The History of Men's Bracelets
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A historical brief on who were the first to wear mens bracelets.
Men's and Women's bracelets
date back to Biblical times. In fact, there are a number of references to
bracelets in the Old Testament of the Bible.
The first occurs in the book of Genesis 24:22, when the servant
of Abraham is sent to Abrahamís home village to find a wife for his son, Isaac.
The servant asks for divine intervention in the selection of Isaacís wife, and is
ultimately led to a woman named Rebekah.
As soon as the servant realizes that she is the one selected
by God, he gives her a gold ring for her nose, and two gold
bracelets weighing 10 shekels for her wrists.
Ten shekels is the equivalent of four ounces. At todayís gold prices, those
bracelets would have been worth about $4,000.
Think about what the
bracelets were worth 5,000 years ago!
The servant is invited back to Rebekahís house to meet her
family, and there he presents more gifts of
silver and gold jewelry to Rebekah, and other Ďvaluable
giftsí (10 donkey-loads, weíre told) to her mother and brother, but the jewelry
gifts appear to have been just for Isaacís future bride.
Fortunately, Rebekahís father, Laban, agrees to the marriage,
and Rebekah returns with the servant to meet her future husband.
This story illustrates the use of jewelry, specifically rings
bracelets, as a token of love and promise of future
support dating back to the very earliest of times.
The next reference to
bracelets comes in the book of Numbers 31:50.
God has commanded Moses to wage war on the Midianites, and to annihilate them because
they had led the Israelites into idolatry. Twelve thousand of Israelís best
troops go into battle, and by the end of the war, all of the Midianite men have
been killed, but there were no Israeli casualties.
After the soldiers divide the spoils, the army commanders come
to Moses and present a thank offering to the Lord consisting of
bracelets and other
silver and gold jewelry valued at $300,000 (in
Mosesí time). So, from this we learn that
bracelets and other jewelry could be used as a
payment, or tribute, because of its value.
But, it isnít until the book of 2nd Samuel that
we discover that
bracelets werenít just worn by women back in old
testament times. They were also worn by kings and other wealthy men.
In 2 Samuel 1:10 we learn that Saul was wearing
bracelets when he died on Mount Gilboa. The
Amelekite who killed him brought Saulís crown and one of his
bracelets to David.
Interestingly enough, there are no references to
bracelets, mens or womens, in the new testament,
and only three or four references to jewelry of any type.
Menís bracelets didnít become very popular in the
United States until the middle of the 20th century, when Photo
ID bracelets were introduced by the Speidel Corporation
of Providence, Rhode Island. Men typically wore a watch and a wedding ring
(if married), cuff links, and a tie bar (or tie tack), and that was it for men's
jewelry! But, during the 1950ís and early 1960ís,
ID bracelets became popular with teens, and the
ID bracelet craze spread to grown-ups. Soon,
it was common to see men wearing
bracelets. And, not just men. There
womenís ID bracelets and
childrenís ID bracelets as well.
What was very different between these bracelets and the ones
that might have been worn by King Saul, of course, is that these had individually
cast links that were chained together, and the bracelets were made of base metal
with a silver plate. King Saulís
bracelet was probably all one piece, what we would
today call a
bangle bracelet, and it was no doubt made of pure
24K gold. King Saulís bracelet was probably also engraved with an intricate
design. We learn from the description of the building of King Solomonís temple
that engravers and
engraving existed even in the time of Solomon.
menís ID bracelets started to disappear from the
scene by the end of the 1960ís, and although different manufacturers tried several
different approaches to try and revive menís bracelets in the 1970ís, the market
continued to fade.
We have the Italians to thank for reminding us in the 21st
century that menís bracelets can be stylish and trendy, and the Chinese for introducing
stainless steel link ID
bracelets for men, and
menís titanium bracelets. The Italians introduced
machine-cut links to give a multi-faceted look to a menís bracelet, and their recent
stainless steel with leather bracelets and rubber
with stainless menís bracelets has re-inspired men to want to wear
bracelets again. Several manufacturers, including
Speidel and Colibri, have introduced new lines of trendy and even retro menís and
womenís ID bracelets, and the result has been that
bracelets are back on menís wrists.