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Just one of the wonderful things about jewelry is that there is so much diversity, not only in the types but designs, styles and colors. No matter your personal style, there is a perfect piece of jewelry.

You don’t have to understand the technical ins and outs to appreciate any piece of jewelry but sometimes, being armed with a little knowledge or understanding and using the correct terminology helps you make a better purchase.

Let’s take the example of bracelets and bangles. Are they the same thing? Is it one of those conundrums like all penguins are birds but not all birds are penguins?

It’s a common assumption that the two types of fashion accessory are one and the same, but not so. If you have a conversation with any passionate jewelry lover, they will take the time to explain to you exactly why bangle bracelets are so different to other types of bracelets! There are so many to consider from tennis bracelets, scarab bracelets to cuff bracelets to charm bracelets to armlets and beyond.

So, let’s go through the differences between the pieces of jewelry we call a bracelet and a bangle.

Bracelet vs. Bangle

The definitions for a bangle and bracelet are quite specific. The main difference lies in whether they have a clasp/closure.

A bracelet is a circlet designed to be worn on the wrist and always has a clasp or some form of closure. When unclasped, a bracelet will lie out in a line. By nature, they are more flexible than bangles. There are also forms of bracelets that can adorn the ankle and these are known as anklets.

A bangle is rigid, not always, but mostly circular in form and does not have a closure. It is slipped on over the hand. Early bangles were also made for the ankle and it is the Hindi word - bangri - which means ring-shaped anklet - that is the etymology of the word bangle.

One commonality they share is that both can be made from a huge variety of different materials.

Although both items of jewelry are primarily designed to be worn on the wrist, bangles in particular have been worn mid-arm and on the upper arm in many different eras and cultures. This is something that you will see spread across history from Ancient Egypt to Southeast Asia. The countries of the Indian subcontinent (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) are particularly associated with piles of very fine bangles, especially for weddings.

History of The Bangle

Because of their simplistic ring-shaped form, bangles have been around for much, much longer than bracelets. They have been worn at weddings dating as far back as 2600 BC and used in cultural dance ceremonies.

Ancient bangles made from stone, seashells, copper, terracotta, bone, jade, woven twigs, woven grass and glass have been found in Roman, Mayan, Indian and Mauryan Empire ruins.

Archeological evidence takes the bangle back to 5000 years ago. A 4,500-year-old statue of a nude teenage girl wearing an armful of bangles was excavated on the banks of the Indus River in Pakistan. Although this is generally accepted as being the first instance of the accessory in human culture, a bangle-like stone bracelet an incredible 40,000 years old was discovered in Siberia and is believed to have been worn by the Denisovan species of prehistoric humans.

They are also a popular gift for newborn babies in many different countries, given as a symbol of protection. Christening bracelets are generally made of sterling silver. Although interestingly, they are called bracelets when in fact they are bangles!

History of the Bracelet

it’s harder to tie down the origins of bracelets that are true to its modern-day definition of requiring a clasp.

It was really as tools and technology advanced that enabled the joining of two ends of material together that hailed the beginning of the bracelet. It also became the norm for precious metals to be used and bracelets began to become a symbol of wealth. Like with the evolution of all pieces of jewelry, diamonds and other gemstones became part of the design process and the more extravagant the bracelet, the higher your status.

Modern Times

In the modern era of fashion accessories, bracelets and bangles are no longer just a symbol of weddings, childhood protection or wealth. Anyone can wear bangles or bracelets thanks to a huge spectrum of materials and prices. They can be a simple fashion accessory or have a meaning.

On the inexpensive side of things, there are plenty of bangles and bracelets made from affordable materials like plastic, leather and synthetic fibers. For fine jewelry, there’s equally as wide a choice made from yellow gold, rose gold, white gold, sterling silver and titanium.

You can choose to wear bangles or bracelets for everyday wear and any special occasion and to suit any outfit. The beauty is in their versatility.

Versatility and Variety

Like any other piece of jewelry, bracelets and bangles allow the wearer to express themselves and their own stylistic preferences. They can be worn in casual and formal settings and they can be understated or totally flamboyant.

There’s no end to the design elements that can go into making either a bangle or bracelet so you’ll find the finest, narrowest silver bangles that hug the wrist along with large cuffs (usually made from synthetic materials or leather) that are worn on the upper arm. (Incidentally, cuffs evolved from ancient armor worn on the arm).

The stackable nature of bangles and bracelets has been celebrated as enabling a wearer to mix and match different styles to create their own unique fashion statement.

Ultimately, one of the very best elements of this bangle versus bracelet discussion is the fact that the two types of jewelry can be worn together in perfect harmony! There is nothing to stop you from stacking a couple of gold bangles on one wrist and wearing a beautiful diamond bracelet on the other.

Bracelet vs Bangle - The Conclusion

Now we know, there is a difference. A bangle is enclosed (unless it is a cuff) and a bracelet always has some sort of fastening. There are no limits on what materials may be used or the design of either. They can be worn individually or together and they are as versatile as any other piece of jewelry.


Shop Bracelets and Bangles at Global Rings Jewelry

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