Slide Bracelets – A Piece of Wearable History
There are specific types of jewelry that have historical significance as well as reflecting your own personal history. As one example, a charm bracelet, with its lifetime collection of charms can reveal quite a bit about you. Another type, which dates as far as the Victorian era, is the slide bracelet.
During the 19th century, women in England wore them as a fashion accessory. Since wrist watches were not created at that time, they wore heavy watches, often referred to as heavy hunting case watches, on a necklace. They added decorative “slides” to their chains which were placed under the watch that allowed them to shorten or lengthen the necklace by moving the slides up or down as well. Also, the slides prevented the watch from twisting and turning on the chain.
Women used to collect a variety of slides to match what they wore. Many of the slides were designed from old watch fobs that were engraved; others were set with gemstones and were very ornate. Other unique slides that were collected included stick pin heads that would be mounted on plain slides. Lucky for these ladies if there were a lot of men in their family who would give them their stick pins!
During the 1930’s, after the Victorian period, the watch slide became a very popular family heirloom. The 6-9 slides that were interchanged on a necklace were now being used to create a functional piece of jewelry; firstly as a time piece, but also as a fashionable bracelet. I am sure that most ladies never forgot to put on their watches, especially such exquisite pieces of wearable art. Very successful business men would reflect their affluence with the amount of jewelry that their wives wore and some ladies also wore slide bracelets on one arm and a watch slide on the other.
A slide bracelet is comprised of a double chain or cable bangle on to which a slide is placed. Slides have four drilled holes (two at both ends) so that the chain or cable can slide through. Many vintage slides had a small piece of cork placed within to hold it in place on the chain. Today, they are held in place with spacers such as beads that are placed between each slide.
While the traditional chain slide bracelet is still a classic today, cable bangle bracelets have also become quite popular. I personally refer to them as do-it-yourself slide bracelets because you do not require a jeweler to assemble or put it together for you. Cable slides are comprised of two stands of twisted wire cable that is flexible. While it is easy to add, rearrange or remove slides because of the detachable clasp, they also have a downside; the end of the wires can fray with frequent wear thus requiring repair or replacement.
The classic chain slide bracelet has a loyal following today and is just as popular. The name is used interchangeably and often referred to as slide charms or slider charms. You may have inherited one or were given one as a gift; or perhaps you have a single slide and are just beginning to collect them. The elaborateness and detail on slides are breathtaking. They are available in a variety of sizes, shapes and gemstones. You can find them at local vintage/antique shops, during your travels abroad, antique shows, auctions, estate sales, and of course on-line. You can also have a few custom made using any odd or unused piece of jewelry that you may have in your jewelry box. As an example, you might have a single odd ½ pair of earrings that can now be incorporated and made into a slide.
Some collectors buy slides randomly, in other words, if they like it, they buy it. Others may have a certain design genre or theme in mind. Such examples could include birthstones of family members, hobbies, religious theme, special occasion, pets, and specific gemstones, to name a few. A slide bracelet reflects the uniqueness of you and that is why they are such one-of-a-kind. Once your slide bracelet is complete, you may consider have a slide earring, ring or pendant made to compliment your bracelet.
Several years ago one of our customers, acquired from us over a two year period, four one-of-a-kind slide bracelets for her four daughter-in-laws. She gave them as Christmas gifts “to my daughters” as she referred to them because they always admired hers. The tears flowed that special Christmas day. The love affair with their own bracelets inspired two of the daughter-in-laws to begin collecting slides for their own daughters which they will give as a gift to their daughters on their wedding day.
Slide bracelets are indeed a family affair, rich in tradition and an heirloom for the next generation.