Everything You Need To Know About Cape Cod Bracelets

There’s nothing too fancy about the famous Cape Cod Bracelet, a simple, rigid silver band and an equally simple gold ball at the center. Unscrew the ball to put on the jewelry, screw it back together to keep it in place.

What is special about the Cape Cod Bracelet is its shape and resulting fit. The idea is that the bracelet fits comfortably, sliding up and down over the wrist, but not able to twist over the wrist bone, ensuring that that simple gold ball stays on top.

Still, with nothing nautical or quintessentially “Cape Cod” about them, it’s hard to say just how the jewelry became so closely identified with the region.

Cape Cod Bracelets were invented by John Carey in the late 1960’s at a shop, “Eden Hand Arts,” that he operated with his wife, Eve, in Dennis. In the beginning they were called “Dennis Bracelets” or, perhaps more fittingly “Dennis Screwball Bracelets” and the pieces sold well to locals and tourists who would happen by the small store off Route 6A, near Sesuit Harbor.

According to the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, demand for the Cape Cod bracelet increased when television actress Amy Jo Johnson wore one on the 1990’s drama series “Felicity.” Johnson’s character wore the bracelet constantly for the program’s first two seasons, and Eden Hand Arts was soon overwhelmed with orders.

After that the bracelets received national exposure again when featured on the reality program “The Bachelorette” when Dennis native Chris Lambton presented one to his love interest, Ali Fedotowsky, during a televised visit to the Cape.

While Eden Hand Arts remained, and continues to remain, the only official producer and distributor of the “Cape Cod Screwball” or “Dennis Screwball,” the bracelet’s sudden prodigious popularity led to an expanded collection of “Cape Cod” jewelry and an onslaught of imitators craving a piece of the pie.

Earrings, necklaces, watches, and rings all in the Cape Cod style of a silver band with simple gold ball adornment swept the Cape in the late 1990’s and has continued with undiminished fervor since.

Bracelets with two gold balls, or three, or a silver ball, or a copper band with a gold ball all made their way onto the local jewelry scene. As did similar bracelets with diamonds in the gold ball, or bracelets with a twisted band instead of a simple band, or a free moving chain-link band instead of a rigid one.

Seemingly endless varieties of varying quality and at fluctuating price points were manufactured and sold by dozens of jewelers and at gift shops and specialty stores from Provincetown to Bourne and beyond.

The design has become quintessential Cape Cod, even if it didn’t start out that way. And now a wearer can be recognized as a lover of the Cape wherever their journeys happen to take them.
“My husband bought me my Cape Cod Bracelet 10 years ago when we were living in Western Mass,” says Angie Grabiec of Barnstable Village, “It means so much to me because my best friends live on the Cape, I was married on the Cape and knew I would one day be living here. “

Decades after they first made began to produce them, Eden Hand Arts remains the place to go for the authentic Cape Cod Jewelry and until 2008, John Carey continued to make each bracelet by hand and personally fitted them to each customer. Carey died in 2012, but the shop on 6A is still there, run by his daughter and son-in-law who continue to produce “Cape Cod” and other jewelry by hand.

The store, quaint as ever, continues to only accept cash and checks, and staff members personally fit each piece to each customer. The store is too small and too popular to operate as it once did, shoppers must schedule appointments and wait in line until one of three sales associates is available to see them.

They don’t allow photography in the store, ever conscious now that their designs can be absorbed by imitators. And now, with each “Cape Cod Screwball Bracelet” that they sell comes festooned with a small gold tag reading “Eden” thus ensuring the buyer, and admirers, that that particular piece is indeed the real deal.

By CapeCod.com Staff


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