Your Ultimate Guide on the Different Types of Bracelets

Types of Bracelets

Last Updated on July 22, 2022 by Carla Jonas

Bracelets have been around forever. In fact, a bracelet made out of green stone discovered in a Siberian cave dates back no less than 40,000 years, according to experts. They’ve been worn as accessories around the wrist and they’ve been worn as status symbols. And during hard times, they’ve even been worn as protective arm guards. There are a plethora of types of bracelets out there: from sleek minimalist bangles to statement cuffs and intricate and ornate pieces adorned with charms, pearls, gemstones, and amulets. Each making a statement in its own way. Each expressing a certain aesthetic, each symbolizing a certain style, representing a certain subculture, and each with its own tradition and origin.

Next, we’re taking a look at the many types of bracelets available today – their characteristics, materials, design, and appeal, with bits of history and fun facts for each. Read on for the ultimate, most comprehensive guide on bracelet types.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most popular bracelet types?

The most popular bracelet types are: tennis bracelets, pearl bracelets, charm bracelets, and bangle bracelets. These styles have universal appeal and versatility. For this reason, they are an effortless addition to any type of outfit, be it casual, business, or evening attire.

What are the different types of bangles?

There are three different types of bangle designs: solid cylinder bangles, open bangles, and cuff bangles. Solid bangles present no opening and the bangle is shaped like a full cylinder. Cuff bangles are thick, sturdy bangles. They feature an opening that allows for easy wear and removal. The term ‘open bangles’ refers to thinner bangle types. These aren’t as thick as cuffs but also present an opening.

Is a bangle a bracelet?

A bangle is a bracelet type that is rigid and solid, usually made of metal or other sturdy materials (plastic, wood, stone). The main characteristic of a bangle is the fact that unlike most types of bracelets, it does not feature a clasp closure. In general, the term ‘bracelet’ refers to more flexible jewelry pieces and ‘bangles’ refers to rigid, no clasp, cylinder-shaped wrist or arm jewelry.

What are bracelets made of?

The most popular materials used in the manufacture of bracelets and bangles are: metal, natural and faux gemstones and beads, leather, textile materials, plastic, stone, wood, and shells. In addition, crafting a flexible bracelet requires beading wire or string (rigid or elastic) and clasp closure, usually made out of metal.

24 Different Types of Bracelets

Chain Bracelets

Chain Bracelets

Chain bracelets are predominantly made of metallic links. The types of chains can vary, with the most popular being classic cable chains featuring interlocked oval links, box chains, Byzantine chains, curb chains, wheat chains, and rope chains. Most chain bracelets are made of metals, such as gold, silver, or stainless steel, and sometimes plastic (resin, acrylic) or occasionally wood. All chain bracelets feature closures, as they are not expandable or stretchy and the most popular chain bracelet closure type is the lobster claw.

Pearl Bracelets

Pearl Bracelets

The classic type of pearl bracelets features a string of real pearls, where each precious gem is individually knotted for extra safety. Other popular designs include multi-layered pearl bracelets, as well as tin cup pearl bracelets, in designs alternating chain and pearls. The vast majority of pearl bracelets on the market feature cultured pearls, including freshwater and saltwater types (Akoya, South Sea, and Tahitian) in a wide variety of colors (both natural and dyed). There come in different types of colors, with the most popular being classic white gems, ivory or champagne, pink, peach, golden and darker shades (Tahitian pearls), including peacock, almost-black, silver, and copper.

Pearl Bracelet

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Bangle Bracelets

Bangle Bracelets

Bangles are types of bracelets that are rigid, non-flexible, and typically in a circular design. Unlike most bracelets, bangles do not have closures. Two types exist: classic bangles (closed) and open bangles, which are easier to fit in a wide range of sizes. Bangle bracelets are worn in different ways: as a single statement piece or layered, loose on the wrist, or higher up on the arm, depending on the preferred style. Bangles are typically made of metals and occasionally made of plastic materials, glass, stone, or wood.

