On the islands of Haida Gwaii, you will notice that the carved, cuffed style Haida bracelet is the quintessential bracelet of Haida Gwaii. Although this style of bracelet is also worn by First Nations groups along the northwest coast, the use of these bracelets is evident every day here on Haida Gwaii. From wearing these bracelets at an important event, such as a potlatch, or a casual outing to the grocery store, these bracelets are worn through all of life’s events. This style of bracelet is significant in Haida culture throughout history too. These bracelets were worn in the past by Haida people to communicate the crests of the clan they belonged to and today bracelets are still worn for this reason. They also symbolize wealth and beauty. However, these bracelets are not worn exclusively by the Haida. Islanders and visitors to Haida Gwaii similarly appreciate and enjoy these beautiful bracelets. Crystal Cabin offers a unique selection local handmade bracelets by Haida carvers. We can help you to design every detail of your bracelet or choose from one from the great selection on our website or in-store in Tlell, Haida Gwaii.
How Haida Bracelets Are Made:
The process of creating a Haida carved bracelet is unique to its design. To start, the artist chooses a piece of metal. Haida bracelets are typically made out of 18k gold or 14K gold, sterling silver or copper. A long piece of metal is cut into a standard wrist length, typically between 6 - 6 ¾ inches long and made into widths that are ¼ inch, ½ inch, ¾ inch, 1 inch, and larger. The rough edges of the metal are polished away to leave a smooth and comfortable finish. Sometimes the bracelet will be shaped even further to create a tapered shape, with the bracelet being thickest in the middle of the bracelet and slightly tapered to the sides. Once the final size and shape of the bracelet is decided, the artist begins to carve. The metal is carved flat, then once the carving is complete, the metal is carefully and slowly bent into its bracelet form. Finally, the bracelet will be polished to reveal a shiny and reflective finish.
Purchasing Your Own Haida Bracelet
Before you purchase your own Haida Bracelet you should decide whether you would like to buy a bracelet from in store or have the bracelet custom made.
You should consider these factors:
1. Sizing : The standard size length, 6- 6 ¾ inch bracelet is created because it works for most wearers. The size of this bracelet can be adjusted smaller or larger by decreasing or increasing the size of the gap created by the two ends of the bracelet meeting.
If you have a wrist on the smaller side or a larger wrist size, contact us with your wrist size measurement and we can advise what length of bracelet will work for you.
2. Shape: When being made into a bracelet, carvers have the option to bend the bracelet into an oval shape or a round shape. Oval shaped bracelets mimic the shape of the wrist. If you would like a round shaped bracelet, please mention this detail in your order.
3. Design: Common bracelet designs include Hummingbird, Eagle, or Raven. If you are you looking for a specific design that you don’t see or a design that tells a personal story you can order a personalized bracelet. Bracelets, because of their larger area for carving, are a great way to tell a story through a customized piece. When ordering a custom piece you can also request to have a special message or name engraved on the back of the bracelet, this will make your piece even more unique!
4. Metal type: Do you have a specific metal in mind? There are many options you can choose from. Some common metals that can be used are 18K or 14K yellow gold, white or rose gold; gold on sterling silver; sterling silver; or copper.
We also offer a selection local handmade bracelets by Haida carvers or we can help you to design every detail of your bracelet. If you are interested in a custom bracelet project, contact us and we would be happy to help transform your ideas into a wearable jewelry.
How to Wear Your Haida Bracelet
Once you have received your bracelet you are ready to debut it to the world! There is no particular way to wear your bracelet but here are some tips to help you show it off.
Design Facing Others
Some like to show off their designs by wearing it facing away from themselves, so the design is upright. Showing off your design is important in Haida culture because it lets other clans know what crests you are able to wear and can help inform others if you’re related and from the same clan or if you’re from a different clan.
Design Facing Yourself
You can also wear it with the design facing you, so you can see the design clearly all day.
How to Put on Your Haida Bracelet
To put on this cuff style bracelet, face the opening of the bracelet to the narrow side of your wrist and gently extend the bracelet over the wrist. To make the bracelet tighter you can gently press the two ends together. When manipulating the metal any adjustments bigger or smaller to the gap of the bracelet should be made slowly and gently. Need a hand adjusting the gap of your bracelet? Visit your local jeweler or come to Crystal Cabin for assistance.
How To Care For Your Bracelet
Metal jewelry tends to looks best when it’s clean and shiny, which is why we recommend that you frequently polish your bracelet. The results of cleaning are especially amazing on sterling silver. According to Photonics Media, sterling silver is the most reflective element, which makes it useful in mirrors, telescopes, microscopes, and solar cells. Polished silver reflects 95% of the visible light spectrum.
A clean and easy way to polish your jewelry is to use a polishing cloth at home. We recommend using a sun cloth, which is easy to use without any polishing liquid. Visit us in Tlell or contact us to purchase this polishing cloth.
Since gold, sterling silver, and copper can all dull over time, it is recommended to bring your bracelet to a jeweler every 6 months to a year for deep cleaning. We also offer deep cleaning services available in-store.
Some jewelry cleaning methods are not advised for bracelets with special materials. If your bracelet contains abalone, stone, gemstone inlay, or is oxidized, you can gently rub a polishing cloth on the surface level but also make sure to check with your jeweler that the cleaning method is safe for these materials.
A Note about Antique Bracelets
Keep in mind, some bracelets from the past are naturally oxidized (blackened) and newer bracelets are intentionally oxidized to give an antique or traditional appearance. When cleaning an oxidized bracelet and to preserve the oxidization, we recommend against using deep cleaning methods.
Do you have questions about how to care for an existing bracelet? Interested in purchasing a Haida carved bracelet but have questions? Please contact us and we can answer your questions and help you find the perfect bracelet.
Jdsu. “Mirrors: Coating Choice Makes a Difference.” Photonics Media, Photonics Media, 8 Mar. 2009, www.photonics.com/Article.aspx?AID=25501.