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About Cuff Bracelets


I am thinking of adding sterling silver cuff bracelets to one of my
series of jewellery. I have had numerous requests for them from my
regular customers.

Does anyone know of a good book on the topic?

What thickness of silver sheet would you use? I was thinking of 18
ga or 1 mm I would assume that forming over a mandrel would be the
last step, ie after soldering, in order to make sure the bracelet
was hard and springy and not annealed.

What is better for forming… a stepped mandrel or one of the
continuous bracelet mandrels.

Round or oval? Wood or steel?

Any other advice would be appreciated.

Milt Fischbein
Calgary Alberta Canada


Hi Milt: I’ve not made a lot of cuffs, but the ones I made I used 18
ga and did two of them with 16 ga and they have held up quite well.
The first one I ever made I used 20 ga and believe it or not, it’s
still in good shape.

As for the mandrel - well, I use a good old hardwood baseball bat
since it provides me with a myriad of measurements. I’ve been
hammering hard on this bat for over 15 years and it’s still in good
shape. I’ve got ink markings all over it for measurements. Try it but
be sure to get hardwood and not the aluminum bats that are so
prevalent today. I got top quality when I bought it.



Hi Milt,

I have made many cuff bracelets using 18 gauge sterling:

Form the metal over a stepped steel mandrel to get the intitial
shape. Warm the piece slightly and spray a coat of Stop-Ox or
Pripp’s to prevent fire scale. Then solder the bezel if setting a
stone. You might wish to add a border made of square wire. Once all
the solder work is done, roll it about 8 hours in ceramic media with
Rio Gold and Silver Deburring Compound. Roll another hour or so in
stainless steel shot with SuperSunsheen Burnishing Compound or Dawn
Dishwashing Liquid. The piece will be hardened nicely after the
steel shot and it will have an attractive finish. Set the stone

It’s In the Works Studio

What thickness of silver sheet would you use? 

Personally I like 16 ga. It gives a nice solid feel to it, and takes
hammering with a ball pein, or stamping, very well. Most times I
form the bracelet from sheet first, then solder on stones or other
additional things. The reason being that when formed into a
curvature, the addition of some things can cause stretching and
distortion, or even popping the solder joints. Its better to form the
smaller components to the curvature of the bracelet before soldering.
With 16 ga. sheet, you don’t have to worry too much about it being
too “soft”.

What is better for forming... a stepped mandrel or one of the
continuous bracelet mandrels. Round or oval? Wood or steel? 

For a cuff bracelet, an oval mandrel is best, unless it is a child’s
bracelet, or for a very heavy adult. Children and obese customers
tend to have much rounder wrists, and benefit from the round mandrel
shaping. Normal adults and children that are pre-adolescent to adult,
tend to have the more oval shape, because they’ve lost the baby fat
and have developed the forearm muscles. I prefer the steel mandrels
myself, because they will last forever. I’ve done hundreds of
bracelets on mine, perhaps as many as a thousand, plus a goodly
amount of students. Some prefer a wood mandrel because it’s got more
"give" than a metal one, and is kinder for stress induced injuries
and the prevention thereof. Steel forms faster than wood, however.
Six of one, half dozen of the other. Continuous mandrels are best for
cuff bracelets. A stepped mandrel is used for stretching, forging and
heavy forming; something that involves changing the shape.

Any other advice would be appreciated. 

Use a rawhide or wood mallet to form on the mandrel. Start by
forming the two ends first, smaller than you want the final curvature
to be. Then form the middle, smaller than the final form.
Progressively push the form down the mandrel while malleting, down
the mandrel, until you finish with the final size. There should be 1"
between the two ends for children, 1-1/2" between the ends for
ladies, 2" between the ends for men, 2-1/2" for large men. Wrist
measurements are made with a tape measure (e.g. most ladies’ cuffs
are 6"), minus the opening necessary between the ends. Cuff
bracelets can also be made with wire forms, but they must have end
plates to prevent some wires from stretching too much from the
heavier wires, causing the ends to be uneven.

Good luck, but I think you’ll find it very easy.


Hi all. Cuff bracelets are my specialty, and I have to differ a
little from some other advice given on this subject. 16 gauge is
fine, but I often go to 10 gauge or even heavier. Men, especially,
respond to a little extra heft. And it?s amazing how a little extra
metal can greatly enhance the perceived value of the piece.

I prefer a stepped steel mandrel, mostly for its parallel sides. It
may seem as though the size possibilities are limited, but I can
achieve any size I want by using different parts of the mandrel for
different parts of the bracelet.

I?ve tried lots of mallets, and have come to greatly prefer the
Swiss KBS mallets sold by Rio and others. They have nylon faces and
shot-filled heads. They really stand up to the serious banging I
have to do. I recommend getting both sizes, the smaller one for

My biggest difference with another poster?s advice is the size of
the space between the two ends of the bracelet. I have an average
man?s wrist, and my personal bracelets are 6 ?? long, with about 1?
of space between the ends, making them comfortable and secure. My
spacing generally varies between 1 and 1 ??. I can?t imagine the
wrist that would require a 2 ?? opening!

I find that most people, even women, are clueless about the proper
method of putting a bracelet on and taking it off. Starting from the
inside, a little above the ?wrist knuckle? on the outside, press the
inside end of the bracelet into the soft spot between the two bones
on the underside of the wrist and roll it on to the wrist. It can
then be adjusted to where it is most comfortable, usually up against
the hand. Getting it off is a little trickier. Push the bracelet up
your arm a little bit and pinch the inside end as far into that soft
spot underneath as possible, then pull it off. I watch people all of
the time struggle to get a bracelet on, only to fail and declare it
too small. When I show them the proper technique and the bracelet
just glides right on, they?re amazed! So the space between the
bracelet ends does not need to be so large if the proper technique
is used.

Allan Mason


Thanks to everyone for their great advice on cuff bracelets. I have
already purchased a stepped mandrel and will probably start working
with it in the next few days.

Has anyone tried heat hardening a sterling cuff bracelet or
something similar?

Were the results good?

My understanding is that you have to heat the bracelet up to about
575F and hold it there for an hour or more and then let it air cool I
do not have a kiln, so I would have to do it in my kitchen oven,
which only goes up to about 500F.

Does anyone know if 500F is enough?

Milt Fischbein
Calgary Canada


Hello Milt,

My understanding is that you have to heat the bracelet up to about
575F and hold it there for an hour or more and then let it air cool.... 

I know from experience that the procedure you describe works well for
Argentium Sterling (AS) but I don’t think it works on regular
sterling. At least according to the usual text references the process
for regular sterling is decidedly more demanding. I recall that we’ve
discussed this before on Orchid. See, for example the following
thread, especially James Binnion’s posts therein:

FWIW I’ve been doing cuff bracelets in AS, as thin as 22g and with
the hardening properties of AS they’ve turned out very well. Heat
treated AS gets noticeably harder and springier than regular sterling
so the thinner gauges are quite feasible, if that’s of use to you.

Trevor F.
in The City of Light
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