What do you mean by bracelet circumference?

Hi Paula,
I’m looking at your Hopi cuff bracelets. What do you mean by circumference?  –measurement of bracelet end-to-end, or –measurement including the gap, as if it was a circle?
I need a cuff bracelet that’s 5″ end-to-end, or just a little bigger.

NBS308-ABCDE-josytewa-1Hi Carol,

Circumference is the perimeter of a circle or the outside boundary of a circle.

When fitting a cuff bracelet, you are comparing two circles: your wrist and the bracelet.

The wrist circle is the measurement (in inches) taken with a flexible tape measure around the portion of your wrist where you want to wear the bracelet.

The bracelet circle is the total circumference. Total circumference refers to the total circular measurement: the end to end measurement (taken on the inside of the cuff bracelet) + the gap. That approximates the circumference of the wrist that the bracelet is to fit.


Most gaps are 1 – 1 1/4″ so to find a bracelet to fit you (you said you want one 5″ end to end) you would look at bracelets in the 6 to 6 1/4″ total circumference range as you likely have a 6 to 6 1/4″ wrist.

Cuff Bracelet Fit Tips – Part 2

Cuff Bracelet Fit – More Tips

©  2010 Horsekeeping © Copyright Information

A cuff bracelet is a bracelet that is rigid, has no clasp, but has a gap, an open portion that allows you slip the bracelet over your wrist.

We’ve already put together an article with tips and guidelines about choosing the proper sized cuff bracelet. Now I want to add some personal observations and put my own wrists up as a case study.

Wrist Variations – Right and Left — Winter and Summer

I briefly mentioned my wrist size in the main article. More specifically, my right wrist, which is where I usually wear a cuff bracelet, measures about 6 7/8″. My left wrist, where I wear a Native American watch, is about 6 ¾”, about 1/8″ smaller. I suspect my right wrist is larger because I am right-handed and because I use a computer mouse. You might find a similar difference between your two wrist measurements. In the winter, both of my wrists measure about 1/8″ smaller than the above and in the summer, they can measure 1/8″ larger. I generally like to wear my looser and more open bracelets in the summer and my wide cuffs in the winter.

Shape of Wrist

My wrists are more oval than round. They have a more flat top and bottom and short sides if you know what I mean. That is the typical shape of the bracelet forms that Native American artists use to make their bracelets. If you have round wrists, you would want to look for a bracelet that is somewhat adjustable so that you can shape it to fit your wrist perfectly. See adjustment notes.

Snug or Loose?

Everyone has a personal preference as to how snug or loose a cuff bracelet should fit. I prefer a bracelet to be a light presence, a conforming second skin. I don’t want a cuff to move around like a bangle. But I don’t want it to press into my skin anywhere either. When I take a bracelet off, I don’t want to see dents in my skin that say “tight cuff!”

Where do You Wear a Cuff?

I wear narrow cuff bracelets in front of my prominent wrist bone, towards my hand. I wear wider cuffs behind or over the prominent wrist bone. Right now I am wearing a 6 ¾” heavy silver inlay bracelet cuff that is only about 3/8″ wide (so it’s in front of my prominent wrist bone) and it is PERFECT. It doesn’t move on its own but if I grasp it on each side and lift up gently, I can create a ¼” space between the bracelet and the top of my wrist. And if I wanted to move it behind my wrist bone, I could easily move it there. But left on its own, it tends to rest in front of my wrist bone and I don’t even know it is there.

Wider Cuffs Must Be Larger !

My favorite wide cuffs are larger in size because I wear them over the prominent bones of my wrist.

I have a 1″ wide Hopi cuff that is 7″ total inside circumference and a 1 ¾” wide heavy Navajo cuff that is 7″ total inside circumference. Both of these have a gap of about 1 ¼” and they go on and off easily and fit just a well as my 6 ¾” narrow cuff. So in my case, when I wear a wider cuff, it needs to be about ¼” larger than a narrow cuff.

Choosing Your Perfect Cuff

I hope this information helps you interpret and use the bracelet dimensions we have on our site to find a bracelet that fits you and is comfortable to wear. It is always best to measure a similar cuff that fits you perfectly, but if you don’t have one, you should be able to measure your wrist to find a bracelet that fits.

Be careful about getting locked in to size designations like Small, Medium, and Large. These terms, and the cut-off points between size categories, are necessarily arbitrary and imprecise, since there is an infinite range of wrist and bracelet measurements.

Common Mistake #1: All Men Wear Large

Many men wear a Medium bracelet in the 7-7 ¼ inch range. They might have a wrist that measures 7 ½ and find that they like the fit of a 7 ¼” bracelet. Some women buy Large bracelets for their boyfriends or husbands just because they think a man would just naturally need a Large, but it is not necessarily so.

Common Mistake #2: Women Can Squeeze a Medium Size Bracelet into a Small Size

With any bracelet, squeezing will likely make the bracelet an odd shape. Many small women buy Medium bracelets hoping they can “squeeze” the bracelet together to make it fit them. Yikes! First of all, if you squeeze a stone bracelet, you risk loosening the stones. AND you’ll probably end up with a gap so small you won’t be able to put the bracelet on or take it off very easily – it will end up more like a bangle bracelet! To adjust a bracket, use this method.

