In contemporary jewellery the clasp is so much more than a functional fastener of a necklace or bracelet. Of course its principal purpose is to keep the item safely on the wearer. Secondary, but no less important, is that the clasp fit the aesthetics of the piece. Clasps can be anything from big, bold and intended to be prominently displayed, through to fully hidden mechanisms. A well designed neckpiece or bracelet considers the clasp as an integral design element. Some contemporary jewellery makers take a particular interest in finding innovative solutions to get a perfect finish of their designs. A well thought clasp showcases the makers design and making skills and add an extra dimension of quality that is highly valued by collectors and admirers of quality jewellery. In this article we introduce you to a variety of clasp types you might find in contemporary jewellery designs.

Classic clasps

The simplest clasps are found on supporting chain used to present a vast range of contemporary pendants. They are tried and tested designs like bolt rings (round), lobster catches (oblong/oval), or baroque trigger catches. All three function with a spring loaded lever to open and close a small gate for the other end of the chain to slot into securely. They come in a range of sizes from approximately 5 mm suitable for fine chain to 25 mm for a heavy chain or as a statement element.

shimell and madden 18k yellow gold half circle medium blue sapphire pendant necklace with bolt ring clasp<p>18k yellow &amp; rose gold green heart diamond hand necklace with trigger clasp</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

The S-clasp is one that has been handmade since ancient times - a wire is tapered towards both ends and turned over on itself to create an S shape. One end is closed down th either left at a slight gap to fit the receiver. As these are handmade they leave the maker creative licence for size, shape and finishes. Many of Catherine Manheim’s gorgeous bead necklaces are finished with this gorgeous style. And Rudolf Heltzl uses these on his striking handmade chains.

catherine mannheim 18k yellow gold ruby moonstone necklace with handmade S-claspjean scott moncrieff 18k yellow gold tube tanzanite necklace with handmade S-clasp 


Toggle or t-bar clasps are classic clasps that have been used since Victorian times. They were popular fixtures for watch chains and chatelaines of the time. But they remain popular in contemporary jewellery. One end of the clasp is formed by a bar, which slots through a hoop on the other end and the weight of the chain secures the clasp. Have a look at Sine Vazques’ beautiful reinvention of the t-bar as the principal design element in her striking Pillar range. Or Nicole van der Wolf’s Splash necklace and bracelet which neatly integrates the toggle clasp in her drop shapes.

sine vasquez 14k yellow gold oxidised silver diamond pillar necklace with t-bar clasp 14k yellow gold splash bracelet bracelet by Nicole van der Wolf with t-bar clasp

Bayonet clasps are an elegant solution to a spiral or coil necklace. The fine tube shaped clasp continues the line of the necklace without interruption. The two tube ends slot into one another and fix with a quarter turn or may be spring-loaded. They are often seen on the Niessing coils used by Angela Hubel and Niessing.


A contemporary version of these tube clasps use a magnet to secure the ends. For example Claudia Milic and Josehphine Bergsoe both use these styles.

claudia milic silver black shine collier necklace with bayonet claspSpudnik bracelet with bajonet clasp

Decorative Clasps

C-Clasps are just that - two C-shaped ends that slot together to secure the necklace. Erik Urbschat makes his highly engineered and chunky C-clasps in lush 18 karat yellow gold to suit his brightly coloured multi-strand necklaces. These beautifully crafted clasps deserve to be worn in plain view as a decorative element. Inga Reed uses a visually lighter and open version of the C-clasp for her large beaded necklaces for a minimalist and contemporary look. Whereas Nicole takes the C-clasp and uses it as a way to hide the clasp and make a visually continuous necklace and bracelet, which can be linked together seamlessly to extend the chain length.

<p>erik urbschat 18k yellow gold carnelian necklace with decorative chunky C-Clasp</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Inga Reed aquamarine necklace with handmade keyhole clasp

Puzzle clasps typically use a particular shape that slots into the opposite end like a puzzle piece and the weight of the necklace then holds the pieces in place. The fit of the two shapes is important and they are technical pieces to make. Inga Reed uses a simple ball form to create a seamless looking clasp in her gorgeous aquamarine necklace with handmade silver beads. Nicole uses a similar idea for her Coral clasp necklaces. And in her intricate Puzzle Pebble necklaces she uses the puzzle clasp to create bold decorative elements.

nicole van der wolf sterling silver puzzle pebble labradorite and coral necklace with custom puzzle clasp.nicole van der wolf 9k yellow gold garnet tourmaline coral reef necklace with handmade keyhole clasp 

Hidden or integrated clasps

A classic is the box clasp used in diamond line bracelets and necklaces. The clasp sits behind the diamonds hidden from view, giving a continuous look to the necklace or bracelet.

White gold 9.5 carat diamond tennsi bracelt with integrated box clasp


Manu is another proponent of the integrated clasp - their flat magnetic clasps are an elegant solution to fixing their wide woven foxchain necklaces and bracelets. The simple design complements their crisp contemporary style and the well thought out clasps add an element of luxury typically only found in more expensive jewellery.

manu sterling silver 22k yellow gold diamond dish bracelet with integrated magnetic clasp

As you can see there are a myriad of solutions to securely attaching a necklace or bracelet. A well designed clasp is a joy to behold and you’ll be reminded of the thought and skills that went into making the piece each time you take it on and off.

August 22, 2023 — Nicole van der Wolf