Thanks for asking!

I live for questions. Not only do I love to ask them, but as a teacher, I live to answer them. A favorite time of my son’s childhood was when he started to ask me those really complex and profound questions of life, and in my career as a newspaper artist, each day I practically begged for any opportunity to produce a “How” graphic — because I am the kind of person that needs to explain concepts with diagrams and sketches. Many of you it seems are also members of this tribe — we need to show and see to understand something fully. So, this week I have decided to answer an interesting question I received about my book. Here is the email that started it:

Hi Helen!
Have been enjoying The Jewelry Maker’s Field Guide!  On page 129 you mention a tip for cuff bracelets being wider than 1”… I cannot picture what you are meaning by the narrow “V” that conforms to a taper…you wouldn’t happen to have a photo…(guess I’m a visual learner!)
Thanks in advance!  ~Tamra S. Kriedeman 

What a great question!

Helen Driggs

Narrow cuffs don’t need to be tapered.

And yes I would love to show you the answer. The important thing to remember about bracelets and rings and any jewelry object that encircles the body is this: The wider they are, the more consideration must be paid to comfort — because for the most part, human limbs and digits are not really shaped like sausages (I can hear those eyeballs rolling and some snide remarks from the mid-life female members of my readership). The wider a ring band is, the more it must be sized up to allow for knuckle clearance and tapering of the finger joint. For cuffs, it is the same. To prove it, use a tape measure on your wrist at the place just above the wrist bone and then again a few inches up from there on your arm. See? For a wide cuff to be comfortable, you should taper it. Here are two sketches that show this concept, because I told you I have to explain things with drawings.

Helen Driggs

Wider cuffs are more comfortable when tapered.

Luckily, bracelet mandrels are typically tapered just for this reason. On a wide cuff, you won’t need to flip the bracelet around and remove the taper — you’ll want to preserve it, both for the comfort of the wearer, and for the metal too! Here’s why — a bracelet without a taper is more likely to be stressed and work-hardened more and more by the wearer as she struggles to get it on and off her wrist. That means cracking or fracture lines, or creases or bends, so do yourself, and the wearer a favor, and allow for the taper of the wrist. And, it goes without saying, that depending on the design of your cuff, a plain, ordinary rectangular blank of metal might not do the trick — you might have to cut out a wedge-shaped blank instead. To figure out your pattern, tape a sheet of paper around the mandrel and draw the shape of the cuff you’d like to make in the round. Then, untape and flatten the sheet of paper to use it as a pattern to cut out your metal.

More good news

• In honor of Tamra’s great question, and for those of you interested in the book, IWP is running a terrific “Friends & Family Sale” for the holiday shopping season. If you’d like to order a copy of my book, use code FFDEC25 and recieve a 25% discount! So, Happy Holidays! Here’s the link:

• And, to thank Tamra for her great question, and to see her work, click:


About Helen Driggs

Metalsmith, Teaching Artist, Writer, Maker of things. Former Senior Editor of Lapidary Jewelry Artist Magazine View all posts by Helen Driggs

3 responses to “Thanks for asking!

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