The History of Natural Diamond Tennis Bracelets and 10 Must-Have Pieces

Find out how the diamond tennis bracelet got its sporty name and see the best renditions being made today.

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Why is it called a tennis bracelet? The history of diamond tennis bracelets dates back to the summer of 1978-to be exact, when Chris Evert unintentionally made jewellery history during an early round of the US Open. It happened when the tennis champion’s delicate diamond and gold bracelet broke and fell to the ground; play was briefly suspended so she could find it. At the time someone—and no one remembers exactly who—immediately and cheekily dubbed the jewel a “tennis bracelet.” Needless to say, the name stuck. Though many of today’s tennis stars—we’re looking at you Serena—wear more dazzling diamond jewellery on the court than certain actresses on the red carpet, at the time, this was big news.

Read More: 6 Stylish Athletes That Love to Wear Diamonds

Evert is widely believed to be the first woman to wear diamonds on the tennis court. But even if she wasn’t factually the very first, her mishap definitely brought to the spotlight the particular diamond bracelet style. 

Ever wonder what a tennis bracelet is and how it came to be? Chris Evert’s tennis bracelet bracelet, with all of its gems set in a row, used to be called a line bracelet. Today, some designers still use the classic terminology for the look that can be traced back to at least the 1920s. 

Chris Evert wearing a tennis bracelet while she faces serve from Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1978. Source: Getty
American actress Peggy Hopkins Joyce wearing several line bracelets in 1925. Source: Getty

During the art deco era, line bracelets generally consisted of square-cut diamond stones fit closely together in a row. They were nicknamed “service stripes” in reference to the decorations worn by the military denoting a certain amount of time spent in the service; they were given on wedding anniversaries and represented successful “tours of duty.”  Applied to jewels, the term served as a lighthearted joke. Well-heeled women and glamorous Hollywood stars piled them on and often layered them with wide art deco diamond bracelets creating a seriously extravagant arm party.

During the 1970s, line bracelets sent a very different message. Generally speaking, the style was about low-key luxury. Fashions were becoming increasingly casual with wrap dresses, pantsuits and denim. Delicate diamond jewels were a chic way to elevate a look. Of course, Chris Evert took the concept one step further when she paired her diamond bracelet with a tennis dress.“I never take mine off!”

Over forty years later, diamond tennis bracelets have become an essential piece to wear daily. “I never take mine off!” exclaims jewellery designer Jennifer Meyer. Designer Anita Ko concurs that they go with everything and have the ability to make women feel “sparkly and sexy at all times.”

“I never take mine off!”

Jennifer Meyer 

Effortlessly chic, Hailey Bieber shows off a beautiful stack of diamond tennis bracelets from Tiffany & Co. With varying diamond cuts and shapes, she perfectly displays how a diamond tennis bracelet (or a few) can easily elevate any outfit.

Hailey Bieber in Tiffany & Co. Diamond Tennis Braceletes
Hailey Bieber in Tiffany & Co. Image source: Instagram.

The biggest change from the past to now: the seemingly infinite number of diamond tennis bracelets available. Round diamond tennis bracelets and styles with a vintage vibe can be found in Kwiat’s dazzling collection.

Cluster Tennis Bracelet
in Platinum with Diamond
Tiffany & Co.
Kwiat Vintage Diamond Tennis Bracelet

Anita Ko has amazing tennis bracelets ranging from one with horizontally set baguette diamonds to emerald cut diamond styles.

The great Greek jewellery designer Nikos Koulis makes a bold tennis bracelet, with diamonds framed in black enamel.

Masterful minimalist designer Eva Fehren’s tennis bracelet is a lean line of black and white diamonds set in blackened gold.

Anita Ko Yellow Gold Diamond Tennis Bracelet
Anita Ko
Eva Fahren

The super creative Nak Armstrong’s eye-catching tennis bracelet is set with half-moon and tapered baguette diamonds.

Deborah Pagani makes her own stylish classic by transforming her signature bow link into a white gold tennis bracelet.

Nak Armstrong tapered baguette diamond tennis bracelet
Nak Armstrong
Deborah Pagani

Queen of the baguette diamond, Suzanne Kalan’s best-selling diamond tennis bracelet has the geometric gem set akimbo in a row.

The dynamic design duo at Jemma Wynne subtly reimagined the tennis bracelet as a slider with an adjustable element that makes it possible to fit the piece just so on your wrist.

The covetable Jennifer Meyer tennis bracelets come in all-diamond styles as well as pieces punctuated with colorful gems.

Hamilton Jewellers 18K rose gold and diamond tennis bracelet features 15 round brilliant cut diamonds that are set in an illusion design weighing 1.13cts.

Hamilton Jewelers Boundless 18k Rose Gold and Diamond Bracelet
Hamilton Jewelers
Jemma Wynne Prive Luxe Diamond Baguette Tennis Bracelet
Jemma Wynne
Jennifer Myer Princess Cut Diamond Tennis Bracelet
Jennifer Myer
Suzann Kalan Classic Diamond Baguette Tennis Bracelet
Suzanne Kalan

What unites these looks and makes them all a diamond tennis bracelet? Well they all have a row of diamonds. But beyond that, there never was a hard and fast definition of the style. So go on, have some fun with them. And, like Chris Evert, don’t forget to literally play with jewellery.