Make Perfect Jewelry Gifts Fit for Anyone

“One size fits most” is what you want to hear when you’re making jewelry gifts, especially if you’re selling them. No matter how pretty, trendy, edgy, or otherwise attractive, if a piece of jewelry is apt to slip off or won’t slip on, it’s a salability problem. You can limit your pieces to those you can adjust at the point of sale, but that takes time and attention away from other customers at this busiest season. That’s also a solution only if the buyer is buying jewelry gifts for herself or someone whose size he’s sure about—not the case for most gift sales!

ABOVE: Easy to fit, pretty, sporty, and reversible, Michelle Brennan’s innovative Stretchy Chain Maille Bracelet makes a perfect holiday gift and appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist November/December 2018. Photo: Jim Lawson

Jewelry Gifts: Fashion or Fit?

For some kinds of jewelry, size is more a matter of taste or fashion than fit. Tiny women can love big pendants, and long-necked women may favor delicate studs on their ears. When high ruffled collars are in, they’ll interfere with dangling earrings; delicate fabrics can accommodate only very lightweight pins, if any.

For rings and bracelets, size is also about personal preference, but a good fit is essential. It’s not just a ring size or bracelet length, either. The shape of the shank can make a huge difference in how easy a ring is to put on and take off. A bangle’s contours, the drape of a linked bracelet, the shape and opening of a cuff all affect ease of use and how well the bracelet will stay put on someone’s arm.

On the other hand, these are very popular kinds of jewelry, in part because rings and bracelets are jewelry the wearer can see when wearing it. While getting the size right is important, so is offering gifts that will please. Here are a few things you can do to make giving and selling rings and bracelets easier all around.

Jewelry Gifts: Plus or Minus a Link

Advantages: Demos always get noticed. Showing off your skills to everyone passing by is a great way to draw attention. Being willing to resize also demonstrates good customer service and will get you some additional sales.

Challenges: Adding or substracting a bracelet link may not expand your holiday sales that much because customers tend to know the right size only for special giftees. Making adjustments on site also has its own challenges. You’ll need to pack tools and supplies and set them up. You’ll need enough space, maybe power, maybe permission from the venue.

Jewelry Gifts: Open Shanks

Jeff Fulkerson’s Wrap-Around Raindrop Ring, in the April 2016 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, uses patina to highlight the ring’s contours and playful drops. The open ends give it an adjustable fit. Photo: Jim Lawson

Jeff Fulkerson’s Wrap-Around Raindrop Ring, in the April 2016 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, uses patina to highlight the ring’s contours and playful drops. The open ends give it an adjustable fit. Photo: Jim Lawson

Advantages: Open shank rings can be enlarged by pulling the overlapping ends apart or made smaller by squeezing the ends closer together. With their potential range of sizes, these rings are a safer bet for jewelry gifts. They’re also easier to get on and off for anyone.

Challenges: Adjusting the size now and then is fine, but constantly bending the metal over the long run can make it stiff and brittle.

Jewelry Gifts: Open Cuffs

Betsy Lehndorff’s Saw Pierced Fern Leaf Cuff appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist November 2015. Photo: Jim Lawson

Betsy Lehndorff’s Saw Pierced Fern Leaf Cuff appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist November 2015. Photo: Jim Lawson

Advantages: As with an open ring, you may be able to work the gap on the underside of a cuff to change its size.

Challenges: Often a heavier gauge and more metal limits how much adjustment you can make, and distorting the shape can also affect the fit. But you can tweak it.

Jewelry Gifts: Open and Close

Advantages: A ring or bracelet with a mechanism designed for opening and closing makes it easier to put on and take off. This is also a sturdier solution for the long haul than bending the shank back and forth repeatedly.

Bobbi Maw’s Wire Ring with Clasp appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist March 2017. Photo: Jim Lawson

Bobbi Maw’s Wire Ring with Clasp appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist March 2017. Photo: Jim Lawson

Challenges: Building clasps, catches and especially hinges takes time and skill, and the piece still needs to be in the right size range when worn.

