Rapaport Magazine
Style & Design

Bracelet yourselves

Cuffs and bangles have been packing a punch as statement pieces for centuries, says dealer Dana Kiyomura.

By Phyllis Schiller

Images: Keyamour 

Why are cuff bracelets always in demand?

Bangles and cuff bracelets are an enduring jewelry staple. For hundreds of years, styles have shifted from wider bangles to thinner ones, gem-set to plain gold. Early examples can be seen in Roman and Greek times, those designs inspiring new revivals during the Georgian and Victorian periods. I think the overarching reason they continue to remain in vogue is that they make a statement. They are not fussy, are easy to put on, and most importantly, are comfortable to wear.

What are the most popular/collectible signed pieces?

Today, the bangle bracelet is practically defined by makers like Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. They are clearly the most sought-after. Cartier’s Love collection might be the most iconic. These wrist staples are collected in various thicknesses, gold tones, diamond-setting and even gem-setting variations. For those in the know, however, the [Van Cleef] Perlée bangle, which can also be found in a number of varieties, is a step up in exclusivity and one of my personal favorites. And no conversation about cuffs would be complete without a step into the animal kingdom with David Webb, complete with lions, tigers, leopards, elephants and the like. They make the wearer feel ferocious and empowered. For all-out style, luxury and iconography, [though,] Belperron is the “it” cuff, perhaps the most collectible and luxurious of all. From crystal and diamond to carved agate, Suzanne Belperron epitomized the wrist ornament.

Which styles are must-haves for any collector?

For everyday wear, I am partial to cuff bracelets from the Victorian era. The designs are intricate and unique. I am constantly surprised at what I find that I’ve never seen. A good collector will pay attention to pairs of bangles. Wedding or mourning bangles are often paired. While harder to find, they are much more desirable together. As for single bangles, the buckle bangle, first popularized in the Victorian era, never fell out of fashion. More recently, Gucci popularized a version from the 1970s.

What fit and style considerations should clients keep in mind when buying or wearing a cuff?

Cuffs and bangles are usually made in an oval shape to fit more flush to the wrist and be comfortable to wear. How low on the wrist it will fall depends on the size and shape of the oval bangle. Hollow bangles can ding and dent if you are tough on them. I have seen absolutely stunning bangles be reduced to their gold value, as no serious collector would buy a dented one.

How available are good examples?

Depending on what you are looking for, there are great examples out there in every price point and design. If you are looking for a fine antique one, there are many great ones in every variety of price, value, style and maker, from the more simple patterns to full-out Etruscan revival with blue and white enamel [and] micromosaic religious or landscaped scenes.

Condition and aesthetic are what I look for first when considering a bangle. Enamel should be in great condition, impact-free, and if gem-set, of fine quality. Fit is a factor; if a bangle is too small, I might shy away. Overall, the bangle or cuff must be something I’d wear myself with no excuses.

Who is Dana Kiyomura?Dana Kiyomura is a dynamic jewelry dealer specializing in antique jewels, though her vintage collection, Keyamour, spans the Georgian to mid-20th-century periods. Keyamour’s curated selection of wearable antique pieces is suited to discerning, stylish young collectors.


Article from the Rapaport Magazine - July 2022. To subscribe click here.

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