Guide to Jewellery Findings
This Guide to Jewellery Findings focuses on the contemporary and vintage jewellery findings stocked by Big Bead Little Bead, whilst in the process describing and illustrating the principle jewellery making components used to create beautiful jewellery. The vast majority of these jewellery findings are produced in a variety of base metals including raw brass, solid copper and sterling silver, plated metals such as gold plated and silver plated, or with applied metallic finishes like antique copper, antique silver, black antique, bronze and gunmetal.
Also known as Bell Caps
- Bead Caps are used to accentuate and frame beads whilst ensuring a decorative professional finish. These versatile findings can be plain in design or ornamental, with surface decoration, fluting, as well as cutouts and filigree work, allowing more of the beads surface to show through. As a general rule more decorative bead caps should be paired with plainer beads. They can be used to cap both ends of a bead or just one, with the later creating an acorn effect. On a functional level they can be used to reduce down larger bead holes to prevent head pins slipping through, or to cover damage around a bead hole. There are no rules when it comes to matching bead caps to beads by size, being a case of experimentation to achieve the desired look for any particular design.
- Bookmarks are typically embellished with a combination of beads, chain, charms or ribbons, all dangling down from a single hanging loop to great decorative effect. They are usually made of metal and can be plain, inscribed with patterns, or moulded in the style of feathers, leaves and other long thin page keeping designs.
Bracelets & Bangles
- Bracelet Frames, bangles and cuff blanks provide an ideal foundation for adding cabochons, charms, crystals and glass beads, as well as for wire work. These jewellery findings include bangles with cabochon settings, cuff bracelet frames, elasticated chain bracelets perfect for charms, decorative filigree bracelet frames and wire bracelet frames. Although the wrist band of these jewellery blanks are pre-formed they usually have a degree of malability within the metal to allow them to be better shaped or sized to fit individual wrists.
- Brooches and brooch pins typically consist of a plate or wire sat directly above a safety style pin used for attaching these findings to clothes or hats. They can have decorative elements such as cabochon settings, filigree elements or bead hanging loops as found on kilt pin brooches. More functional brooch findings can be added directly to the back of jewellery designs using bars, brooch bases or sieve plates. They are a perfect base for wire work and artistic embellishment.
Also known as Bead Tips, Clam Shells and Knot Cups
- Calottes are used at the ends of necklaces or bracelets to cover a crushed crimp bead or to hide a knot in cord or stringing wire . They resemble a hollow metal bead, split in two and hinged at the bottom or the side. They have a metal hook or ring at their top for attaching to a clasp and, if hinged at the bottom, a small hole for feeding stringing wire, thread or cord through. Once placed in position they are squeezed gently with a pair of flat nosed pliers to close them. The calotte can then be attached to the loop of a clasp or a jump ring. When used with cord or stringing wire the knot should be placed inside the calotte with a little glue for added security. A seed bead can also be added to the knot for extra anchorage before closing the calotte around both the knot and the bead.
Chandeliers & Droppers
- Chandelier Components and droppers are designed with integrated hanging loops for creating beaded dangles and multi tiered designs for earrings, necklaces or pendants. Chandelier findings allow glass beads, embellishments, pearls or stones to be easily attached with jump rings or jewellery wire loops, adding interest, fluidity and movement to a jewellery design.
Clasps & Toggles
- Clasps and Toggles are closures for necklaces or bracelets which can be simple or decorative in style. Thought should to be given to selecting the right jewellery fastener for each inidividual design, factoring in the weight a clasp will need to bear as well as the number of strands that might need to be supported. Another consideration to keep in mind is the appearance and value of the end piece, ensuring the choice of closure complements the overall design rather than detracting from it. It is also worth noting that a clasp does not have to sit discreetly at the back of the neck, as many clasps are decorative enough to form the focus of a piece. The following list details the main clasp designs available but there are many variations within these.
