What Is a Tennis Bracelet — The Interesting Origin Story Behind the Diamond Bracelet


If you’ve been shopping around for jewelry (or maybe have at least been scrolling through pages of sparkly pieces on Instagram), then you’ve probably caught onto the tennis bracelet jewelry trend. Ya know, those dainty, little diamond pieces worn around the wrist, that glimmer in the light and look fabulous when layered?

But after noticing them, you might be like: What exactly is a tennis bracelet? And Why is it called that? And Where can I get one? Good news: I have the answers.

As it turns out, the tennis bracelet’s backstory is a little more fun than you might expect. Scroll through to learn more about it—and get ready to impress everyone with your obscure trivia knowledge or to just appreciate your own tennis bracelet that much more.

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half length portrait of american actress, mary duncan, seated with both hands on hips head turned to side wearing a sleeveless black dress with large embroidered bow detail on chest, two diamond bracelets on left wrist, two rings on left hand, and a long string of pearls hair is in a pixie cut with finger waves photo by florence vandammcondé nast via getty images

American actress, Mary Duncan wearing a tennis bracelet in 1926.

Florence VandammGetty Images

Before they were “tennis bracelets,” they were actually called “eternity bracelets.” Designed to express eternal love, they were the kind of thing you’d buy your partner to say, “I want to be with you for a long, long time.”

It wasn’t actually until the late 1970s that tennis bracelets became, well, Tennis Bracelets—and blessed us all with an invitation to pair our favorite sweats with diamonds (more on this later).


circa 1970s  chris evert hits a backhand, circa 1970s photo by robert rigergetty images

Chris Evert wearing a bracelet during a tennis match, circa 1970.

Robert RigerGetty Images

The phrase “tennis bracelet” didn’t actually enter our collective lexicon until 1978. At least, that’s what tennis bracelet historians (apparently a real thing) tell us.

What happened in 1978, you ask? Well, Chris Evert, an incredibly accomplished tennis player, began wearing a diamond bracelet to her matches. And not just any diamond bracelet—a delicate diamond bracelet that was just loose-fitting enough to flexibly move around in.

The simple, sleek piece made a stunning addition to Evert’s already-chic sports outfits. But it wasn’t until it actually FELL OFF in the middle of her match during the 1978 U.S. Open that people really began to take note of the subtle, yet statement-making accessory.


chris evert   1972 chicago, il chicago, illinois united states    photo by paul natkinwireimage

Chris Evert wearing a bracelet during a tennis match, circa 1970.

Paul NatkinGetty Images

Tennis bracelet historians actually debate the year in which Evert’s diamond bracelet truly fell off. Many suggest it really happened a decade later, at the 1987 U.S. Open. But Evert has personally confirmed that she remembers it happening 10 years prior, in 1978.

“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, Chris Evert’s publicist, told The Adventurine. “They had to stop play while she looked for it.”

Once that happened, it was pretty hard to ignore the accessory—a jewelry piece that managed to put the entire U.S. Open on pause. How could you not pay attention to it?

Late-1970s to Today

london, england   may 22  meghan, duchess of sussex attends the prince of wales 70th birthday patronage celebration held at buckingham palace on may 22, 2018 in london, england  photo by chris jacksonchris jacksongetty images

Meghan Markle wearing a tennis bracelet at the Prince of Wales’ 70th birthday patronage celebration.

Chris JacksonGetty Images

After Evert’s bracelet stole the game on that fateful day, the phrase “tennis bracelet” was born. Jewelers began referring to eternity bracelets as tennis bracelets—and they saw their sales skyrocket when they did. Apparently, people wanted an excuse to dress up their coziest day-to-day outfits with diamonds (can you blame them?), and the tennis bracelet inspired them to do exactly that.

The jewelry style became a must-have addition to dressier ensembles too (as seen above on Meghan Markle, wearing a Cartier version). But it’s still most recognizable in a more loungewear scenario. “No one wore diamonds with sports ensembles before the tennis bracelet,” a Tiffany & Company spokesperson told the New York Times in 1987. And once they started, they never really stopped.

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These days, tennis bracelets are a dainty jewelry staple. They look great on their own or layered alongside other delicate pieces, and even mixed with chunky bangles and other heavy hardware. And some have even gotten contemporary upgrades (think: colorful stones and dangly alphabet charms).

Tennis bracelets are still made of real gold and diamonds, though, which means they’re pretty pricey. In 1987, they’d set you back somewhere between $1,500–$30,000—and you can expect to spend a similar amount on an authentic one today.

Thankfully, there are actually tons of budget-friendly dupes you can get your hands on if you’re hoping to score a deal. Feast your eyes on some of the best, affordable tennis bracelets, below, so you can sport one with your sweatsuit (or at your own tennis match), too.

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