All About Clasps: A Clasp Style Guide and Easy Reference Chart

All About Clasps
by Barbara van Look, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Clasps do much more than keep a piece of jewelry closed--they play a key role in jewelry designs. Fire Mountain Gems and Beads carries a wide selection of different style clasps to meet the needs of jewelry makers. Find the right style for every project, whether you are looking for a necklace clasp, bracelet clasp or anklet clasp, with the following clasp style guide and easy reference chart to over 30 different styles of clasps, which includes clasp usage suggestions, clasp jewelry design tips and easy links to shopping clasps.

Add-a-bead clasps (aka tube-lock clasps) are designed for use with chain (although they can be used with cord). The low profile of the tube clasp allows large hole beads or large loop bails to slide right over the clasp onto the necklace. The thin, silver-plated brass tube has a simple push-and-twist design--the enclosed spring holds it secure while allowing for easy on-off accessibility. Apply durable glue, such as Loctite® 409 Gel, to the inside of the tube, slide onto your wire or thin cord and allow to dry. Works best with multi-wire or thin cord designs, with a single, lightweight focal piece.

Adjustable clasps are hook-and-eye clasps with an attached length of chain. This allows a designer to vary necklace length for sizing versatility. Personalize adjustable clasps to work with your design--just add a bead or component to the end of the dangle.

Alligator clip clasps are versatile components that can be used as a traditional clasp or as a clip for accessories such as sweater guards. Clasps feature a large loop suitable for multi-strand designs, large cord or leather.

Anchor shackle clasps (aka U shackle clasps) are clasps popularly used with necklaces or bracelets made of parachute cord or leather. The design is utilitarian, making it a perfect choice for men's jewelry designs.

Ball-and-joint clasps use pressure on the ball to keep the clasps closed. Due to their easy-open and easy-close design, these styles are best for lightweight to medium-weight necklace designs.

Bar-and-ring toggle clasps are two-piece clasps. One piece is formed into a loop (usually a circle, but sometimes other shapes such as stars, hearts or leaves); the other piece is a ''T'' shaped bar. The clasp is closed by pulling the ''T'' shaped bar through the open loop. Immensely popular and easy to use, the bar-and-ring or toggle clasp is available in almost infinite material options and in a variety of styles, weights and designs. They are commonly used as clasps for necklaces (especially lariat style), clasps for bracelets and clasps for anklets. Use small sizes for lightweight necklaces and bracelets and larger sizes for heavier pieces.

Barrel (aka torpedo) clasps are low-profile clasps with threading, which are twisted to open and to close. These clasps provide a smooth finish to the line of a long slender necklace or bracelet design. See also screw clasps.

Bead clasps look like a bead, with a magnet, tab or bayonet closure. They blend in when closed, allowing the design to visually flow uninterrupted around the piece. Can include box clasp and magnetic clasp styles.

Box (aka tab insert) clasps have a tab which is inserted into a decorative frame or box. Some styles come with safety latches or safety chains, which prevent the wedge-shaped tab from pulling out and the jewelry from dropping off. Some styles are accented with gemstones, enamel or inlay work. See also bead clasps and filigree clasps. They are commonly used for lightweight necklaces, bracelets and anklets.

Button clasps resemble a button closure and work well as a link or for attaching interchangeable pendants, drops or charms. Button toggle clasps can be created by using a set of matched buttons, one with a loop of cord. The leather is looped around the other button to close the clasp.

Buckle clasps are two-piece side release clasps that have openings on both ends to accommodate various types of cords. Easily hook and unhook the buckle by pressing both release tabs at the same time. Buckle clasps are ideal for use with nylon parachute cord to create survival-style bracelets, and many other creative design options.

Bullet clasps open with one touch push-button backing. These clasps are extremely secure and long lasting for bracelet and necklace designs.

Clasp converters quickly and easily modify most finished necklaces into magnetic clasp necklaces. Clasp converters are easily used by people who have difficulty opening and closing conventional clasps.

Crimping clasps are crimped onto the end of beading wire or cord with crimping or flat-nose pliers. Can include hook-and-eye clasp, lobster claw clasp and magnetic clasp styles.

Filigree clasps have an open, filigreed surface, like a metallic lace. Can include box clasp and fishhook clasp styles.

Fishhook clasps are small clasps with a fishhook-shaped interior hook which is inserted into an oval box. The interior hook prevents jewelry from immediately falling off if the clasps are accidentally opened by hooking on the crossbar within the clasp box. Ideal for lightweight necklaces and bracelets.

Hook-and-eye (aka hook-style) clasps come in a wide selection of patterns, designs and styles. This easy-open clasp is recommended mostly for necklaces and chain belts. This clasp style is lightweight and offers a low-profile closure to jewelry designs. Can include adjustable clasp, crimping clasp, magnetic clasp and multi-strand clasp styles.

Lobster claw clasps are self-closing. The name gives a general idea of the clasp design; however, these spring-loaded clasps are available in a range of shapes, sizes and styles. They are suited for lightweight to medium-weight designs, however some larger styles can accommodate larger and heavier pieces. Can include crimping clasp, multi-strand clasp and swivel clasp styles.

Lock clasps connect cord or chain and work well as focals or drop components.

Magnetic clasps are two-piece clasps containing magnets. The magnets hold the two pieces of the clasp together, keeping the jewelry secure. Can include bead clasps, crimping clasps, hook-and-eye clasp and snap lock (aka fold-over) clasps styles.

Multi-strand clasps secure jewelry with two, three, four or more strands. Some styles are accented with gemstones, enamel or inlay work. Can include:

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 are double-ended clasps, shaped like an ''S.'' Available in a spectrum of sizes and styles; some clasps are sold with two rings. Pinching the arm of the ''S'' secures the clasp. Pulling the ''S'' open again releases the ring and opens the clasp.

Screw clasps have a threaded screw closure, similar to a barrel clasp, but are camouflaged to look like a bead, similar to a bead clasp.

Self-closing hook clasps are hinged clasps featuring spring mechanisms made of steel for added strength. Clasps work well as links in designs or when used to attach interchangeable pendants, drops or charms.

Slide clasps are low-profile clasps that cleverly attach to both ends of single-strand cord jewelry. Glue one strand into end cap side of slide clasp and pull the other strand through for a custom length.

Slide lock clasps consist of a set of tubes, one of which slides inside the other and locks into place. The bar style of these multi-strand clasps holds an almost unlimited number of strands of chain, cord, beading wire or thread.

Snap lock (aka fold-over) clasps are low-profile clasps and are less likely to tangle or snag on clothes or hair than other styles. This hinged clasp folds shut, closing securely and locking with a quiet ''snap.'' With this secure closure, snap lock clasps are ideal for bracelets or anklets.

Springring clasps are used with a jump ring or chain tab to make a complete clasp for necklace, bracelet and anklet designs. Pull the trigger to open. Release and the clasp automatically springs closed. This popular spring-loaded clasp comes in a multitude of sizes, for single-strand to multi-strand designs.

Swivel clasps are a form of the lobster claw clasp. The swivel allows the design to twist 360 degrees while the clasp stays in place, so they are ideal for bracelets and anklets.

Tab lock clasps close by inserting the decorative tab into the slot of the other half of the clasp. This easy-open, easy-close style is held closed by the weight of the finished jewelry itself. Due to their ease of opening, they are recommended for necklace designs.

Twister clasps are hinged clasps which are hooked through each end of a continuous necklace, or opera-length pearl strand, changing it into a twisted choker necklace.

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