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How To Make Your Own Jewelry

Updated on May 31, 2011

It's Great to Make Your Own Jewelry

If you can make your own jewelry you'll never again have to face the challenge of trying to find a necklace or pair of earring to match a particular outfit - because you'll be able to make it yourself.

Jewelry making is a great hobby, and an easy one to start as it has very low set up costs, plus the range of things you can make is almost inexhaustible. You can also adjust it to the time you have available, for example a simple pair of earring or necklace can be ready in a matter of minutes, whereas a more complicated piece such as a twisted seed bead necklace may take several hours (not that you have to do it all at once of course).

However when you're just starting out at something it can seem a little overwhelming, there's lots of unfamiliar terminolgy to get used to and every process seems to have it's own gadget - and how do you know which ones you need and which you don't?

It is these sorts of issue I hope to cover in this article.

Headpins used to create links in a beaded bracelet
Headpins used to create links in a beaded bracelet

Jewelry Making Terminology

When I first started making jewelry it took ages to get my head round the terminology. Up to then 'crimping' was a hair dressing technique from the 1980's, 'bails' were things that sat on cricket stumps and 'findings' were found at the end of a report or essay - it took a while to work out what they meant in jewelry terms.

So here's my simple guide to some jewelry terminology:

Findings- jewelry findings are the bits and pieces that hold a piece of jewelry together i.e. earring hooks, clasps, wires, beadcaps, jump rings etc. There are 100's of types of findings and as said before they are the parts of a piece of jewelry that hold it together.

Bails- jewelry bails are used to attach pendants to chains. With a beaded necklace you thread the beads onto the wire / cord / chain of the necklace whereas with a pendant there needs to be a 'bit' attached to the pendant that the chain / cord can thread through - that bit is the bail.

Crimps and Crimping: Crimp beads are used to secure the ends of wires so beads do not fall off - and crimping is the process by which that is done. I could explain how to do it in writing but to be honest the easiest way to understand both the why and the how of crimping is to watch the video below.

Headpins - these look like long pins but without the pointy bit at one end. The other end can either be flat like a pin or have a loop. The are used extensively in earring making to thread beads onto (the flat end stops beads from falling off) or they can be linked together to form a chain as in the blue and green bracelet shown.

How to Use Jewelry Crimps and Crimping Tools

Jewely Making Tools Use To Make Your Own Jewelry

As with everything there is a tool for every occasion, however when you're just starting out there are only a few that I would consider an absolute necessity. Get these and then you can add to your collection as you go along.

Good Pair of Scissors- absolutely essential to jewelry making, especially for cutting things like cord or jewelry wire i.e. beadalon and other types which are actually multiple wire strands in a nylon casing - and will be ruined by wire cutters.

Round nose pliers - these are the pliers with cone like end i.e. completely circular. These will probably be the most used pliers in your jewelry toolkit - used to bend the ends of headpins (the long thin wire pins used a lot in earring making), and to create decorative loops.

Flat Nosed Pliers- As above but the plier noses will have a flat inner surface. Great for gripping wire and holding it in place, or for straightening short pieces of bent wire.

Crimping Pliers - As shown in the video above, these are used with crimps to secure the ends of wires to prevent beads falling off.

Red seed beads used to seperate other beads
Red seed beads used to seperate other beads

Types of Beads For Jewellery Making

A full list of the types of beads for jewellery making which are available would take up far more time and space than is available here - but here are some that you are more likely to come across than others.

Seed Beads - very small beads (about the size) of seeds which come in a range of sizes,designs and colours. Can be used to create whole pieces or as highlights or fillers where you need a bit of extra colour - it's a good idea to always have a selection on hand.

Czech Glass Beads- very popular polished, often faceted beads which come in a fantastic range of colors, many with iridescent qualities.

Lampwork Beads- Lampwork is the term for how these glass beads are made (glass is blown around a metal rod). These are often incredibly pretty, patterned beads great for all types of jewelry.

How to Make a Beaded Bracelet

How To Make Your Own Jewelry at Home

Once you've got your starter bits and pieces you are going to want to get on and make something.

There are two ways to approach this:

1. Play around - decide the sort of things you want to make, get the appropriate beads and just start playing around - use one of the many videos around to learn various techniques - such as the bracelet making video here.

2. Buy a jewelry making kit. These can be great for first timers as you know exactly what you are making and all the steps are explained. There are some beautiful necklace kits around and if you want something more adventurous chain maille is a good option.

However, whichever route you choose to go down, the most important thing is that you have fun, enjoy what you're doing and end up with beautiful pieces of jewelry you can wear.


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