The bangle is a type of bracelet that was especially popular from the 1920s through the 1940s. Usually constructed of chunky materials such as Bakelite, acrylic, metal, or wood, bangles often feature hinges at their backs. Some bangles are open at one end so a woman’s wrist can be slipped into them, while many bangles offer no additional opening at all—to wear these, you need small hands.

Colorful rings of plastic and Bakelite are among the most collectible types of bangles. In particular, the so-called Philadelphia bangles, which take their name from a Philadelphia auction in 1985 that featured two of these remarkable pieces, are highly prized.

Philadelphia bangles are always laminated in colors that include green, red, and yellow. The best pieces are hinged and feature either multicolor laminated wedges or individually colored slices that have been glued onto the bracelet body, which is usually a rich shade of Butterscotch.

Other Bakelite bangles include ones with painted or embedded polka dots, elastic bangles, and even examples made out of Mahjong tiles.

Celluloid was another popular bangle base material. Softer than Bakelite, which was hard enough to be carved, celluloid allowed designers to embed rhinestones and other costume jewels in the bangle’s surface, which came in every color of the rainbow. The most collectible celluloid bangles are generally the ones with wall-to-wall jewels and intricate designs.

Just about every costume jeweler of the mid-20th century offered their customers bangles. In the 1920s, the Mazer Brothers made gold-plated bangles dotted with rhinestones that were sold with matching earrings. Vintage Miriam Haskell hinged bangles often featured beaded flowers and leaves mounted on gilt or silvered surfaces. Other Haskell bangles were open at the back.

Vendome, which was introduced in 1944 and had its heyday in the 1950s, was the top of the Coro line. This was serious, simulated bling, so Vendome bangles projected a high-end sensibility. Examples include silver-plated bangles studded with fake sapphires, rhinestones, and powder-blue cabochons, with earrings to match...

Another 1950s designer, Kenneth Jay Lane, made fat bangles with faux amber and jet-black cabochons. And one especially famous gold-plated Stanley Hagler bangle from that decade was crammed with beaded flowers and polychrome glass petals—it was created for Wallis Simpson.

Today, contemporary costume jewelers have also found the bangle to be an appealing armature for their designs. New bangles that are sought by collectors include anodized aluminum bangles by Jane Adams, semi-transparent acrylic numbers by Gail Klevan, and resin bangles that look like thick slices of red pineapple, with visible wire inclusions inside, by Carla Edwards.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Researching Costume Jewelry

Researching Costume Jewelry

Jewelry lovers, venture through this amazing database of vintage jewelry articles, catalogs, and brochures, as well… [read review or visit site]

Emerald City Vintage Costume Jewelry

Emerald City Vintage Costume Jewelry

It looks like we're not in Kansas anymore with Elizabeth Rowlands' site on vintage costume jewelry from the 1940s a… [read review or visit site]

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Jewelry collectors, feast your eyes on this internet gem! It's a goldmine of jewelry information featuring all styl… [read review or visit site]

All About Jewels Dictionary

All About Jewels Dictionary

This incredible reference dictionary on jewelry, from Enchantedlearning.com, is both beautiful and comprehensive. S… [read review or visit site]

