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Jewelry Making: Measuring for Bracelets Without a Tape


Your cousin's friend in Saskatchewan has asked you to design a custom bracelet for her. You have all the beads, materials, and tools, but you're stumped about the length. She doesn't have a clue about her wrist measurement, or a flexible measuring tape to use, and you're not about to travel that far north to measure her wrist. What do you do?

Simple. Ask her to take a piece of string, wrap it around the wrist on which she'll wear the bracelet, and mark where the end of the string meets the string on her wrist. Then she should take the string and measure the length from the end to the mark on a ruler. Voila - measurement!

At that point, add 1/2 inch to 1 inch, depending on the style of the bracelet. Dangle bracelets or those with large beads will need closer to an inch, since they "float" above the skin. If you are using a toggle on a bracelet that fits closely, 1/2 inch may do it. Use your judgment.

The same technique can be used on anklets. For necklaces, different woman can be very different, depending on build. Therefore I tend to go for adjustability, adding a lobster claw clasp and extender chain about four inches long. A guideline, however, is 16" for a choker, 18" for princess length, 20" for matinee length (casual or business dressing), and 24" for longer pendant necklaces. You can also make your designs modular, adding or subtracting jump rings or components to make the necklace longer or shorter.

If you want the necklace to be a perfect fit for a specific woman, just ask the woman to hold a piece of string around her neck and adjust it until it is the same length as the necklace she wants. Then, the same as with the bracelet, she should just measure the length of the piece of string and give you the length. Remember to include the length of your clasp when you are making your necklace!

Author Susan Midlarsky of Aspiring Arts handcrafts jewelry with stones that harmonize well and are beneficial to the human body, color combinations that are connected to refinement, and sometimes offerings from nature. She has also recently started making glass beads; you can see her progress at her online blog. Susan loves the magical glow people feel upon finding a piece of jewelry that suits them or fills a need.


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