Hooks, Toggles, Magnets, Oh My!

If you have ever worn a necklace or bracelet, you have probably had that sickening feeling when you realize (at the grocery store checkout line, at the ATM, or after you return home) — *gasp* — your jewelry is gone! Hopefully that lovely necklace or bracelet just slid under the seat of your car, or is in the front hallway where it landed before you left the house. However, your lovely piece may very well be gone forever. We’ve been there, and we know how heart-wrenching that can be. Our recommendation is that you ensure that none of your other treasured pieces disappear ever again.

How does one do that, you ask? By selecting the most secure clasp for your jewelry pieces. We’ve collected important info to help you decide which clasps are best for your necklaces or bracelets; some nuggets are common knowledge, but we hope you learn a few more helpful tips, as well.

Lobster Claw
We know what you’re thinking: “Ugh! Those are a pain in the butt!” They can be, true, but there is a reason they are a jewelry industry staple. In addition to coming in a wide variety of metals and sizes to coordinate perfectly with your jewelry, they very rarely open on their own. The lobster claw’s little trigger has to be pulled back completely to open the mouth of the claw, and that means a deliberate application of pressure. They are terrific for necklaces (when you have two hands available), but they are also one of the most secure clasps you can use for a bracelet. There’s no super-easy way to put on a bracelet that features a lobster claw, but a few of our recommendations include:

1.) Using lobster claws on bracelets that are on the looser side. That way, you’ll have more drape to work with, and will have an easier time hooking the mouth of the claw to the ring or chain segment on the other side.
2.) Holding your wrist against your stomach or rib cage so your bracelet doesn’t move around as much while you hook the clasp with your other hand.
3.) Asking a nimble-fingered loved one to help you put the bracelet on (hopefully a loved one without long fingernails — they make things trickier).
4.) Buying a Bracelet Buddy, if you wear bracelets a lot and don’t have a loved one handy.

Spring Ring
If you thought lobster claws were pains in the butt, you obviously haven’t met spring rings! We say that jokingly, but these little guys can be tricky to operate. These, too, are a jewelry industry staple, both for their security and diminutive size. Like the lobster claw, the spring ring’s TINY trigger has to be pulled back completely to open its mouth, but even then, the opening is very small. Although spring rings are nice for delicate necklaces (when you can use both hands easily), we do not recommend that you use them for bracelets, simply because they can be so frustrating.

Toggle

The simple definition of a toggle clasp is a clasp set that includes a loop and a bar. However, the loops can come in many sizes and shapes, including squares, leaves, and even animals, like the peacock toggle from Green Girl Studios (pictured above.) In addition to fastening your jewelry, these more decorative toggles make gorgeous focal pieces, ideally in a necklace. You can use toggles for bracelets, too, but if the bar of the toggle is on the large side, it can easily get caught on shirt sleeves & purse straps; all it takes for a toggle to fall off is for the bar to slide through the loop. When you use a toggle for a necklace, however, the clasp lays flat at the back of your neck, or — if you use the clasp as a focal point — it will lay flat against your collar bone, where it is less likely to get caught on your clothing.

Magnetic
Magnetic clasps are terrific for those with limited mobility in their fingers, or for folks who just want an amazingly simple clasp. A couple of pros of magnetic clasps are that they come in small, discreet styles and they are incredibly easy to put on and take off. Unfortunately, their ease of removal can also be a con. Although it’s not as common with lightweight jewelry pieces, necklaces and bracelets made of large metal beads or heavy gemstones are not ideal candidates for magnetic clasps. Their weight alone can pull on the clasp, causing it to open. Random openings can sometimes happen to lightweight jewelry pieces, too, especially if you work in an office: you will find that your clasp will unintentionally pick up staples, paperclips, and even get stuck to filing cabinets! Because of this, we recommend attaching a safety chain to pieces of jewelry with magnetic clasps. The chain won’t prevent the clasp from opening, but it will give you a few extra inches of warning time; if your clasp opens, the chain will prevent your bracelet from falling off of your wrist or your necklace from falling off of your neck. You should be able to feel your jewelry become loose before you lose it completely.

Box Clasp
This finding’s name can be deceiving: not all box clasps are shaped like boxes! They are often rectangular, oval or round. What is neat about box clasps is that they often have stones embedded in them, or have designs on the top, making them great accent pieces. Like magnetic clasps, they are fairly easy to put on and take off, but also like magnetic clasps, we recommend attaching a safety chain when you use them. A box clasp consists of a small wedge piece that the wearer pinches and slides into a small slot in the side of the “box.” Once inside, the wedge springs open, securing the clasp. If the wedge has not been slid in completely, it can slide out, resulting in you losing your bracelet or necklace. When in doubt, add a safety chain!

Tube Clasps
These handy findings are primarily found only in multi-strand versions. They are designed to add the least amount of length to a jewelry project, and they are quite secure, considering you have to pull an inner tube completely out of an outer tuber to open it up. We have never had a tube clasp open up on its own, either on a necklace or a bracelet! However, if you don’t push the inner tube (which contains a small spring) completely into the outer tube, it could slide out. To know you have secured your tube clasp properly, you should her a satisfying little click when the inner tube slides into place.

Other types of clasps that are available in multi-strand versions include toggles, box clasps, hook & eyes and (occasionally) magnetic.

Hook & Eye
One of the most basic types of clasps sets, hook & eye clasps are some of the few you can make yourself with just a little bit of wire! You can buy or create hook & eye clasps in all sorts of sizes, and most hooks can be pinched slightly so that they fit snugly into the matching eyes. Hook & eye clasps can be used for bracelets, and are especially handy for hooking onto extender chains. However, whether you use them for necklaces or bracelets, you do want to make sure the hook is a snug fit in its matching eye. Too much wiggle room means the hook can easily slide out of the eye.

Congratulations! You have just graduated from Clasps 101. We hope you found this blog educational, and we hope it inspires you to check out some of your favorite jewelry pieces to see if they feature appropriate clasps. We want to make sure you are able to wear and treasure your favorite jewelry for years to come!

Byzantine chain photo courtesy of Lydia Chapman for Blue Door Beads.
Lobster claw, spring ring, magnetic clasp, box clasp & tube clasp photos courtesy of Foreign Source Ltd.
Pewter peacock toggle photo courtesy of Green Girl Studios.
Gold-plated toggle clasp photo courtesy of Tierra Cast.
Hook & eye clasp photo courtesy of beadsgalore.com

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