Jewellery Jargon

Jewellery Jargon


In beadwork and jewellery making there are some words that may be confusing in descriptions or statements.

This post will hopefully help you to understand what items I mention actually are and why I use them in my designs.


Clasp Styles

Parrot clasp

Parrot or Lobster Clasp

The most common clasp style is probably the parrot or lobster clasp.  They have these names as they look like a parrot beak or a lobster claw holding onto a ring from the opposite side of the piece.

They are very functional, generally sit discreetly in the design, and can be used with an extension chain to enable the piece to be lengthened if required.

They may be difficult for people with restricted motor skills (arthritis, tremors etc) to use by themselves. 

Spring Ring Clasp

These work similar to the parrot clasp but are a circular shape.  The latch springs back inside the circle to keep the piece secure.

This clasp is quite inconspicuous when used with chain designs as its appearance can resemble the links.

Toggle clasp

Toggle Clasp

A toggle clasp is often a little easier to use.  They consist of an open ring through which a bar passes and sits across the opening

The ring can be as simple as a small smooth circle but can come in many shapes, sizes and some are very ornate.

The larger ornate ones are great as a feature on a the front of a necklace or bracelet but the smaller ones would be more comfortable at the back of the neck.

screw clasp

Screw Clasp

Both sides of this clasp have a threaded section and to fasten they are screwed together.

They are mainly spherical, tube or barrel in shape and can be quite simple, patterned or embellished in crystals.


Magnetic clasp

Magnetic Clasp

Positive and negative magnets make up each side of these clasps and when brought together the magnetic properties create the clasp.

The strength of the magnet will determine what jewellery item they are appropriate for with only the very strong ones suitable for bracelets or many necklace styles.

This style of clasp can be found in many shapes including hearts, flowers, spherical, tube and barrel.  Some have a fold over style where there is a hinge between both sections of the magnet which folds over the other section of the clasp.  Some of this style can be very ornate.

Magnetic clasps are not recommended for people with pacemakers or other similar devices.

Ball or box clasp

Ball / Box Clasp

The receiving section of this clasp can come in many styles of ball or box including flowers, gem or crystal encrusted.  This side of the clasp has a internal hollow section to accept the opposite side of the clasp.  This clasp is sometimes called a Tab Clasp

The other side of the clasp is made of a folded “spring”.  To open or close the clasp the spring is pressed together and inserted into the hollow section.  Once in place the spring is released and the clasp is caught.  In the picture above, both clasps are open, but caught on the safety bar.

Some of this style include a bar across the opening of the hole.  This acts as a safety catch to lessen the chance of you loosing the piece if it should get caught or pulled.

Fish hook clasp

Fish Hook Clasp

This style of clasp is generally an oval or marquee shape and may be filigree, textured or encrusted with marcasite,  stones or crystals.

The mechanism of this clasp is similar to the ball / box clasp in that one section of the clasp is inserted into the other under tension.

The fish hook section is looped over the bar at the entry to the opening and then pushed into place.  The little cutout at the end of the hook locks the clasp into place.

To remove the clasp the ends are pressed together to release the hook which is then slide out and unlooped from the entrance bar.

In the above picture you can see how this entrance bar acts like a safety catch and how this clasp gets its name.

Hook & Eye Clasp

At its very basic design this style is a simple hook on one side of the clasp which catches into a ring connector (the eye) on the other and gravity keeps the piece in place.

In some styles the hook is shaped like the letter S and has rings on either end which are worked into the beaded design.  Each end of the S connects to one of the rings.  Generally one of the tails of the S sits a little firmer on the ring while the other one moves on and off with ease.

This style can be very ornate and look like the tails of animals or dragonflies or vines and flowers entwined with each other.  The can even look like ropes or ribbons.  The eye may be in the form of a fish which is caught on the hook or even the head of an animal with its tail used as the hook.

There are some self closing forms of this style which may have animal heads biting onto each side of a central ring.

Some of these styles may include a hinged safety latch which folds over the top of the S and connects one side to the other.

Slide clasp

Slide Lock Clasp

With this style of clasp, both sides look nearly identical to each other as cylindrical tubes each with an open end and a caped end.

On closer inspection one tube has a slightly larger diameter and it has a slit cut from one end to the other.  The other tube has a tension spring which when slid inside the larger tube catches to form the clasp.

This style may come with individual rings attached to the outside for single strands or be longer and include many rings for multi strands/

They are also found with one long section like a buckle instead of rings for attaching ribbon or leather.


Button clasp

Button Clasp

There are two individual styles under this name.

One is the common button, similar to those on our clothing.  They can be caught by passing through a buttonhole in the design or a ring of beads or fibres can pass over the button to form the clasp.

The other style that falls under this name has two sections of metal each with their own ring for attaching to the design.  One has a hole in the centre and the other a knob like feature which presses into the hole similar to a press-stud.


Wire Guardians

wire guardians

Wire guardians, Wire protectors, French wire, Bouillon , Gimp

Beading wire and threads can be damaged by the wear and tear of clasps and other components.

A wire guardian or wire protector is a little horseshoe-shaped tube through which beading wire or thread is passed. The arched section is open on one side for ease of threading, but the solid sections protect the wire from wear on clasps or connectors.

Sometimes I may use Bullion/French wire which does the same thing but is a different product and not as firm. (It looks like a little soft spring)


Crimps & Crimp Covers

Crimp beads and covers

Crimp beads, Crimp tubes, Crimp covers, Charlottes and Bead-tips

Crimp beads are generally round or tubed.  Once in position over the wire they are crimped or squashed into place to secure the wires.

The crimp covers are round beads that have an open seam. Once the wire has been crimped into place, a cover is positioned over the original crimp and is gently closed along its seam. This provides a neat appearance but also protects you or delicate clothing from the sharp edges that may be on some flattened crimps by covering them.

Similar covers are made to hide the knots in thread and cord.  This style is in the centre back of this picture.

Beading Wire

Beading wire

Nylon Coated Beading Wire

Beading wire is a stringing material made up of several thin stainless-steel strands . It’s generally coated with a layer of nylon that protects the wires from wear and tear and gives it a softer, more supple feel. The coating can be clear or coloured allowing a better match to the color of the beads or gemstones.

In general the larger the number of strands of wire strands the more flexible and string-like it will feel while a smaller number of strand gives a stiffer and more kinkable thread. 
The beading wire is usually made up of 7, 19 and 49 strands and range in diameter from fine to thick and like fishing wire each have a different “break” strength and a different cost factor.


I hope you found this page helpful.

Do you have any suggestions or requests for information on other terminology that you are unsure of.

I would love to hear from you 

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