We can’t be certain when people first began wearing bracelets but evidence of the adornments has been discovered in almost every ancient civilization. The earliest people wore necklaces made of bones and animal teeth. Over the centuries, bracelets have been made from materials including leather, iron, copper, beads, bone and teeth, precious metals and gemstones.
Sumerians in southern Mesopotamia were wearing bracelets around 2500 B.C. Wearing jewelry was a way Sumerian women could show off their husband’s prosperity. Bracelets were found in the tombs of Ur where it was customary to bury royalty with their jewelry, their servants and other goods. They believed that burying their dead with such possessions would indicate to the Gods the person’s status in life and therefore help him achieve proper status in afterlife.
The Egyptians made most of their bracelets out of a variety of materials they could find in nearby hills and deserts. They were among the first to make bracelets with precious gemstones and enameling. Gemstones were considered to have supernatural powers. For example, green jasper was associated with rain, agates were considered to protect against spider bites and thunderstorms, and lapis lazuli was meant to protect against serpent attacks.
In Grecian times, soldiers wore defensive bands of leather, often decorated with gold, silver and or gemstones, on their forearms. They were known as ‘bracels,’ from the Latin brachium, meaning, ‘arm.’ When women began wearing smaller versions, they were called little bracels, or ‘bracel-ets.’
Ancient peoples strongly believed that wearing precious stones could affect their fortunes. Jewelry was closely associated with religious rites. Gold and jewels were used as gifts for the maintenance of worship. However, jewelry eventually advanced from a simple ornamental or amulet stance to a symbol of rank, wealth and social standing. These three roles of jewelry remain to this day.
Many bracelets were found in the ruins of Pompeii after Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79A.D. In the tenth century, the Vikings wore arm rings as tribute from the vanquished. Men of the Neolithic era would carry “charms”–unusual stones or pieces of wood–to ward off enemies. Ancient Egyptians used charm bracelets when preparing their dead for burial. They were considered protective shields and signs of status, and also served as “identification” to help the Gods guide the wearer to his proper status in the afterlife.
In the early 1900s, Queen Victoria of England led a new trend in the wearing of charm bracelets. She took the bracelets as protective talismans.Fashion jewelry that included lockets, glass beads and family crests.
Whatever the style of your bracelet and your reason for wearing it, you’re in very good company.