Open Bangle Bracelets

Open Bangle Bracelets

Open bangle bracelets are typically circular in shape, with a small opening (or an overlayed opening). They are either sturdy and rigid, made of one metallic piece, or slightly flexible (pictured below), like beaded bracelets or designs in sleek metals. Open bangles often feature decorative elements. These include gems at each end, bar elements (suitable for engraving), or interlocked designs.

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Open Bangle Bracelet

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Tennis Bracelets

Tennis Bracelets

Tennis bracelets are typically eternity strands featuring diamonds. Alternatively, they also come adorned with more affordable gems (such as Cubic Zirconia). These bracelet designs are symmetrical, featuring connected gemstones on a metal fixture or chain, that can be rigid or elasticated. The stones featured in tennis bracelets are usually the same size and color. Similar to pearl bracelets, classic bangles, and chain bracelets, tennis bracelets are considered a timeless piece of jewelry that ranks high in versatility and universal appeal.

Charm Bracelets

Charm Bracelets

Charm bracelets are typically chain bracelets, adorned with charms, including pendants and trinkets, all with a decorative and/or symbolic purpose. Popular charm options include hearts, flowers, locks, letters, astrological signs, and astronomical bodies. Similar to chain bracelets, charm bracelets feature sturdy closures, including lobster lock, spring rings, toggles, and various types of hook closures.

Beaded Bracelets

Beaded Bracelets

Beaded bracelets feature a string (or multiple) of beads, be it plastic, glass, wood, or gem beads of different shapes, sizes, and colors. A beaded bracelet can be elasticated, adjustable, featuring closures, wrap-style, and many more. Typically, the beads are placed on the string, wire, or elastic. There is a wide range of beaded bracelets available, including uniform designs (featuring beads of the same size), mixed or crescent beading designs.

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Cuff Bracelets

Cuff Bracelets

A cuff bracelet is an open type of bracelet which is wider, as well as rigid. Usually crafted from solid metals, cuffs can also be made of sturdy plastic materials, stone, and wood. They hug the wrist or the arm slightly, with an opening that can be fully rigid or slightly flexible for adjustments. They are generally considered statement jewelry pieces, due to their larger construction.

Leather Bracelets

Leather Bracelets

There are many types of leather bracelets out there, with the most popular types being braided wristlets and leather cuffs. Some designs feature just leather, while others feature decorative elements, ranging from plaques/tags, gemstones (like pearls), baubles, and charms. They are a highly versatile bracelet type, worn by men and women and loved in many cultures and subcultures. Surfer style leather bracelets with pearls are a popular unisex and mens pearl bracelet type.

Pearl Leather Bracelets

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Birthstone Bracelets

Birthstone Bracelets

Birthstone bracelets refer to the bracelet types that feature one of the monthly birthstones. Each month comes with one, two, or even three birthstones (such as Pearls, Alexandrite, and Moonstone for June). Each birthstone is believed to bring certain benefits to the wearer, ranging from physical to mental health, improved focus, and energy or destressing and relaxation properties. Birthstone earrings, as well as pendants, are other highly popular pieces of jewelry that feature the birthstones for each month.

Affirmation Bracelets

Affirmation Bracelets

Affirmation wristbands are bracelets with meanings that include motivational words or phrases. Various bracelet styles can be affirmation bracelets, including bangles and open bangles, bar bracelets, Kandi bracelets, slider bracelets, or multi-layered designs. Many designs can be custom-made for gifts and special occasions, such as bridesmaid proposals, anniversaries, milestones, or birthdays.

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Multi-Layered Bracelets

Multi Layered Bracelets

Multi-layered bracelets are, just as the name suggests, bracelets that feature two or more layers. These can include strings (of pearls or beads), leather bands, chain,s or other metallic elements. Some multi-layered bracelets are uniform, meaning each layer is identical to the next (pearl bracelet example below). On the other side, some are mixed, where each layer features a different design, including a wide variety of materials (image above).

