Toggle Clasps vs. Elastic String for “One Size Fits Most” Bracelets

by Karen St Clair.
(Wyoming USA)

Inspirational gemstone bracelet with inspirational bookmark card

Inspirational gemstone bracelet with inspirational bookmark card

I love this website. I get so many wonderful ideas, tips, and knowledge to help me grow my jewelry making skills and business.

So here is my issue and would love to hear the thoughts of others.

I have a small home-based jewelry making business that I sell through craft fairs.

My main product I sell are inspirational gemstone bracelets with inspirational bookmark cards. I have always put them together using 49 strand jewlery wire and toggle clasps.

Inevitably I get the folks looking at them, like what they see but the bracelet is either too small or too big.

I have been looking at the idea of making the bracelets with the elastic string so they are more like a one size fits most. But I am concerned that the bracelets made with elastic string don’t look as quality and may break easier.

So here are my questions that I would love to hear from you all about:

  1. What do you think when you see a bracelet made with a toggle vs. a bracelet made with elastic string that you just slip on?
  2. If you think elastic string is a good solution, what elastic string do you recommend? I want to use the most quality string I can find so it doesn’t break.
  3. If you don’t like elastic string, do you have other ideas that would help with making the bracelets fit more ladies of all sizes?

I would very much appreciate your feedback. I very much enjoy making the bracelets and designing the inspirational cards to match and I really enjoy visiting with folks at the crafts fairs.

I am just at a point that I don’t know how to move forward with the bracelets.

Thank you,

Karen St Clair

PS – I have attached a photo of one of my bracelets so you can see what I am referring to.

Comments:

“One Size Fits Most” Bracelets
by: Rena

First, great niche idea of the inspirational gemstone bracelets with inspirational bookmark cards! People are likely to purchase it for themselves or to give as gifts.

Also, I know what you mean – people who fall in love with clasp bracelets rarely have the right wrist size for them! :o)

And it is a bit of work to resize bracelets – for me it usually means restringing the whole piece. And if I can’t restring it at the show where the customer falls in love with it, then I have to deliver it to them a day or two later, which involves more time and expense, and decreases my profit on the piece.

I can see why you’d prefer to sell a “one size fits all” bracelet style instead.

Here are my thoughts, and I hope others chime in with their experiences and ideas too!

Elastic Cord

I’m not an expert on elastic cord – but here’s my experience with it:

I used it only for a short time, several years ago, to create a line of stretchy gemstone bracelets. I made several dozen bracelets in unusual color combinations, people loved them, and they sold really well.

But then customers started coming back to me with the remains of my broken stretch bracelets. The sharp gemstone bead edges were cutting through the elastic cord.

I made amends by restringing every broken stretch bracelet onto beading wire and adding the customer’s choice of clasp (for free, of course). I hadn’t been selling my jewelry for very long, and this felt like a huge failure.

Although most customers were very kind and understanding about the situation, I did lose a few customers permanently because I sold them jewelry that broke.

I’ve never used elastic cord since then. So I don’t know anything about the stretch cords currently available – it’s possible they’re made with a lot more strength now.

I would love to hear thoughts and experiences from someone who’s using today’s elastic cording!

Ideas for “One Size Fits All” Bracelets

  • Leather, hemp, or waxed cotton cord bracelet with sliding knots.
  • C-shaped cuff bracelets that don’t go all the way around the wrist.
  • Memory wire bracelets.
  • Adjustable closure clasp bracelets (such as a lobster clasp with extender chain).

Of course, gemstone beads and pearls tend to have small holes that won’t fit on most memory wire, or on leather, hemp, or cotton cords.

So you might string your gemstones and pearls onto 49-strand beading wire, with a loop at each end of the beading wire for attaching to your leather cords, etc.

Or you could use brass, copper, or silver 24-gauge round wire, and wire your beads onto a memory wire bracelet, leather cord, or C-shaped cuff base.

Another Idea

Why not also offer an earring version of your inspirational jewelry-and-card product? Then at least some of your products wouldn’t have the size issue. Especially for gifts – the giver doesn’t always know the recipient’s wrist size.

Also, earrings tend to sell well.

