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The Attraction of Magnetic Jewelry

More and more designers are turning to magnetic jewelry for its ease and inclusivity

_STYLE / Magnetic Jewelry

Working an intricate bracelet or necklace clasp is often an exercise in frustration, even for fashionistas without a disability. So, it’s not surprising that those with fine motor skills difficulties or low to no vision, or even those who live alone, find themselves doubly vexed. Thankfully, an increasing number of jewelry designers are recognizing this, and have added magnetic clasps and unique closures to make their beautiful designs accessible to all.

“Did you know one of the most common requests doormen get is to help clasp jewelry?” says Ellie Clougherty, co-founder of jewelry company Kamaria. “I started using magnets in our designs around the same time I was getting treatment for PTSD. Looking back, I was drawn to both the challenge of creating something beautiful and the desire to make it easy to wear."

Not surprisingly, many designers have added magnetic jewelry after a personal experience. “I actually have Myasthenia Gravis, which has greatly affected the way I design our jewelry,” says Rachel Mandelbaum, President and Designer of Gold & Honey. “For me, I would experience weakness in my arms and hands (plus most of my body), but accessorizing is, and always will be, a way of life! When we launched in 2017, we had a whole collection based around magnet clasps. Older buyers would comment that their hands and eyes would struggle putting on tiny clasps, and this was a way for them to be more independent.”

Kendra Scott, Designer, Founder and CEO of her eponymous jewelry line, has also made strides for inclusivity. "For every new collection, my design team and I not only listen to the trends; we listen to our customers,” says Scott. “I am so excited to begin integrating magnetic closures into our designs, as I know this will be an answer for those customers who have been searching for a low mobility-friendly way to show off their style."

Upscale jewelry brand Millianna even patented its magnetic closure, placing leather or elegant snakeskin over magnets that are lined in the back for comfort.

"We learned early on that the functionality of our patented magnetic closures was as big a draw to our customers as the design,” says co-founder Arianna Brooke. “Most traditional clasps are difficult for anyone to use so we are really excited to partner with Juniper to bring our fashion jewelry collection to the adaptive market. It is a natural partnership that reaches a whole new segment of customers that have been traditionally underserved.”

Creating magnetic jewelry takes some scientific savvy, as the magnetic pull must be strong enough to give the wearer security that it won’t fall off, while weak enough that the bonds are easily broken when pulled apart. Jewelry brand Alex + Ani, which has a whole magnetic line within its Vintage Sixty-Six collection, gives women peace of mind with the addition of a small chain around the clasp as a security backup measure.

Making inclusive jewelry with magnets, which is easy to do without compromising design, should be a no brainer, not just from an inclusivity standpoint, but a financial one as well. “Fashion can no longer ‘vote’ to service a fantasy ideal customer that in reality, barely exists. And why should it want to? Historically there’s plenty of spend being left on the table because that non-fantasy customer was not being serviced,” notes Jessica Richards of JMR Design Consulting and the Trend Director of the Accessories Council. “Moving toward careful design and merchandising choices that are inclusive of a larger audience not only aligns with a more forward-thinking view of where fashion is going but is also financially responsible to grow business.”

"Making inclusive jewelry with magnets, which is easy to do without compromising design, should be a no brainer, not just from an inclusivity standpoint, but a financial one as well."

- Lauren Parker

Richards advises brands to be more proactive spreading the word. “Merchandisers should re-imagine the storytelling of their product as it may already fill a need without design changes,” adds Richards. “Representation of more diversity in corporate retailers will certainly help to uncover some of these opportunities as open dialogues will drive new ways of thinking and approaching the merchandising of products.”

Of course, one can avoid the whole clasp issue altogether with longer, over-the-head necklaces, but in today’s screen-centric Zoom world, face-framing necklaces that hit at the collarbone are essential, especially those with trendy chain links. That adds another opportunity for jewelry designers who never considered magnets to do so.

“Ultimately, product design is driven by trends, which is driven by what consumers are doing more and what they need,” says Richards. “In this very digital world of Zoom everything and loads of FaceTime and ‘shoulders-up’ styling, I predict that we’ll continue to see a lot of jewelry silhouettes that work back to screen time. Thoughtful designers will be creating products that fit not just the trends, but also the applications of how they can best be worn, most comfortably, most secure. The best designers will also have considered inclusivity and customer diversity in their design and will be sure to add features like magnetic closures or the ability to add a magnetic clasp detail wherever possible.”

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