Fine Jewelry

Why The Tennis Bracelet Is A Wear-Forever Piece

What exactly is a tennis bracelet? CHARLIE BOYD explores the history of the ultimate festive gift – and speaks to the contemporary designers who are reinventing it

The trend for diamond line bracelets, or ‘eternity bracelets’ as they were previously called, began in the 1920s. Women would pile eternity bracelets up their wrists as part of their highly embellished ‘flapper’ style of evening dress. Their popularity rose again in the 1960s and ’70s, once more influenced by fashion’s free-spirited evolution and a movement that led to the birth of timeless and iconic jewels with simple but impactful designs. This was the era during which Cartier designer Aldo Cipullo created the ‘Love’ and ‘Juste un Clou’ bracelets, while Tiffany & Co. launched its world-famous ‘Diamonds by the Yard’ design. In the 1980s, the term ‘tennis bracelet’ was born, with sporting stars wearing simple diamond-set styles to add a little sparkle to their on-court ensembles.

It is no surprise, then, that this simple string of stones, which can be worn solo or stacked to achieve your preferred level of sparkle, has become an enduring design, and a much-coveted gift. “A tennis bracelet is one of those classic, can’t-go-wrong pieces to purchase for yourself or give as an extra-special gift,” says Jennifer Meyer, a designer known for her ‘everyday’ diamond designs. Meyer also experiments with unusual stones in her tennis bracelets, with turquoise, lapis lazuli, pink sapphires and rubies proving popular choices.

Roxanne First, who crafts sleek white-diamond tennis bracelets that speak to this season’s revival of white-gold tones, also offers vibrant pieces featuring multi-colored gemstones and black diamonds. “A tennis bracelet defines everyday luxury,” says First. “It stacks with all bracelets; it elevates beaded pieces and complements other gold and diamond designs. Tennis bracelets really are the epitome of ‘forever chic’.”

Meanwhile, those looking for a classic style with sizable stones should seek out De Beers’ ‘Lines DB Classic’ design, which totals over 9 carats of round white diamonds – this is a piece to be passed down the generations and will make an astute investment.

Elsewhere, Anita Ko, Suzanne Kalan, and Sydney Evan offer imaginative settings featuring oval, marquise and baguette-cut diamonds, while Stone and Strand’s ‘Only The Finest’ piece is ultra-svelte and sinuous – layer a few together for a delicate, barely-there take on stacking. If you’re looking for more of a statement piece, turn to Eéra’s fuchsia-coated white-gold design, featuring its signature snap hook.

Unsure how to start your stack? Begin with your day-to-day wrist wardrobe – the pieces you never take off. “A tennis bracelet pairs beautifully with the right watch, or can be incorporated in a great mixed stack with beads, cords or whatever other eclectic wrist game you’ve got going on,” says Jade Lustig, founder of New York-based brand Jade Trau. “My rule of thumb is that comfort comes before anything else. If you’re not a bracelet wearer, start with something small that is easy to wear regularly,” she suggests. Trau wears her own tennis bracelet every day and crafted it from a parcel of diamonds that her grandfather cut and polished in his diamond-cutting factory over 40 years ago. “It brings me infinite joy, both aesthetically and sentimentally.”