Forgot to say. . .
by: Rena

Thank you, Karen, for your kind words about this website! It’s wonderful to hear how much it has helped you. Thanks for letting me know. :o)

agreed
by: Jennifer

I have encountered the same issues with bracelets, and have used a wide variety of closures. Stretchy cord, regular toggles, lobster claws … At the moment I have all of the above available and it gives people a wide choice. Lobster claws with extenders seem to be my most popular, especially as gifts. I think some trial and error of what works for you and what you enjoy creating is pretty normal. Good luck!!

Another idea
by: Kim

Why don’t you use chain and a lobster claw, that way the buyer can size it to fit herself at the location on the chain where it fits her? Also, at the end of the chain, put a smaller bead of the same material to give the bracelet a finished look? Good luck!

Try to make different sizes
by: Lili

To Rena, I’m really thankful for making this website. I too learned so many things here and I actually find time to read the Newest Articles of this site. I really love it here!

To Karen, I have the same sentiments so what I do is make different sizes for every bracelet for the customers to have wider choice. Hope it helps!

http://lilinstitch.multiply.com
http://lilinstitch.blogspot.com

I had the same problem…
by: Ann Widner

I had the same problem, and I tried making stretch bracelets, but I worked and worked at it and still couldn’t get my knots to hold. Then I asked the owner of one of the shops where I now sell my photo jewelry and notecards, and she gave me some great feedback. She said that she could sell bracelets with lobster clasps and extender chains for a much higher price than stretch bracelets. And also, it seems that more people are now purchasing my adjustable bracelets than purchase my fixed-length bracelets. I offer both kinds at that shop.

I liked the advice Rena had about expanding your line and making earrings and pendants to go along with your inspirational bookmarks. Also, I really like the way you spread your faith through your products. I want to start doing more of that too!!

Can you reinforce the elastic?
by: BoogieBeads

Just a thought that came to me – is it possible to use the stretchy stuff, but also run a stronger strand (49 or something), have the non-stretchy strand long enough for a LARGE bracelet, and “hide” the excess when it’s not stretched out? I have no idea how to do it, I’m sorta just brainstorming here. Dangit, now it’s gonna prey on my mind until I figure it out . . .
Let me know if you figure out how! lol

thank you
by: Karen

Thank you so very much to all of you for your thoughts on this troublesome issue. I had been thinking about the idea of the extender chain also and based on the feedback it sounds like that would be a more quality solution. I have made extender chains on my necklaces before but never on my bracelets. I, too, like the idea of extending my product line to include earrings, etc. I have been working out designs for necklaces already and really want to start working on designs for men. I have been asked about men’s jewelry several times.

thank you all for the great feedback. It is exactly what I needed to give me that push.

Merry Christmas,
Karen

ideas
by: Val

Wonderful ideas here for this dilemma! I feel elastic does cheapen a bracelet, however customers seem to love stretchy bracelets! I have always used Powercord elastic which works well and even holds up to the children in the family.

Another idea for you may be to charge customers $2 for shipping if you have to resize a bracelet and have the time to restring them. I have done this for customers at jewelry parties and it works out great. Just make sure they pay for it and provide their address then you can mail them the correct size.

Best of luck!
Val
www.missvalscreations.com

One more thought…
by: Dianne Culbertson

What I have done in the past at table events is make the bracelet with the 49 strand wire and I always put Accu-guards on the ends. I put the loop end of the toggle on before the show. I take my chain (a variety of styles) and the other ends of my toggle and put them on for each customer. It only takes a minute and what great personal service! I like my bracelets to dangle a bit, some like them tighter so this works great! In fact, I am thinking about doing this for my bracelets on the web as well.

easy resize at the show
by: Anonymous

I make all my bracelets about 7.5″ long and attach the clasps with split rings. To resize at the show, I quickly measure the customer’s wrist with a tape measure, allow 1″ for comfort and add rings to fit.

My experience has been that adding one or two 6mm rings does the trick. Once in awhile it takes three. I only had one customer with a really thin wrist who needed it smaller and I mailed it to her after the show. Customers love the individual attention.

