Jewelry-Making DIY Basics – What is a Lobster Claw Clasp?

Those who works with jewelry supplies and beading projects may forget that not everyone knows all the terminology of jewelry making components. Learning the terminology of jewellery-making supplies will help you to communicate your desires for jewelry components to your local bead store, your jewelry designer or your jewelry supply vendor.

Handmade artisan jewelry, mass-market costume jewelry and fine jewelry frequently uses lobster claw clasps to fasten jewelry and to enhance jewelry appearance.

What is a lobster claw clasp?

“Lobster claw” is a term often used generically for a family of clasps having triggers that open and close. Lobster claw clasps primarily hold two ends of a jewelry piece together by locking the clasp trigger around a jump ring or through a link of chain on the opposite end of a necklace, bracelet or anklet. Some jewelry makers will use lobster claw clasps to attach charms or, if the lobster claw has a fancier design, to act as a visual centerpiece in the front of a necklace.

Jewelry purists will tell you that lobster claw clasps have long, straight oval shapes. Pelican clasps, specialty trigger clasps, are curved specialty trigger clasps with the trigger on the outer convex surface. More symmetrical teardrop shapes describe oval trigger or rounded trigger clasps. Balloon clasps, with a longer oval shape and thinner construction, often require less metal than a traditional oval trigger clasp; therefore, balloon clasps will weigh less than a similarly sized lobster claw or trigger clasp. Other specialty clasp shapes include heart trigger clasps, elephant trigger clasps and cat trigger clasps. lobster claw finding

Swivel clasps, a style of oval trigger clasp where the base rotates separately from the rest of the claw, may offer the wearer more comfort by giving another “degree of freedom” to the bracelet, necklace or anklet.

Precious metal jewelry clasps in the United States must carry quality stamps to indicate their precious metal content per Federal Trade Commission guidelines. Lobster claw metal type will generally match a dominant metal in the jewelry piece. Lobster claw materials in the United States will most often fall into the following categories:

Gold: 18 karat, 14 karat, 12 karat in yellow gold, white gold, green gold, rose gold
Gold-Filled: base metal with karat gold mechanically and thermally bonded to visible and wear surfaces
Silver: sterling silver (.925 silver) including argentium silver and blackened silver
Surgical Steel
Lead-free Brass, usually plated with gold, silver, copper, imitation rhodium, gunmetal, and optionally antiqued or oxidized

Some designers and consumers consider lobster claws as less stylish than toggles. However, lobster claw clasps usually offer more secure fastening than do toggles because toggle bars may slip out of their loops, even if the pieces are appropriately sized to the wearers. The most common flaws of lobster claws, more common with inexpensive costume jewelry clasps, are:

A lobster claw trigger that sticks
A trigger with a spring that “pops”
A lobster claw base with little strength which fatigues and breaks with ungentle wire wrapping or wearing

Jewelry makers learn the merits of each type of lobster claw by experience — judging the size, weight, cost, appearance and ease-of-use with respect to their vision for different jewelry pieces. There is no one perfect lobster claw design for all jewelry applications. Fortunately, there are many different designs of lobster claws to accommodate the needs and budgets of amateur and expert jewellery makers.

Jewelry Making Materials You Can Get Cheaply or Even Free

Jewelry making materials usually come from jewelry supply companies, don’t they? Well, not necessarily – especially as offbeat components for creating jewelry are becoming more popular.

As the prices of silver, gold, and other traditional jewelry metals have risen, jewelry artists have begun using unusual and totally non-traditional jewelry making materials for their creations. Although this trend started because of the soaring cost of metal, its popularity has grown quickly as jewelry artists and their customers have discovered the fabulous possibilities of jewelry created from odds and ends.

When money is tight, jewelry customers want colorful, cheery ways to perk up their wardrobe without breaking the bank. So some of the most popular new bracelet, necklace, and earring designs are made from jewelry making materials such as:

* Cloth, fiber, cord, or rope – especially in bracelets that wrap, knot, tie, or cinch.
* Paper products / ephemera – often in tiny frames, mixed media, or collage.
* Wood jewelry components – either natural or colored.
* Buttons – of every size, shape, and vintage.
* Parts from older jewelry, combined with other elements and remade into new pieces.
* Seashells of all types, colors, and sizes – especially in earrings and necklaces.
* Colorful metals – especially colored or patinaed brass and copper.
* Repurposed items of all sorts – cut down, stripped, cleaned up, and turned into jewelry components.

How to Find Unusual Jewelry Making Materials

Instead of going out in search of a specific item, go with an open mind and be ready for serendipity to show you some crafty possibilities. Look at things with your creative eye, see past any accumulated dust and grime, and imagine what you can do with various items you come across.

Be prepared to sort through things. Bags, boxes, and drawers of miscellaneous objects are often where you’ll find some of the best jewelry making materials.

Go through the clearance aisles and bins of craft stores, hardware stores, and home improvement stores.

Tell your friends and family about the types of “junk” you’re looking to use for making jewelry. They’ll think it’s fun to keep an out for these things for you. Our loved ones often enjoy participating in the treasure hunt, and they may come across some fantastic finds we’d never see otherwise!

Bring a flashlight and magnifying glass on your treasure hunts. Look closely at the condition of older or secondhand items before you buy them.

While you’re hunting for jewelry making materials, also keep an eye out for things you can use to display your jewelry. Boxes, trunks, baskets, fabrics, gloves, dolls, racks, wig stands, picture frames, etc. can be cleaned up, repainted or refinished into interesting jewelry displays.

Look at everything in yard sales, tag sales, estate sales, etc. The “merchandise” at these events isn’t always organized, so you never know where a stash of potential jewelry making materials may turn up. The best deals are when the event is winding down, when the owners just want to quickly unload their remaining stuff.

Visit antique, resale, and thrift shops and ask whether they have a newsletter or an announcements mailing list for their events, sales, and new arrivals. If they do, have them add your name and address (or email) to the list. It’s a good way to be one of the first people to see their new inventory – and any possible jewelry making materials. Owners of these shops are usually helpful, and will likely keep an eye out for anything in particular if you let them know about your interests.