"Gloves prevent the loss of heat in snowy environs, and help blood-covered hands keep a steady grip. Mailed gloves can even provide their wearers with a few extra moments to wrest their hands free from a demonic maw before losing important fingers."— Game Guide(src)
Their type ranges from the Leather Gloves to the armored Gauntlets. With a few exceptions in unique or set items, gloves--along with weapons--are some of the only items that can grant the Increased Attack Speed attribute.
Gloves return in Diablo III. This time, they are more offense-oriented, together with jewelry and bracers, and can roll Attack Speed and Critical Hit Chance and Damage. For most builds, the combination of the three and a core stat is the most efficient affix allocation. Other rollable stats (beside usual) include Area Damage, reduced cooldowns for all skills, reduced resource costs, Life per Hit, Life per second, Armor, resistances, Thorns, gold / health globe pickup radius and chance to Stun on hit. While it is possible to make gloves a defensive item, it is not recommended to forgo their offensive capabilities, unless you are specifically aiming at a tanking build.
Gloves are displayed on a character model and may be transmogrified.