The Tennis Bracelet’s Origin, Popular Designs, and Value

If you love jewelry and scroll through Instagram long enough, chances are you’ve come across a few tennis bracelets. You know, those rows of diamonds worn elegantly around the wrist, a.k.a. jewelry that screams “quiet luxury” and “old money.”

a woman wearing diamond jewelry

 

Once you’ve noticed them, you might wonder: What exactly is a tennis bracelet? Why the curious name? Are they worth it?

 

Read on for some newfound trivia or to deepen your appreciation for the tennis bracelets in your collection.

 

What Is a Tennis Bracelet?

“Like an eternity ring, but for your wrist” is essentially what a tennis bracelet is. It has continuous gemstones, traditionally diamonds of equal size, encircling the wrist.

 

A classic diamond tennis bracelet has little visible metal between each stone, similar to a pavé ring setting. White gold, set with round brilliant cut or emerald cut diamonds, is the most popular combination for this accessory. White gold also makes the gems look as though they’re floating on the wrist.

 

History of the Tennis Bracelet

Have you been wondering why such an epitome of luxury bears the same name as a sport? Let’s take a quick history lesson.

 

Pre-1970s

Tennis bracelets were originally called “eternity bracelets.” Like their ring counterparts, they were designed to express eternal love. Women mostly wore them during special occasions—rarely for casual days like many people do today.

 

Late-1970s

In 1978, Chris Evert, an 18-time Grand Slam champion known for her grace on and off the court, was engaged in a competitive match in the US Open. Mid-game, her diamond bracelet skidded off her wrist. P.S. Evert confirmed that it happened in 1978, not 1987.

 

“Chrissie recalls that she was wearing a diamond-and-gold bracelet, and it broke and fell onto the court in an early round of the Open,” Tami Starr, Everts publicist, told The Adventurine. “They had to stop playing while she looked for it.”

 

The incident garnered significant attention. After all, the bracelet managed to put the entire US Open on pause.

 

Soon, jewelers began crafting similar pieces, characterized by a continuous line of diamonds or gemstones. And thus, the subtle yet statement-making “tennis bracelet” was born.

 

Why Is the Tennis Bracelet So Popular?

a person wearing a diamond bracelet

Ever since Evert’s bracelet stole the show 45 years ago, tennis bracelets have grown bigger than ever. Taking notes from the American tennis legend, women wanted to make their casual day-to-day outfits more fancy with diamonds (who could blame them?), and the tennis bracelet did precisely that.

 

“No one wore diamonds with sports ensembles before the tennis bracelet,” a spokesperson from Tiffany & Co. told the New York Times in 1987. Once casual and sporty overlapped with luxury, the lines kept on blurring. The style has become a must-have addition to both formalwear and loungewear.

 

This unmatched versatility makes the tennis bracelet a classic and popular choice for women and modern men. Evert redefined the rules of fine jewelry, inspiring people to wear a diamond bracelet with anything, from dresses to sweatpants.

 

Read the true story of Chris Evert’s game-stopping tennis bracelet.

 

Popular Types of Tennis Bracelet Settings

Chris Evert taught everyone that tennis bracelets could accessorize any outfit. But which design suits you best? Here are three of the most popular tennis bracelet styles:

 

1. Prong Setting

A prong-setting tennis bracelet balances sparkle and security. Each diamond has between 2 to 4 prongs holding it safely in place.

 

Bracelets with two prongs give a distinct round appearance to each diamond, while pieces with three prongs have a near-triangular appearance. Four-prong tennis bracelets offer more security, as well as a more symmetrical, square-like appearance to each diamond.

 

A prong setting allows each diamond to interact freely with light, maximizing its sparkle from all angles while minimizing obstruction from the surrounding metal. The diamonds can catch and reflect light effortlessly, enhancing overall brilliance.

 

To reduce the bracelet’s chances of coming off and going missing, some designs feature double claw prongs. These prongs provide additional support, ensuring each stone remains perfectly in place. They also offer peace of mind for the wearer, allowing them to enjoy their tennis bracelet without fear of it skidding off like Evert’s.

 

2. Semi-Bezel Setting

A semi-bezel tennis bracelet combines classic style with contemporary design. The raised bezel doesn’t fully enclose each diamond, as it contains gaps or openings. Still, it adds a reliable layer of protection for everyday wear. Set in white gold precious metal, this design also creates an illusion of much bigger diamonds.

 

Elegant and eye-catching, a semi-bezel tennis bracelet will make the wearer smile whenever she catches glimpses of it on her wrist.

 

3. Channel Setting

In a channel-set tennis bracelet, the diamonds are within a channel or groove, and two thin metal bars on both sides hold them in place. It appears like a continuous, never-ending loop of stunning, scintillating diamonds.

 

This setting holds each diamond securely and protects them against bumps. It is ideal for active lifestyles or busy hands.

 

Value of a Tennis Bracelet (Why It’s Worth Investing)

Tennis bracelets are a luxurious investment. One of the more affordable Cartier tennis bracelets, featuring white gold set with 55 brilliant-cut diamonds totaling 1.53 carats, retails for $13,000 to $15,400. Meanwhile, a platinum version set with 35 brilliant-cut diamonds weighing 13.51 carats retails for $123,000 to $139,000.

 

Of course, there are far less expensive options. For example, one from Blue Nile featuring white gold and diamonds totaling 3 carats costs approximately $4,000. Many lesser-known brands and private jewelers also sell affordable yet high-quality pieces. Elegance doesn’t always need to break the bank.

 

However, tennis bracelets from high-end jewelry brands, or pieces with certified diamonds from the American Gem Society (AGS) and Gemological Institute of America (GIA), are much easier to sell. They tend to retain most of their value, which will earn you more money if you consider reselling in the future.

 

What’s Your Tennis Bracelet Worth?

When it comes to fine jewelry, few are as iconic as the tennis bracelet, which is why they sell like hotcakes in the second-hand luxury goods market. If you were wise enough to invest years ago, we have good news! Resale prices have surged, and you can cash in your investment at Biltmore Loan and Jewelry in Phoenix, AZ. Visit us in Chandler or Scottsdale to sell your tennis bracelet today. We provide superior outright payments than our competitors.