How frequently do you think about the clasp on your jewelry? If you’re like most people, almost not at all. Most people don’t think about their jewelry clasp until they’re struggling to put their jewelry on.
Clasps are great to look at for a few reasons, though. One, you do want to know that your jewelry is easy to get on. But two, it can also indicate quality. Clasps are one of the things that appraisers do look at when they’re trying to determine the quality of an item. And clasps are something that you might want to consider when buying something expensive because you don’t want to get it lost.
Here’s an overview of the different types of clasps and the different types of designer jewelry clasps. There is some overlap between “regular” clasps and “designer” clasps, but there are also some clasps that you will regularly find in designer jewelry — and usually nowhere else.
Regular Types of Clasps
You’ve probably seen most regular types of clasps. For necklaces and bracelets, spring rings and lobster clasps are popular. These are still used in fine jewelry, but they’re not an indicator of fine jewelry; they’re used everywhere.
Barrel clasps (ones that thread in) are usually seen in trendy jewelry rather than fine jewelry because they can damage the surrounding materials over time (through the twisting). You might also see a simple hook clasp or button clasp.
But if you’ve never seen the best fine jewelry, there might be some styles of clasp you’ve never been introduced to.
Fine Jewelry Clasps
Fine jewelry clasps are a little different for a couple of reasons. First, they have to be more secure. You don’t want to lose an item that costs hundreds or even thousands. Second, they don’t want to disrupt the design. Finally, they want to ensure that the material isn’t damaged.
- Absent Clasps. Let’s discuss the obvious: the absence of a clasp at all. When it comes to fine necklaces, many are long enough that they don’t have clasps. This ensures that the flow of the material remains as the designer intended and it reduces the chances that the necklace could be lost. There are practical reasons why clasps are needed on bracelets, but that’s not necessarily true with a necklace. So, you’ll often see a string of beads, pearls, or amber without any clasp at all.
- Concealed Clasps. Sometimes a designer will go a step further and design their jewelry so you can’t see the clasp at all. These concealed clasps vary in design. Some might look like a bead that’s a part of the style. Some might have a clasp that hides beneath other elements of the jewelry. Either way, you may need to fumble a bit until you get used to it, but it will preserve the look of the design. You will rarely find a concealed clasp on something that isn’t designer or fine jewelry.
- Ladder Clasps. Mostly in bracelets and watches, ladder clasps can close multiple ways to impact the length of the jewelry. This is used to create a nice fit. These clasps close flat, so they also aren’t very visible once they’re closed, making them perfect for sleek, modern designs. You can find ladder clasps on cheaper or lower-end watches, but you’ll rarely find them on low-end bracelets.
- Magnetic Clasps. You see magnetic clasps frequently now in fine jewelry, though it does tend to be in lower-end fine jewelry rather than higher-end. Magnetic clasps are great because they snap closed like magic, perfect for bracelets. But because they are magnetic, they can get pulled apart, which is a no-no for jewelry that’s particularly expensive.
- Slide-In Clasps. These clasps shouldn’t be confused with slider clasps. One piece of the clasp fits into the other. These clasps are usually large, so they’re usually a part of the design of the object itself. They are easy to use and very forgiving.
- Slider Clasps. These are becoming more and more popular for bracelets. A single bead has the two sides of the bracelet threaded through. You pull each side to tighten the bracelet. You have undoubtedly seen more fine jewelry pieces with these types of clasps, as they have only recently come into vogue. They are a fast, easy way of sizing a bracelet.
- Swivel Clasps. These clasps are a lot like any other clasp, except rather than twisting the cord they have a swivel built in. These are more frequently used in designer jewelry than, say, barrel clasps or regular ring clasps because they aren’t going to put additional strain on the thread or cord they’re attached to.
- Toggle Clasps. Finally, toggle clasps can be very low end or very high end, depending. A lot of people love toggle clasps because they have such a unique look: a large rod is pushed through a circle. They’re also very easy to use. When they’re made out of precious metals, they’re valuable. But because they also have a very simplistic design, you can also find it on very rustic jewelry.
Those are just 7 of the different types of designer jewelry clasps that you might see. Designers frequently make their own, unique types of clasps, too. The type of clasp you want on your jewelry primarily depends on usefulness, not the style. Since most clasps are hidden, you want something that you can easily manipulate.
Of the above clasps, there are a few that are generally easier than others: toggle, magnetic, slider, and ladder. These can usually be moved by a single hand. Ring clasps, lobster claw clasps, and barrel clasps often tend to be harder to manipulate because you need both hands free. It can be virtually impossible, for instance, for one person to attach a barrel clasp bracelet on themselves.
Clasps are designed to protect your jewelry. If you have high-end designer jewelry, you do want to know that it’s safe. So, next time you’re looking for something to buy, take a look at the clasp. Try the jewelry on to see if it works well for you — and to see whether it holds fast.