Q&A: The origins of the tennis bracelet

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The Genuine Gemstone Company’s Steve Bennett talks gems at Wimbledon.

With Andy Murray’s crushing defeat at Wimbledon 2014 still hot off the presses, Professional Jeweller asks The Genuine Gemstone Company’s chief executive officer Steve Bennett to unravel the history of the tennis bracelet – a style that’s jumped off the court and into the realm of fashionable accessory staple. Game, set, match.

Professional Jeweller: Why do you think tennis bracelets are so commercially appealing?
Steve Bennett: The tennis bracelet is a classic piece of jewellery, extremely wearable and comes in a variety of colours and designs. First used in the late eighties to describe a fine string of diamonds, it is now used more widely to describe any row of gemstones worn on the wrist. Its popularity has been maintained by great players such as Maria Sharapova, who recently said that she takes her black opal bracelet everywhere, and Serena Williams who wore a custom designed $29,000 diamond tennis bracelet to the 2002 US Open.

PJ: How did the style come about?
SB: The style of the bracelet had existed long before it received its moniker, but it was former world number one tennis player Chris Evert who earned the bracelet its name. During the 1987 US Open, she asked the umpire to stop play so she could retrieve her bracelet which suffered a broken clasp during the vigorous match. The rest as they say, is history, and the style of bracelet she wore has been known as the tennis bracelet ever since.

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PJ: Are there times of the year when you see a spike in the popularity?
SB: Every year our sales peak in the lead up to and during Wimbledon, which is natural given the popularity of the tournament and the amazing pieces on display from both spectators and players. This year our most popular item is a 0.50 carat diamond bracelet from our Gemporia brand, set in a 9ct gold.

PJ: You mentioned key trends, what do you think this year’s key trend is in tennis bracelets?
SB: Diamonds are always popular…but for something a bit different this summer I see customers opting for Tanzanite. The gem originates from Tanzania and is fantastic at giving a multifaceted blue glow in the sun. The gem can also appear blue, violet and burgundy depending on the cut of each stone. As the trend for individuality in jewellery and fashion grows, this is a great investment.

PJ: How has the tennis bracelet evolved through the years?
SB: Nowadays, tennis bracelets come in a beautiful variety of colours, owing to the wealth of gemstones available. With the trend for coloured gems growing more popular each season, tennis bracelets have undergone a colour transformation, and are available in a greater variety than the classic diamond stone.
 

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