Closing the Gap

The gap is what allows you to put a bracelet on and take it off with ease. It is also what assures the bracelet won’t fall off. There is a “sweet spot” as far as the gap measurement that will work best for you. For me, the perfect gap seems to be 1 1/8″ to 1 ¼”. It allows me enough on-off space but not so much that the bracelet is not secure. That’s why it is best to get a bracelet that approximates your wrist size and shape and has a reasonable gap, something on the order of 7/8″ to 1 ½” depending on the size of your wrist. Too small of a gap and it will be torture going on and off. Too large of a gap and the bracelet could turn on you wrist and even fall off !

How to Put on a Cuff Bracelet

There is an art to putting on a cuff bracelet. Curve your left hand over the top of the bracelet. In one movement, press the lower edge of the bracelet into the soft area on the underside of your wrist where your tendons and veins show and roll the bracelet over the top of your wrist. To remove a bracelet, first press the edge nearest you into the underside of your wrist and the roll the bracelet back off your wrist toward you. With a little practice, you will see how easy this technique is. –

Cuff Bracelet Fit Tips – Part 1

How to Measure Your Wrist for a Cuff Bracelet

©  2010 Horsekeeping © Copyright Information

We categorize our bracelets according to the following sizes:

Baby-Child-Youth Fits up to a 5 1/4″ wrist
Small Fits a 5 3/8″ wrist to 6 1/4″ wrist
Medium Fits from a 6 3/8″ to a 7 1/4″ wrist
Large Fits from a 7 3/8″ to an 8″ wrist
Extra Large Fits over 8″ wrist

The best way to get a good fit is to measure a cuff bracelet you already have that fits you well and look for a bracelet with those dimensions. The total inside circumference is the inside circumference of the bracelet from end to end plus the gap (the distance between the ends).

If you don’t have a cuff bracelet to use for comparison, then measure your wrist where you want to wear the bracelet. There are several ways to do this.

1. Use flexible tape measure to measure around your wrist where you will wear the bracelet

2. Wrap a piece of string or ribbon once around your wrist where you will wear the bracelet. Make a mark across the string wrap. Remove the string and measure between the marks to find the circumference of your wrist.

3. Cut a strip of paper approximately 8″ long and as wide as the bracelet you would like to wear. Wrap the paper around your wrist where you would wear the bracelet. You might secure the paper with a piece of tape to get a better feel of the fit. Make a mark where the end of the paper lays on the wrap. Remove the paper and measure from the end to the mark for the circumference of your wrist.

All of our bracelet pages have one of the following measurements:
1. Total inside circumference which includes the gap. This corresponds more or less to your wrist measurement. (The best gauge is to measure a cuff bracelet that fits you well and compare to the bracelet you are considering.)

2. Inside circumference from end to end, plus the gap measurement. These two added together equal the total inside circumference which corresponds to your wrist measurement. For example, if your wrist measures 6 1/2″, a bracelet that has a 5 1/4″ inside circumference end to end and a 1 1/4″ gap has a total inside circumference of 6 1/2″ and should fit you well.

How well a bracelet will fit you will depend on whether you like to wear the bracelet tight or loose, alone or with other bracelets, in front of or behind the prominent bone on your wrist, changes in temperature (weather) and other factors.

Hand made Native American Indian Jewelry; Navajo Sterling Silver  feather bracelet

Inside Circumference end to end + the Gap = Total Inside Circumference.

Total Inside Circumference corresponds more or less to wrist size.

Example: If the Inside Circumference end to end is 5″ and the Gap is 1″, the Total Inside Circumference would be 6″ and would be suitable for a wrist approximately 5 3/4 ” to 6 1/4″ depending on how tight or loose you like to wear your bracelets.


Note from Paula:

I can’t stress enough that the best way to get a perfectly fitting cuff bracelet is to measure one that fits you well and compare its measurements to the measurements on the page of a bracelet you are considering buying. When I wrap a string or dressmakers cloth tape measure around my wrist it measures between 6 7/8″ and 7″ and yet the bracelet I am wearing today measures 6 5/8 total inside circumference, which includes the gap. So the bracelet that fits me the best is actually 1/4″ smaller than my wrist measurement. Such a bracelet is steady, does not flop around, yet does not dig in anywhere. It is comfortable and perfection in fit. So bear that in mind as you shop. You may likely prefer a bracelet slightly smaller than your wrist size.

Many cuff bracelets are adjustable. They can be opened or closed up to about a 1/4 inch larger or smaller. The types that are NOT easily adjustable are those that are made from very thick, heavy metal or those with inlaid stones across the entire front and sides.

When you purchase a bracelet, realize that if you adjust it, it is not returnable. To adjust your bracelet, be very careful how you adjust it so you don’t make it an odd shape or damage it. If you try to bend an area of your bracelet where there is a stone or inlay, you might pop the stones out. Generally when opening or closing a bracelet for fit, encircle one hand firmly over the last stone on one side of the bracelet and then make your adjustment by bending in or out the portion of the bracelet from the last stone to the end of the bracelet. Do the same on the other side.

Remember, some bracelets are not adjustable at all. Those that have stones or inlay all the way to the ends of the bracelet are not considered adjustable. Those that are made of very heavy silver would be very difficult to bend, so are considered not adjustable.

Bracelet Weight

We list the weight of bracelets for several reasons. First, the price of silver fluctuates but has been running high the last several years. The weight of a sterling silver bracelet factors into its price. Also, we list the weight because sometimes you are shopping for a substantial piece, like a heavy cuff, and sometimes you are looking for a very lightweight piece. You can compare the weights among bracelets to find exactly what you want.

Traditionally precious metals and jewelry weights are listed in grams. There are approximately 28 grams in one ounce.
As always, if you have questions about a bracelet, write me at // orders@horsekeeping.com.