The term tennis bracelet seemed to enter common jewellery parlance in the 80s. At the time, the origin seemed somewhat uncertain. However, it can be traced to a particular player competing at a high profile tournament.
“Tennis bracelet” is a collective description for a line bracelet, usually featuring gemstones- generally diamonds. Previously, they had been referred to as line or eternity bracelets, not dissimilar to the concept of an eternity ring.
Typically characterised by a long, continuous line of gemstones, it is set with articulated joints so that it drapes beautifully across the wrist. The style is simultaneously contemporary with clean lines, and classic as it can be worn by anyone, anywhere, any time and will never date.
So how and when did the nomenclature change from “line bracelet” to “tennis bracelet”? It has been popularly reported that the phrase was coined as a result of a mishap during a match featuring Chris Evert at the 1987 US Open.
She was the number one female player at the time, and dubbed the “Ice Maiden” due to her cool and unruffled composure on court. Not only was she a champion tennis player, she was admired for her on and off court style as well.
It was claimed that during a particularly long rally, the clasp on her line bracelet failed, and it flew from her wrist. She immediately requested play to be suspended until the bracelet was found.
However, Evert’s publicist, Tami Starr, gave a similar, but conflicting version of events. She claimed that Evert recalled with clarity wearing a gold and diamond line bracelet which broke during an early round of the US Open when it had just relocated from Forest Hills to Flushing Meadow. This would date it 1978. In all likelihood, a transposition error will have led to the mistake in dating the event.
Tennis bracelets have been perennially popular. They are a perfect accessory for a watch, or can be mixed and matched with other bracelets and bangles to create an ecclectic, personal and dazzling combination.
They can feature any range of gemstones, provided that they are durable enough to withstand the stresses of everyday wear. So diamonds, rubies and sapphires are particularly suitable.
Bracelets add colour, shimmer and sparkle to your wrist. They add a chic simplicity or carefree glamour to any occasion, and morph seamlessly from day to night. They are the epitome of hi/low effortless style.
Always visible, tennis bracelets are one of the few pieces of jewellery that can be admired and appreciated by the wearer whilst being worn. And you don’t need to play tennis to enjoy and appreciate them!!
So Chris Evert is not only a part of tennis history, she is part of jewellery folklore as well…