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Friendship bracelets are big at the moment and are worn by all ages, from young children right the way through to grandmas. Friendship necklaces are a newer addition to the friendship jewellery range.
But what is a friendship bracelet? How does it differ from a normal bracelet? In this blog, we’ll uncover how friendship bracelets started and how they have changed over the years to become one of the most purchased jewellery items
What is a Friendship Bracelet?
Traditionally a friendship bracelet was hand-made and gifted, from one friend to another. Made of embroidery thread or yarn, they were handwoven, using a series of knots. The knots symbolised the strong bond between the two friends.
Perfect for girls or boys, they could be made in a variety of colours and every bracelet was unique. The friendship bracelet patterns could be infinitely varied. The series of knots, like macrame, were easy to master and led to an endless variety of designs that teenagers loved creating.
Quick, cheap and simple, the bracelets quickly took off as it became a touching gesture exchanged between friends.
Due to the materials used (brightly coloured thread) and the style being similar to Native American, ethnic clothing, these bracelets didn’t suit everyone and a more mature, elegant twist was added by jewellery designers.
Sterling silver friendship bracelets began appearing and these took off in a way that jewellery designers then started adding gold-plated pieces, although silver-plated and solid silver friendship bracelets are by far the most popular.
The History of Friendship Bracelets
The art of macrame is where knots are tied to create an intricate series of patterns. It was started by Arabian weavers in the 13th Century as a way to finish the edges of their woven textiles, like a woven fringe. Many centuries earlier, the Chinese craftspeople were tying knots to be used as decoration – with some of these pieces still in existence which are thought to date back to 400-200 BC.
Sailors would pass the time at sea by practising tying knots. Many of the same knots used by sailors are the same knots used in macrame.
Central American crafting incorporated a lot of brightly coloured threads and this seems to have been the biggest influence on the origins of the woven friendship bracelets.
Friendship bracelets first seemed to appear in the USA during the 1970’s, when ethnic clothing was the fashion and they were very much like the jewellery items crafted by Native Americans.
The Giving and Receiving of A Friendship Bracelet
Giving a friendship bracelet is a wonderful way of showing someone how much you value their friendship if they didn’t know it already. It is a demonstrative statement that the relationship is something you care about.
Equally, it is a great compliment to receive a friendship bracelet as it indicates your friend is keen to make a visual statement about how much they value your friendship. What a lovely feeling to receive a gift like that!
The Modern Friendship Bracelet
As already mentioned, jewellery designers started making sterling silver friendship bracelets inspired by the earlier versions. They realised that their customers preferred the look and quality of precious metals, like silver and gold.
They could also incorporate other symbols into the bracelets that carried extra meaning – like the evil eye, a heart, feathers, knots and flowers.
The most sold friendship bracelets today seem to be made in silver – gold can be a cost-prohibitive gift between friends. This means they last, look great and will match other jewellery and clothing.
Modern Friendship Bracelet Styles
There seem to be two dominant styles of modern Friendship bracelets.
One is a bracelet which has a sliding toggle clasp with the two ends of the bracelet hanging loose, often known as a Slider bracelet. This means the bracelet will fit anyone.
The other, newer, style of a friendship bracelet is a beaded bracelet – the beads being strung on jewellers elastic and so will stretch over the hand.
Because friendship bracelets have become so popular, we’ve seen many designers classing any fine bracelet as a ‘friendship bracelet’.
Why Are Friendship Bracelets So Popular?
We think the rise in the huge popularity of friendship bracelets are down to a few factors, combined.
- An Better Quality in Silver Plating
Silver plating jewellery has got so much better in quality in recent years. The plating is alot thicker than it every used to be which means it lasts and will do for many years with a little care. This means that customers can know that they can purhase a good-quality silver-plated bracelet inexpensively and thereby making it an easy purchase as gifts between friends, which will last.
The range of “A Little….” Joma friendship bracelets that we sell, which feature a slightly stretchy, beaded bracelet presented on a meaning card on which a little rhyming heartfelt message is printed, is testament to this. We literally sell hundreds of these bracelets, which are a high-quality bracelet costing less than £20. The are mostly gift purchases.
- The Jewellery Stacking and Layering Trend
The other reason that Friendship bracelets have proved so popular is the trend in stacking jewellery and layering bracelets and necklaces.
Wearing multiple layers of finer chains lends itself so well to friendship bracelets. You won’t need to remove a much-loved bracelet or necklace given to you by your parents in order to wear the bracelet or necklace your friend bought you.
Friendship necklaces aren’t seen as much as bracelets but they are a wonderful idea. They are not just for friends though, we find that this style of necklace is bought more between a Mother and Daughter, but the concept is the same.
A Friendship necklace is normally purchased as one necklace which can then be split, thereby creating two necklaces, one of which can be worn by one friend, the other side worn by the other friend.
They are a more obvious statement than a bracelet but are much loved all the same.
Another style of Friendship necklace seems to be the ‘interlocking circles’ necklace or ‘interlocking hearts’. The interlocking circles is a beautiful statement of two being joined in a strong bond.
Again, this is given between parent and child and lovers as much as between friends.They regularly prove to be one of our bestselling necklaces and come in many designs albeit with the same style.