Choosing the Right Bracelet Clasp

Jan 15, 2008

Choosing the Right Bracelet Clasp

Beading Daily reader Nicole asked a great question about bracelet clasps. Her "best clasp" question is one of those questions that seems on the surface to be quick and easy. While there are some basic facts that you need to consider--like whether the recipient of your jewelry wears a pacemaker--there is also a lot of room for personal preference and experience. I'd love to know what you think about bracelet clasps--please share your own ideas in the comments section. Thanks!--Michelle Mach, Beading Daily editor.

Q: I have a question about bracelet clasps. I see lots of bracelets with the toggle bar clasps, but when I gave one to my friend she lost it for awhile. (Luckily, she did find it.) The next bracelets I gave away had a magnetic clasp and a box clasp respectively. One girl lost the magnetic one never to be found again and the box clasp broke. What is the best clasp that we can attach to our bracelets?

A: What a great question! I'm not sure there is a perfect clasp--much depends upon how often the piece will be worn, the weight of the bracelet, and the activeness of the recipient. Here are my thoughts on six types of clasps:

 

Toggle Clasp

Toggle clasps require tension to keep them closed. This makes them a great choice for necklaces, since you have the collected weight of all the beads at the front of the necklace keeping the clasp shut. If your bracelet uses small, lightweight beads like freshwater pearls, then you might not have enough tension to keep the toggle closed.

I use magnetic clasps for much of my personal jewelry because they are so easy to open. But Nicole's right--they still can get lost. One beader I know went to a conference where she sat in a metal folding chair. The magnetic clasp attached itself to the chair and slipped off her wrist without her noticing. Jean Campbell, author of Getting Started Stringing Beads, advises that magnetic clasps should only be used for "light- to middle-weight pieces." You also should not use magnetic clasps on pieces to be worn by people with pacemakers.

 

Lobster Clasp

A lobster clasp or spring ring clasp requires you to push a lever down to open clasp. An inexpensive option, these clasps can be difficult to open. Sometimes the bottom ring of the clasp can be weak and subject to breaking, particularly on spring ring clasps.

Box clasps often have inlaid gemstones or other designs that make them a beautiful finishing touch to a beaded bracelet. One half of a box clasp is hollowed out, while the other has a strip of metal that has been folded over. This metal tab slides into the hollow box with a snap. On high-end jewelry, I've seen  safety catches added for extra security. 

Pearl clasps combine both a fishhook clasp and a locking box mechanism, which means that there's a backup if the box mechanism fails.

 

 

Fold-Over Clasp 

Author of Findings and Finishings, Sharon Bateman writes about the fold-over clasp: "Even the most active person will have trouble snagging this clasp on clothing or objects." The top half of this type of clasp is pushed down until it snaps over the bottom half. I've never used these, but I did a little research and found them in use, particularly for watches. Many had additional safety catches.

Or why not skip the clasp altogether?

 

For that "special" person who keeps losing your bracelets no matter what kind of clasp you use, consider creating a bangle or cuff bracelet that does not require a clasp. Here are some some ideas to get you started:

 

 

For more information about clasps (including how to make your own), check out the book Findings and Finishings by Sharon Bateman.

 

-Michelle


 



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Comments

on Jan 16, 2008 11:54 AM
Clasps. I choose the clasp by the type of jewelry it's going on. I always use barrel clasps on anklets (considering they will probably be subjected to the surf) you wouldn't want your customer coming back complaining she lost her anklet. For heavier necklaces I use bar & toggle clasps, for light weight bracelets, lobster claw & for heavy weight bracelets heavy duty toggle & bar clasps. The magnet clasps make me nervous because they can lose their grip just by adjusting a scarf, so I avoid them altogether. Heavy duty lobster claw clasps are my favorite for necklaces or those fancy lattice clasps for crystals & pearls.

