The appeal of the cuff bracelet. The statement piece that almost becomes a strong symbol of the woman who wears it. There is, quite simply, nothing like the cuff bracelet. A cuff bracelet has an open portion or gap that allows you to slip the bracelet over your wrist, without the use of clasps. Made out of strong materials, the cuff bracelet takes on an air of indestructibility to the wearer. Stacked or worn alone, the cuff bracelet is a powerful and fashionable accessory of personal style.
The cuff bracelet has an intriguing history of adornment dating back several thousands of years.The first bracelets worn as fashionable adornment may have begun as far back a 7,000 years ago. Iconic status, indeed! Prominent in Egyptian, Mayan and Incan, Greek and Chinese history, its adornment is certainly long standing. Interestingly, in the Mayan culture, jewelry was a significant aspect to royal attire of Mayan kings and a key measure of social class. Not only did the cuff bracelet’s different designs measure class, but also denoted rank within a family. Who knew? From the beginning of the First Dynasty (2680 BC), Egyptians wore bracelets made of gold and silver, decorated with semiprecious stones and were worn as decorative accessories rather than than ritualistic purposes. The Ancient Greeks also wore cuffs, on the upper arm, as decoration. Interestingly, Greek soldiers wore wide leather and metal cuffs not only for decoration in uniform, but also for protection. This practical and fashionable style was eventually copied by Roman soldiers. In Asia, around 2000 BC, intricate, detailed cuffs were carved from jade and Gold was etched with elaborate patterns of nature, animals and mythical creatures. In Europe, during the 17th century, bracelets became common fashionable accessories. It is said that a mass of thin bangles worn with ribbons became a popular look. Again, who knew?
During the 20th century, the variety of design and style of bracelets was limitless as mass production increased accessibility of fashion jewelry. The more ornate designs of the late 19th century moved toward more clean lines inspired and presented by the Art Deco period. Bakelite and plastics became the hot substance of style in the 1930’s. Many fashionable bracelets of all kinds were introduced in the decades to follow, however, it was during the 1970’s that the appeal of the wide cuffs returned. The Cuff in the 20th century was typically made of silver, when manufacturers mass-produced silver jewelry. A precious metal at a fraction of the price of gold with all the sparkle, indeed. In the 21st century, the cuff bracelet has not lost any appeal. The fashionable cuff bracelet, bold and beautiful, is well on its way to maintaining its iconic status as a fashionable statement for decades to come…
A brief look at two iconic cuff bracelets in Fashion’s history…
Coco Chanel’s iconic Maltese Cross cuffs, is said to have been inspired by Byzantine artwork she discovered during her travels, but history also acknowledges that Chanel was given a gift of a Maltese cross by Grand Duke Dmitri of Russia. Either way, an inspired chanel began a collaboration of her design paired with the design skill of Duke Fulco di Verdura in 1936. This iconic bracelet is still produced today and is fitted to the customer’s wrist! Some have a detachable cross that can interchange with cuffs of various materials. Functional art for fashion, indeed! The Maltese cuff became one of Verdura’s most celebrated motifs and was the springboard that launched Verdura into the spotlight that has yet to fade. In fact, by the late 1930’s, it is said that Hollywood starlets and aristocrats everywhere were clamoring for Verdura’s jewelry. Oh, to possess a Chanel/Verdura cuff bracelet!!
Another iconic design is Italian Jewelry designer, Elsa Peretti’s ‘Bone Cuff’ for Tiffany & Co. Timeless, indeed….in fact, Peretti’s jewelry of simple, yet iconic striking shapes is among Tiffany’s most popular brands. (sigh, the relationship between Tiffany & Co. and Peretti may be nearing an end…)
Consider the bold statement of a cuff bracelet. Bold simplicity in style. The varieties available of these distinctive bracelets certainly can appeal to our own sense of fashion and personal style. Whether found in vintage bakelite (a dense synthetic resin molded and carved) which was popular in the 1940’s or in precious or even artful metals, lucite or molded plastics, this is a timeless accessory that will never go out of style. Personally, I adore the thick cuffs, although there are certainly stunning thinner cuffs available. Perhaps a consideration of layering a variety of thicknesses can create a style unique to personal style sense? However you chose, you cannot go wrong with even just one bold, thick cuff.
Bold and stylish, the cuff bracelet is a worthy investment. Why settle for one? As our moods shift and our attire beckons, there is surely a cuff bracelet for every whim of our daily inspirations. To be cuffed in style, indeed….
“Style is to be simple”- Elsa Peretti