Mama Metal Glossary

Mama Metal
Fine jewelry made from precious metals and/or precious stones, designed with durability in mind. Initially marketed to the babywearing community, so mamas could enjoy wearing pretty necklaces which their children wouldn’t easily destroy. May be abbreviated MM.

Mama Metal jewelry is different than other precious metal jewelry, by nature of being handmade, and made using chain links, findings, and clasps, that are thick and strong enough to endure pulling and tugging by children. While the jewelry is not completely unbreakable, it will hold up to more pressure than typical precious metal chains and necklaces.

Another stand-out difference with mama metal is the dual-clasp chains. Rather than a pendant and chain all one-piece as with typical jewelry, mama metal is designed for mix-and-match. Different lengths and types of chains can be swapped and used with different centerpieces, charms, or pendants. The dual-clasp design also allows for a wide variety of configurations (ways to wear) the centerpieces.

Types of Metal used for Mama Metal
Depending on the artisan, may include sterling silver, argentium silver, fine silver, yellow gold, rose gold, gold-fill, and rose gold-fill. This page has information on sterling, argentium, and fine silver. This page has information on yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold. This page has information on “fill” versus “plating.”

Types of Beads or Gemstones used for Mama Metal
Varies by artisan.

Lobster Clasp
A type of clasp typically used to attach chains to large links. Ranges in size, most often made from sterling silver.

Chain
A metal chain necklace used for the jewelry. In Mama Metal, it is most common for the chain to have two clasps, and be a separate piece. This creates a “mix and match” capability where different chains can be used with different centerpieces or charms. Chains come in a wide range of metal types, lengths, and wire thicknesses. Most people find 16″ or 18″ chain to be a good starter length.

Chain Types
This website has a fantastic photo gallery and description of chain types. The most common chain types I’ve seen for mama metal are cable chain (also called link chain), flat cable chain (also called flat link chain), round link chain, belcher chain (also called rolo chain), and ball chain (also called pelline chain or bead chain).

Double / Dual Clasp Chain
A metal chain necklace where each end of the chain has a lobster clasp on it. This enables the chain to be worn in more arrangements than a typical necklace that has only one clasp and can only be clipped together behind the wearer’s neck. A dual clasp chain can be clipped directly onto the shapes or centerpiece, and adds great variety to the way the jewelry can be worn. Clasps can range in size and shape between mama metal makers.

Convertible Chain
A chain with two different sections of chain, attached together by a link / charm shape which is worn at the nape of the neck. This allows one chain to be doubled up or worn in different lengths.

Link / Charm / Shape
A single piece of metal fused or soldered into a shape, such as a circle, square, triangle, coffee cup, or an assortment of custom shapes. Different artisans may refer to these pieces by different words. The most common gauge (thickness) of wire used to make link / charms is 14 gauge.

Centerpiece / Pendant
An arrangement of several link / charm / shapes permanently connected together, creating a  jewelry item that can be used by clipping a chain to it. Most often, this is part of a “mix and match” set, where different chains can be used with different centerpieces and charms.

Chimes
A type of centerpiece that combines larger and smaller link / charm shapes, especially utilizing quite a few smaller pieces hanging off larger pieces. When the wearer moves, the jewelry also moves, creating a delicate sound as the pieces fall against each other.

Gauge
The thickness of wire used to create the jewelry. A smaller number is a thicker wire. In some countries, gauge is referred to by millimeter size (mm).