When choosing a piece of jewelry, the clasp is probably the last thing you would think of. However, jewelry clasps (or fasteners), are crucial components of any jewelry piece and the sheer number of different clasp types goes to show just how important they are.
In this article, we’ll sift through some of the most popular jewelry clasps, from strongest to weakest. We’ll also take a close look at their advantages and disadvantages in different jewelry styles.
Types of Jewelry Clasps
Besides having the role of securely connecting two ends of a bracelet or a necklace, clasps are often the make-or-break part of their design. It can be very frustrating when you have to spend a lot of time wrestling with a clasp instead of getting dressed for a night out.
There are many different types of jewelry clasps out there and choosing the right one depends on the style, weight and size of the piece.
Gold-filled lobster clasp by Warung Beads.
The lobster clasp is perhaps one of the most common clasps found in bracelets, anklets, and necklaces. It got its name because of its resemblance to a lobster claw. By pulling and releasing a small lever on the side of the claw, the clasp will open and then close again.
These clasps have a sleek look and come in a variety of materials and sizes. The size of a lobster clasp will depend on the weight of a jewelry piece. Some can be tiny so if you’ve got longer nails or limited dexterity, you might find it difficult to open. However, they can also be quite strong and large, suitable for chunkier pieces of jewelry.
A swivel is another type of lobster clasp with a 360-degree rotating base. Swivels allow jewelry pieces to roll and move freely in any direction, making them great options for anklets or bracelets.
Silver screw clasps by Sierra Sage Findings.
As their name suggests, screw clasps are threaded clasps that work like screws. These operate by screwing one end of a fastener into the other, holding a jewelry piece tightly into place.
Screw clasps come in a wide range of sizes and shapes. They’re typically barrel-shaped but are also found in many other shapes like spheres or cylinders. The main advantage of a screw fastener is security, since the threaded design prevents the jewelry piece from opening accidentally.
The downside of the screw clasp is that it can take some time and precision to screw the two parts together. This can be annoying, especially if you’re in a hurry. Since you’ll need both hands to fasten this type of clasp, they aren’t exactly the best option for bracelets.
Spring Ring Clasp
14K gold filled spring ring clasp by House Of Gems Inc.
A spring ring is a circular metal fastener with a spring inside, keeping the clasp closed. To open and close the clasp, you need to push a small lever that slides along the ring or metal circle and then release it.
This small but effective clasp style is mostly found in fine pre-made and lightweight necklace chains. It’s almost impossible to hook these one-handed, which is why they aren’t suitable for bracelets.
Because the rings in this type of clasps are usually delicate, they shouldn’t be used with bold and heavy jewelry pieces.
Silver barrel clasps by My Magic Silver.
When closed, these clasps (also called torpedo clasps) resemble a barrel, which is how they got their name. They consist of two small cylindrical pieces that usually fasten together with a screw or with an insert-and-hook mechanism.
To operate the clasp, one end needs to be well twisted into the other, which is something that requires both hands. Therefore, the barrel clasp isn’t the best choice for bracelets but works well with anklets and necklaces.
Although slightly difficult to use, barrel fasteners offer excellent security and are usually found in fine, high-end jewelry pieces.
Metal buckle clasps by HEN GRC.
Featuring the same mechanism as a belt buckle, this clasp style is usually found in material or leather bracelets, wristwatches and choker necklaces. Buckle clasps are also rarely used in gold and other metal jewelry.
The eye-catching buckle clasp can turn any piece of jewelry into a statement piece. However, it’s mostly used in leather jewelry and is hardly ever seen in fine jewelry.
Antique silver box clasp by Boho Bead Peddler.
Box clasps are two-piece tongue-and-groove clasps, with a box frame on one end and a wedge-shaped tab on the other. This type of clasp works by inserting the tab into the box frame and letting it click into place. To open it, the exterior part of a tap should be pushed down and compressed so that it can slide out of the box frame.
Some box-style clasps have safety latches, preventing the tab from accidentally pulling out and opening the clasp. They’re available in various designs from smooth and plain to more decorative designs with enamel or elaborate filigree work or accented with precious stones.
While stylish and elegant, these fasteners aren’t very secure and can quickly get damaged with repeated use. However, unlike the clasps mentioned above, it’s one of the few clasp styles that can easily be operated with only one hand. This is why the box clasp is often used in fine jewelry pieces, such as tennis bracelets.
Sterling silver ball clasp by Crc Beads Shop.
Also known as bead clasps, these spherical jewelry fasteners usually have a bayonet or tab closure, with a similar mechanism to a box clasp.
When closed, ball clasps blend in perfectly with beaded jewelry and are often found in pearl necklaces as well as bracelets. Some have a smooth finish while others are heavily adorned with texturing or gemstones.
Antique bronze fishhook clasp by Ebead Show.
This fastener has an inside hook shaped like a fishhook on one end and a decorative oval or marquise-shaped casing on the other. To close it, the hook needs to be inserted into the oval casing or a box and pressed in until it clicks into place. To open the clasp, the hook needs to be pressed together and pulled out of the casing.
These are delicate but secure clasps, which make lightweight jewelry look fancy. They’re often used with knotted pearl necklaces, strung on silk cords with bullion or bead tips.
This clasp is often found in high-end fine jewelry and is ideal for necklaces since operating it requires both hands.
Slide Lock Clasp
Gold filled slide lock clasps by Sterling Silver Box.
