Prayer beads have a long tradition discussed elsewhere. Chaplets have always had a great deal of variety in structure and the prayers used with them. Unlike the Roman Catholic rosary, chaplets have never had a uniform structure or set of prayers so while I tend to think of my chaplets as Anglican they would not be unusual for other traditions. While a full rosary or prayer rope could be called a chaplet, most chaplets are shorter than the full set of rosary, prayer rope, or paternoster beads. The number of beads varies in all traditions including Roman Catholic. Catholic chaplets often have ten beads representing one of the decades of the rosary, with an additional one or more beads for the mysteries. On the other hand, 9 beads or more than 10 are not uncommon either. Gardens of Grace has several “tenners” (one decade chaplets) available here.
One significant difference between chaplets and other prayer beads is chaplets are almost always themed. Most chaplets are dedicated to or themed upon the Blessed Virgin Mary or one of the saints. Catholic chaplets often have a saint’s medal instead of a cross. Nine bead sets, (3 sets of 3 beads) are sometimes called ecumenical prayer beads. Anglican chaplets are also often themed on a saint, but still have a cross or crucifix. They can also be themed on a liturgical season or a concept. Some of the first Anglican chaplets were made by GiGi beads, the greatest variety of their chaplets can be seen here.
Most Anglican chaplets have seven week beads, one cruciform bead, an invitatory bead, and cross. This is really based on Roman Catholic one decade rosaries. This is in effect a one week Anglican rosary. I’ve seen some that have two sets of week beads, in effect half an Anglican rosary. I’m not sure why they do two weeks worth unless it simply to make the design simpler. It can be difficult to make a branched chaplet with only seven week beads. They can be branched like the larger rosary, a single large loop if the cruciform and invitatory beads can be distinguished, or linear in form. It can also be made into a bracelet. I hope to put up some posts on Anglican rosary and chaplet designs. I am also adding a webpage called Bead and Book to collect posts on prayer beads.