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Daily Wire Tip Oct. 25: Match or Clash? Clasps with Colored Wire
Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
October 25, 2010
When using colored wire/jump rings, what is the best color choice for clasps, etc?
-Meredith in Calgary, Alberta
As the designer, you will be the one to make that choice. Think about what colors you are using and what metal goes best with them. How about looking through current fashion magazines to see what is more popular in your area of the world?
To learn more about putting colors together in general, you can watch our video tutorial titled Jewelry Making and Color: Using a Color Fan.
Often, your gut feeling is the right way to go. If a customer doesn’t like your choice, you can always take an order and make a note in your designer notebook.
Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong
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October 25, 2010 at 8:42 am
I have often used the same colored wire and fashioned it into a hook and eye type clasp.
October 25, 2010 at 2:37 pm
If you are using chain as well as wire-work, it can sometimes be a challenge to match the wire to the chain, and the clasp to both.
While multi-metals are quite trendy right now, it can be a serious challenge to get almost-matching colors from different sources to look professional together.
For example, I ordered some gunmetal chain, and some gunmetal wire. They looked, on the computer screen, like they’d match.
When I got them, however, it was a different story: the wire was tinted too green and yellow. This made it a good match for oxidized brass, but a terrible choice for the buff silver/gray of the chain. Certainly not the color I was expecting to be called “gunmetal”.
Other types of gunmetal have a lot of black in the color mix, and go better with black chain than the gunmetal they claim to imitate. Sometimes that has a slightly “oil-slick” surface that doesn’t go easily with either the black or what most manufacturers are calling “gunmetal”.
While it looks black in some strong artificial light, it displays a warm charcoal in sunlight. This can be especially frustrating in clasps, where it can be difficult to find chain in that color.
These sorts of things can seem insurmountable.
I have a few tricks that seem to work for me.
I find that antiqued silver goes with many different kinds of silver-hued chain, from bright silver to black, provided you use a mix of silvers. Ditto with antiqued gold, for both oxidized brass and various gold hues. My rule of thumb is that the more oxidization overall your design has, the more oxidized the clasp should be.
If I am using both gold and silver, especially if it’s shiny, I will often go for one half of the clasp in silver and one in gold. This “split the difference” technique also works well with black and silver, copper and silver, and even more varied designs.
If my design has that “oil slick” color, or lots of black, I will sometimes just take one of my plated or sterling clasps and oxidize it completely black.
If you play your cards right, you can even get that “oil slick” look on the black, but you can’t always guarantee that, especially with plate. It depends on the quality of the plating, how pure the silver was that they used, and other manufacturing factors that are mysterious to me. Also, oxidizing plated items is risky business because if the plate is thin you can ruin your item rather than make it look pretty. So it only makes sense to try this if you buy your plated items in bulk and can afford to loose a few in the name of experimentation.
I tend to seal my oxidized silver with a thin, polymer based clear sealer that won’t yellow over time.
Others might object, particularly if it’s sterling, but it means the coating is more durable for the customer. After cleaning a piece, they don’t suddenly discover that what they have is silver… or worse if it’s plate.
PS. I make sure to inform the customer if I used plated items or sterling in the construction of the piece. My choices generally depend on price points and design considerations such as wear and tear.
I prefer to use sterling, but for some pieces it’s over-kill price wise.
October 25, 2010 at 2:59 pm
I am an artist (before I became a jewelry designer) and also have done “Color Analysis” by the season – that would be a good way to determine a metal color to go with colored wires. If the wire is cool colored (blue, purple, cool green) use silver with it – if the wire colors are warm (yellow, orange, bright red, brown) use gold with it. It would also be wise to use copper clasps with the rusts, golds, oranges and browns. Hope this helps.
October 25, 2010 at 11:01 pm
When I make my colored jewelry I use silver, gold and copper clasps. I have found that when I just used one base metal I would be asked if I had a different color of clasp. I usually have my supplies with me and will make the change.