This type of clasp consists of two tubes or bars, one sliding into the other and locking into place. Sometimes, these two components are magnetized to make them more secure.
Featuring longer bars with multiple smaller rings on their sides, these are often used for multi-strand jewelry. Elegant, secure and affordable, these clasps are a favorite choice for artisan jewelry.
Snap Lock Clasp
Floral snap lock clasp by Vikis Any Bead.
Also known as fold-over clasps, these are low-profile closures, featuring a hinged clasp that folds shut and locks in place with a quiet snap.
Since these fasteners can easily be opened and closed with only one hand, they’re perfect for anyone who has a hard time with lobster claws or spring rings. They’re also perfect for bracelets and are quite delicate which makes them suitable for fine and lightweight jewelry.
Push (or Clip) Clasp
Push clasps by Altered Art Supply.
These work like a miniature version of a snap hook or a climbing karabiner. By pushing in the one-way hinge from the outside with your fingernail or a chain tab, you can open the clasp and hook your jewelry piece. Its hinged lever can’t be opened from the inside.
The main advantage of this type of clasp is that it can easily be operated with only one hand, making it perfect for both bracelets and necklaces. However, it isn’t particularly secure since the slightest pressure from an external source can open it. For this reason, we wouldn’t recommend this clasp style for fine jewelry.
Bar and Toggle Clasp
Rustic bar and toggle clasp by VDI Jewelry Findings.
This is a two-piece clasp, featuring a decorative or t-shaped bar on one end and a circular loop on the other. To close it, the bar should be threated through the loop. Since the bar is longer than the loop’s diameter, the clasp will stay closed.
The toggle clasp is very stylish and often serves as the focal point of the jewelry’s design. As it’s usually quite large, it adds to the statement of a piece. It can easily be operated with one hand, making it suitable for bracelets as well.
However, since the clasp relies on the tension to stay securely closed, it shouldn’t be used with lightweight jewelry pieces. If you’re buying a bracelet with this clasp, make sure that it fits snuggly around your wrist. Otherwise, the toggle can loosen and the bracelet will fall off.
Hook and Eye Clasp
Rustic hook and eye clasp by Cathy Dailey.
Also known as a duet clasp, the hook-and-eye clasp is very simple in design yet quite effective. It features two identical rings, each having a small slit or opening, allowing you to insert one into the other easily.
Similar to the toggle clasp, the hook and eye fastener works best with tight-fitting bracelets and heavier necklaces and chains. This is because the tension or weight of the piece keeps the clasp securely closed. Your bracelet, choker, or necklace doesn’t have to be uncomfortably tight; you just need to make sure there isn’t too much slack.
Hook and eye clasps come in different sizes and metals, and they’re usually quite affordable. However, they aren’t common in fine jewelry and are often used in fashion and costume pieces instead.
S Hook Clasp
Sterling silver S hook clasps by Midnight In Savannah.
This fastener features a curved s-shaped hook, operating with a simple hook-on and hook-off motion. The weight of the jewelry piece should be enough to hold the clasp in place, but you can also press the hook together, making it a bit tighter to minimize the chances of it coming undone.
The great thing about this cute hook design is that you can easily alter the length of your piece with it. Depending on your neckline, you could hook the end of the s-hook anywhere along the length of the chain. Although it’s convenient in this way, it isn’t the most secure clasp, so you’ll need to be careful if you’re necklace or bracelet has one.
Magnetic clasp by Bijoux Boutique Twenty.
As the name implies, these types of clasps use the power of two magnets to keep them closed. Magnetic fasteners allow for easy on and off and are an excellent choice for people with limited dexterity.
Magnetic clasps come in different sizes and shapes, from delicate oval and round shapes to larger rectangular styles. They’re often quite affordable and are used with handmade jewelry or fashion pieces. The magnets are available in simple designs but there are also embellished magnets with filigree work or rhinestones.
While this clasp is cute and easy to operate, it’s not the strongest. A good yank can break the link between the magnets and potentially cause you to lose your piece of jewelry. They’re also not ideal for bracelets since they can get attached to other metals and get stuck.
This old-fashioned clasp has a similar mechanism to the fold-over or snap-lock clasp. It features a single end-piece that looks like a ladder. The fold-over ladder-like side of the piece can be hooked into one of the bottom slots on the side, adjusting the length of the jewelry piece.
Ladder clasps are commonly found in vintage wristwatches for women. In terms of security, they’re similar to snap-lock clasps which means they shouldn’t be used with heavier pieces of jewelry.
If you’re looking for a piece of jewelry without the hassle of dealing with clasps, there are certain jewelry styles that don’t have any. Some of the most popular styles include:
- Endless style – This clasp-free design is usually found in bead or pearl necklaces long enough to put over the head without any issues and wrapped several times to create a multi-layered look.
- Slip-on – Also known as bangles or cuffs, a slip-on design is most commonly found in round and rigid bracelets. These are wide enough to squeeze your hand through them, and once you relax your hand, the bracelet sits loosely around your wrist but stays safely on.
- Stretch – Another way to go around clasps is to choose stretch bracelets or chokers. This adjustable style jewelry has an elastic coil or a cord, allowing you to put it on comfortably and let it fit around your wrist or neck.
When choosing a piece of jewelry, it’s important to take the type of clasp into consideration. However, you shouldn’t feel restricted by the clasp if you’ve got your eyes set on a particular bracelet or necklace. If the clasp is too tiny or irritating to fasten, remember that you can always get the jewelry you like and change the clasp later on.