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Clasp Styles and Types: Pick the Right Clasp for a Necklace or Bracelet Project

I love choosing clasps for jewelry projects. Fasteners, closures, findings - whatever you call them, they can make or break the jewelry - literally.   Here is a list of the different types of clasps available and what kinds of projects they're best for.

Clasp Styles and Types

Lobsterclaw clasps and springring clasps secure a necklace or bracelet by a ring on one end and a loop or gap on another that closes by spring action. To release the clasp of a spring ring clasp or a lobster claw clasp, lift the small lever that compresses the spring. Lobster claws are a bit easier to manipulate than spring rings, and spring rings are somewhat less expensive. Both come in sterling silver, silver plated, gold filled, and even, though it may be hard to find, copper.The spring  type of clasp is very popular.

Hook Clasp

A hook clasp works on the principle that the tension or weight on the strand keeps the hooks fastened together. While they are easy to fasten and unfasten, they can slip out and so are not all that secure. Types of hook jewelry clasps include fish hook, hook-and-eye, and S-hook clasps.

Magnetic Clasp
Magnetic clasps use magnets to keep a bracelet or necklace secure.  They are appealing because of their ease of use - the two magnets just stick to each other.  Some of them are beautifully ornate.  But they're best suited to lightweight bracelets and necklaces, since they unfasten easily.  

Barrel Clasp

Barrel clasps are cylinder-shaped screw clasps and come in various sizes, from almost too small to handle to very large and sturdy.

For very elegant designs, choose narrow styles rather than sturdy, thick barrels. You may have trouble finding this clasp in a precious metal, but I did find some that are gold plated and silver plated.

Toggle Clasp or Bar and Ring Clasp

One of the best types of clasp for looks, ease of use and security, the toggle or bar-and-ring clasp has a bar on one end that secures into a ring on the other. When twisted, the bar locks into place.  Toggle clasps aren't only my favorite type of clasp ; they were a favorite with my customers with rheumatic or arthritic hands and my male customers buying men's necklaces. The clasp is easy to use and rarely comes undone. It does tend to have a bulky look. For more elegant midweight or heavyweight pieces, you can use some of the fancy, ornate Bali silver clasps as focal points.

Use a box clasp by pressing the lever to open it or clicking it into place to close it. Box clasps are often elegant-looking with filigree.

A box clasp may accidentally come undone and so is not suited for heavyweight pieces.The finer box clasp styles may be suitable for fine pearls.

Multi-Strand Clasp

Multi strand clasps are designed with two or more loops on each side in order to secure multi-strand bracelets, necklaces and anklets. The closing mechanism may be a hook, toggle, slide locking or box design.

But Which Clasp to Use?

Picking the right clasp style for your necklace or bracelet means taking into account several things as you decide what jewelry closure works best for your project:

The Right Clasp for the Degree of Wear and Tear
Because of their location on the wrists, bracelets should have sturdy clasps that don't come open or break when bumped, wet, or snagged.   Lobster claw or well-made toggle clasps are ideal for bracelets taking a lot of wear.  Anklets get damaged less than bracelets, and necklaces least of all, making the less secure spring clasp or magnetic clasps appropriate for very light necklaces.

The Right Clasp for the Right Style, Material and Size
Both for aesthetic and practical reasons, make sure the clasp and your other findings look right for the piece.
  • Don't use large and heavy clasps for light pieces that would get dragged backward or to the side by the closure.
  • Avoid using "clunky" looking clasps for elegant pieces, unless the aesthetic contrast is what you're going for.
  • Similarly, avoid using elegant clasps for clunky looking jewelry.
  • Match materials. Using a silver plated clasp on a necklace strand that has sterling silver beads both brings down the value of the necklace and means the clasp will almost certainly get the silver coating polished right off, under the assumption it's sterling silver.
The Clasp Should Be Easy to Use
You'd think all clasps were easy to figure out, but some can be real puzzles, not to mention challenges to finger dexterity.  How easy the bracelet clasp or necklace clasp is to operate depends on:
  • the size of the beads where the clasp attaches to the strand - big beads may dwarf the bar end of a toggle clasp and make it almost impossible to grasp and operate
  • the wearer's needs and preferences - large or arthritic hands may have trouble with certain types of delicate clasps such as small lobster claw or box clasps.
Aesthetics Always Matter
Jewelry clasps don't just have a utilitarian function - they have an aesthetic function, too. Decide whether you want the clasp to be a focal point in and of itself or discreetly blend into the design.

All told, the best jewelry clasps are those that
  • are easy to unfasten and fasten
  • remain secured when fastened
  • match the necklace / bracelet / anklet's style
  • are sturdy enough to handle repeated use.
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