Bracelets originated over 7000 years ago in ancient Egypt, throughout Africa, and in ancient China.

China was the first to introduce gold bracelets, and jade beads, to bracelets. Bracelets exploded in popularity in Babylon and spread throughout Europe.

The words “slave bracelet” creates a vision of the exotic Middle Eastern belly-dancing slave girls or Celtic knotted jewelry. The exact origin of today’s popular jewelry fashion is unknown and there are different references to slave bracelets in fashion history.

Historian E.J. Alagoa has said that hand flowers, or slave bracelets came from… of all places Portugual. Portuguese slave traders often paid for slaves in Portuguese coins called manillas. The Nigerian traders turned them into intricate bracelets. Some African traders also bent copper bars into bracelets that were used as money and referred to as “slave bracelets.”

In “Twentieth Century American Fashion,” Linda Welters describes “slave bracelets” that were popular in the mid-1920s. According to Welters’ description, the flappers’ version was a bracelet made of rectangular links, often connected with enameled links. They were often worn in multiples.

There is a short wikipedia article on slave bracelets:

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