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

With its vast galleries featuring clear images of jewelry and style, this site really covers it all! Divided up by … [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Antique Victorian Almandine Bohemian Garnet Buckle Bangle Bracelet40pc Lot Antique Jewelry Gold Filled Victorian Brooches,bangle,earring,chains +Iconic Wide Coro Carmen Miranda Camellia Retro Modern Bangle Bracelet Pat 116288Vintage Reverse Carved Bangle Lucite/bakelite3 Victorian Engraved Flowers Swirls Hinged Gold Filled Bangle Bracelets 7" Wrist Vintage Dichoric Changer Pink Red Amber Purple Bakelite Bangle Bracelet Tested!Antique Victorian Art Nouveau Gold Filled Emerald Green Glass Bangle Bracelet8 Vintage Art Deco Sunshiny Bright All Bakelite Tested Bangle Bracelet Lot Set!Vintage Antique Yellow Carved Bangle Bracelet Bakelite Very Nice & Tested Vintage Antique Red Carved Bangle Bracelet Bakelite Very Nice & Tested Vintage Art Deco Silver Plate Singing Birds Bangle BraceletBakelite JeweleryThree Vintage Carved Bakelite Bangle BraceletsArt Deco Filigree & Enamel Bangle Bracelet VintageBounkit Bangle Bracelet, Spring Open, CitrinesS. Kirk And Sons Sterling Silver Bangle Cuff Bracelet Repousse Lot Of 7 Bangle Bracelets Gold Filled Gilted Plated Antique Vintage JewelryHuge Runway Rockabilly Red Belt Bakelite Lucite Era Bangle Bracelet Mint!Lot Of 5 Vintage Bakelite Bangle BraceletsVintage Gem Craft Gold Plate Enamel Rhinestone Double Ram Head Clamper BraceletVintage Sterling Silver Wire Work Snake Serpent Bracelet Antique Victorian Etched Bangle Bracelet Gold Filled Plated Vintage OrnateStunning Victorian 1" Wide 14k Gold Filled Enameled Bracelet No Scrap 17.07g Carved Bakelite Bangle Bracelet. Flower Carved. Spinach Swirl Positive Tested Vintage Old 1940's Olive Green Carved Bakelite Rope Stripe Bangle Bracelet 3/8"Vintage Coach Light Green Enamel Silver Rhodium Wide Hinged Bangle BraceletMinty Victorian 1+" Wide 14k Gold Filled Hinged Bracelet No Scrap 63.46g Bounkit Bangle Bracelet With Spring Opening, 13 Carnelians Bounkit Bangle Bracelet, Smoky Quartz, Vintage 1 1/4" Wide Cherry Red Diamond Faceted Bakelite Bangle BraceletVintage Bakelite Bangle Green Marbleised Orange ScallopedAuthentic Women's Bakelite Bamboo Bangle ~olive Green~Vintage Deeply Carved Butterscotch Bakelite BangleHuge Runway Rockabilly Swirl Clear Carved Bakelite Lucite Era Bangle Bracelet!Wowzer! Mod Art Deco Chunky Injected Dot Lucite Bakelite Era Bangle Bracelet!Vintage Art Deco Reverse Carved Bakelite Orange Wide Bangle Cuff Bracelet TestedChunky Antique Birks Etched Gold Filled Bangle Jewellery Vintage Lot Of Three (3) Sterling Silver Bangle Bracelets, Matching Bangles!Vintage Sterling Silver Hinged Etched Bangle Bracelet Lot - SweetheartVtg Bakelite Tested Lemon Yellow Lime Green Swirl Thick Chunky Bangle BraceletSet Of 6 Vintage Brown Bakelite Matching Bangle Bracelets Square Tested PositiveGorgeous 1.5" Wide Bakelite White Bracelet W/ 6 Big Marbled Turquoise Blue DotsVintage & Heavy Bone Wide Cuff Bangle Bracelet ~peretti Style~Tested Bakelite Carved Bangle Bracelet Butterscotch Color W/ Slight Green MarbleLot~16 Vintage 1940s 1950s Bracelets~bangles~bakelike?~tortoise~copper~extrudBakelite Bracelet Butterscotch 11 Carved Cross Hatch SquaresLot Of 8 Vintage Bangles,3 Are 12k Gold Filled.1 Silver Plated,1 Napier,2 Monet,Lot Of Bakelite And Lucite Bangle Bracelets Butterscotch Creamed Corn Polka Dot Stunning Victorian 3/8" Wide 14k Gold Filled Engraved Bracelet No Scrap 15.18g Vintage Bakelite Avocado Olive Green Carved Bangle Beautiful!!!Vintage Carved Bakelite Bangle Bracelet Variegated Spinach Green Mustard Yellow Vintage Bakelite Chunky Bracelet, Bangle Butterscotch TestedVintage Sterling Silver 950 Bangle Bracelet Heavy Taxco Mexico Alicia 60 Gr Super Georgian Cut Steel BangleDeep Cherry Amber Bakelite Bracelet VintageArt Deco Gold Filled Clear Stone Bangle Bracelet 8 Mm Wide 16.8 GramsVintage Bakelite End Of Day Marbled Bangle Bracelet Simichrome Tested Joan Rivers Articulated Snake Bangle Bracelet Multicolor Enamel Goldtone Fine Old Red Arrow Etched Amber Plastic Bangle BraceletVintage 1950s Wide Black Marblette Plastic Bangle