Get Ready for Wrist Action
Find the bracelet that matches your mood (hint: one is never enough)
By: Jill Newman
American jeweler David Webb understood the power of a great bangle to define a woman's style, make a statement, or simply have some fun. His animal bracelet designs are some of the most iconic jewels of the 21st century, and they are still coveted today.
The designer once remarked, “Women are tired of jewelry-looking jewelry.” His animals were more like sculptures for the wrist, the kind of statement pieces that become a woman’s signature.
Webb's bangles are especially relevant right now because the focus is back on the wrist for spring. Several fashion houses, including Lanvin and Chloe, showed bangles and cuffs on their spring runways, from singular statement pieces to stacks of bracelets. They are an easy accessory to pile on for a flash of color and texture and an instant way to freshen up any look, depending upon your mood.
Bangles are also the perfect Mother's Day gift because they come in a range of unique, personal, and symbolic designs. You can also have fun with bangles and get out of your comfort zone: A simple black dress, for example, takes on a whole new look when paired with a stack of colorful Mark Davis Bakelite bangles or a whimsical David Webb carved monkey bracelet.
Webb's first animal bangle was a dragon that he designed in 1957, and it caught the attention of jewelry lover Elizabeth Taylor, who quickly purchased it. With that vote of confidence, Webb created a menagerie of vibrant jeweled animals, including frogs, zebras, and lions. In the '60s, those bold and whimsical bracelets carved not the shapes of animals were worn by style setters from New York to Paris.
"David Webb's bold and distinctive jewels withstand the test of time because they were always designed to amplify and reinforce a woman's self-confidence," says Mark Emanuel, co-owner of David Webb. "Often colorful and large, always original, David Webb jewelry powerfully speaks both to femininity and strength."
Designer Irene Neuwirth created a series of colorful gemstone and gold bracelets in mouthwatering pink tourmaline, green chrysoprase, dreamy moonstones, and more. A standout piece is Neuwirth's bright turquoise cuff that screams summer is here.
Buddha Mama's symbolic bangles aren't just the decorative type, but they also tell stories. "Much of our jewelry is inspired by Buddhism and Eastern traditions," explains Nancy Badia, who designs the collection with her daughter Dakota. "The evil eye, found on many of our bangles, is worn to ward off evil spirits and is found in Greek, Roman, Turkish, and Middle Eastern history and culture. We also use peace signs and hearts, which are more contemporary talismanic symbols."
A new addition to Buddha Mama's collection is a red, grey, diamond, and rock crystal bangle that is Dakota's homage to Art Deco style and the Buddhist temples they have visited around the world. "A piece like this is a conversation starter, plus it adds that color and design that makes for the perfect statement piece to freshen up your wardrobe. We love it with jean shorts and a Brunello Cucinelli t-shirt!”
Designer Tamara Comolli creates candy colored gemstone and gold link bracelets, and also makes them on leather cords. My personal favorite is the ocean jasper bracelet with a collection of earthy-looking stones.
Todd Reed's strong gold cuffs with diamond accents and patterns are handcrafted in his Boulder, Colorado studio and have an artisan touch.
A classic bestseller is Sidney Garber's gold rolling bracelets, which when worn in stacks of two and three are empowering, almost like body armor.
When the occasion calls for sparkle, Suzanne Kalan's bangles with baguette diamond or colored gems are versatile enough to wear with jeans and T-shirt or with an evening dress. A great stack mixes diamonds, sapphires, and emeralds because one is never enough.