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All About Clasps

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With so many different clasps available in so many different materials, it's easy to get confused over which is the right one to finish your beadwork. Here is a partial listing of many of the clasps available, along with suggested uses for each one. One thing to remember when using clasps to finish your beadwork is that you don't have to be limited to just what is available commercially. You can also create some of your own beautiful clasps using beads, polymer clay and glass.

1. Toggle Clasp

A toggle clasp, also known as a bar and ring clasp, consists of a solid ring and a bar. The bar slides through the ring and secures the clasp.

Toggle clasps can be used in almost any type of necklace or bracelet, although they generally work better with heavier pieces. Lighter pieces often do not pull enough to keep the bar up against the ring, and they can come undone.

You can find toggle clasps in many different types of materials - sterling silver, gold-filled, vermeil and even some that have been carved from gemstones. You can also make your own toggle clasps using peyote stitch. Check out this tutorial: Make Your Own Toggle Clasp.

2. Lobster Claw Clasp

Lobster claws are also another very popular style of clasp. These come from the distinctive shape of the clasp - elongated and resembling the shape of a lobster's claw.

These clasps are usually very secure, and are suitable for most types of strung projects. They work well with lighter and more delicate pieces. They do require some type of jump ring or split ring for the clasp to latch on to, and you can also substitute a small loop of seed beads if no jump ring or split ring is handy.

Lobster claw clasps are available in many different materials and sizes. There are also some beautiful decorative lobster claw clasps available from many findings companies such as Tierra Cast and Pacific Silverworks.

3. Box or Tab Clasp

A box clasp, also known as a tab clasp, consists of two pieces: a small tab and a round or square box component that the tab slides into and locks. Sometimes there is also a small hook around the opening where the tab slides into the box component to ensure that if the tab somehow manages to slip out, it will not fall apart.

These clasps are made for both single and multi-strand projects, and they can be found with a variety of gemstones set in them. There also box clasps available set with Swarovski crystals and cubic zirconia in a wide range of colors.

Box clasps are generally very secure, and can be used for a variety of beading and stringing projects.

4. S-Hook Clasp

An s-hook clasp consists of three pieces. An s-shaped component and two rings that slide onto either end of the "s" shape.

S-hook clasps are generally better used for heavier pieces, because, similar to the toggle clasp, unless there is sufficient weight to keep the rings in place, the piece may fall off.

There are many different and decorative style of s-hook clasp available. You can find them with engraving, set with gemstone cabochons, and in a variety of precious and non-precious metals.

5. Slide Lock Clasp

A slide lock clasp consists of two bars, each with a set of loops on one side. The two pieces slide into each other and friction keeps them together.

These clasps are very secure, and are ideal for multi-strand projects. Because the loops are spaced with a small gap in between each one, they are perfect for keeping several strands of beads from getting tangled when you are wearing your finished piece.

Slide lock clasps can be found in both sterling silver and gold-filled metals, as well as set with Swarovski crystals, gemstones, and cubic zirconia.

6. Hook and Eye

A hook and eye clasp is very similar to an s-hook clasp, except it consists of only two pieces - a hook and a loop to which it attaches.

If you use this type of clasp with a lighter-weight necklace (such as freshwater pearls, crystals or tiny gemstones), you will want to use a smaller size hook and eye clasp.

Hook and eye clasps are generally easy to fasten, and come in a variety of styles, sizes and materials. There are clasps that can accommodate multi-strand as well as single strand projects, clasps set with Swarovski crystals and gemstones, and beautiful decorative clasps made to look like leaves, animals, and other shapes.

7. Magnetic Clasps

Magnetic clasps use an extremely powerful magnet to secure the two halves of the clasp together. Because this magnet is so strong, they are not recommended for use by anyone who has a pacemaker or other cardiac device used to regulate the heart.

Because they are so strong, they can be used in lighter and more delicate creations to ensure that they stay put. Some magnetic clasps can also be embedded into other materials such as polymer clay or beaded around to create custom clasps that will be a perfect accent to your beadwork or beaded project.

These clasps are very popular, and can be found in a wide range of materials, sizes and shapes, and set with a variety of crystals and gemstones.

8. Barrel Clasp

These clasps are also known as screw clasps, because one half of the clasp is threaded and the other acts as the receptor, similar to a nut and bolt.

One of the pitfalls of these clasps is that while they may start out being very secure due to the screw-in nature of the design, over time, the threads may wear off, causing the clasp to fall apart and requiring replacement. One remedy for this is to attach the clasp using jump rings so that if the threads do wear off and the clasp needs to be replaced, it can be done quickly, using just a flat nose pliers.

There has been a renewed interest in this type of clasp lately with some beautiful new designs available from sources like Fire Mountain Gems.

9. Spring Ring

The spring ring clasp consists of a round loop with a small tab on it. When you push the tab down, the loop opens up to allow a jump ring or other loop to be attached.

Spring ring clasps are generally only for single-strand pieces, and usually do not work well for larger multi-strand pieces. They are excellent for use in lighter, more delicate designs made from small crystals, pearls and tiny gemstones.

When purchasing spring ring clasps, it is best to avoid any clasp that is not made from sterling silver or gold. Spring ring clasps of lower quality tend to fall apart easily, so you want to make sure that you purchase the best quality clasp that you can.

10. Button Clasp

Button clasps consist of two pieces. The first is a small tab with a thick ring in one end, and the other has a small ball attached to it. The ball snaps into the hole in the first tab to secure the clasp.

I first saw these clasps a few years ago when I received my first catalog from Diane Hyde of Designer's Findings. Since then, I have seen them in many non-precious metals like copper and pewter, but none in sterling silver, gold-filled or vermeil.

These clasps work well in smaller, lightweight necklaces and bracelets made from pearls, crystals or small gemstones.

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