An anklet is a piece of ornamental jewelry designed to be worn on the ankle of either foot, and is distinguished from a bracelet, meant to be worn on the wrist. Anklets can be made from a wide variety of materials including metal, wood, leather, textiles, beads, and plastic, and have been worn, primarily by women, for centuries. Much like other pieces of jewelry, an anklet is designed to accentuate and beautify the area of the body where it is worn, calling attention to the ankles, feet, and lower legs.
Anklets are traditionally associated with a tinkling sound, accomplished by using fine chain or bells, and in some cultures, wearing an anklet has sexual connotations, because it calls attention to the wearer with a rhythmic jingling. In the Middle East and parts of Asia, anklets have been worn for centuries, and many beautiful examples have been found in ancient gravesites. In India, they are worn traditionally by unmarried women, while in Muslim countries, many women wear anklets around the house, or have silent anklets to wear under their clothes while out in public. Belly dancers often incorporate anklets into their dress, as do some sex workers, in a nod to their arousing aural properties.
In the United States and Europe, anklets are often worn in tandem with revealing clothing and sandals, and frequently appear as part of the summer wardrobe. These anklets often take the form of thin single chains or thongs which are designed to highlight slim, tanned ankles, and are often silent. In the West, anklets are usually decorated with subtle accents like jewels, charms, or enamel, and traditionally there is a small amount of chain left over at the clasp, which trails down the back of the foot.
Materials used to make an anklet can vary. One of the most common is metal, which can be formed into chains or hammered into rigid anklet bands. Anklets can also be made by carving wood, knotting cotton, silk, or hemp, or from strips of leather. The leather strips can be thin, taking the form of a thong, or thick and carved or ornamented for additional decoration. Cheaper anklets which use plastic materials are also readily available in many parts of the world, and Middle Eastern countries often have delicate glass anklets for sale in their public markets. In addition, anklets can be made from beads of stone, clay, glass, or crystal.
An anklet can be left plain or ornamented with charms, bells, or jewels, depending on the taste of the wearer. The addition of too many charms to an anklet can make it ungainly and awkward to wear, but a few small tasteful ornaments might include hearts, flowers, or crystal beads. An anklet can be worn on either ankle, although some subcultures attach specific meanings to anklets worn on one foot or the other.