Karen Augustsson
SusanL@124 wrote
on Jan 16, 2008 12:55 PM
Thank you for posting this! As a new beader, I always stress when it comes to picking out a clasp!
DorisD@12 wrote
on Jan 16, 2008 1:06 PM
The idea of a fold-over clasp seems wonderful. But, have you tried finding any? If you have a source, please do share!! Thanks, Doris
CorynnM wrote
on Jan 16, 2008 1:09 PM
ihave experienced the same problems with magnetic and toggle clasps-I started using "button clasps"which snaps into place. They are good for mostly casual pieces but I feel confident using them so your piece won't fall off!
LisaF@51 wrote
on Jan 16, 2008 1:36 PM
Not all toggle clasps are created equal. Look for one with a long bar. It will not come undone as easily. I have started to use "S' clasps that I either purchase or make myself with Sterling or gold-filled wire. Once the bracelet is on the loop of the "S" can be slightly closed, making the bracelet more secure. The advantage to making my own is that I can proportion the clasp to the bracelet.
Anonymous wrote
on Jan 16, 2008 1:37 PM
I think clasps are the important finishing touch to any piece of jewelry, and after spending hours on a piece want to use something with substance. I use the lobster claw, box clasp with a safety catch, and the slide lock. The box clasp usually has a gemstone or pearl, and the slide lock is often the engraved vermeil. I find that using the toggle often puts a lot of tension on a bracelet, causing it to come apart.
myra26 wrote
on Jan 16, 2008 1:40 PM
I love using magnetic clasps on bracelets. Just use a safety chain. I use bits of chain leftover from projects and connect one end of the chain to each half of the magnet with jump or split rings.
AmeliaV@3 wrote
on Jan 16, 2008 3:41 PM
When I use magnetic clasps for bracelets I also attach an extension chain to each part of the clasp. If the clasp should come open the chain will hold it on the wrist. As for toggles, I do prefer them as they are easier to use. I dislike spring ring clasps as they are so small, but lobster clasps work well and you can buy a special wand that makes it easy to put the bracelet on your own wrist.
Patriciakoko wrote
on Jan 16, 2008 10:21 PM
Actually I have two comments:
I believe the correct spelling of the Native American source of the bracelet featured is "Athabaskan" and;

Regarding clasps, the owner of our local beading shop, Doris Weinbaum, showed me and sold me a great clasp that is like a large snap. It is metal, one side is donut shaped and the other slips onto it with a "snap." It can be easy to close even with arthritic hands and it doesn't seem to come open until you choose to open it.
Pat
TaraL@4 wrote
on Jan 16, 2008 11:58 PM
I recently tried out some new magnetic clasp offerings from Fire Mountain Gems. The ones I tried had very strong magnets, built in soldered jump rings, and the ends fit together for neatness and security. They have lots of styles, and come in vermeil and sterling silver, and gold and silver plate. I was very impressed with these and think they would be great for bracelets, ID necklaces, or pretty much anything.
JewelsLB wrote
on Jan 17, 2008 8:38 AM
Another little aside on magnetic clasps, you should avoid using these if the wearer has a hearing aid; it's been said that the magnet can interfere with the device's battery.

I also like to use "S" clasps for bracelets, you can easily manipulate them with one hand, and as one commenter said above, you can tighten the opening just a tad, to make it harder for the ring to slip out.
I'll also use the good old "Button & Loop" method for bracelets, but always make sure to reinforce the clasp by going through the button bead as many times as the bead hole will allow. (I've had some of those bracelet designs kicking around for decades, and they haven't shown any signs of falling apart, and I wear my pieces a lot!)

Jewels
achrisvet wrote
on Jan 17, 2008 11:20 AM
Another thing to consider for bracelet clasps, is that you must be able to work them with one hand.

I've seen magnetic clasps that have a security feature. The don't just pull part because they interlock.
https://www.starsclasps.com/ecommercepage.phtml?subcategory=mg&page=1
EmilyM@38 wrote
on Jan 17, 2008 12:32 PM
Can anyone recommend a good source for button clasps? I have just started noticing them in the online patterns here, but have never seen them in the bead stores I visit. (Sadly my local bead stores are now limited to chain stores, so I really don't see much there! LOL!)
Grafikat wrote
on Jan 17, 2008 2:44 PM
I really like filigree box clasps that you find on pearl necklaces, as they do have that extra catch. And, I like the idea of using a "safety chain" on bracelets. I have one on a fancy watch and love the extra protection.