Of course, if it is a gift, I always offer free re-sizing if needed and enclose extra business cards so the recipient can contact me. It hasn’t occurred yet, but if they did, I would ask them to measure their wrist with a tape and include the information when sending the bracelet, or I would measure it if they came to me for the adjustment while they waited.

The only time the inch allowance doesn’t work is if you use chunky beads. The 7.5″ average bracelet fits me, so if it’s chunky and needs to be longer, I know how much to allow.

I worked in a bead shop in the past. One of our most lucrative repair jobs was restringing elastic bracelets purchased at a store! I will not use elastic for my work. Some beads are almost always lost when it breaks, the customer is disappointed and I look bad. When customers ask about elastic, I simply explain why I won’t use it. For older customers who can’t fasten the toggles or lobsters any longer, I offer a magnetic clasp.

Rae McAlpin
Hearthstone Creations, LLC
www.hearthstonecreations.com

Re magnetic clasps
by: Judith

I think it’s great that so many people are willing to share their knowledge with others. The bracelet sizing problem is a difficult one and there were so many good suggestions offered!

Off the subject a bit, but I wanted to add to the comment regarding magnetic clasps for elderly people. I’m making a necklace for my 92-year-old mom for Christmas and wanted to use a clasp that would be easy for her to use. I was about to order a magnetic clasp when I noticed that it said magnets not recommended for those with pacemakers. Mom has one so I was glad to learn that! Thought I’d pass it along.

clasp idea
by: Anonymous

i would not use elastic – it breaks too soon. i always use an interesting bit of chain on one end of the bracelet (3-5 good sized links is plenty; use chain with larger links so they have a big “target” for the clasp) and a lobster claw on the other (again, use a nice size one – not tiny – nobody wants to deal with a bracelet that is a pain to put on by themselves).

Cord
by: Susie

Power cord is good for larger beads and small you can buy it online I use fire mountain gems, and for one of the comments above lobster clasps with some chain for it to be adjustable works really well too. I’ve done it and have had geat results. Good luck

Offer a toggle extender
by: Pat

I represent a .925 sterling silver silver jewelry company and in addition to the lobster claw extenders previously mentioned, we offer an toggle extender consisting of two or three links, which fits very nicely between the original toggle closure. I can’t tell you how happy some of my customers are when they find out that they CAN wear the bracelet after all!

If you would like more information, please feel free to contact me at pattaylortodd@aol.com. (Moderator, please remove my email if you feel this part of the post is inappropriate. Thanks!)

I like the stretch bracelets
by: Becky

I make a huge variety of handmade jewelry and I’ve also used both stretch cord and beading wire. I have found that the stretch bracelets always sell better than something with a clasp. Customers like to quickly put on the bracelet for size and color, otherwise they have to ask someone to help with the clasp and it usually isn’t easily done. Once in a while a customer will request a clasp which is great, but the more general public in my area prefers stretch bracelets. I use a power cord from Fire Mountain Gems and I use two sizes. The most common one I use is 1mm and .8mm. (In general I use bigger beads). I’ve NEVER had a bracelet brake with the stretch cord but I have with the beading wire. I also use a square knot to tie and then put a dab of jewelry glue on the knot. Hope this helps!
Becky Cox
www.beadingbybecky.blogspot.com

Elastic string
by: Elsie

I’ve been using mostly elastic for the past 10 years. Occasionally a customer will refuse the elastic, saying if they are paying a good price, they want something that will not break. I’ve actually had only 2 complaints about breakage, and one was due to a dog’s nail getting caught in the bracelet and pulling it.

There are several kinds of elastic and some have poor stretch. Whenever possible, I like to use 0.014mm. I use a heavier cord for larger beads and have used up to 1mm. A square knot is a must, and there are some glues that won’t ruin the elastic, but I generally don’t use them. I put a large-hole bead over the know and it adds a beautiful accent to the bracelet. My customers almost always prefer elastic because they are so much easier to put on and take off, especially if you live alone.

Toggle bracelet dilemma
by: Jane Jennings

I’ve had the same problem, and now make bracelets a little shorter, and, like others who wrote in, add an extender chain with links big enough for the toggle end to fit through. I also add a bead or charm on the end of the chain for a finished and special look, and to serve as a counterweight.

