All jewellery, except rings perhaps, have a functional element along with their obviously aesthetic one; earrings have posts and wires, brooches have pins, and necklaces and bracelets have clasps. There are few things that can be done with ear wires to make them different; they can be longer or thicker or more curved like these, but that’s about it. Brooch pins can’t be seen so are generally purely functional, but clasps are a very different matter. There are hundreds and hundreds of designs of clasps and obviously I can’t cover them all, but thought I’d focus instead on what Polly makes for her work. She pays as much attention to the clasps as she does to every other detail of her work and the results speak for themselves.
My favourite by far of Polly’s clasps is this one, inspired by a Roman necklace. It’s light weight, it’s pretty and clever, and it’s really easy to use which has to be the most important part about a clasp, surely!
Before she was inspired by the Roman clasp, this design was Polly’s go-to. Elegant, sturdy, easy to use and an addition to any necklace. Polly varies the width and length of the hook and ring in proportion to the necklace. She does this so well that the clasp very often just vanishes into the necklace and becomes almost invisible.
Another favourite of Polly’s is the ring and bar clasp. It’s an ancient design also, and it just works so well. Sometimes clients aren’t confident that it will hold, but surprisingly it does; it’s simple to use and it looks great too. In this necklace, Polly took the clasp to new heights and made it the front and centre of the design using a heavy hook through a vine twist, and it looks amazing.
A while ago Polly was asked to make a necklace consisting of four strings of Egyptian faience beads. Andrew Bird made the most exquisite and incredibly clever clasp for the necklace (difficult to photograph and show how it works…) and it’s probably the most exotic clasp on any of our work.
Sometimes, though, we have to rely on commercial chains for our pieces; we can’t make chains as small and therefore interchangeable as commercial ones, by hand and in 22ct gold. After some searching we found some wonderful torcs, I suppose you’d call them, which are strong and elegant and are either 18ct gold or black silicone. Their clasps are amazing; understated, sturdy and surprisingly easy to use considering they look as though they hardly consist of anything.
As a jewellery wearer you’re probably quite conscious of which clasps you like best and which you like least, but you may not really be aware of how many choices there are. This might be a very useful piece of knowledge when you commission a piece of work for instance; any jeweller worth their salt would relish the opportunity to create something different for you, and now you know it might just be worth the ask!
A very nice blog today. Always fun to read. Have a nice day.
Another thoughtful blog. I find making my own clasps difficult, and so I tend not to make jewelry which incorporates them.
I think I shall go back to the drawing board and try again. Very exciting prospect.
Fascinating! I love the real-life examples you have shown. I hadn’t realised there were so many options! And so beautiful as well as functional. Bravo.