Bangle vs Bracelet vs Cuff – What Are the Differences?

You love bracelets, but is a bracelet the same thing as a bangle or a cuff? You've heard these terms but maybe aren't sure exactly which is which. Aren't they all bracelets? We scoured various online sources to get a consensus on the meaning of these terms.

Yes, technically bangles and cuffs fall under the general catch-all term of bracelet. But, bangles and cuffs are their own styles as well. And bracelets can refer to any other type that is not a cuff or a bangle.

A collage of women wearing bangle, bracelet and cuff, Bangle vs Bracelet vs Cuff - What Are the Differences?

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Let's break these down and take a look at what exactly makes a cuff, bangle, and some of the various types of bracelets.

What Is A Bracelet?

Bracelets are a type of jewelry meant to wear around the wrist. They can come in materials as precious as platinum and gold or as simple as leather and wood. Many bracelets are connected utilizing clasps, whether that be a toggle clasp or a lobster clasp or even a magnetic clasp.

This leather wrap bracelet shows an example of a toggle clasp. These clasps work by sliding the bar through the circle at an angle. Once secure, the bar holds the bracelet in place. This rose gold clasp looks great against the black leather.

Click here to see this bracelet on Amazon.

This sterling silver bead bracelet with monogram charm fastens with a lobster clasp. Lobster clasp bracelets are very secure but may be hard to put on by yourself, depending on the ability of your fingers.

Click here for this one on Amazon.

A magnetic closure fastens this rope cord bracelet for men or women. These have grown more popular, particularly on fashion bracelets, over the last several years. They are easy to fasten, though there is a risk of bumping them open if hit in just the right way.

Click here for this bracelet on Amazon.

What is a Bracelet Cuff?

When someone refers to a cuff or bracelet cuff, they are referring to a style of bracelet that sort of wraps your wrist. It has an opening that pushes onto the side of the wrist, and then the bracelet is twisted into place. The cuff can be slightly sprung open to ease with getting it on or off, depending on the material from which it is crafted. These bracelets are made to fit fairly close to the skin and are often a wider material than link bracelets.


This cuff by BCBG is a lovely full piece that will slide right onto your arm. As you can see, it has the typically incomplete circle form that is characteristic of cuff bracelets.

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Some folks swear by wearing a copper cuff bracelet with magnetic inserts to help with joint pain. These are commonly available for both men and women.

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This anticlastic formed 14k gold hand-made cuff bracelet is simply exquisite. If you want to look like a goddess of yesteryears, this is the choice for your wrist.

Click here to see this on Amazon.

What Is A Bangle Bracelet?

A bangle bracelet is a type of bracelet that forms a complete circle around your wrist. These are typically slender bracelets, though not always, and some people love to wear them in multiples.

Though bangles can come in many different materials, most often, we see them in either precious metals or plastics, wood, or shell, because softer materials will often need a clasp to connect them.

This stack of bangle bracelets made of buffalo horn is smooth and lovely. They slip on right over the wrist (8" circumference), though it's probably easier to put 1 or 2 on at a time than to try and get the whole stack on at one time.

Click here for these on Amazon.

This set of 3 stackable bangles in different metal finishes features a bit of CZ sparkle. Metal bangles like this are available in fashion designs as well as higher-end brands like Tiffany and Cartier.

Click here for these on Amazon.

Are Bangle Bracelets In Style?

According to many fashion magazines, layering up bracelets and combining bangles with cuffs is a hot current trend. Among many celebrities, the Cartier Love bracelet is the bangle to have.

This bracelet was designed in the late 1960s and is a symbol of commitment. It's available in all of the precious metals and even decorated with diamonds. The most expensive of these pieces can range upward of $50,000.

Can't afford $50,000? You can find similarly styled bracelets online like this hinged star bracelet of gold-toned steel.

Click here for this on Amazon.

How Do You Put A Bangle Bracelet On?

There are a couple of ways to put on bangle bracelets. The simplest versions simply slip on over the hand. When figuring out the correct size to purchase, you should measure the fullest part of your hand. The most common diameter of bangle bracelets is 8," which fits most women.

Another way to put bangles on is by the use of a hinged or sliding clasp. These are hidden clasps within the circle of the bracelet. This allows the bangle bracelet's circumference to be slightly smaller than one that needs to slip on over the hand, which is useful if you're buying precious metal jewelry and are concerned about cost.

This Kate Spade enamel bracelet in green allows you to have the look of a bangle with the ease of a clasp. The mechanism is within the Spade Logo and hinges open on the opposite side.

Click here for this bracelet on Amazon.

This gorgeous black diamond bangle from Ross-Simmons features the sturdy circular bangle shape but also features a locking safety clasp typical of more exceptional quality bangle bracelets.

This one can be seen here on Amazon.

So there you have it, the umbrella term bracelet, which applies to everything that is not a cuff or a bangle, and a further explanation of what exactly cuff and bangle bracelets are. We have a few more posts on bracelets here on if you'd like to dig a bit deeper. Please check them out below:

What is a Cape Cod Bracelet? [Including 10 examples]

How to Open Pandora Bracelet (Even Without Using Your Nails)

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