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There are a couple of different accounts as there often are with jewellery history, but it generally goes like this… at the 1987 US Tennis Open, American professional tennis player Chris Evert was wearing a gold and diamond line bracelet and during one of her matches the clasp broke and the bracelet flew off, some say it snapped and the diamonds scattered everywhere, either way she asked for the match to be suspended so she could retrieve her bracelet and from that moment it became known as a ‘tennis’ bracelet. However, according to Evert’s publicist, Tami Starr, this incident actually happened ten years earlier; she confirmed the tennis champion lost her bracelet on the court the year the U.S. Open moved from Forest Hills to Flushing Meadows in 1978.
This timing would make more sense; during the 70’s disco era people were beginning to dress down and have a ‘throw it on with anything’ philosophy, wearing denim with diamonds for example. There was a desire for low key, wearable luxury and so high-end jewellers began making it; for example, Elsa Peretti designed her relaxed ‘Diamonds by the Yard’ necklace for Tiffany and Aldo Cipulla created the ‘Love’ and ‘Juste un Clou’ bracelets for Cartier.
There was a transition from wearing diamonds only at formal occasions to a more understated style, wearing them during the day and for daily activities and in this context, Chris Evert, who was a very fashionable and popular sports woman, wearing diamonds while she played tennis and the design being re-named a tennis bracelet fits in with the overall mood. It also, I’m afraid to say, reflects the press’s habit of focusing on what women wear or look like rather than their talents at the task in hand!
However, this style of bracelet, with a continuous line of gemstones, traditionally diamonds and claw set in a white metal such as silver or white gold, has been around for decades. In the 19th century it was often referred to as the ‘eternity bracelet’ representing eternal love and commitment and possibly the giver, or wearer’s healthy bank balance! Over time the design has evolved, often featuring coloured gemstones and yellow gold, such as our pretty rubover octagon set emerald tennis bracelet or our rainbow sapphire tennis bracelet.
A ‘Tennis’ bracelet is a jewellery staple, effortlessly complimenting any outfit from casual to formal, making it the perfect accessory for every occasion; but remember, just because it has ‘tennis’ in the name, doesn’t mean you have to play it, or even like it!