The shopping experience at Marburger Farms this spring, 2014, was quite an education in how to begin a collection of affordable Victorian Bangle Bracelets. It seems the market is heating up over these beauties. My advice, buy them! They are lovely and should be worn and appreciated.
In Victorian times, popular bracelets included those made from black Berlin iron or gauze-like Silesian wire. Bangles of rolled gold (Rolled gold means that the motif was imprinted on the gold in a repeated pattern on a layer of flat gold banding that was then applied to the bracelet using a machine.) were also common, as were bracelets decorated with red coral (it was thought to protect children from diseases and bad spirits) and tightly woven bands of human hair.
As gold-plating techniques advanced, more bracelets were made out of the precious metal. Inexpensive gold-filled bracelets were made in great numbers, bringing gold to the masses. Sterling silver was also a favorite—even Queen Victoria wore silver charm bracelets during her reign, making them a popular fashion accessory among noble Europeans. Sterling silver hearts—some set with precious or semi-precious stones, some puffed up in a style called répoussé—were as popular then as they are now.
1. Check for the general condition of the bracelet.
Does is close securely, is the metal smooth and would not snag clothing?
2. If it has a safety chain check to see if it is the original chain. Look at the color of the metal and see if it matches the bracelet color.
3. Here are some of the historically important motifs that make the bracelet desirable from the Victorian Era. Birds, flowers, leaves, Roman designs.
4. Buckle style closures are highly desirable. Check to make sure the loop that secures the bracelet tail is intact. I’ve seen one or two on ebay that are missing that element.
5. If enameled, check to make sure it is evenly distributed throughout the design. Most of these will be etched and enameled on the top although there are some that go all the way around the bracelet. These are older. Besty Ross style are highly desirable.
6. Engraving is highly desirable especially if the font is indicative of older world styles. Look for them on the outside of the bracelet as well as the inside.
7. Don’t overlook bracelets with center stones and/or filigree 1920’s-30’s. Chain bracelets with a lock and key are also worth collecting 1875-1910. These were given in times of separation like wars. The tradition was to present a lady with the bracelet as a symbol of engagement. The male kept the key.
8. Closures vary in style. Prong tongue, tongue and groove, the long bar slide, or the wide flat slide are just a few to look for.
9. Look for maker’s marks and patent numbers. These are considered very desirable.
10. If it doesn’t have a hinge it is 1950 or older.