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Multi Layer Pearl Bracelet

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Bar Bracelets

Bar Bracelets

Bar bracelets refer to the bracelet types that feature a metallic bar as part of their design. This bar can be attached to a flexible chain or it can be placed on a rigid open or closed bangle. The bar element has a decorative purpose and is a part of the minimalistic jewelry trend. Oftentimes, the bar is used for engraving initials or affirmations, making these bracelets popular choices for customized gifts.

Wooden Bracelets

Wooden Bracelets

Wooden bracelets are made from natural wood – either wooden beads or solid pieces forming bangles and cuffs. Most wooden bracelets do not have closures, as they are either rigid bangles or elasticated beaded designs. Wood bracelets have a boho style appeal and are often layered with other pieces made of natural materials. Wood is one of the oldest materials used in the crafting of bracelets, together with stone and bones. These days, many wooden bracelets are used as essential oil diffusers. The natural material absorbs and holds the scents for days.

Hand Chain Bracelets

Hand Chain Bracelets

A hand chain bracelet is a type of jewelry that is both a bracelet and a ring at the same time. Usually crafted from metallic chains (as the name suggests), these types of bracelets attach the part that sits on the wrist to the ring part with a chain (or multiple) that matches the design. They are a favorite among bohemian-style aficionados, as well as a popular statement jewelry choice.

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Braided Bracelets

Braided Bracelets

Braided bracelets come in various materials, from yarn to rope, leather, ribbon, and rubber. Usually unisex, braided bracelets come in a wide range of designs. The most popular styles include versatile smart-casual pieces, colorful friendship bracelets, simple and discreet, or bold and adorned with gems and charms.

Braided Pearl Bracelet

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Wrap Bracelets

Wrap Bracelets

A metallic wrap bracelet is a type of jewelry that is worn on the arm (less so on the wrist), with some designs being worn even on the upper arm. This type of bracelet hugs the arm regardless of size and can feature two or more layers that go round and round in a concentric design. The second type of wrap bracelets features beads, These are wrapped around leather cords, wrapping around the wrist twice or more.

Wrap Pearl Bracelet

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Hololith Bracelets

Hololith Bracelets

A hololith bracelet refers to the type of jewelry that is made from a single piece of stone. The most common stone used for these bracelets designs is Jade. Similarly, the word ‘hololith’ also refers to rings that are made from a single stone. Hololith bracelets involve the process of crystal carving. Due to their sturdy, compact structure, these bracelets do not feature closures and they qualify as bangle bracelets.

Expanding Bracelets

Expanding Bracelets

Expanding bracelets or expanding bangles refer to any type of bracelets that do not feature a rigid closure and are easily adjustable. The most popular type features an overlap of metal that allows for desired flexibility. The overlapping section of an expanding bangle has so-called built-in ‘guide bars’. These bars allow the bangle to slide in and out with ease.

Friendship Bracelets

Friendship Bracelets

Friendship bracelets are types of bracelets with meaning, woven or knot-tied from embroidery floss. They are usually in bold and vibrant colors and playful geometric patterns. Friendship bracelets are offered as a gift between friends (often exchanged). They originate from Native American culture, which is evident in many of the popular motifs and patterns. Friendship bracelets are highly popular with children, teens, and young adults.

Slider Bracelets

Slider Bracelets

A slider bracelet features a fastener that resembles a buckle. A chain or a textile passes through this buckle in order to secure the bracelet in place. Slider clasps are relatively new inventions in the jewelry industry and they present a silicone insert that will grip the inserted string of chain. They are easily adjustable and fit a wide variety of sizes due to their easy-to-use mechanism.

