Clasps: Closing the Show

by Barbara van Look, Content Development Group, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

The role of clasps has always been to keep a piece of jewelry closed. How much of a celebrity the clasp is in a particular jewelry piece is up to the designer. Will it be cast as an extra or the star of the show?

Different clasps are designed for different uses, just as different characters in a movie or a play require different kinds of actors to play them. Like actors, some have a wide variety of sizes and styles and can play many roles, while others are more specialized.

Cast your clasp to fit the role it serves in your design and you'll have a blockbuster piece of jewelry art.

The Extra

This clasp is there to get the job done, with as little fuss and fanfare as possible. It knows it's not the star--so it works best in tandem with the theme or components of the piece. It's not here to draw attention, so it works best for delicate designs that will not overwhelm that small gemstone or filigree pendant. Here are some examples: Clasps: Closing the Show

Add-a-Bead Clasps 1. Add-a-Bead clasps attach to cord or chain and allow large-hole beads to slide right over the clasp and onto the necklace.

Barrel (or Torpedo) Clasps 2. Barrel (or Torpedo) clasps provide a smooth finish to the line of a long slender necklace or bracelet design.

Bar-and-Ring Toggle Clasps 3. Bar-and-Ring Toggle clasps in smooth styles offer an unobtrusive finish to any necklace or bracelet creation. Use small sizes for lightweight necklaces and bracelets and larger sizes for heavier pieces.

Crimping Clasps 4. Crimping clasps are an easy way to finish cord and beading wire pieces. Rather than looping wire through a crimp tube and around a jumpring, simply crimp the clasp tube end around your wire--the loops, rings and clasps are attached for you. Available in hook-and-eye, lobster claw and magnetic styles.

Hook-and-Eye Clasps 5. Hook-and-Eye clasps are a lightweight and low-profile way to add closure to jewelry designs. The pliable hook can be gently pried open and closed for a secure hold. As the ''extra'', they finish your design without drawing too much attention.

Lobster Claw Clasps 6. Lobster Claw clasps offer tried and true security with a basic simplicity that blends in with jewelry designs. They're also easy to use.

Magnetic Clasps 7. Magnetic clasps camouflage the easy-on, easy-off magnetic closure with the look of a bead, seamlessly blending in with the rest of the design.

Pop-style Clasps 8. Pop-style clasps camouflage the easy-on, easy-off magnetic closure with the look of a bead, seamlessly blending in with the rest of the design.

S-Hook Clasps 9. S-Hook clasps are easy-to-use and subtle to the eye. They are often accented with Bali-style wirework, making them effortlessly flow with necklaces incorporating Bali-style gold or vermeil beads. They come in many styles and are a staple for every bead box.

Springring clasps 10. Springring clasps provide a clean line and a secure finish to open-link chains and dainty necklaces, bracelets and anklets.

The Regular Cast

This clasp supports the star--your centerpiece or focal component--by interacting as part of the design. It blends in and stands out, all at the same time. It gets more attention than the extra, is larger or more detailed and is often multi-strand, though it is not the focus of the jewelry design. Here are some examples: Clasps: Closing the Show

Adjustable Clasps 1. Adjustable clasps command attention with a flirty dangle down the back of the neck. Personalize it to work with your design--just add a bead or component to the end of the dangle.

Bar-and-Ring Toggle Clasps 2. Bar-and-Ring Toggle clasps in the regular cast work as a great counterpoint to centerpieces and pendants, particularly lariat and ''y'' necklaces where the clasp is an identifying feature that compliments the focal piece with intricate designs. Bar-and-ring toggles with gemstones are beautiful partners to necklaces with matching gemstone beads and centerpieces.

Bead Clasps 3. Bead clasps blend in with the rest of the necklace design, adding to the flow of the pattern, without drawing the eye away from the overall design.

Box Clasps 4. Box clasps conceal the clasp in a design that looks like a small focal piece. Explore the warm, beautiful world of copper as well as other precious and plated metals. Use antiqued finishes to give any design a vintage air, especially when paired with turquoise or chrysocolla beads.

Button Toggle Clasps 5. Button Toggle clasps are perfect for chunky ethnic bracelets and necklaces--or add them to textiles to use as buttons down the front of a coat or sweater.

Hook-and-Eye Clasps 6. Hook-and-Eye clasps bring bold style and textured, intricate detail to any necklace or bracelet, and are easy-to use. They can also play off centerpieces with added flair.

S-Hook Clasps 7. S-Hook clasps in precious metals with gemstones or ornately detailed with balls and scrollwork dress up jewelry designs with stand-out style.

Tab Lock Clasps 8. Tab Lock clasps support necklaces by the intricate beauty of their design, and often incorporate themes fitting for designs with motifs.

Slide Lock Clasps 9. Slide Lock clasps can hold almost an unlimited number of strands of chain, cord, beading wire or thread. The slide lock clasp has a clean and elegant line and snaps together to securely hold even the heaviest design.

The Star of the Show

This clasp is a superstar, functioning as both a focal component and a clasp. It is the reason you designed this piece in the first place--to showcase its incredible beauty. Here are some examples: Clasps: Closing the Show

Bar-and-Ring Toggle Clasps 1. Bar-and-Ring Toggle clasps carved entirely from gemstones showcase the exquisite beauty of the gemstone for the entire necklace. Use as the centerpiece of a necklace made with tumbled nuggets and pearls--or use it to balance the visual draw of a carved gemstone butterfly focal component.

Box [or Tab Insert] Clasps 2. Box (or Tab Insert) clasps make more than just a cameo appearance, they are also available in dazzling marcasite and gemstone brooch-style flowers and intricately detailed sterling silver. Pair with matching gemstones and set it at the base of the throat for a stunning effect.

Magnetic clasps 3. Magnetic clasps add the spark of cubic zirconia or light up the night with a stardust finish--magnetic clasps offer strong hold and can serve as the focal point of the piece.

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