Bracelet (Sept. χλίδων), a name, in strict propriety, as applicable to circlets worn on the upper part of the arm as to those worn on the wrist; but it is practically so exclusively used to denote the ornament of the wrist, that it seems proper to distinguish by armlet (q.v.) the similar ornament which is worn on the upper arm. SEE ANKLET. There is also this difference between them, that in the East bracelets are generally worn by women, and armlets only by men, The armlet, however, is in use among men only as one of the insignia of sovereign power. The term " armlet" should also perhaps be regarded as properly designating such as consist of a complete circle, while "bracelet" more appropriately refers to those with an opening or clasp to admit of passing more readily over the hand; but as the other distinction is neglected in the Auth. Vers. (as in common use), so this does not appear to be observed in the ornaments of this description delineated on the ancient monuments, where we find both kinds used almost indifferently both for the wrist and upper part of the arm.
There are five different Hebrew words which the English Bible renders by bracelet, besides the Greek term χλιδών, which is thus rendered twice in the Apocrypha (Judith 10:4; Ecclus. 21:21). These are,
(1.) אֶצעָדָה, etsadah' (properly a step-chain or anklet), which occurs in Nu 31:50; 2Sa 1:10, and with reference to men only.
(2.) צָמַיד, tsamid' (literally a fastener), which is found in Ge 24:22,30,47; Nu 31:50; Eze 16:11; Eze 23:42. Where these two words occur together (as in Nu 31:50), the first is rendered by "chain," and the second by "bracelet."
(3.) שֵׁרוֹת, sheroth', chains (so called from being wreathed), which occurs only in Isa 3:19; but compare the expression "wreathen chains" in Ex 28:14,22. Bracelets of fine twisted Venetian gold are still common in Egypt (Lane, ii, 368, Append. A and plates). The first we take to mean armlets worn by men; the second, bracelets worn by women and sometimes by men; and the third, a peculiar bracelet of chain-work worn only by women. It is observable that the first two occur in Nu 31:50, which we suppose to mean that the men offered their own armlets and the bracelets of their wives. In the only other passage in which the first word occurs it denotes the royal ornament which the Amalekite took from the arm of the dead Saul, and brought with the other regalia to David. There is little question that this was such a distinguishing band of jewelled metal as we still find worn as a mark of royalty from the Tigris to the Ganges. The Egyptian kings are represented with armlets, which were also worn by the Egyptian women. These, however, are not jewelled, but of plain enamelled metal, as was in all likelihood the case among the Hebrews.
(4.) חָה (chah, properly a hok or ring), rendered "bracelet" in Ex 35:22, elsewhere "hook" or " chain," is thought by some to designate in that passage a clasp for fastening the dress of females by others more probably a nose-ring or jewel. SEE EAR-RING.
(5.) פָּתַיל (pathil', a thread), rendered "bracelet" in the account of Judah'si nterview with Tamar (Ge 38:18,25; elsewhere rendered " lace, "line," etc.), probably denotes the ornamental cord or safe-chain with which the signet was suspended in the bosom of the wearer. SEE SIGNET. Men as well as women wore bracelets, as we see from Song 5:14, which may be rendered, "His wrists are circlets of gold full set with topazes." Layard says of the Assyrian kings, "The arms were encircled by armlets, and the wrists by bracelets, all equally remarkable for the taste and beauty of the design and workmanship. In the centre of the bracelets were stars and rosettes, which were probably inlaid with precious stones" (Nineveh, ii, 323). The ancient ladies of Rome were likewise accustomed to wear bracelets, partly as amulets (q.v.) and partly for ornament; the latter chiefly by women of considerable rank, whose jewels of this kind were often of immense value, being enriched with the most costly gems. Bracelets were also occasionally given among the Romans to soldiers as a reward of extraordinary prowess'(see Smith's Dict. of Class. Ant. s.v. Armilla).
Bracelets are, and always have been, much in use among Eastern females. Many of them are of the same shapes and patterns as the armlets, and are often of such considerable weight and bulk as to appear more like manacles than ornaments. Many are often worn one above the other on the same arm, so as to occupy the greater part of the space between the wrist and the elbow. The materials vary according to the condition of the wearer, but it seems to be the rule that bracelets of the meanest materials are better than none. Among the higher classes they are of mother-of-pearl, of fine flexible gold, and of silver, the last being the most common. The poorer women use plated steel, horn, brass, copper, beads, and other materials of a cheap description. Some notion of the size and value of the bracelets used both now and in ancient times may be formed from the fact that those which were presented by Eliezer to Rebekah weighed ten shekels (Ge 24:22). The bracelets are sometimes flat, but more frequently round or semicircular, except at the point where they open to admit the hand, where they are flattened. They are frequently hollow, giving the show of bulk (which is much desired) without the inconvenience. Bracelets of gold twisted rope-wise are those now most used in Western Asia; but we cannot determine to what extent this fashion may have existed in ancient times. SEE ATTIRE.