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Kandi Bracelets

Kandi Bracelets

Kandi bracelets are bracelets with meaning for the rave music scene. They feature brightly colored plastic beads that often spell an affirmation word or phrase, on a simple elastic band without a clasp. They are worn stacked with other Kandi bracelets and often exchanged at parties. The exchange usually involves performing a specific handshake. The Kandi craze also includes cuffs, headbands, as well as belts, and headbands, all featuring the trademark colorful beads.

Slap Bracelets

Slap Bracelets

Slap bracelets were originally called ‘slap wraps’ in 1980s fashion. They consist of a piece of steel that resembles a tape measure, covered in fabric or plastic (usually in a bright and colorful design). Highly popular among teens, pre-teens, and children, slap bracelets snap around the wrist when slapped on with a certain amount of force.

Ankle Bracelets

Ankle Bracelets

Ankle bracelets (commonly known as ‘anklets) are jewelry pieces worn on the ankle rather than the wrist or arm. They are usually made of chain or thread and feature charms, beads, pearls, and other decorative elements (either fixed or dangling). They are daintier in size and they usually feature standard closures like lobster clasps. Similar to a hand chain, a ‘pattilu’ is a type of anklet that features a toe ring connected by a thin chain to an ankle bracelet.

Types of Bracelet Closures

Bracelets come with different types of closures. Not all bracelet types need a closure. Designs like bangles, open bangles, cuffs, elasticated and wrap bracelets fit a wide variety of sizes and do not feature any closure mechanisms. Here are the most popular types of bracelet closures and clasps.

Bolt Ring Closures

  • One of the most commonly used closures.
  • The spring ring clasp includes a circle that features a simple spring mechanism.
  • When the small lever is pulled, a little opening allows the wearer to fit the opposite end through.

Lobster Clasps

  • The most popular type of jewelry closure.
  • Features two parts: a lobster claw-shaped part and a jumping ring.
  • The claw features a little lever that opens and closes.
  • Releasing this lever automatically shuts the closure.

Magnetic Clasps

  • Clasps where the two ends of the jewelry contain one-half of the clasp.
  • Features magnets on each side.
  • When close together, these magnetic parts snap shut securely.

Cylinder Closures

  • Used in the creation of multi-strand necklaces and bracelets.
  • Features two cylinders, where one slides over the other one, holding it securely in place.

Box Clasps

  • Include two parts, called a tongue and a box.
  • The tongue goes inside the box and locks into place.
  • The system opens when the lever is pushed down, compressing it to slide out.

Screw Closures

  • Screw closures or fasteners are also called barrel clasps.
  • They require two hands to secure, which is why they are more commonly used for necklaces.
  • They feature a two-part screwing mechanism for secure closure.

Hook Closures

  • Hook closures are very simple in design and construction.
  • They resemble a hook, hence their name.
  • The metal piece hooks onto a ring at the other end of the bracelet.

Fold Over Clasps

  • Highly abundant in vintage jewelry pieces
  • Used both for necklaces and bracelets.
  • The clasp opens and a spring-ring at the other end of the bracelet is secured inside when locked back.

Toggle Closures

  • Includes a long and thin metallic bar and a metallic circle.
  • The bar is inserted into a circle that is set at the other end of the bracelet.
  • The bar goes in across, horizontally and locks the bracelet in place.

Final Thoughts

From dangly charm bracelets to nostalgic slap bracelets and from sophisticated pearl bracelets to edgy cuff bracelets, dainty beaded bracelets and sleek bangles, arm and wrist jewelry comes in many different shapes. And the fact is, like all types of earrings, all types of bracelets have their unique charm, ready to add that needed pop of glow, sparkle, or color to any outfit. Which one is your favorite bracelet type? Perhaps the new effortlessly chic slider bracelet? A dangly chain bracelet with cute charms? Or maybe you prefer a versatile beaded bracelet around your wrist? Whichever your top type of bracelet is, make sure to make it truly yours – by engraving it, adding affirmations, layering it and styling it in your own unique way. Let us know your favorite types of bracelets in the comment section below!

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Carla Jonas