When you think of the Neanderthals, jewellery isn't the first thing that pops into your head. But a bangle, worn nearly 70,000 years ago by the Denisovans (who lived alongside the Neanderthals) has been found. Made of Chlorite, with a green colouring, the bangle is a large and chunky wrist adornment with clear similarities to bangles worn today.
We often associate the 'birth of the bracelet' with ancient Egypt, where wearing jewellery became exceedingly popular as a way to make themselves attractive to the Gods. Even the poorest Egyptian would accessorise with clays, animal bones and teeth. Wealthier Egyptians would adorn themselves with gold and precious gemstones. On death, the items worn during life would be placed with the wearer in their tomb to take into the afterlife. Many other ancient civilisations also wore bangles and bracelets including the Mayans.
For some, there are cultural reasons for wearing particular types of bracelets. For example, jade is gifted to children in China to offer that child protection. In India brides wear bangles to represent health, luck and prosperity.
Today friendship bracelets and charm bracelets are a popular choice, allowing the addition of charms over the course of a lifetime. Friendship bracelets, especially those made out of cord, are a great way for children to make and share items with friends.
From the Victorian cameo bangles, to the diamond bracelets of the Art Deco period, and from the chunky gold retro numbers to the simple bangles of today, there is a style of bracelet or bangle for everyone, making it one of the most diverse pieces of jewellery available, both in antique and contemporary designs.