Noël Yovovich’s Hidden Catch Bracelet takes advantage of the springiness of sterling metal clay after firing to make the bracelet easy to put on and remove and the catch secure. The project appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist May/June 2018. Catch close-up photo courtesy of the artist. Complete bracelet photo: Jim Lawson

Noël Yovovich’s Hidden Catch Bracelet takes advantage of the springiness of sterling metal clay after firing to make the bracelet easy to put on and remove and the catch secure. The project appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist May/June 2018. Catch close-up photo courtesy of the artist. Complete bracelet photo: Jim Lawson

Jewelry Gifts: Wire with Memory

Eva Sherman’ s Brangles feature a memory wire base and appeared in Step by Step Wire Jewelry December 2010/January 2011. Photo: Jim Lawson

Eva Sherman’ s Brangles feature a memory wire base and appeared in Step by Step Wire Jewelry December 2010/January 2011. Photo: Jim Lawson

Advantages: Memory wire bracelets fit a wide range of wrists and can accommodate a huge variety of charms and beads. They can be quick, easy, and inexpensive to make.

Challenges: If your market is in metalwork, this is outside your scope. But at holiday time, having a tray of less expensive pieces for jewelry gifts can be a good idea.

Jewelry Gifts: Elastic for Stretch

Made with elastic, safety pins, and beads, the cuff on the left by Nina Cooper and the one on the right by her daughter Lyra appeared in Lapidary Journal October 2003.

Made with elastic, safety pins, and beads, the cuff on the left by Nina Cooper and the one on the right by her daughter Lyra appeared in Lapidary Journal October 2003.

Advantages: Like memory wire, inexpensive elastic can accommodate beads and charms readily. A bracelet made with it expands easily as the wearer slips it over her hand.

Challenges: And like memory wire, this may not be what your customers expect from you, but you might want to have available once in a while anyway. Elastic can also be snapped apart or eventually dry out and fail.

Jewelry Gifts: Rubber

Advantages: More firm than elastic but more flexible than metal, rubber offers both interesting structural possibilities and greater sizing range. Available in many colors and several finishes, rubber is also a material with considerable design potential. And it’s inexpensive.

Challenges: Not all rubber is created equal. Some may not be as durable as we’d like for jewelry gifts. It may also need special consideration when combined with metal.

Jewelry Gifts: Stretchy Chain Maille

Easy to fit, pretty, sporty, and reversible, Michelle Brennan’s innovative Stretchy Chain Maille Bracelet makes a perfect holiday gift and appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist November/December 2018. Photo: Jim Lawson

Michelle Brennan’s Stretchy Chain Maille Bracelet combines durable rubber and metal rings for an easy fit. It appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist November/December 2018. Photo: Jim Lawson

Innovative chain maille expert Michelle Brennan has figured out how to make chain maille not only flexible but stretchy, too. By weaving exceptionally durable rubber O rings in with her aluminum and stainless steel jump rings, she’s created a chain maille bracelet that holds its shape and stretches enough that you can pull it right on and off. It’s also easy to turn inside out, so she designed this bracelet with a color pattern that reverses itself—giving you, your friend, or your buyer two bracelets in one.

–Merle
Merle White is Editor-in-Chief of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.

Get the Stretchy Chain Maille Bracelet Kit

For a sporty, colorful, pretty, and practical gift, consider Michelle Brennan’s Stretchy Chain Maille Bracelet. Because it stretches, one size fits many, and it needs no clasp. Because of its firm but flexible structure, this bracelet is reversible. And because the design features two shades of blue against the silvery colored metal rings, you can wear it showing either light against dark blue or dark against light blue. Whoever gets this as a gift really gets two gifts. Sweet!

All you need are chain maille skills, a few hours, and a couple of pairs of pliers—and hundreds of rings in 10 different sizes, materials, or colors. Let us help you make sure you have all the rings you need. Order the Stretchy Chain Maille Bracelet Kit for complete supplies, and make a great gift for someone else or yourself.

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