Professional Jeweler Archive: Sizing, Repair & Maintenance of Tennis Bracelets

January 2004

Professional Bench/Defining Quality

Sizing, Repair & Maintenance of Tennis Bracelets

Sizing, repairing and maintaining in-line bracelets demonstrates another aspect of quality in your shop

With the popularity of tennis bracelets – ever since Chris Evert caught the world’s attention when she dropped her in-line diamond bracelet at a tennis match two decades ago – comes an increased demand for their repair and maintenance.

Tennis bracelets are made and distributed in a wide range of qualities. Some are nicely made, very fine pieces in which every detail of the assembly was considered. Others are poorly made, with little or no attention to assembly or quality of the materials used.

Here are few of the main points of inspection for the proper care and maintenance of tennis bracelets.

Proper Fit

Al Solomon of Solomon’s Fine Jewelers in Long Island, NY, ensures the proper sizing of every tennis bracelet his staff sells or services. To be certain of a proper fit, they use this simple rule: with the bracelet on the wrist where it’s most often worn, the space between the bracelet and the wrist is one finger width.

The space between the bracelet and the wrist should be about one finger width.

If the bracelet is too long, it will catch and stretch, creating undue stress and pressure on the hinge joints and severely weakening them. Solomon has seen bracelets stretched over a half-inch. They can catch then break and become lost.

Watch for stretched (A), misaligned, bent or twisted links (B) on your customer’s bracelets.

Smooth Operation

Inspect for irregular or large gaps between links. They are the signs of stretched links that may result in worn hinge pins (C). Bent or twisted hinge pins cause misalignment and hinder movement (D).
Another problem caused by stretching: cracking and tearing of the links and their joints. Examine the bracelet as closely as possible for other cracks and tears – they’re difficult to spot. Warn your customer of any breaks likely to occur in other links.

If one link is cracked from being stressed, others are most likely weakened and will break soon also. When taking in the bracelet, always count the number of links from one end of the bracelet to the point where the break occurs; mark it on the job envelope. Then if the bracelet breaks again you can show the customer the envelope to verify the second break is at another location.

Mechanisms Work with Precision

Inspect all mechanisms: closures, box clasps, safety catches and safety chains, especially the clasp or closure. Make sure each works as intended when new.

On commercially made pieces, you’ll sometimes see cast clasps instead of die-struck parts. Cast clasps eventually lose the required spring and/or break. A cast clasp is rounded and soft, lacking spring. A die-struck tongue is smooth and even, with lines showing on the sides from being die struck.

Safety Catches

Safety catches provide a second locking mechanism and come in many forms.

A figure-eight (E) and a safety chain (F) are the two most commonly used safety catches.

Being a Professional

Sometimes, being a professional requires you to communicate unpleasant news about the quality of your customer’s jewelry. But if you see a bracelet with a host of manufacturing and assembly defects or excessive wear, it’s your responsibility to warn the customer of the issues – in a tactful and appropriate manner – and offer to remake the bracelet.

– By Mark B. Mann

Illustrations by Lainie Mann, Visual Communications LLC

Repair and Maintenance of Tennis Bracelets

A. The bracelet fits properly, with about one finger’s width between the bottom of the bracelet and the wrist.

B. All joints and hinges are complete and operate smoothly.

C. Mechanisms such as closures, box clasps, safety catches and safety chains work with precision.

D. All stones are tight and secure.

E. The detail and pattern of each link is maintained and free of tool marks.

F. The catch has a safety or second locking device.

Pulled hinge pins (top illustrations show side and top views), stretched links (center two images) and twisted joints (bottom to images) will break eventually. All joints, links and hinges should be complete and operate smoothly.

In-line bracelets should have a second locking device. The most popular types of security devices are the figure-eight clasp and a safety chain.
All detail, including the bottom and inside areas of a link, should be finished, polished, smooth, free of tool marks and comfortable to wear.

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– by Mark B. Mann

Illustrations by Lainie Mann, Visual Communications LLC

Copyright © 2004 by Bond Communications