Making Jewelry

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Learn how to make jewelry, jewelry making tools and jewelry supplies

A few years ago, I decided making jewelry was something I wanted to learn. I had a few reasons why I wanted to do so. First, I never had my ears pierced and finding non-pierced earrings I liked wasn’t easy. If I learned how to do so, I could convert any pair of pierced earrings that I liked into clip-on earrings. Better yet, I could make my own clip-on earrings.

My other reason is my Mom had passed away and when going through her jewelry (mostly fashion jewelry) I realized most was in need of repair. It may sound silly, but it made me feel bad they were in that condition so I wanted to repair them. I was able to fix quite a lot and made matching bracelets and earrings from some. I so wish I had realized their condition while she was alive so that I could have learned how to repair them for her.

I am definitely not an expert at making jewelry, but I’ll share with you some of the basics I learned about making jewelry and what jewelry making tools and jewelry making supplies you will need. There are several methods for making jewelry but I am only concentrating on making jewelry with wire and beads. Stringing beads on beading wire is fairly easy to learn how to do.

Jewelry making tools

  • Chain-nose pliers  – Used for gripping jewelry wire without leaving marks or ridges on it.  Also, use another pair or pair of flat-nose pliers to open and close jump rings.
  • Flat-nose pliers –  Use for making sharp angles in wire. Also, use with another pair or pair of chain-nose pliers to open and close jump rings.
  • Round nose pliers – Use for making loops in wire.
  • Wire cutters – Use for  cutting eye pins, headpins and stringing wire.  If you’re cutting memory wire, you will need memory cutting cutters, though.
  • Crimper or is referred to as crimping pliers – Use to slightly flatten and round a crimp bead onto the wire. There are micro, regular and mighty sizes.

These aren’t necessary but are helpful to have.

  • Bead board – You can lay out your beads in the design you are making. It has measurements on the side to help you measure. Also, recessed small compartments for holding your beads, clasps and other findings.
  • Bead stopper – Use to keep your beads from sliding off of one end of wire while you’re working on the other end of the wire.
  • Magnifying glass lamp – If any of you have eyes like me, this will help when trying to add small beads to wire, etc.
  • Needle nose pliers – Use for gripping items that are in small spaces.
  • Tape measure – Helpful when measuring lengths when making jewelry.
  • 1-step looper pliers – Lets you create and trim eye pins in one motion making a consistent size every time.

Jewelry making supplies

  • Beads and charms – Your selection of beads include ceramic, crystal, gemstone, glass, metal, pearl, faux pearl and other material in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes.  The same is fairly similar regarding charms. My personal favorite beads to use are bicone and round crystal beads. I like to use 3mm and 4mm crystal beads for earrings and 4mm, 6mm or 8mm for bracelets.
  • Chain – You can buy chain finished or unfinished in a wide variety of colors, lengths, materials, prices and styles for your jewelry design. There are chain extenders, too.
  • Clasps – Lobster claw and spring ring are two of the most common. Both are spring operated and are opened and closed with a small lever. They both hook onto a jump ring. Toggle – Another popular type. It’s a bar you pull through a ring and probably the easiest to use. They can be round or heart shaped as well as other shapes. Magnetic – they work just how you would think they would. Two things to consider though is they should only be used on something light in weight and shouldn’t be near a pacemaker. Box or tab – One piece is a hollow box and the other is a folded tab you insert into the box.  They are usually a fancier and more expensive clasp.
  • Connectors – These are available in all types of colors, designs, shapes and sizes. Again, as the name suggests, they can be used as pretty accents connecting beads or when using multiple strands of wire. If your design has 2 strands of beads you would use a connector with 2 holes in it. If using 3 strands it would be 3 holes.
  • Crimp beads, crimp tubes and crimp covers  – These are used when you finish your project to keep the beads in place. Crimp beads come in sizes 1-4 with size 4 being the largest. Crimp beads cost less than tubes but crimp tubes are stronger and less likely to crack and break. (Beadalon crimp beads don’t fall apart as easily.) Crimp covers do just that and look like a bead.
  • Ear wires – Used for making earrings. They’re curved wire with a loop at the bottom for attaching beads or charms.
  • Eye pins and head pins – Eye pins have a round loop you can use to add dangles or connect to other components or findings. Headpins have a flattened circle or round ball on the end. The head on a headpin keeps the bead from falling off.
  • Jump rings – They’re a type of small, oval or round wire ring used to make jewelry. It’s good to have an assortment of 3mm to 8mm.
  • Wire – Medium size Beadalon and Softflex are considered good to use. I explain a bit more what to consider when choosing wire below under Jewelry making tips.
  • Wire guards – They do what the words suggest. They protect the wire from being frayed or damaged by the clasp.

Jewelry making tips

Choosing which wire to use – You have quite a variety of colors you can choose from. Metal wire choices are aluminum, brass, copper, gold, silver and others, gold or silver filled wire and metal wire that’s gold or silver plated. Wire is measured by gauge (10 – 34) in the US and millimeter (0.2mm – 4mm) in the UK. The larger the gauge, the smaller the wire’s diameter. Shapes of wire are round, square,  half-round and twisted. Sometimes when buying wire you’re given the option of wire hardness. Dead soft is easy to bend and shape. Half hard creates good sharp angles. Also, for something that needs to hold its shape.

I used the brand Soft-flex, medium gauge, .019 diameter, 49 strands because a woman in a video I watched said it was her favorite. She said it resists breaking and doesn’t kink. She also suggested Beadalon .024, 49 strands because it was a little cheaper in price but worked fairly well, too. I was very pleased with what I used but there are probably different opinions. I’d suggest experimenting to see which you like the best.

Determine how much wire you’ll need when making a bracelet or necklace First thing you’ll need to do is determine the size of your bracelet or necklace.  The standard length for a woman’s bracelet is 6.5 – 7.5 inches. You can measure the size of your wrist using a tape measure or just a piece of wire and a ruler. After you determine the size you want your bracelet or necklace to be, add about 10 inches to that amount to ensure there’s enough for finishing the bracelet.

How to use crimps – Thread your wire through your crimp and whatever clasp or jump ring you want to use. Create a loop by threading the end of the wire back through the crimp. Adjust the loop to how you want it to be. Place the crimp in the first notch (Or indentation) of your crimper. (This is the one closest to the handle) Gently squeeze until the crimp is flat. It will form a V shape. Place the crimp in the other notch and squeeze it again. Using your cutters, trim off the excess wire. I don’t know if it’s necessary but since I saw it recommended in a video I took the tail of the wire and placed it through the last 2 or 3 beads.

Here’s a few really helpful videos I watched before making my jewelry:

How to make a crystal watch bracelet

How to make a loop

How to make a memory wire bracelet

How to make jewelry: Tutorial for beginners (Part 1 of 4)

How to make jewelry: DIY earrings (Part 2 of 4)

How to make jewelry: DIY bracelets (Part 3 of 4)

How to make jewelry: Necklace making (Part 4 of 4)

How to open a jump ring

Jewelry design ideas

I had it in my mind exactly how I wanted the designs to be for the jewelry that I made. Not everyone does know what they want to design, though. If you would like some ideas, you can visit the site below to find some.
Free jewelry design patterns from Bead Spider