HOW TO USE CALOTTES/CLAMSHELLS 

CALOTTES

Calottes are also known as Clamshells due to their appearance clamshells, are a great way to finish the ends of your jewelery creations.  They are two half-round shells partially connected together, and they give a much neater finish than simply tying a knot around a jump ring or clasp and so give a nice professional look at minimum expense.

When the two halves are closed together, the calotte looks almost like any other bead. The calotte also has either a hook or a loop on one end which you use to attach to other elements of your jewellery (such as clasps, jump rings and chain etc).

They also protect your stringing material against chaffing so your creations will last longer.

If you have never used them before this step by step guide should have you using them like a pro in no time at all.

Calottes are available in a variety of styles and finishes to suit whatever project you are working on.

Calottes, also known as Clamshells have 2 cups attached together and a hook or hoop on top

Calottes, also known as Clamshells have 2 cups attached together and a hook or hoop on top

There are many different types and colours but the main differences you see are:

  • Colour and Material:  Mainly gold,silver or brass plated base metals or sterling silver.
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Calottes are available in different colours
Calottes are available in different colours

  • Size:  The standard size is about 4mm but there are larger and smaller ones available.
Sizes can vary a lot in size and color but the 4mm is the most commonly used
Sizes can vary a lot in size and color but the 4mm is the most commonly used

  • Whether it has a closed hoop or an open hook on the end.
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Loop or hook
Loop or hook?

  • Whether the shells are connected at the bottom (Bottom-Open Calottes) or on the side (Side-Open Calottes).

Calottes joined at the side (the ones on the right) are usually used for Ball Chains
Calottes joined at the side (the ones on the right) are usually used for Ball Chains

  • Whether they’re double ended or single ended calottes.
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Some calottes have a single loop on one shell, others have a loop on both shells
Some calottes have a single loop on one shell, others have a loop on both shells

Once you know what is available, it’s then onto figuring out when to use calottes over other finishes. For Example:

When you’re using Ball Chain – When you’re using Ball Chains, the only way to finish them is to use a Calotte. (However, this only works with Side-Open Calottes)
Calottes joined at the side are usually used for Ball Chains
Calottes joined at the side are usually used for Ball Chains

Making multi-stranded jewelery all the threads can be hidden inside a calotte which is something you can’t do with crimps.

You're using threads (like Nymo) which can fray. Finishes such as crimps has a tendency to wear down the thread much more easily than calottes.

You’ve used crimps before and find them a bit scratchy and uncomfortable to wear, or not very attractive – If that’s the case, you may simply prefer to use calottes.

Finally, the most important bit how to use them.

On first appearance, they can look like very complicated little devices but actually, once you know how they’re used, they are really straight forward.

Here’s what the finished product looks like when you’ve fixed a calotte to the end of your jewelery.

alottes are great for multi-stranded jewelery
Calottes are great for multi-stranded jewelery. 
There are 3 different ways to fix them in place. These methods work whether you are starting or finishing your bracelet or necklace. The three methods are known as:

  • Crimping Method
  • Knotting Method
  • Beading Method

CRIMP METHOD

Firstly, thread the stringing material through the little hole at the hinge where the two shells are joined together.

Make sure the two shells are facing the end of the thread
Make sure the two shells are facing the end of the thread

Thread on a 1.5mm or 2mm crimp and simply flatten it to fix it down on the part of the thread you want your calotte to be.

You can either flatten the crimp using standard Needle Pliers or Long Nose Pliers. You can also use the Crimping Pliers too
You can either flatten the crimp using standard Needle Pliers or Long Nose Pliers. You can also use the Crimping Pliers too

Close the 2 shells of the calotte together to cover up the crimp.

Close the shells together to cover up the crimp
Close the shells together to cover up the crimp

Hook on a clasp or chain depending on what your design is and close the loop to finish.

Close the loop to finish
Close the loop to finish

KNOT METHOD

Firstly, thread the stringing material through the little hole at the hinge where the two shells are joined together.

Then you just tie a knot at the end of your necklace - the idea is to create a knot that’s bigger than the hole on the calotte that you’ve just thread through.

Use a needle to guide it through the hole and then tie the knot by hand
Use a needle to guide it through the hole and then tie the knot by hand

If your thread is quite thin, you may need to tie more than one knot. Just keep tying knots on the same spot until it becomes one large knot.
You may need more knots if you are using thinner threads or less if the thread is thicker
You may need more knots if you are using thinner threads…or less if the thread is thicker

To finish, simple close the 2 shells of the calotte together to cover up the knot. As with the Crimping method, you can then use the hook to attach a clasp or chain to finish your jewelery .
Simply close over the knot to finish
Simply close over the knot to finish

BEAD METHOD

Firstly, thread the stringing material through the little hole at the hinge where the two shells are joined together and add a small seed bead at the end.
Add a small seed bead at the end
Add a small seed bead at the end
Then you just tie a reef knot (which is basically 2 overhand knots) or a similarly secure knot to fix the bead in place.

Fix down the seed bead with a secure knot
Fix down the seed bead with a secure knot

To finish, you can cut off any excess thread if there are any. Then simply close the 2 shells of the calotte together to cover up the bead and the knot. You can then use the hook to attach a clasp or chain depending on what your design is.

You can then use the hook to attach a clasp or chain to
You can then use the hook to attach a clasp or chain to
And those are the three methods. Once you’ve added the calotte, you’re ready to start beading.
Once you added on the calotte, you can start beading
Once you added on the calotte, you can start beading
Once you added on the calotte, you can start beading
When you reach the end, just finish using the same method you started with.

Use the Crimping method for stiffer threads and the Knotting method for threads which are more supple but which method you use is really up to your own personal preference so experiment a bit and see which one you prefer.

Happy beading!
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