Gate bracelets came into fashion during the Victorian era, although their exact origins are uncertain. The name ‘gate’ bracelet alludes to the unusual chain style of interlocked barred panels. These panels are said to emulate the gates and fences of English country estates and castles. The chain style of the gate bracelet is similar to both the fetter link and the belcher link chains.
Gate bracelets are distinguished by a large heart shaped charm with a lock and key- the fastening of the bracelet. It is said that gate bracelets were created in Victorian Britain in order to symbolise love and fidelity. The gate bracelet is a perfect representation of the Victorian fixation with romanticism and chastity.
Gate Bracelet History
Supposedly, gate bracelets were worn by women whose significant others were due to be gone for an extended period of time. Usually, this absence was to serve in the army or travel for business. The bracelet would be locked on to the woman’s wrist by the padlock charm, to which only her beloved would have the key- ready to open it upon his return. The ‘gate’ style chain is chosen to symbolise strength and security around an especially precious and valuable property.
Despite antiquated notions of a man’s ownership over a woman, it is possible to view the gate bracelet as a wonderful example of romantic Victorian jewellery and appreciate the ways in which the Victorian mindset influenced fashion and accessories. Gate bracelets are still created today, with both charm bracelets and chunkier accessories being back in vogue.
Most of the surviving antique Victorian gate bracelets are possible to wear and secure without the key, making them more accessible and easy to wear.
Here at AC Silver we are fortunate enough to have several examples of gate bracelets, some of which feature the traditional gate link chain as well as the heart shaped padlock charm. For those who prefer the symbolism of the ‘gate’ chain without the charm padlock, we are also able to offer our customers several gate bracelets which have a simpler fastening style.
Antique Victorian gate bracelets are a fantastically charming homage to the past, and for that reason are highly valued still.
Jodie Smith – Copywriter
Jodie joined AC Silver in 2016 as a copywriter after completing a degree in English Literature, possessing a passion for jewellery and unusual antiquities combined with an interest in blogging.