19th Century Bead & Velvet Bracelets

Decorative bracelets were worn in pairs in the 19th century. The matching wrist jewelry ranged from ornately jeweled gold bracelets to beaded or embroidered velvet bands. Women of leisure often created beaded bracelets in their favorite colors from designs found in ladies’ magazines.
Beaded Bracelets

This pair of glass bead bracelets are from the early 19th century. The two velvet bands have gilt clasps with green stones. The colorful glass beads are embroidered to form three-dimensional flowers, leaves, and a white dotted butterfly.

Antique Beaded Bracelets
Close-up of one early 19th century bracelet.
Beaded Bracelets
1860 Bead-Work Pattern for a Bracelet
Antique Bracelets

Velvet Bracelet, mid-19th century

[Image credit: Gift of Miss Annie-May Hegeman, 1947. Accession Number: 47.38.2. Metropolitan Museum of Art - Gallery Images, www.metmuseum.org]
Antique Bracelets

Velvet Bracelet, mid-19th century

[Image credit: Gift of Miss Annie-May Hegeman, 1947. Accession Number: 47.38.1. Metropolitan Museum of Art - Gallery Images, www.metmuseum.org]

Beaded Bracelets
Directions for a Vandyke Bracelet, 1858:
  • The bracelet will be made in two colors. Clear white and either ruby, emerald green or turquoise blue is recommended.
  • As many beads must be strung as will go over the hand of the intended wearer with ease when formed into a round circle. The exact number cannot be specified because there may be some variation in the size of the bead, or the hand, but you can begin with about a hundred and fifty.
  • Thread three white and one colored bead, until the string is long enough. Divide this into six equal parts, and on each part, thread a row of loops consisting of two white, one colored, and two white. Then, taking up the colored bead on the foundation string, repeat this until the sixth part of this foundation string is filled with loops, then pass the needle back to the last colored bead and thread five in the same way.
  • Take up the colored bead of the loops, going back again, and so completing the diamonds. Repeat this until you come to the last diamond, which forms the point. The other five divisions are to be done exactly in the same way.
  • Then thread a border of loops round these vandykes according to the illustration, to give them a suitable finish. The bracelet consists of two rows of vandykes. The under row is formed exactly in the same way as already described, only that each vandyke is separated from its foundation string by a row of loops six or eight beads deep before commencing the diamonds, merely to make it hang a little deeper than the upper row, so as to show better. When these two rows of vandykes are completed, they are to be put together with the point of the one to come exactly over the division of the other, and fastened together by a row of loops, through the opening of which thin elastic is to be passed.
  • This elastic causes the vandykes to slightly diverge, which improves the effect of the bracelet. A little string of beads having the treble tassel at each end is to be linked through this elastic as is shown in the illustration.



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