The beaded bracelet has returned with the onslaught of summer. Once the prerogative of the sartorial avant-garde they are now ubiquitous; able to be found adorning both the wrists of Pitti Uomo peacocks and aspiring university students this coming season. The reasons why these pieces of blingage have returned to prominence are unclear to me. Perhaps they reflect nostalgia for a more primitive era when they were worn as tribal ornaments; or a subconscious need to assert dominance given their, a Freudian may argue, testicular appearance. Or perhaps they just simply look good.
Whatever the reason, they serve no utilitarian function, and are today purely decorative. Nevertheless it would be remiss to imply that these small articles of jewelry are insignificant. It’s the little details which count but no detail is too little.
No doubt there are wearers who are less considerate of the details and those who are more meticulous with them. Those from the latter category collective understand that even the most minute details require attention. Like superhero movies not all bracelets are made equal (I’m looking at you Fantastic 4) .
The most coveted bracelets are those distinguished by unique visual characteristics that hint at the hidden depths of the wearer’s personality. Bracelets from Viola Milano, for example, feature beads shaved out of rare and semi-precious stones by families of Italian craftsmen with skills that have been passed down from generation to generation. Unlike mass produced bracelets, a closer examination of the individually handcrafted beads reveal subtle earthy gradations which enriches the bracelet’s appearance and the wearer’s mystique (or disguises their lack thereof).
The bracelets also feature an antique sterling silver buckle — a Viola Milano signature — that projects an air of brutality and sophistication. Appearing as either a skull or a barrel engraved with Polynesian motifs, the buckle injects character into any ensemble and complements timepieces by picking up on the lustre of precious metals.
Worn individually or clustered together, beaded bracelets can also elevate ensembles by providing splashes of colour that evoke Neapolitan style or Drake’s newest music video. Bracelets from Rubinacci, for instance are visual dynamite that don’t so much as pop as they do explode. The house’s iconic, Fortunello red coral bracelet, is a powerful statement piece that demands attention, and which also doubles up as an unconventional lapel chain. Hand-carved into the bracelet’s coral reliefs are details such as a Baron Samedi talisman disguised as a chilli pepper and more subtly, a gold threaded button buckle, that reflect the house’s playful approach to luxury.
More minimalistic ensembles are better served by bracelets like those from Luis Morais which are reservedly alchemical. Morais’s beads are carved out of an eclectic range of materials including stones and precious woods like ebony and sandalwood and feature, as a signature, Brazilian gold and silver molded into the shape of human skulls. This curious amalagam of luxurious materials and sepulchral imagery identifies the Morais bracelet as an ironic memento mori of sorts: a reminder of the inevitability of death and the fleetingness of earthly and material delights.
However like Drake’s dance moves beaded bracelets are not for everyone. But then again something for everyone is for no one in particular. Taste in jewelry is extremely personal and therefore any selection should be made with care and discretion. Jewelry serves as appendices to sartorial stories and every story deserves to be told with justice.
Viola Milano bracelets can be purchased locally at:
Rubinacci bracelets can be purchased online at:
Luis Morais bracelets can be purchased online at:
(photos via. dg6group, Exquisite Trimmings, Viola Milano, Mr Porter)