in the past, they are made with a host of materials now, reflecting the modern times and trends. Both men and women wear these bracelets, but in different makes and styles. They can be made of gold, silver and other metals, plastic, or even ceramic. They may be handmade or mass produced.
Types of Cuff Bracelets
The four main categories are:
Nobel Metal Cuffs
They are in the category of fine jewelry. These cuffs are crafted from expensive metals like gold (22karat, 18karat), silver, platinum. Sometimes, these metals are simply drawn into thin sheets and shaped into cuffs. Sometimes, precious stones like diamonds, rubies, turquoise, and topaz are encrusted in the bracelet to give that glittering look of grandeur.
Costume Jewelry Cuff Bracelets
These bracelets are used for daily wear and are made of metals like copper or pewter, stainless steel, bronze, or other alloys. Some may be available in sterling silver. Costume jewelry bracelets do not have any thing precious on them. They are set with glass paste gems, rhinestones, cubic zirconia, or perhaps, semi-precious stones like amethyst.
Woven wristband Cuff Bracelet
This popular bracelet is woven or loosely knit. They are often elastic wristbands with provision for setting imitation jewels and crystals like haematite. This bracelet is considered a good gift for young girls.
Tribal Cuff Bracelets
This is a general term that includes an assortment of cuffs made of a medley of materials but tend to use natural or tribal motifs. They are generally made of hemp, leather, coral, turquoise, jade and other semi -precious stones. They reflect natural beauty, and are not extravagant.
Tips for caring for your bracelet
- Tarnishing of silver is a natural oxidation process. It is not a manufacturing defect. Tarnishing is more due to the skin and care habits of the wearer.
- Ensure that your silver bracelet doesn’t come in touch with perfume, salty air, skin creams, hairsprays, sulfur, chlorine and acidic agents.
- It is advisable not to wear your bracelets while bathing or during energetic sports activities.
- Never try to slide off the bracelets from your hand. Always unfasten the clasp provided.
- If you own a charm bracelet, make sure the weight of the charms is equally distributed. Invest in charms of good quality. Counterfeit charms could disturb or even damage the delicate threadwork of the bracelet.
- If you intend to buy charm bracelets of gold or silver, choose 18 carat gold, which is 75 percent gold and 25 percent other metal or 14 carat gold which is 58.3 percent gold and 41.7 percent other metals. Most silver bracelets use Sterling silver which is 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper.
- Use accessories such as spacers and beads on charm bracelets. They can be placed between charms to keep them from rubbing against each other and erode.
Storing your bracelet
- Don’t leave your bracelets in the gift box container from the store. It will not be air-tight.
- Bracelets must be protected in a protective and lined jewel box and kept away from natural light and heat as this may damage the jewel over a long period of exposure.
- You may also use special tarnish-resistant pouch which is available in the market.
- Plastic zip-lock bags that are made of Mylar or polyethylene may be used.
- NEVER use polyvinyl plastic bags (as in bin liners). They contain sulphur compounds and tarnish silver even faster.
- NEVER store your bracelets or any jewel in your bathroom.
- ‘Moisture is Monster’ for jewels!
Cleaning your bracelet
- Always use a polishing cloth regularly to prevent the natural process of tarnishing.
- Use lukewarm soapy water to clean your bracelet. Do not submerge the bracelet in the solution, but clean gently with a soft brush.
- Do not attempt to use silver polish on silver bracelet as it could destroy the fine and delicate details of your bracelet.
- It is advised not to expose your bracelet to harsh chemicals like Ammonia, bleach, chlorine and salt water.
- ALWAYS remove your bracelets before cleaning your house with chemical solutions, before bathing and swimming so that they are not exposed to UV radiation, hairspray, perfume and cosmetics.
- After cleaning, pat the bracelet dry and wrap it in a soft tissue paper and store.
- Don’t try to clean your leather bracelets with water.
Tips for buying gold, diamond bracelets
Here are a few ground rules to follow if you are planning to buy gold or diamond or any stone-studded bracelet. These time-tested tips will hold good for all purchases of jewelry.
- First of all, if you plan to buy gold jewelry as an investment option, DON’T. When you buy jewelry, you have to contend with making charges, establishing purity of gold, and other buy-back issues. You may buy gold in paper form- exchange-traded funds or gold funds.
- When gold jewelry is designed for your specific needs, making charges will be included in the price. Making charge is the price you pay for the labor involved. Making charge is linked to the price of gold in the market and is directly proportional to it.
- However, there are some jewelers who offer fixed making charges on bulk orders. So, it will be very beneficial to make use of such offers if you propose to make many jewels for a special event, say, a wedding.
- Different ornaments have different making charges. Luckily, bracelets attract the least making charges, about 6% – 14% the cost of gold. Gold chains are also in this bracket.
- Machine made jewels cost lesser than hand crafted ones. So, if you are making a gift, it would be wiser to buy a machine cut design.
Beware of stone-studded jewelry!
Though breathtakingly beautiful and elegant, stone-studded jewels made of gold need to be investigated thoroughly before buying. Here are the most common problems that arise with such jewels.
Problem of unknown costs
Whenever you buy a stone studded gold jewel, it is weighed in its entirety. Though the jeweler does give a break – up of the price of gold and the price of stones, but he doesn’t give the exact weights of gold and the stones. So, if your jewel has 50% of gold and some semi – precious stones, you may end up paying more for the gold.
Problem of Purity
There are many ways to check the purity of gold but it relatively more difficult to verify the authenticity of gemstones.
Loss at the time of sale
We will always lose the making charge in any transaction of jewels at the time of sale. In case of studded jewels, you will lose even more. At the time of selling, the stones are usually removed to determine the weight of gold. The piece is valued as per the weight of gold only. Stones that are semi precious will not give you any returns.
High making charges
Most studded jewels involve intricate designs and patterns that would need expert workmanship. Consequently, the making charges are much higher.
Important things to remember
- Whenever you buy a stone studded jewel, keep the receipt of the purchase safely. If you wish to sell or exchange the jewel s at a later date, you should go to the same jeweler. He will be obliged to give you the entire amount for the weight of gold, without raising questions about its purity!
- Always check the purity of gold and buy jewels that are hallmarked.
This is just a glimpse into the wondrous collection of bangle bracelets and few of the types available. Start with these and embark on your own quest for the perfect bracelet!