A bangle is a rigid type of bracelet. Bangle-style bracelets can be made from many different materials including wood or even glass, but the most valuable bangles are made with precious metals and adorned with diamonds or gems. Modern bangles originate from South Asia where women have worn them as wedding adornments for more than 5,000 years.
An ancient accessory
Bangles are one of the oldest types of jewellery. They have been worn around the globe for millenia.
Archeologists have discovered bangle bracelets in ancient Mayan, Russian, Viking, South Asian, Roman, Greek and African tombs and ruins.
Who wore bangles first?
In 1973, British archeologists uncovered a pre-historic bronze statue in Mohenjo-daro, Pakistan, named the ‘Dancing Girl’.
It depicts a young woman in the nude with one arm entirely covered in bangles. The statue is estimated to date back to around 2,500 BC.
It is one of the oldest bits of evidence that bangles were worn as accessories by humans.
Top, Dancing Girl statue by Jen, Wikipedia – Bottom, 2nd Century Greek gold bangle at The Met Museum, New York
The name ‘bangle’ means ‘glass’
The English word ‘bangle’ comes from the from the Hindi word bungri, meaning ‘glass’. Glass bangles are symbolic wedding jewellery items, worn by women in India.
They are considered to bring luck and security in marriage. Indians believe that when glass bangles ‘clink’ against each other, the sound keeps negative energy away.
The thinner the bangle, the more beautiful the sound. In India, glass bangles are available in many different colors to match the bride’s sari.
Top, Indian bride wearing glass bangles – Bottom, colourful glass bangles on sale on an Indian market
Bangles vs. Bracelets
Many people wonder, what is the difference between a bangle and a bracelet?
Bracelet means any jewellery item worn on the wrist.
Therefore, a bangle is also a type of bracelet, but what makes it different is that it is rigid. In other words, it is not flexible in the way that bracelets made with links or chains are.
A bracelet made with links is flexible
A bangle is a rigid type of bracelet
Bangle styles – types of fastening and wearing
There are three main bangle styles. They are differentiated by the way in which the wearer places them on their wrist:
- Solid bangles are pushed over the hand to get them on the wrist
- Torque bangles have a gap on one side which allows the bangle to be slipped directly onto the arm above the wrist
- Split bangles have a hinge or a spring that allows the bangle to open and close, as well as a lock for securing it
A ‘split bangle’ with a hinge and a lock
A ‘torque bangle’ with a gap
Modern diamond bangles
Today, you can buy fine jewellery bangles crafted with gold, platinum or sterling silver and decorated with diamonds or gemstones.
You can also buy costume jewellery bangles that are made from materials like wood, plastic or base metals like copper.
Because of the materials they are made from, fine jewellery bangles last a lifetime, making treasured gifts and family heirlooms.
Consider the size and clasp when buying
If you’re considering a solid bangle with no hinge or gap, it’s sensible to measure it, try it on before buy or check your jeweller’s return policy to make sure you can slip it over your hand.
When buying a gift bangle for someone else, it’s wisest to buy a one with a gap or a hinge so the wearer won’t struggle to put it on.
If your gift recipient has a particularly small wrist, a bracelet with links can be a good option as it can be shortened by a jeweller if needed.
What occasions are bangles suited to?
A classic diamond bangle is a very versatile piece of jewellery. It can add elegance to a casual everyday look, as well as accessorize a formal occasion.
You can wear a classic diamond bangle as a single accessory or stack several together for a more dramatic look.
Finally, bangles are a particularly suitable gift item
A classic diamond bangle is the perfect gift idea. Firstly, because it suits many tastes. Secondly, a diamond bangle is a “neutral” gift jewellery item if you’re in a new relationship.
In other words, it is not a jewellery item loaded with symbolism, such as a ring that is usually given for engagements.
If you’re considering gifting a bangle to someone, a bangle makes a beautiful birthday, anniversary, graduation, Christmas or Valentines present for any woman at any age.