Also known as Torpedo Clasps
Cylindrically shaped Barrel Clasps either have a simple screw thread closure or are held together magnetically. They are ideal for graduated necklaces where a string of beads is reduced down towards the point of closure thereby giving a clean line to the finish point. Whilst giving a good level of security they are also relatively easy to open and close making them perfect for those that find other clasps difficult or fiddly to use. Magnetic clasps should not be worn by those who are pregnant, uses a pacemaker, a pacemaker defibrillator, an insulin pump or an electric insulin device.
Also known as Pearl Clasps
On one side of these Box Clasps there is a hinged closure, a push in sprung tongue, or a fish hook like bar. This element is pushed home, compressed and locked into the box or housing on the other side of the closure. Because traditionally they were used for higher end jewellery pieces, such as pearl necklaces, it is common for these clasps to have the added security of a safety catch to keep both elements together, often in the form of a figure of eight wire locking bar and pin. Over time the effectiveness of the sprung elements of these fasteners may be reduced but a simple remedy is to widen the hook or tongue so that it produces more tension when being pushed home. These decorative closures are of a classic design and bring vintage elegance to both single and multi string jewellery pieces.
Foldover Clasps are a strong, functional snap shut fastener, similar in design to those used on metal watch bracelets. They have a hinged front face which can be raised to allow a loop or ring to be placed within the body of the clasp before being closed down on to a pressure tab that keeps the clasp securely closed. By design they take a degree of effort to open them and are therefore far better suited to bracelets than necklaces.
Hook And Eye Clasps
Simple by design, these Hook And Eye Clasps are, as their name suggests, made up of two elements, namely a hook and an eye. The hook element is attached to one end of the jewellery piece with the eye at the other end and the clasp is secured by catching the hook within the eye. These closures can be simple wire forms or more decorative and with a suitably gauged jewellery wire they are very easy to fashion. They are perfect with heavier designs as the added weight ensures that gravity keeps the clasp closed.
Lanyard Clasps or lanyard clips operate in the same way as a lobster clasp but without the aid of a mechanism. Instead this closure is opened by applying inward pressure with the thumb against an overlap of wire where the fastener opens. The tempered metal ensures that once released the clasp opening will spring back to the closed position, with the overlap ensuring everything remains secure. Typically used as zip pulls and for identity tag holders they have also found a place in jewellery design for decorative pieces such as handbag charms.
Simple by function, Magnetic Clasps use discreetly placed magnets within a plain or decorative clasp setting. When the two ends are brought together the pull of the magnets ensures a secure, well aligned closure. With the magnets being small in size they can be incorporated in to all manner of designs. They are a very popular choice being so easy to put on and take off, but it is important to match the strength of the magnets to the weight of the design. Magnetic clasps should not be worn by those who are pregnant, uses a pacemaker, a pacemaker defibrillator, an insulin pump or an electric insulin device.
S Hook Clasps
Similar in design to hook and eye clasps these closures consist of an S shaped element on one side of the piece that hooks into a circle or round opening on the other side. This means S Hook Clasps can be used directly with suitably sized chain links. They are perfect with heavier designs as the added weight ensures that gravity helps to keep the clasp closed. With a suitably gauged jewellery wire these clasps are very easy to fashion.
Spring Ring Clasps
One of the most common clasps used in jewellery making, Spring Ring Clasps are usually plain and circular by design, featuring a spring loaded lever mechanism built into the curve of these tubular fasteners. The arm or lever is pulled back against the spring which draws back a pin and opens up a gap in the circumference, allowing a jump ring, loop or ring, attached to the other end of the piece, to be placed inside before the lever is released closing the gap. They are very similar in function to lobster or trigger clasps.
Made up of two distinct halves, one is a ring and the other a bar, which to work effectively needs to be longer then the diameter of the ring. Toggle Clasps are easy to fasten with the bar simply pivoted through the ring and then flattened against it. Although a ring has been described, this element can be any open shape as long as it allows the bar to pass through it and the opening remains small enough to secure the bar in place. These easy to use clasps are a popular choice for necklaces and are available for both single and multi strand designs. In terms of variations in design this type of closure is the option that offers the widest range of shapes and decorative styles.
