I was looking at the antique bracelets I have and noticed that two different types of clasps stood out, namely, padlocks and buckles. Starting with the bracelets with padlocks, sometimes the padlock is shaped as a heart, other times, it is more the square shape of a real padlock.
This lovely coral and gold bracelet dates from the late Georgian/early Victorian and has a heart padlock is The coral links have been beautifully carved. The heart padlock has coral on one side and a compartment for hair on the other side.
The most common type of padlocked bracelet is the gate link bracelet. The name ‘gate link’ arises from the fact that the links look like the bars in a gate and fences in rural England. It is believed that gate link bracelets symbolize love, fidelity and security as the gate can be locked using the padlock.
As I said earlier, not every padlock is a heart shape. One of the silver Scottish agate bracelets at the top of the post has a traditional padlock shape and the jet bracelet below is also a squarish shape.
The second type of bracelet clasp I wanted to talk about is the buckle clasp. It is said that Queen Victoria popularised the use of buckles in jewellery. As a member of the Order of the Garter, she was eligible to wear the garter, part of the insignia for the Order, but it was usually worn on the leg by men. She had an armlet made as a garter with a buckle. From this, bracelets and rings with buckles emerged.
The bracelet below is a more delicate piece. Handmade in the Art Deco period, it is a finely woven bracelet with turquoise detailing around the buckle, the end of the strap and the safety guard.
The styles of the two types of the clasps are quite different but each makes a statement.