BTW, Athapaskan can be spelled Athabaskan or Athabascan or Athapascan or Athapaskan! :)
BonnieC@24 wrote
on Jan 17, 2008 7:33 PM
When using a magnetic clasp on a bracelet, a safety chain is essential. I am partial to button closures as they are secure and easy to use.
RozA@4 wrote
on Jan 18, 2008 9:23 AM
Hi Michelle Mach . I m Roz .I always used different type of clasps especially magnetic clasp and never lost my bracelet .For safty catches I suggest to beaders to attach silver chain at any clasps so the bracelet not easily slip from our wrist .
LyndyLou wrote
on Jan 18, 2008 11:32 AM
As a beginning beader, I have found that I can get some great clasps (and pendants) pretty cheap at my local Dollar Store, in some places known as the "Dollar Tree", ect. I can use all parts of the necklace, including the chain.
CindyB@69 wrote
on Jan 20, 2008 1:36 AM
I can't find button clasps locally so I order them on line at beadfx.com
IntanM wrote
on Jan 21, 2008 11:59 AM
The best clasp for bracelets are the "press stud" type. Its easy to open and close without having anyone to do it for you and you will never lose them. Beleive me..
DarleneJ@4 wrote
on Jan 22, 2008 11:40 AM
Hello All,
I was reading through all the comments. I love toggle clasps and have had some people experience losing their bracelet when the toggle mysteriously came unclasped so I started placing a safety chain on the bracelets that I thought might have a toggle that would work itself loose. So far so good. People have told me it really works. Maybe it will work for you too.!
EllenS@50 wrote
on Jan 23, 2008 3:48 PM
I, too, love to use the magnetic clasps for all my bracelets. You just have to use the proper size - i.e., if you have a heavier bracelet, use a larger magnetic clasp. I've never lost a bracelet yet!
Lavecca wrote
on Jan 25, 2008 1:45 PM
I have found the perfect clasp for bracelets and necklaces to be a fold over magnetic clasp which I purchase from Mobile.com. Very secure.
EllenaA wrote
on Jan 26, 2008 12:46 PM
The quest goes on! My favorite for wider bracelets is the slide lock, the box/tab-insert type for everything else, and my own handmade straight or S-hooks for casual pieces. Found foldovers at landofodds.com, rings-things.com, and costumejewelrysupplies.com but haven't ordered yet. Will do a button&loop if design dictates but hate wearing them; have totally lost patience w/toggles despite the great styling.
MiriamG@9 wrote
on Jan 28, 2008 1:03 PM
I think it depends on the person as to which clasp they like. My daughter has broken every piece of jewelry I've given her. I made her a piece for my sons wedding and at the end of the evening she gave it to me in pieces. Some people are just rough on jewelry. She wore a piece of my that I had made maybe 6 months ago and she came back from the supermarket and it was in 2 pieces. She also has long hair and I don't know if that has anything to do with it.
MiriamG@9 wrote
on Jan 28, 2008 1:03 PM
I think it depends on the person as to which clasp they like. My daughter has broken every piece of jewelry I've given her. I made her a piece for my sons wedding and at the end of the evening she gave it to me in pieces. Some people are just rough on jewelry. She wore a piece of my that I had made maybe 6 months ago and she came back from the supermarket and it was in 2 pieces. She also has long hair and I don't know if that has anything to do with it.
FRANCESC@11 wrote
on Feb 1, 2008 2:20 AM
My favorite clasps are the magnetic ones. at walmart you can buy 2 gold & 2 silver for $9.99.
FRANCESC@11 wrote
on Feb 1, 2008 2:20 AM
My favorite clasps are the magnetic ones. at walmart you can buy 2 gold & 2 silver for $9.99.
CaroleK@8 wrote
on Feb 19, 2008 10:53 PM
where can i find "press stud" clasps?
YvonneS@18 wrote
on Mar 12, 2008 5:54 PM
I'm having issues with the lobster claw clasp. I've either sold or gifted jewelry and some have come back because the clasp came off the bracelet. The wire is sliding through the fine crack of the ring. I've closed the ring entirely but it still happens. Should I be soldering the clasp to stop this from happening? If so how would I do that? I feel bad when a piece comes apart especially when someone bought it and I know they feel bad about telling me the piece broke.
Ty M. wrote
on Nov 1, 2009 6:00 AM
Help! I am trying to identify a type of clasp. It is used on rhinestone chain banding. The clasp appears to "finish" each end of the rhinestone banding and has a lobster type at the end. I saw it on a pet boutique website. http://www.bloomingtailsdogboutique.com/item_1602/Swarovski-Crystal-Dog-Collar--5-Rows.htm. Sorry not promoting the website just trying to make a similar item and I really like how the ends look on this piece. Can anyone help?? Thank you!