Trailer Hitch Clasps
Also known as Ball and Socket Clasps, Button Clasps and Snap Clasps
Trailer Hitch Clasps are snap closures, so named because they function in a similar fashion to the coupling of a trailer and a car. One side of the clasp features a raised ball over which the ring element of the clasp is placed before being pushed down. An inner metal collar within the ring provides the secure closure as it passes over the ball. By design these clasps offer some lateral movement with the ring able to move horizontally within the clasp.
Also known as Lobster Clasps and Parrot Clasps
Similar in function to spring ring clasps but with their own distinct shape, Trigger Clasps have a small spring closure which is opened and closed using a raised trigger on the outer surface of the clasp. When in the open position a suitably sized jump ring, loop or ring at the other end of the design can be placed within the clasp securing the bracelet or necklace. Because their design only allows the claw to open inwards they are a very secure option and perfect for heavier pieces. These popular clasps are also known as lobster clasps and parrot clasps, in the first instance for the action and shape of the closure resembling that of a lobsters claw and in the second for the overall shape of the clasp resembling this distinctive birds head.
Connectors & Links
- Jewellery Connectors or Jewellery Links are generally used to join the individual components of a piece together, although they can also be used as the centrepiece of a design. Most jewellery link findings or connector findings have loops at each end to attach jump rings, eye pins or jewellery wire, but openwork and filigree pieces are also used. These plain or decorative connectors can be used in a wide variety of jewellery pieces including bracelets, dangles, earrings, extenders, handmade chains, necklaces, as well as to provide links between wire wrapped beads.
- Cord Ends are cylindrical findings designed to enclose the end of a round section cord or chain. Some cord ends, such as those made of coiled wire, need only be squeezed to secure the cord in position, others require the use of a suitable jewellery glue. The cord end provides a neat finish and allows the addition of a jump ring or clasp. Larger cord ends are essential for kumihimo work where multiple cords are to be brought together.
Crimp Beads or Crimp Tubes
- Crimp Beads or Crimp Tubes are tiny rounds or tubes of soft metal used to secure two loop ends of flexible beading wire, or other stringing material, to hold a bead strand, add a clasp, or to secure a floating bead on an illusion necklace. Once positioned they are crushed around the wire using Crimping Pliers.
Crimp Bead Covers
- Crimp Bead Covers are used to conceal crimp beads. They are placed centrally over the crimp bead and squeezed with a pair of pliers until the crimp bead cover is closed to bring that all important polished, professional finish to a jewellery design. Once closed crimp covers should look like regular metal beads.
- Earring Findings. Most jewellery wearers will already have a pretty good understanding of the difference between the various earring types. Stud earrings or post earrings are short lengths of straight metal, with a cup, plate or claw setting at one end. A butterfly back is required to keep the earring on. Hoop earrings are circles of wire, available in many diameters which can come with extra loops to add dangles. Hoops can have a hinged closure, one wire end can tuck into the other, or they can have a post and butterfly. Earwires range from a fish hook shape (often with a spring and ball embellishment, and a small loop for adding dangles to) to the very delicate kidney wire (shaped wire without any embellishment). Earwires either sit through the ear, or close by tucking the back end of the earwire behind a hook.
Bullet Back Stoppers
Ear Clip Earrings
Fish Hook Earwires
Lever Back Earrings
Screw Clip Earrings
End Caps & End Cones
- End Caps and End Cones are primarily used to conceal knots, crimp beads and the end of chain before the connection is made to a clasp. With their relatively large opening they are especially useful for merging several strands into a single point before attaching a clasp or other jewellery finding.
- Eye Pins are short lengths of wire ending in a turned loop. Add a few choice beads turn or wrap a loop at the other end and this turns the eye pin into a dangle. Dangles can be added to chain, wire, thread and earring components giving movement to a piece of jewellery as well as looking pretty. They can also be used to make beaded links using a turned loop to join to the next link.
Also known as Thong Ends or Cord Ends
- Folding Crimps are used when stringing with lengths of leather, suede, ribbon or even chain. They are used at the ends of a design, having an integral end loop for attaching to a clasp or a jump ring. The width of the thong or cord should fit neatly into the width of the folding crimp. The thong or cord end should be laid in to the middle of the crimp, using a drop of glue for added security, and then the first fold should be closed over it followed by the second. Flat nosed pliers should then be used to fully close the folding crimp neatly and securely.
