Tennis bracelets have long been a symbol of elegance. Simple, yet sleek and sophisticated in design, they feature a collection of individual diamonds, set into a flexible serpentine-like band.
But how did this piece of trendy fashion jewelry get its name ‘tennis bracelet’ and what has it got to do with the sport?
Here we’ll share a brief history of tennis bracelets, reveal how they got their unique name and share some of our expert buying tips.
History of tennis bracelets: How did they get their name?
You may be surprised to hear that the history of tennis bracelets, as we know them, only dates back to the 20th century. The bracelets for women, featuring small diamonds, were highly popular with flapper girls in the 1920s and 30s, who would wear stacks of them on their wrists to show their wealth and elegance.
But if you waltzed into a jewelry store in the roaring 20s asking to see their collection of tennis bracelets, you’d be met with a rather puzzled look. You see, tennis bracelets didn’t acquire their name until a few decades later. Instead, they were known as eternity or inline bracelets.
So you’re probably wondering, why are tennis bracelets called tennis bracelets now? It’s a pretty unique and interesting story, so gather round.
If you’re into your tennis, you’re bound to have heard of (now retired) former American world number 1 tennis player, Chris Evert. Not only an outstanding sports person and 18-time Grand Slam champion but also one of the most stylish women in sport. Evert regularly wore elegant jewelry during her tennis matches, including the inline bracelet that would become her signature piece.
In 1987, a rather unique event happened at the US Open. During an intense game, Chris Evert performed such a powerful swing that her diamond bracelet went soaring off her wrist. Noticing its immediate misplacement, Evert alerted officials to stop the game, saying ‘I dropped my tennis bracelet.’ She was given time to search and retrieve her bracelet, before continuing the game.
The event, which was also broadcast on television, was such a spectacle that ‘tennis bracelet’ was quickly coined as the new name for these beautiful bracelets for women. It also gave them a massive boost in popularity, with tennis fans, fashion-forward women and anyone who could afford diamonds, seeking them out for their collections.
We told you the history of tennis bracelets is a good story!
In the years since, many other famous tennis players, including Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams, have been seen sporting tennis bracelets. In 2002, Williams was spotted wearing a $29,000 Harry Winston tennis bracelet – a real beauty of a piece.
Even today, jewelers report a spike in sales of tennis bracelets during big tennis events, like Wimbledon, proving they are still very much associated with the sport and popular in their own right.
Different types of tennis bracelets
Traditionally, tennis bracelets feature a single band of small diamonds on a thin and flexible precious metal chai, made from 14K or 18K gold, platinum or sterling silver.
Tennis bracelets usually feature round cut diamonds, however, emerald cut and princess cut diamonds are rising in popularity.
The setting can be prong, channel or bezel. Each style shows the diamonds off in a different way and provides a unique look.
Prong settings utilize three or four prongs per diamond and allow light to pass through the diamond’s pavilion. Although minimalistic in setting, they are still very secure.
Channel settings feature two rows of thin metal that hold the diamond on either side. Diamonds tend to sit closely together in this setting.
With a Bezel setting, metal surrounds each diamond. You can also get half bezel settings, where the metal is only connected on two sides of the stone.
Non-diamond tennis bracelets
Looking at the history of tennis bracelets, you’ll find they traditionally feature diamonds. However, today, you can also buy tennis bracelets with a multitude of colored stones like aquamarines and emeralds.
Whilst these can look very beautiful to the eye, it’s worth noting they may be slightly less durable in design. Diamonds are chosen for their hardness and resilience. You may find colored gemstones are much softer and therefore more prone to damage. It’s worth weighing up whether you’d rather choose a more unique piece with colorful stones that reflect your personality or a classic diamond piece that is more likely to stand the test of time.
If diamonds are out of your budget, fear not! There are plenty of tennis bracelet designs that feature cubic zirconia stones instead. Cubic zirconia jewelry looks a lot like diamond jewelry until you inspect it close up. An untrained eye would struggle to tell the difference.
Cubic zirconia stones are softer and far less dense than diamonds. But as we said before, in a piece of jewelry like a tennis bracelet, it will be hard to tell the difference. Unless of course, you weigh it against a diamond piece.
Cubic zirconia tennis bracelets are much cheaper to buy so if you’re looking to save money, they’re a great alternative to a diamond tennis bracelet.
Price of tennis bracelets
How much you should expect to pay for a tennis bracelet will largely depend on its design and the materials used to make it. For instance, cubic zirconia tennis bracelets will cost you under $100, however, a diamond tennis bracelet can cost hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars. It depends on the size, style, and quality of the stones.
Choosing a metal type
When buying a diamond tennis bracelet you need to pay attention to 2 factors. The first factor is the type of metal used to make the bracelet and the second is the quality of the diamonds.
Keep in mind that there is no ‘best’ metal type for tennis bracelet designs. Although looking at the history of tennis bracelets, you’ll find yellow gold to be a popular choice, today you can choose from rose gold, white gold, platinum, and sterling silver too. It all comes down to your personal preference.
Reviewing the diamonds
When purchasing any piece of diamond jewelry, the same rules apply. Always consider the 4 cs of diamonds: cut, clarity, color and carat weight of the stones. With tennis bracelets, it’s particularly important to check the brilliance of the diamond and make sure there aren’t any noticeable blemishes. The more brilliance a diamond has, the more the light will make it sparkle and the better your bracelet will look.
Keep in mind that tennis bracelets are measured by their overall carat weight, rather than the weight of the individual stones.
Choosing a reputable jeweler
If you’re planning on spending a significant amount on a tennis bracelet, make sure the jeweler you purchase it from is trustworthy, reputable and has a proven track record for high-quality craftsmanship. Buying online? Here are 6 things to look for from a good online jewelry store.
How to wear tennis bracelets
Tennis bracelets have long been popular with active, sportswomen, whose lifestyles require them to wear jewelry that is lightweight, flexible and somewhat minimalistic in design. Whereas a heavy bangle or cuff would be too bulky, an elegant, slimline tennis bracelet lends itself nicely. It allows the wearer to look stylish and feel comfortable whilst playing their sport.
When choosing a tennis bracelet, it’s important to get the right fit. It should not be too tight or too loose. If the bracelet is too tight it will limit the movement of your wrist but if it’s slack it could slip off without you knowing. Ideally, you need to fit one finger between your tennis bracelet and your wrist.
Most women tend to wear their tennis bracelets on their left wrist, as they use their right hands more. However, if you’re left-handed, you may want to consider wearing your tennis bracelet on your right wrist instead. It’s better to wear it on the wrist that you use least as it will limit its movement and help to keep your bracelet intact.
While we think about it, if you plan on wearing a tennis bracelet during periods of high activity e.g. playing a sport, avoid the error that generated the piece of jewelry’s name in the first place. Make sure that your tennis bracelet has a good fit and is fastened with a strong and secure clasp. You don’t want it flying off your wrist like Chris Evert!
Tennis bracelets: A timeless gift
From flapper girls of the 1920s to sportswomen of the 1980s, the history of tennis bracelets is certainly interesting and partly what makes these bracelets for women so special.
If you are looking to treat yourself to a new piece of jewelry, a tennis bracelet will make the perfect purchase. It’s something you can wear every day and will look effortlessly elegant and stylish, no matter the choice of outfit or occasion.
Tennis bracelets can also make beautiful gifts for loved ones. A precious piece for weddings and other special occasions, they will make the perfect keepsake and can be passed down and worn by future generations.
The tennis bracelet is most certainly a timeless piece that will never go out of style.
Do you know any more interesting facts about the history of tennis bracelets?
We’d love to hear them so leave us a comment below!