Oct 1

Bails vs. Enhancers, From Functional to Fabulous

By Calla Gold

Enhancer bail in 14kt yellow gold with safety catch, size large

Enhancer Bail in Open Position With a Safety Catch

Bails are Nice, But Enhancers are Spice!

There’s a good chance you already know what a bail is. It’s that little loop thingie at the top of pendants and charms that your chain slides through. Enhancers are similar. They also go on the top of pendants. But there’s a big spicy difference.

Small bail, rounded front for dove pendant

White Gold Bail on Ruby Dove Pendant

An enhancer is a type of bail that hinges open in the back. This means you can open it up and clip your pendant right onto the middle of your large gold, pearl or beaded necklace. And spice it up!

As a jewelry designer who also re-purposes jewelry I have to say, enhancers are one of my favorite inventions. Oftentimes, bails are too small for thick chains and large beaded necklaces to pass through. Similarly, large clasps frequently won’t fit through standard bails.

What’s the Difference Between Bails and Enhancers?

Enhancers vs bails

Hinging Enhancers on top and Fixed Size Bails Below

Bails are closed and can only take a chain whose clasp end will fit through it. What I mean by that is if you have a 4mm rope chain and you get a pendant with a 5mm opening of its bail, your chain probably will not fit through it.

That is because the end ring that the clasp clicks through to shut is often larger than the thickness of your chain.

An enhancer with its marvelous hinge allows for a bumpity and sticking out end ring. Just hinge it open, get it past the too large part and click it shut.

An enhancer’s real gift though is how it clicks on between your pearls, your lapis beads, or other largish necklaces.

Six Reasons You Should Get an Enhancer

Enhancer Bail Closed on Necklace

This Bold Abalone Pendant Worn as an Enhancer Bail on Blue Pearls

1. Enhancers make your pendants much more versatile.

2. It can change ordinary pearls into a fabulous and finished looking statement necklace by adding a pendant.

3. It’ll create pop and focus and elevate the look of your pearls or beads.

An Enhancer Goes from Chain to Pearls Seamlessly

4. An enhancer-bailed pendant can take your pearls or beads from daytime conservative to dressy night out.

5. It can take a pendant that is not being worn and turn it into a spicy favorite. Sometimes your chains just don’t do your pendant justice, yets once on beads that pendant sings.

6. An enhancer can convert a “too big” pendant into a “just right” accessory.

7. When converting an under-worn pin into a pendant, use the enhancing bail to give it greater versatility and chances to be worn.

More on Why Enhancers are Great

Enhancer bail

Two Sides of an Enhancer Bail on Fresh Water Pearls

More often than not, the pearls on a pearl necklace won’t fit through regular-sized bails.

With an enhancer, however, you’re able to clip your pendants right onto the middle of your necklace.

The enhancer slips right between the center-most two pearls. This goes for necklaces with gemstone beads, as well.

The picture at left shows a figure eight wire style back for the enhancer bail.

Other styles like the two pictured higher on the page, showing the difference between enhancers and bails, show examples of enhancers with a solid backs.

Yawah Opal Enhancer Pendant with champagne diamonds - Calla Gold Jewelry

Custom Yawah Opal Pendant has Enhancer Back Bail

The ones with solid backs are safer. Solid backed ones with an additional safety clasp are the safest of all.

Happily you can get your versatility and spice up your jewelry wardrobe with an enhancer with a choice of sizes.

Who Should Get Enhancer Bails?

Enhancers are a good choice for the type of person who likes to wear their pendants on different sized chains and necklaces. With an enhancer you won’t be limited to only thin chains.

Are you ready for spicier choices in how you wear your pendants?

Your Personal Jeweler,
Calla Gold

8 thoughts on “Bails vs. Enhancers, From Functional to Fabulous

  1. Calla, thank you so much for sharing such an interesting piece of knowledge. I had no idea such that those hinging enhancers existed! This is great. I will definitely look for an enhancer next time I consider buying a pendant with a bail. They are so versatile!

    • Hi Tania,
      Thanks for your feedback. I wanted to start sharing some of the less known cool things you can do to change up jewelry and this one just stood out like a neon light for me.
      Calla Gold

  2. Thank you so much for this great post Calla. A few years ago, I purchased a piece of jewelry at the Tubac Art Festival in Arizona. The artist made a big point of her enhancers that she had developed and I love them. I’ve been trying ever since to create one of my own design but so far, I haven’t come up with one. Soon……………….They are so versatile , like you pointed out. Thanks again and I look forward to more great blogs from you:O)

    Sally Hoffman – myartandmysoul.com

    • Hello Sally,
      How fun to have your comment all the way from Shropshire England. Your felt crafts are beautiful.
      Enhancers are one of those things that are difficult to make because of the precision hinge.
      I decided to go with people who make them for jewelers like me for the most part. One of the good sources for enhancers for jewelry makers is Rio Grande.
      I do incorporate custom enhancers on some of my designs. But if it is to be a free-moving enhancer bail I do use a nice pre-made one from one of my suppliers.
      Calla Gold

    • Hello Vicki,
      I love that pendant too. It was my client’s already. I do not sell that pendant.
      Good luck to you in finding someone who makes it. I love it.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  3. I have a pendant with a very small bail already attached and it won’t fit on my chain. If I try to use an enhancer, the pendant hangs sideways. Is there anything you can recommend? I need something small, about 5mm to fit around the chain, that would work similar to the old fashioned charm holders. Perhaps an enhancer with a jump ring? I’m no jeweler but everything I’ve seen needs some tweaking in order to work.

    • Hello Dianna,
      Without seeing your pendant it is hard to visualize what is needed.
      When my clients have pendants with bails that are too tiny, they show me the chains they want to use it on. If they do not plan to wear it with pearls or beads I usually recommend a new larger bail which I then solder on.
      If they want to use their pendant with beads I help locate the correct enhancer and install it for them. Putting on a bail or enhancer is generally not a do-it-yourself project.
      Have you shown your project to a jeweler?
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

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