Let’s talk clasps. There are 4 main styles of clasps, and a few oddities that are hard to categorize. The basic styles are:
- spring closure
- hook and eye
- box clasp
Oh, and the orphan and unloved barrel clasp. Ptui.
oo – and magnetic clasps too!
The spring closure is usually some sort of ring or loop, with a movable opening, that allows you to hook it onto something, and then closes up – so that it doesn’t come undone.
The most basic of these is the spring ring. Inexpensive and it gets the job done. However, it can be murder on your nails, fiddly to do up, and really adds nothing to the design of your piece. Usually comes with the tab to loop into – although you might find that if you are using a fine chain, you can hook into that instead. Don’t put this on items that you are sending into juried competitions, btw.
A much nicer looking option is the Lobster Claw clasp. The basic idea is the same, but the design is more attractive, and the mechanism is a little different – being more of a spring loaded lever. If they are stiff, they can wreck your nails too – but they don’t have the low-quality perception that the spring ring clasp has. They also come in a larger variety of sizes and metals and finishes. They seldom come with something to hook onto – so you will need either jumprings, an extender chain, or appropriately sized chain to link into.
These massive clasps are really just another variation on the spring closure – but you can see that they actually become a style element in their own right and could be positioned to be worn at the front a necklace as a focal point.
Due to it’s secure nature – a spring closure is one of the most secure types of clasps.
The Hook and Eye clasp is pretty self-expanatory. There’s a hook, and a loop. These clasps tend to be long – so don’t forget to factor in the length when calculating the length to make your finished piece.
Hook and eye closures need to be fairly tight, or to have weight on them to keep them closed. Consequently – they are a poor choice for bracelets – but excellent for necklaces. There are some wonderfully decorative clasps in this category!
These simple S hooks fall into the same category – but are not always sold with the rings needed to loop into. A jumpring will work nicely for that. If they are closed too tight to loop into a jumpring – you can just pull the hook out a bit to open it up. Just pull it out into position – do the exact opposite of what we say to do with jumprings (which we say to never do that with – always open a jumpring to the side – that’s because you need to close it up again, and it needs to match up. With adjusting the hook on a clasp – you don’t need to close it up – so it’s ok.)
The toggle clasp is a loop or ring of some sort, and bar that you slip through the loop, and it then turns sideways and is too wide to come out, unless you turn it sideways again to push the bar out. I find these excellent for bracelets – as they are fairly easy to do up with one hand. The bar does need to be wide enough to not fall back through the hole. And – you need some extra room on the bar side to slide it through the hole – so you have to be careful with your designs to ensure that you have that little bit of play – i.e. you can’t put a really big bead next to the bar – as you won’t have enough room to get the bar through the hole and turned. These also come in many, many styles and colours. Some of my all time favourite clasps are toggles. The sterling toggles frequently come assembled – the two sides are attached with a jump ring. You can open this jumpring and use it to attach it to your jewelry, or put it aside for future use.
The most complex style of clasp is the box clasp. We’ll carry on with them, and the others next week.