Bails vs. Enhancers, From Functional to Fabulous
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.
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 Enhancer Bails?
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
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.
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
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 above shows a figure eight wire style back safety for the enhancer. 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.
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 Needs These Specialty Bails?
Enhancers are a good choice for the type of person who likes to wear their pendants on different sized chains and necklaces. With one of these babies 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, 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!
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.
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
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.
how much is the Bold Abalone Pendant please?
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,
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?… Read more »
Hi Calla! Thank you for the informative piece! My question: We just bought a beautiful tanzinite pendant set in silver, but the bail attached to it is gold. Is this common for estate jewellery? We were told it should go on a gold chain, since the bail is gold. But it just doesn’t seem right. What is your opinion? Thanks so much!
Hi Lynda, Fashions with vintage and antique jewelry are as changeable in their day as bell-bottoms and skinny jeans. It is possible there was a mini-trend in mixing metals. However there is another possibility. Back down the time track of jewelry there were fewer jewelers and many had to hand make items like bails that are now available in many choices. Possibly the piece needed repair and the available jeweler only offered yellow gold. So it would end up with a yellow gold bail even though the pendant was made in platinum or silver. Look to see if the style… Read more »
I definitely agree with you Calls! What is your opinion of pairing a gold chain with the Platinum setting with a gold bail? Thank you so much. It’s a gift, and I’m not sure we have time to change the bail now.
Are the enhancer bails available to purchase?
The styles are ever changing and availability changes often. I’ll email you.
Your Personal Jeweler,