How to Make Bracelets That Fit

How to Make Bracelets That Fit

A few years ago I tried my hand at being a retail jewelry designer with my line consisting of mostly bracelets. I’ll admit, I really stunk at it. Not only were my designs a bit out of touch (too funky) for my mostly middle-aged Midwestern market, many of the bracelets were sized too small! I quickly discovered that not everyone has a 7½" wrist.

The upside is that I learned a lot about:
1. Myself—namely that I wasn’t cut out for the sales part of jewelry sales.
2. Fashion—realizing that designers really need to immerse themselves in fashion trends to create fashion trends.
3. Sizing—something any jewelry designer should know, even if you’re just making stuff for yourself.

It’s funny . . . since I’ve given up my sure-to-be illustrious retail jewelry design career, I realize I certainly haven’t given up making bracelets! I love making bracelets.  Not only do they work up quickly, they take up fewer materials than other projects and are just the right size for experimenting with new stitches, beads, and colorways. And if you’re like me and don’t spend a lot of time coordinating your daily ensemble, a bracelet is a great addition to any outfit, whether it’s a sweat suit or a ball gown. Want some bracelet inspiration? Check out the bracelets in the store. I’ve been particularly inspired by cuffs lately, especially since they don’t require sizing! The Autumn Pearl Cuff by Shaylalin Garcia, Merle Berelowitz’s Checkered Cuff, and the Drama Queen Cuff by my buddy Janet Kay Skeen are just three of the fantastic pieces you’ll find in the store.

Bracelet Sizing Tips

As I mentioned before, sizing your bracelets correctly is one of those tenets of good jewelry design. Here are some sizing notes I’ve picked up along the way:

  • Most people wear about a 7½" or 8" bracelet, but that size can vary widely! I know 5½"-ers and 10"-ers, so the best thing to do is measure the intended wrist first.
  • When creating bracelets for retail, it’s probably a good idea to make fewer styles with a couple different sizes of each rather than the opposite. Think about your clientele—are they teenagers or 50-year-olds? That will give you a sense of which sizes to make.
  • Keep in mind that you’ll need to check a chunky bracelet for fit around a bracelet mandrel or an actual wrist. Since this type of bracelet stands away from the wrist, a straight 8" length measurement can quickly turn into a bracelet that would only fit a 6" wrist once it’s wrapped in a circle—you just have to plan on losing mileage to the chunkiness.
  • There are standard sizing techniques to help you measure different types of bracelet lengths:

Bangles: Touch your thumb tip to your pinkie tip; measure around the widest part of your hand.

Measure your wrist above the hand at the point where your ulna and radius meet your metacarpals.  In other words, the widest spot above your wrist where the sticky-outy bone protrudes. 

Charm bracelets: Most people like to wear these so they drape slightly across the top of the hand. Make the measurement for this type of bracelet about 1/2"-3/4" below the point where your wrist meets your hand. 

Do you have some bracelet sizing tips to share, especially for those Beading Daily readers who design for retail? Please list them on the website.

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