Friendship Bracelet / String Bracelet

Scott Smith Jan 19, 2023
0 People Read

(This article is about people looking to score a friendship bracelet.  If you are a retailer/reseller, click here for wholesale buying info) 


In Indigenous Central and South American Folklore, there are numerous stories of what things symbolize and mean. The friendship bracelet symbolizes friendship. Examples of other things with special meanings are Worry Dolls, Tie-Dye T-Shirts, Wish Bracelets, and so on.

After a long history in these Indian traditions, Friendship Bracelets began to be adopted into Western culture gradually in the 1950s; both the technique of making them and, the idea that there is a meaning behind them. The Friendship Bracelet is a bracelet that two friends wear simultaneously as a token of their friendship. It is a hand-made woven/braided macrame-style bracelet. There are numerous variations of styles and patterns that can be thought into existence. But it takes a really advanced skill level to make some of the more complex multi-multi-threaded versions. Although the popularity of these unisex bracelets first started gaining traction during the counterculture movement of the 1960s and into the 1970s, they kind of hit a crescendo in the late 1980s. This coincided with an overall retro-60s movement stimulated, in no small part by the new and unusual commercial popularity of the Grateful Dead. (Anyone lucky enough to see any live shows knows what it was like to see people walking around selling bracelets off of a stack of foam core boards with notches so that all the bracelets could be lined in rows).

As with so many fashionable trendy things, there comes a point of critical mass. As they get really popular everyone sees other people wearing them and they want one and their friends and relatives get it in mind that maybe it means they should have one too. And the trend continues until market saturation and then reverses.  

What it means:

1/You don’t wish for anything, but you and your friend both wear it to remember and show off your friendship. The more work and time and love are put into making it, the longer it will hold up and not break or get damaged or fall off, and so the more robust and longer lasting the friendship.


2/You wish for something when you tie the bracelet onto your friend's wrist. The second at which it finally falls off, the wish is supposed to come true.


Who wears them:

Friendship bracelets are traditionally worn most commonly by young adults from around 13 to around 25. But many people do indeed wear them into their later years. For hippies, beatniks, hipsters, and bohemians, it‘s ageless and timeless. They have a laid-back festival concert beach vibe. They’re great for wearing at the beach because, unlike many other simple bracelets, they can get wet and not be damaged in the water while you're swimming or surfing. When you buy one, ask if it's colorfast. Usually, they aren't but if they are, it might be worth paying an extra couple of bucks for it so the dyes don't run in the water, or with long time usage.

What it isn’t:

Today, unfortunately, many people use the name “friendship bracelet” to signify various other types of bracelets. As more and more people have borrowed the name to describe other types of bracelets, regardless of how they are made, the name has gradually been usurped and so kind of watered down. It may still be a bracelet you give to your friend, but it's lost some of its connection to the idea that it is something personal you have crafted for yourself and your friend.  For example, right now, celebrities like Taylor Swift are making the name Friendship Bracelet very popular with mass-produced bracelets that she calls Friendship Bracelets.


 How they are made and where to get materials.

If you want to learn how to make them yourselves, there are some amazing videos on Amazon. You can pick up a Friendship Bracelet Kit at Michaels Craft store for learning about either one or bulk Friendship Bracelet Patterns, along with Friendship Bracelet string such as embroidery floss or cotton or acrylic. But if you are in an artsy type of area, then do an Internet search to find small independent stores, art supply stores, and craft stores. They will usually have a more interesting variety

It can take a couple of minutes, or up to an hour once you learn how to do it depending on how fast and dexterous you are. But it is definitely a fun craft project to learn for those with some patience.  The simple ones have two or three different threads and you can watch TV  in the background once you know how to make it.  But when it gets to four or five or six threads, you have to totally focus on this and nothing else because of the difficulty of these more complex patterns.

There are many styles and patterns and most of them revolve around the ½ hitch knot.  You can find Friendship Bracelet tutorials online to help you out. There are so many Friendship Bracelet patterns to choose from, but ½ inch-wide cotton threaded Chevron Friendship Bracelets are pretty straightforward. They only have two colors, so they go faster than the more complicated multi-thread bracelets.

Silk embroidery floss is one of the nicest threads you can find. It has a shimmery shine to it, and, consequently a  more feminine look. The basic cotton thread is better for making unisex bracelets. You can also try acrylic or rayon thread. This is less popular to work with but tends to be more economical.  

Where you can buy them:

Although it’s a fun craft project, many people don't have the patience and/or inclination to learn how to braid and weave them at home. But no worries, today you can easily find them on eBay, Amazon, or Etsy. Or you can take a nice vacation to the central highlands of Guatemala or Chiapas, Mexico, or any tourist market in Peru and find them for sale direct from those who make them.