I'm pretty sure that I've pointed out these pinch bails, or similar, in some of the inspirations that I've done, but they are soooo easy to use, it's worth making the point again.
These are bails - and before we go any further - let's clarify what we mean by "bail." Or "bale." There are two spellings of the word: bail and bale. Bail is a sum of money to release someone from prison, to leave, to abandon, to empty water from a boat. Bale is to bundle into a ball. Hay comes in bales.
Whether the jewelry term should be bail or bale - I frankly can't find a definitive answer to that - as it is a specialized term and most definitions don't reference it. As bale means to bundle - I would have guessed this would be correct - but I've been spelling it bail all along, so I guess I have a vested interest in that spelling.
And, by now, "bail" looks right. ;-)
(FWIW, I googled "bail jewelry" and got 1.2 million hits, but "bale jewelry" got me only 500,000 hits.)
However you spell it, the meaning is a loop that is used for hanging a pendant.
Quite a few of the pendants that we carry have a hole running from front to back, which means that if you just string them, they will hang sideways and not display the way they were intended. So - you have to come up with some way to have them hang in the correct orientation. One answer is a bail - which can be as simple as something you wire-up your self - in some case, a jumpring will do the trick - or a manufactured solution - such as the bails shown here.
These are often referred to as "pinch" bails, as they are closed by lining up the tiny posts with the holes in the pendant and "pinching" or squeezing them closed. Sometimes you need to use pliers to get them to close enough, and you may have to gently bend the main part of the bail apart first in order to get enough clearance to slide the pendant into place.
The long and the short of it is though, they don't have to be just used to hang a pendant for a necklace.
You can use them to make really quick and easy earrings. Like the pair pictured at the top here - this pair of earrings can be assembled in minutes - so that the unexpected girlfriend that your brother just showed up with for Christmas can be included in the gift-giving without embarrassment, and making you look like a kind, thought-ful, and the totally put-together and organized person that you want people to think you are - but aren't really.
Or, you can make earrings to match your outfit at the drop of a hat.
Here are some step-by-step instructions.
Remember - metal will fatigue and break with multiple bendings, so while you can probably open these once or twice, repeated opening and closing will break them. So you can steal the beads out of the earrings to finish another project, but you can't swap the colours to match your outfit on a daily basis.
And we have, at the moment - 28 different styles and colours, so - no excuses - you should be able to find something to suit your fancy! (Click on a pic to go to that item in the catalog. If you don't go to it directly - it is out of stock - email firstname.lastname@example.org for the next availability.)