Handmade Beaded Watches


If you make your own beaded watches, you’ll never be out of fashion. But how can the purchaser of watch jewelry ensure their investment will be in style for years to come? It’s good for watch designers and buyers alike to pay heed to current trends yet integrate classic elements to keep the style forever vogue. A recent trend in beaded watches is the toggle clasp, which may or may not be the best choice for you. As with all fashion trends, pieces of good quality will become classics while cheap design elements fade as fast as the seasons.

Choosing a Beaded Watch

Timepiece: Of course, the timepiece itself is the most important component in a beaded watch. To ensure high quality, take a good deal of time to inspect the watch face. The design and beading may be beautiful, but the watch is worthless if the timepiece discolors, flakes or stops working. If the manufacturer of the timepiece is difficult to find, you’re probably holding an inferior watch. It may, by chance, hold up well over the course of time, but it’s beneficial to select a watch with a timepiece from a reputable company.

Watch clasp: The clasp is arguably the most important aspect of your watch after the timepiece itself. The clasp should be of good quality metal that is thick enough to withstand regular use. You won’t often find the buckle-style clasps on beaded jewelry that you do on metal banded watches, so familiarize yourself with the styles of watch clasps that are the most durable.

  • Toggle clasps function best on necklaces, and can easily slip open if used on a wrist piece.
  • Magnetic clasps are fantastic for children or older adults who have difficulty securing jewelry, but are not practical for heavy use.
  • Spring clasps are very durable (check that they’re of good quality) but fold-over clasps have the slight advantage of no protruding metal to snag on fabric. If your outfit of choice is a silk dress, take care that your clasp and beads won’t turn it into a tapestry of snags by evening.

Bead quality: It’s easy to focus so much on the timepiece and clasp that you forget to inspect the beads. After determining that the style is right for you, check that the beads are of high quality. Common indicators of low-quality beads are: seams (such as you’d find in pony beads), uneven holes (wherein one part of the bead is much thinner near the hole), holes that are too large for the strand holding it, or beads with any sort of sharp edges that would get caught on your clothing. It’s best practice to ask the bead retailer or jewelry artisan the names of the beads you’re considering for your beaded watch design. If a bead cannot be identified, its quality can certainly be questioned.

String, wire or chain:

  • String: Many expensive jewelry pieces use string (your pearls are a prime example) so it’s not always necessary to rule out string as a quality jewelry component. In a beaded watch, however, consider that stringed pieces need to be regularly cleaned and re-strung. Complicated designs will require a great deal of upkeep.
  • Wire is often your best bet, but take care that it’s been used appropriately. Wire should never be kinked or twisted, and if it is used as a design element around the beads themselves, the ends should always be tucked away and never snag the hand or clothing.
  • Chain can be tricky to assess. Always ask about the type of metal and whether or not it’s plated. Plated versus solid metal can mean the difference between a watch that lasts for years and a discolored wrist.

Connecting rings: While most good jewelry artisans take care to use the best materials, the connecting rings are the “tattletale” of a sub-par piece. These small metal rings can hold chain pieces together, connect bead lines to the clasp, and connect the timepiece to the bracelet itself. If these rings are flattened instead of round, not quite connected or of suspect metal, avoid the watch and you’ll avoid the embarrassment of showering your friends with a string of loose beads.

Spacers: Spacers are the small beads that separate larger beads from each other and contribute to the overall design. Too often, cheap spacers are used in place of good quality beads. The large beads may be lovely and of good quality, but if the smaller spacers will discolor (this can be the case with metal spacers) the overall effect of the watch is ruined.

Design Quality

More than any other piece of jewelry you own, the durability of your beaded watch is crucial to your satisfaction with it over the years. If any component of your watch is of sub-par quality, you may find yourself at a lovely dinner party picking beads out of your first course.

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