Sizing Bracelets Allowing for Size of Beads?

by Aline Huntly.

Sizing Bracelets Allowing for Size of Beads?  - Discussion on Jewelry Making Journal

I have noticed that when I make a 7″ bracelet using 8mm beads it is much more snug on my wrist than if I make a 7″ bracelet with 4mm beads.

So I am hoping that there are some guidelines for allowing for this difference.

I have just started selling bracelets online so I really need to figure this out.

Can you advise? Thanks!

Aline Huntly

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  • Christie Murrow says:

    The best tool I have is the bracelet measuring tool. You’re dealing with diameter here, and so the fit will be vastly different when the bead size varies. This simple tool allows me to see exactly how big the bracelet is, and size it accordingly.

    Good luck!

  • Hi, Aline, I use myself as a mandrel. I know that my normal wrist size is an average medium. I know that about an inch or a little more down my hand below my wrist will fit a men’s average 8″ diameter. I size bracelets on my own wrist that I make on spec to go on the table and write S if it’s tight on me, M if it’s perfect on me, and L if it sits an inch or so down my wrist on the label.

    I’ve also learned to design and make stretch bracelets in particular a little on the large side for the table because it’s easier to take one or two beads out and five minutes to restring than it is to spend a long time to find (or maybe they’re at home) those particular one or two beads in amongst all the hundreds and hundreds of beads that I have. Also if people are stacking their bracelets, they need to be larger to fit up the arm — and people don’t even consider that when they’re trying them on. Also stretch bracelets get really slimy and sweaty in the summer, many people tend to swell up in the summer heat/humidity, and so their bracelets need to to be a little larger.

    When making a commission it’s a little trickier because everyone is so different. I have one customer whose wrist swells up or down a full inch during the day. Someone might prefer a bracelet to be looser than average, or, because they have small hands, they need it tighter than I’d normally recommend. You have to ask.

    If it’s a gift, I get the buyer to try the bracelet on, see if they think it will fit the recipient based on what they know of the recipient’s size or preferences. Again, I err on the side making the bracelet a bead or two larger as it’s easier and faster to restring it smaller later.

    For commissions, I string the bracelet but don’t tie it off (or only crimp on one end if I’m using stringing wire). When the customer comes to pick it up, I fit it on them, discuss how it feels, then adjust, tie off — and they are beyond delighted to finally get something that fits them perfectly.

    If in doubt, I tell people to wear the item for a week or two, then come back and I’ll adjust it while they wait. My customers are given one free restringing per item.

  • Katie VanPatten says:

    Hi Aline –

    I also use a bracelet mandrel for sizing.

    I make bead woven bracelets and necklaces so most pieces would take hours upon hours to remake in a specific size. I therefore never resize anything!!! I specialize in jewelry as art and I want my patrons to be able to wear my creations for their entire lives and then pass them down to their children. Instead of resizing, I use wire guards at the ends of everything, even earrings. This not only represents a higher quality, it allows me to add chain, a string of beads, another clasp or more bead weaving to the ends of my pieces to make them longer if necessary. This simple step save me unlimited hours of time and my customers don’t have to pay for all of the extra time that remaking a piece would require. Wire guards and/or french wire comes in almost all materials from plated to filled to sterling and gold.

    Katie VanPatten
    Trout Lily Creek

  • Allison says:

    Hi Aline,

    You can also try a google of “beads per inch” or “sizing beaded bracelets”- most of the online suppliers offer charts and lists for things like this, which can be very helpful when making up general stock

  • Janice says:

    Great tip, Katie, thanks!

  • Gayle Wheaton says:

    I absolutely LOVE the travel mandrel that you recommended Rena! It folds flat, weighs nothing, and instantly tells you what size you’re making (so that you can add or subtract beads to fit the desired wrist size). I teach jewelry classes & always have this with me. I use some 1″ painter’s tape to hold it together (and sometimes a small & extra small black ‘pinch clip’ to keep it from opening up). A number of students have gotten this as well because it’s so easy to use. Thanks for helping to spread the word about a fantastic tool!

  • Gayle, I’m glad to hear it’s working so well for you! 🙂

  • Melissa says:

    Hi Aline,

    I use a bead board that is specifically designed for bracelets – it’s been a huge help for improving my consistency in sizing, figuring out clasp placement, wraps, etc. The bead channels would work with a variety of bead sizes, I like it because I can lay everything out securely. It provides options for many different sizes, including those that would work for men. I love it!


  • Brittany says:

    I still struggle with sizing. I will have the perfect length and forget to account for the clasps and end up with a bracelet that is too loose and have to go back and adjust. I’m not sure what material your working with (I primarily use copper wire) but adding additional loops for adjustable clasps is a great way to have a proper fit for different sized wrists. The problem I come across with this method is the clasp type. Jump rings are small and don’t distract from the piece but they are used with lobster clasps. I assume everyone is like me and struggles putting on a lobster clasp with one arm!

    Good luck! I’m sure you will get a system down.

  • Dawn says:

    Here’s a simple formula: Circumference of wrist + diameter of largest bead = finished size.
    Example: 7″ wrist + 8mm (5/16″) bead = 7 5/16″.

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