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Jewellery Techniques 2: Earrings

Updated on August 14, 2014
A pair of hand-made earrings
A pair of hand-made earrings

A Beautiful Pair

Almost every woman, and a lot of men too, have pierced ears. This makes earrings an excellent gift (and chances are you too have pierced ears so you can wear them as well!) and the skills needed to make earrings will last you a lifetime of presents and special occasions.

Two headpins, two jump-rings, to earring wires
Two headpins, two jump-rings, to earring wires

The Findings

To make the pair of earrings pictured you will need several components, or findings. These can be bought from any craft and hobby store, jewellery making store, or even online (I tend to buy my findings in bulk on eBay, but bulk-buying may not be suitable for the novice).

You will need:

  • Headpins (2)
  • Jump-rings (2)
  • Ball and coil earring wires (2)

Headpins are the secret to great-looking earrings, pendants, and much more. They are a thin piece of wire with a 'head' on the end, a small flat area which stops the beads from escaping off the end of the wire.

Jump-rings are vital to all jewellery making, so don't be afraid to buy a pack of 50 or 100 if you're serious about jewellery making as a hobby or business. You'll need two for this project.

There are many different types of earring wires, but for this project I've chosen the classic ball and coil style earring wires - they are relatively cheap, easy to come across, and give your work a professional finish.

Beads threaded onto the headpin
Beads threaded onto the headpin

Step 1: Threading Your Beads

Choose your beads and lay out your design. Most headpins can accommodate three to four beads - remember that you need space on the headpin (about a third of the headpin's length) for wrapping around and creating the loop.

Once you've chosen your beads and laid out your design, thread your beads onto the headpin, starting with the one that is going to be at the bottom of the design. If the hole in the bead is too big to be held by the head, then choose a small bead (such as a seed bead) to help hold the design in place.

Bend the wire over the flat-nosed pliers at 90 degrees
Bend the wire over the flat-nosed pliers at 90 degrees
Continue to bend the wire to create a loop
Continue to bend the wire to create a loop

Step 2: Creating the Loop

The remainder of the headpin will be used to create the loop, which will be threaded through the jump-ring and used to attach the earring wire to the earring itself.

Start by grabbing the wire about half a centimetre above the last bead with a pair of flat-nosed pliers. Bend the wire over the pliers and all the way down, so it sits alongside your bead design.

Bend the end of the wire upwards, so that it wraps around the flat-nosed pliers, to create a loop. Wrap the end of the wire around the headpin, cutting the end of the wire off with side-cutters if necessary.

A completed earring
A completed earring

Step 3: Attaching the Earring Wire

Now that you earring has a loop at the top, you can thread it through the jump-ring (you may find it easier to hold the jump-ring with round-nosed pliers, as fingers can often get in the way). Next, thread the earring wire onto the jump ring. Do not be tempted to skip out on the jump-ring and attempt to attach the earring body straight onto the earring wire - earring wires are very brittle and will snap if you attempt to open them with your pliers. Close the jump-ring when you are ready.

Step 4: Repeat, then Enjoy!

Repeat the process for the other earring, so that you have a matching (or non-matching, if you so choose) pair.

Enjoy wearing your earrings with pride, knowing that you made them and no one will be able to tell the from shop-bought, designer earrings - or gift them to a friend, and watch their face light up in amazement as you told them that you made them yourself.

Do you make your own earrings?

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Variations

There are many different ways to make earrings, and this is only the basics - try out these fun variations to see if anything inspires you:

  • Try threading the beads in order of size, then in reverse order so they are 'top-heavy'; both are fun and unique looks!
  • Use eye-pins in place of headpins to add extra dangle - thread your beads onto the eye-pin, create a loop in the opposite end, attach one end to the earring wire and the other end to something else!
  • Remember that jewellery findings don't just come in silver - mix and match gold, silver and bronze for various fun and unique looks, or keep all in one colour for a touch of class.

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