Stretch Vs Extender
by: JoAnne Green

I have a limited number of stretch cord bracelets, usually for children. I always use doubled cord when doing straight stringing, which limits me to the larger hole beads. One of my best selling styles is the spiral stitch using size 6/0 or 8/0. The stretch cord is used in a single strand but the stitch reinforces.
A third of my business is rehabilitation and repair. Many of the rehabilitation jobs are restring bracelets that had the covered stretch cord which lost its elasticity with time and use.
My situation allows for on the spot size adjustments.
My best sale was to the father of a child who wanted a bracelet that was much too large. She was about to throw a tantrum when I offered a free size adjustment. She beamed. He was so happy he bought his wife some jewelry. And I was able to reuse the beads removed from her bracelet.

Elastic vs Beading Wire
by: Alice Wynne

I create a lot of stretchy elastic beaded bracelets for my customers. Those who claim allergy to metals seem to appreciate them the most and they’re easy for everyone to put on. I measure an appropriate diamater size of elastic for the bead hole three times the bracelet’s completed size plus 1 inch for knoting. I string the beads, center them in the middle of the elastic and tie with a surgeon’s knot. Then I take one side of the left over elastic and pass it back through half of the beads and repeat with the other side of the elastic going in the opposite direction. The elastics should meet exactly half way around the bracelet. Knot again and cross the remaining elastic ends, one over the other, so the ends can be threaded again in opposite directions to meet back at the first knot. Knot again. Place a bit of glue on the final knot, let dry, and cover with a crimp bead or a larger hole bead to hide the first and third knots. As an alternate, tie coordinating ribbon over the knots. You now have three bands of elastic to hold everything in place. This method makes a very sturdy product. I’ve never had one of these bracelets come apart completely!

Stretch Jewelry verses Toggle clasp
by: Lillie Marie Designs

I ran into the same problem with stretch cord especially when someone would”play” with the bracelet while wearing it,then saw a video on the best way to tie the knot,I recommend tying the knot three times and also being careful as to what type of stones you put on the cord,some stones will actually wear the cord down.I have not had any problems with stretch bracelets since doing this,it is a matter of preference as to the look and taste also as to how to make a piece for a certain individials,I agree in that those suffering from arthritis or other debilitating physical problems that are not able to close and open a clasp that stretch jewelry is a great option as well as the magnetic clasps which are very attractive.

wherebuy 8mm?
by: Anonymous

I have been making bracelets for children that would like one but am having trouble finding the 8mm. I can find 6mm or 1mm which is too fine or too thick for some of my beads.
I use the crimps for holding them together–make a tie first in the elastic, pulling tight, and then the crimps.
Any idea where to find the 8mm?

Thanks for Sharing – Please Help!

by: Karen G

I am fairly new at making jewelry. I have been making bracelets for gifts for a ladies retreat. I think I have a big problem and would appreciate some expert advise. I am making bracelets with 8mm pearls and a religious center piece on Stretch Magic. The problem is that I used a variety of colored pearls. The white pearls did fine on the 1mm, but the holes on the colored pearls were too small, so I used the .7mm. I tied off the knots with 3 ties.
Now the problem is that after tying off the knots on the 1mm, I was able to work the ends of the cord back through 3-4 beads on each side. I placed a dot of glue on the know and they look fine. On the .7mm, I am having a problem working the ends back through the 3-4 beads on each side. I now have a knot sticking out, which I am afraid to cut after gluing. I am afraid the knot will not hold. Should I attempt to put a toggle on the ends or what? I am sick about this since I have made over 50 bracelets and need to have them completed by the first of July. Thanks for any help you can offer!

Solutions for ends that stick out

by: Alice Wynne

What about placing metal bead covers over the knots or ends that stick out? If you include other metal beads into your design then the bead covers won’t look out of place.

Regarding the already strung 50 bracelets: Tie ribbon bows in matching or contrasting colors. over the ends that stick out or try the button covers.

Solutions for ends that stick out

by: Alice Wynne

What about placing metal bead covers over the knots or ends that stick out? If you include other metal beads into your design then the bead covers won’t look out of place.

Regarding the already strung 50 bracelets: Tie ribbon bows in matching or contrasting colors. over the ends that stick out or try the button covers.

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