Headbands & Hairslides
Hair Grip Slides
- Head Pins are short lengths of wire ending in a head designed to prevent beads falling off. A seed bead can be used to add a little extra diameter if needed. Generally head pins end in a tiny round of metal soldered on horizontal to the wire, but look out for decorative head pins with glass ends. Turn or wrap a loop to create dangles – see Eye Pins.
- Jump Rings are the small heroes of beading! They are generally small circles of wire, used for linking together components, but can also be found as ovals, triangles and square jump rings. They normally have a break in them at one point along their circumference and it is this join that is used to open the ring. Typically using two pairs of pliers the jump ring is held in one set with the wire opening pushed away with the other set. The two sides should never be pulled apart, like opening a book, as this will distort and weaken the ring. Closed jump rings have been sealed with a tiny amount of solder, so they won’t work their way open. Jump rings come in all manner of sizes so always choose the best size to suit your work. Chainmaille is chain made exclusively with jump rings, based on methods used historically to produce chain armour – the best is fabulously complicated to look at!
Key Rings & Key Chains
- Split Ring Key Chains and Trigger Clasp Key Rings are perfect for making embellished handbag charms, bag clips, key fobs or photo pendants. Both the split ring key chains and the trigger clasp key rings provide a sturdy and secure closure, with the trigger clasp key rings having the added benefit of swivel loop fastner.
- Pendant Bails or Jewellery Bails are used to hang pendants, charms, lockets and other focal pieces stylishly from a necklace chain or cord, whilst ensuring they lie flat against the wearer. A pendant bail is secured in place using the hole in a pendant, mounted to the pendant with glue, or attached to a ring through the pendant.
- Ribbon Ends can be used to finish the ends of ribbon, leather, suede or even chain. They are used at the ends of a design, having an integral end loop for attaching to a clasp or a jump ring. The width of the ribbon should fit neatly into the width of the ribbon end, it may be folded in half if necessary. Ribbon ends have serrated teeth on one or both sides that help secure the ribbon in position but jewellery glue should be used for extra security. Flat nosed pliers should then be used to fully close the ribbon ends neatly and securely. Folding crimps may be used for narrower ribbon widths.
- Ring Blanks are used to create fashionable jewellery rings, ring blanks come in a variety of styles including plain ring bands, filigree ring blanks for wirework, glue on flat pad ring blanks for adding embellishments, cabochon ring blanks with claws or recesses, rivoli ring blanks for chatons, as well as sieve plate ring blanks and looped beading ring blanks for making bling rings, cha cha rings or cluster rings.
- Spacer Bars or Separator Bars are designed for multi strand necklaces or bracelets, with the number of holes in the spacer bar usually determining the number of strands in the jewellery design. Their function is to hold the strands equally apart and aligned along the length of the piece and are useful in necklaces where the curve of the neckline would otherwise force the strands of a design on top of one and another, causing them to tangle. They can also be used to create a step change in the number of strands in a necklace.
- Split Rings do the same job as jump rings but, with multiple rings of wire running in parallel like key chain rings, they are more secure. To add a component to a split jump ring it has to be twisted around the rings of wire right to the centre.
Wine Glass Charm Rings
- Wine Glass Charm Rings or Wine Glass Markers provide a decorative addition to stemware, as well as helping to identify whose drink is whose! Beads, charms or crystals are added to a wire ring which is then placed around the glass stem before being closed. Wine glass charm rings can be made to suit any season, occasion or party theme, with weddings being a favourite as they also double as wedding favours for guests to take home with them.
- Wire Guardians are designed to protect stringing wire from wear and tear against clasps and other findings whilst also ensuring a polished, professional finish. These horseshoe shaped components have a pre-curved channel into which the wire is placed and turned back on itself before being secured with a crimp bead.
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Copyright © 2008-2014 Anna Weller of Big Bead Little Bead