Yesterday and Today
Jewelry styles of the Victorian Era from around 1837 to 1901 were drawn from classical styles. With the growth of wealth in the middle class more decorated and ornamented designs that had previously been only for the upper class became commonplace. Successful businessmen would display their wealth with the luxurious jewelry their wives wore.
It was common for women to wear a hunting case watch (similar to a men's pocket watch) on a long necklace chain. Women would often add a decorative "slide" to their necklace chain. The slide allowed them to adjust the watch to a specific length and also kept the watch from twisting and turning on the chain. Eventually a wristwatch replaced wearing such a necklace timepiece.
Antique enthusiasts began collecting these slides around the 1930's and making them into bracelets due to the elegant designs. The slide bracelet was born. They would cut the necklace chain and string the slide on a double strand gold chain bracelet. The slides are drilled with four holes so the two strands of the bracelet chain can pass through them. Each slide was stuffed with cork on the inside around the chain so it would hold the slide in place on the bracelet. Eventually the bracelet would be a complete slide bracelet; unique to the collector and many times becoming a family heirloom.
Over time new gold slide designs have mixed tradition with modern appeal. The same Victorian style is used in other jewelry as well: including brooches, earrings, rings, pendants, and necklaces. In the 1990s slides became popular again with reproductions, variations of previous revivals, and new modern designs.
Some folks often refer to slide bracelet slides as charms, slide charms, and even slider charms.
Today, the cork stuffing is often replaced with more modern material. With cork it was recommended to have the cork replaced every year or so, depending on wear. As a substitute, a cushion material will last longer and function just as well as cork. Another alternative is to use filled beads between the slides that fit snug on the chain and can hold the slides in place on the bracelet without the need for stuffing the individual slides.
In ancient times cameos were carved to record significant events and to communicate information. Queen Victoria of England popularized the cameo during the Victorian Era. Most cameos are carved in seashells and showcase a woman's profile. Cameos have always been very popular in slide bracelets for that classic Victorian look. Some of the other more popular stones set in slides are the rich purple amethyst, deep red garnet, diamonds, and beautiful pearls.
A starter slide bracelet makes a great gift. It's a unique item that gives something to build on and also something to pass down to future generations. The slide bracelet has become a tradition in many families.