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Bracelet Sizing
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Categories: Instruction and information; Jewelry

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The wrist presents some unique challenges when sizing bracelets, just as knuckle shape does with rings. Rings have no margin of error. Necklaces are simpler because any size that fits is big enough and too big is a matter of interpretation.

Bracelets are somewhat forgiving as some like a tight-fitting cuff whereas others like one that is free to roam about the wrist and bottom of the forearm. When someone asks what size bracelet they should get it's like a crap shoot. It is best to see a piece that is similar to what they want.

THE THREE CRITICAL MEASUREMENTS: While the preferred size may be open for debate, the extremes are not. The bracelet must not fall off so the first critical measurement is taken here. With the thumb tightly squeezed towards the pinky and all fingers collapsed inwards (hand looks like a cone or pyramid), find the thickest point and measure the circumference. This will be the MAX number.

The measurement of the wrist proper is also a major consideration. Take the thickest measurement going over all the wrist bones even though the tape will be slightly crooked. This allows enough wiggle room for any style of bracelet to fit properly. Call this the MIN number.

With these numbers, the bracelet style comes into play:
  • Cuff - OPENING in back should be about 1/2 to 2/3 the thickness/height of the wrist unless the band is fully adjustable, then it's a free-for-all.
  • Bangle - MAX should be reduced about 5%-10% so it has to be wriggled into position.
  • Sized bracelet - Length should be well under the MAX and over the MIN by at least the amount needed to operate the clasp.
The third measurement is the subjective yet definitive LOOSE variable. This is how loose it fits, which is based on the particular style, shape, or function of the bracelet (but always between MIN and MAX). Ultimately it's a judgment call.

Other factors may affect fit:

  1. Room to operate the clasp
  2. Narrow bands fit looser/easier than wide ones
  3. Solid shapes like an inflexible bangle remain in place better than fluid ones like chains
  4. Cuff slots should be wide enough to get onto the wrist
  5. Thick chains may be up to 2" longer than thin ones because of the math

Lastly, how does it fit and function? What is its fashion statement? What designs are compatible with your lifestyle? Numbers are meaningless if it doesn't feel or look right. Solid, tight-fitting pieces may restrict wrist movement. A wide band that is between the hand and wrist bones will prevent full range of motion without some pain or the bracelet giving in some way. My bracelets are in this danger zone but they were designed to flex just enough under such situations.

Numbers are meaningless if it doesn't feel or look right.
It's guesswork to do "sizes" like small, medium, and large to some degree. Get an empirical thing like dimensions and eliminate all questions. "Generally speaking..." is not a phrase that should decide the best fit or sizing for a custom piece of jewelry. It is the buyer's responsibility to ensure their needs are met and the jeweler's to ask the right questions.

I wear my 0.999 fine silver cuffs ultra form-fitted without room to move or slip anything thicker than a matchbook underneath them. They remain there 24/7/365 and get more abuse in one month than many bracelets may see in their lifetime. And they will endure as long as I'm alive.

Now, what can I make for you?

Posted by M: February 16, 2016

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