Tips for choosing the right clasp

on Friday, June 13, 2014

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4

You spent half an hour stringing a simple beaded necklace. Or maybe you spent two months doing an amulet bag with Delica or Toho beads to create a picture on the face of the bag, and then weeks doing a seed bead spiral stitch for the straps. Which clasp are you going to use?

Don’t be hasty in making your decision. If that simple strand is made with acrylic beads and you intend to sell it at a craft fair for a nominal amount, putting a 14kt gold clasp on the piece would be foolish. Putting a base metal clasp on your amulet bag may be the fastest way to complete the piece, but doing so may not be the smartest thing to do.

First, you should know that some people are allergic to base metal; others cannot use magnetic clasps because of implanted pacemakers. Some cannot afford the price at which you should sell your piece if you are trying to get paid a decent amount for your seed bead work, and you used a 14 kt gold clasp.

If you have a lightweight necklace for which you used inexpensive materials, a spring clasp may be the right choice (Figure 1).

If you have heavier necklace, but still one made of inexpensive materials, an “S” hook and jumpring closure to your piece is a good choice (Figure 2).

I suggest the S hook for a heavier piece because the weight of the necklace will keep the clasp from coming undone. Use it for a lightweight piece and the clasp will not work as well. You can buy your S hooks at most beading stores, or you can forge them from wire. Your round-nose pliers and a Sharpie would suffice to create the one shown (Figure 2). This might work for a bracelet as well, but I do not use them as the motion of your wrist could have your piece falling off, and you could lose something on which you spent either considerable time and/or money.

But what about the piece on which you spent a lot of time, and which is composed of expensive elements?  You will want a clasp that is secure, will not cause allergic reactions, poses no health risks, and is elegant, matching your piece in a distinctive way.  I have found that I either make my own clasp, or search far and wide for just the right one.

For instance, this necklace used vintage 24 kt gold-lined Czech seed beads from the 1920s, and I spent quite some time bead crocheting the strand and then creating a mount for the art bead. Sourcing such vintage seed beads is difficult, if not impossible, and the art beads are expensive, with each one being distinctive (Figure 3). 

I wanted a clasp that would do it justice, and I turned to Linda Hartung’s Alacarte Clasp for the solution. I know her clasps do not use any base metals, and I customize the clasp by adding crystals to it that matched my piece.

For one bracelet, I could not find just the right one to match, so I made my own with seed beads and design it for a good match (Figure 4).

The clasp gave security to the bracelet, and made the piece one-of-a-kind. Take the time to choose your clasp and you can change a nice piece into an outstanding one!

Dr. Gail H. Devoid, Ph.D. is president of Need for Beads, Inc. and teaches beading techniques through programs at the Bead Society of New Hampshire. She also co-hosted a live, free, Internet radio show called The Jewelry Connection.

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