Slave Bracelet: A Jewelry Term We Should All Probably Stop Using


There's just something so sinister about writing the term "slave" in curlicue font. Photo: Via Asuyeta

While trawling the Internet for new jewelry, we came across the "slave bracelet," a jarring term for what's a very pretty piece of jewelry, and a phrase that doesn't seem to be offending anyone as much as it does us. Typically describing a bracelet that also connects to an attached ring, the slave bracelet seems to be a colloquial term for a jewelry style without an agreed-upon name (we reached out to our jewelry friends who also said the piece goes by the "Hath Panja bracelet," the "belly dancer bracelet," "harem bracelet," and "hand flower"). Some "slave bracelet" makers contend that the term actually refers to the fact that the attached ring is chained to the bracelet in a "slave" relationship. The historical origin of the term escapes us, but we venture to guess that it's a nod to a general pre-Byzantine aesthetic of adornment probably found on harem slaves... but forgive us for feeling that, even with the obvious physical relationships and the 1,500 years between us and the reference, using the word "slave" as a descriptor still feels spectacularly inappropriate.

Photo: Via Patricia Field

The media firestorm that happened surrounding Vogue Italia's use of "Slave Earrings" was furious and effective, which makes us all the more confused about the lack of conversation surrounding "Slave Bracelet." The term brings up more than a thousand entries on Etsy, and even more established brands utilize it as well (Patricia Field has a piece on her website listed as the "3 Finger Chain Slave Bracelet"). fans and jewelry makers — what do you say? Are we overreacting or should we all just agree that this piece should be called something way less offensive?

Photo: Via Etsy

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