How to size a bracelet
Does your jewellery making repertoire include bracelets? If you said ‘yes’, then you need to read this. Sizing bracelets is never as easy as you might think. So, in this article, I am going to show you how to size a bracelet in any style.
Did you know that there are different styles of bracelet? Of course you did. So, are you aware that these different styles all require a different fit?
So, when you are thinking about how to size a bracelet, the first thing you need to work out is what style you are making.
Don’t be fooled by the name! A ‘chain’ style bracelet may not include any actual chain.
This style is loose fitting and will move up and down the wrist. It could be a charm bracelet. Or, maybe a string of beads. It might be a bead-woven chain, or a selection of beads strung together.
The fit is slightly dependent on the wearer. It needs to be large enough to move on the wrist. But small enough that it won’t slip off over the hand.
However, this flexibility is great as it gives you some flexibility when you make the bracelet. Your sizing doesn’t need to be absolutely precise. Just take a rough measurement around the wrist, a little above the hand.
A cuff style bracelet will sit snugly around the wrist. It is usually wider, although the width can vary.
So, when you are sizing this, you will need an accurate wrist measurement. But you need to think about where on the wrist the bracelet will sit. Then take your measurement at that point.
A bangle is a bracelet with no clasp. So, in order to get it on and off, it must be able to fit over the whole hand. As a result the bangle will always sit loosely on the wrist.
When you’re thinking about how to size a bracelet, this style can be the most tricky. The size measurement you need is the one around the hand.
So, you will need to take your thumb over to meet your little finger and scrunch your hand in that position. Then the measurement to take is the one around the widest point. So, for most people, this is the knuckle area.
You may need someone else to help you with this. Or, you could use a bracelet gauge…
How to size a bracelet with a tool
So, that leads me neatly on to the next point. We’ve just been thinking about the size and measurement you need to take for different styles of bracelet.
You can do this with a simple tape measure. But, you can also get a bracelet sizing tool. This will help you take the measurement and then you can also use it to measure your beadwork as you make the bracelet.
If you want to know how to use a bracelet sizer and where to get one, then check out this blog post>>
Two common bracelet sizing mistakes
I think the two most common mistakes people make are these:
- Forgetting to include space for the clasp
- Not taking account of the bead type or beading technique
I’m sure you can see why the clasp is an important factor when you are considering how to size a bracelet. But why does the bead type matter?
Well, have you ever done this… You measure around the wrist and noted the size. Then, you stitched your length of beadwork to that size. You even remembered to allow room for the clasp. Then, you tried the bracelet and it wouldn’t reach around your wrist. Horror! How did that happen?
Well, the measurement you need to consider, is the interior circumference of your bracelet when it is fastened. So, for example, if you are working with large beads, their size may mean that a 7″ length actually only has a 6.5″ interior measurement when you form them into a circle.
The same applies to some beading techniques. If you are creating a fat spiral, then you will need to allow extra length to end up with the right interior measurement to fit your wrist. Compare the two photos above to see what I mean. The fatter spiral bangle would need to be longer than the flat Superduo bangle.
How to avoid this mistake
So, how do you get the size right? Well, I’m sure someone has come up with a lovely formula to calculate ‘how to size a bracelet with big beads or fat spirals’. But if they have, I don’t know about it!
So, there is only one guaranteed way to avoid this mistake. You need to check the bracelet around your wrist as you are making it.
And if you’re making it for someone else? Well, that can be trickier… Unless you have a bracelet gauge. You can set this tool to the size of the person’s wrist. Then use it to measure around. So, it’s a bit like carrying the person’s wrist around with you!
How to size a bracelet with a clasp
I mentioned that clasps can also get us into trouble when we’re making a bracelet. So, how is this?
Well, it might seem simple enough to just measure a clasp and factor that into your bracelet size.
For some types of clasp (magnetic, slide, box), this is fine. But if you are using a toggle clasp, or maybe even a lobster or bolt, then you need to allow a bit extra. These styles of clasp need some ‘wriggle room’ to manoeuvre the clasp into place. So, you need to allow that.
Again, the only guaranteed way is to measure the bracelet as you are making it. So, don’t just think about the fit on the wrist. Also consider the fit as you are fastening and unfastening your bracelet.
If you want to find out more about different clasp options, then check out this section>>
How to size a bracelet to sell
What if you are making stock for a shop or craft fair? You don’t know who your buyer is going to be. So, you have no idea what their wrist size is.
Well, in this instance, you have a couple of options:
- Make a sample and then offer to custom-make a bracelet to size
- Make a range of different sizes
Now, the first option is great for some people. But others will want to walk away with their new bracelet there and then, not wait for you to make it. So, I suggest going with a range of sizes. Or, if you want a little ‘cheat’, memory wire is great for making adjustable bracelets that will fit any wrist size!
You might like to use a guide though. I mean jewellers sell bracelets ‘off the peg’ all the time. So, how do they know what size to make?
Well, there are ‘standard’ wrist sizes for men, women and children. So, check those out and that is a good guide for starters. (Standard size for adult women is 7″ for petite, 7.5″ average and 8″ for large). You can still offer to carry out alterations, or custom-make a design as well.
So, you should be all set! You’ve learned how to take the measurement you need. Then how to make sure the beads end up a good fit. And now, you know about general sizing if you want to begin selling your bracelets beyond your friends and family circle.