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There is much controversy surrounding the original name of the cuff bracelet: the "slave" bracelet. Yet this name has a rich and fascinating history. Despite the original name, the bracelet is becoming increasingly popular. Jewellery can have multiple meanings, even love bracelets, and there are various styles and colours to choose from. But how did the "slave" bracelet get its current meaning?
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- The "slave" bracelet was already known about some 5,000 years ago. It is unclear whether it served as a sign of ownership, or merely as an ornament.
- Unfortunately, around the 16the century, the meaning of the "slave" bracelet became quite literal. The current name also dates from that period. African and Caribbean slaves were given a bracelet with a number or branding mark engraved on it, this was for identification.
- In India, the cuff bracelet acquired a completely different meaning. It was formerly a love bracelet there. Men gave women bracelets they made themselves, to win them over.
- Today, luckily, the cuff bracelet is used purely as a fashion item.
Historical images, similar symbols (such as creole earrings) and "slave" bracelets made from shells, clay, copper, gold or bronze have also been found in parts of India. Yet it is not certain if the bracelets then were used solely to indicate ownership of a person, or as decoration.
But how did the "slave" bracelet come by that meaning?
The bracelet was usually a flat length of bronze or wrought iron. It was certainly not as polished and shiny as the jewellery that we know today. The "slave" bracelet looked more like handcuffs than a fashion accessory.
In the 16th century, the cuff bracelet was used to identify slaves
If you are giving it as a present, it can be a nice idea to engrave your cuff bracelet. A personal message always adds that extra touch to the jewellery.
The flat cuff bracelet most closely resembles the historic "slave" bracelet, while there are round, oval, hollow and convex designs having the same name. "Bangles" - wide jewellery covering much of the wrist - are sometimes called a "slave bracelet", and "slave bracelet" in English refers to jewellery running from the wrist to the middle finger.
Second, choose the colour of the precious metal and the design. From yellow, rose to white gold, your choice depends on your skin colour and what you would like to see. Can't decide? Combining bracelets is also becoming a trend. In addition to the slim bracelets, there are specially designed ones, with dreamy, wavy or floral patterns.
Did you realise you can also have your cuff bracelet on show during the cold winter months? It's very on trend nowadays to wear bracelets over your long sleeves instead of underneath. Meaning you can appreciate them all year round.
We can conclude that the "slave" bracelet seems to be leaving behind the terrible history it once carried. Today, we no longer associate this beautiful type of bracelet with slavery, but with pure sparkle and fashion. Cuff bracelets are for men and women who want to sparkle at a special occasion, or just for everyday living.
Order one that totally suits you from the bracelet collection from BAUNAT now, with 100% natural diamonds. Ask our jewellery experts for advice and find out more about the designs that suit you.
Read more about other types of bracelet
- How to mix and match beautiful gold bracelets?
- What is a tennis bracelet and how do I wear one?
- Which occasions do I give a bracelet as a present for?