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The Cape Cod Bracelet - A Historical Look

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The Cape Cod Bracelet - A Historical Look

Early in my jewelry-making career I heard about a particular bracelet design called the Cape Cod Bracelet. This was a simple round bracelet band made either of silver or gold. It was linked at the ends with a threaded ball clasp that screwed into the two ends and kept the bracelet from falling off. The bracelet was also sometimes called the Cape Cod Screwball Bracelet. Customers from around the country would head to the Dennis shop of John Carey, the bracelet’s designer.

When I met John Carey I learned that he had created the bracelet as a custom design project. The buyer had wanted a bracelet for her young daughter but was concerned about the bracelet’s falling off, so John designed a piece of jewelry that, when open, could be easily put on and then secured shut with the ball link. The Cape Cod Bracelet has become an iconic Cape Cod object.

Over the years, John’s Cape Cod Bracelet design was copied by many and ultimately manufactured in East Asia. Other jewelers began selling these copies, at a lower price, in their shops. My shop was just a couple of miles away from John’s and people would often stop in looking for the Cape Cod Bracelet. I knew John, liked him and respected his work so it never occurred to me to make or sell the Cape Cod Bracelet in my shop. Instead, I printed out directions to John’s shop and handed them out to whoever came looking for him.

As with John, some of my designs have been copied numerous times. When I come across instances of this, I keep in mind that my work isn’t about any particular design. It’s about the deeply satisfying process of playing with metals and stones to create new work. So, even though I continue to show many of my classic designs, there is also a continuous flow of new bracelets, earrings, rings, and necklaces from my workbench to my showroom display cases. My shop here in East Dennis, on Cape Cod, is a busy, creative place.