How to Make a Beautiful Wire Wrapped Pendant
Create your own beautiful 14k gold pendant
I have been creating wire wrapped jewellery for approximately five years now, (showcasing it on a small website), and the most common remark I receive, aside from being told how stunning they are, is how difficult they must be to make.
Of course, I don't correct their assumptions, I would rather them think that I am a 'jewellery Guru' and purchase my wares, than have them trundle off and create their own! However, for the sake of this hub, I will, just this once, come clean and explain how to twist your own pendant.
I must admit, seeing my creations like this does make me realise just how beautiful they really are, but when you are the one actually making the piece, you are mostly concerned with making sure you don't mess it up - especially when you are using sterling silver or 14k r.gold. A mistake can prove rather costly, so you do need to keep your concentration.
Stunning One-Of-A-Kind Creations
While a pendant in sterling silver or 14k r.gold does look amazing, it might be a good idea to start with a copper or coloured wire first until you get a bit more comfortable with twisting. The wire comes in various sizes, called gauges, and also different strengths. I personally prefer 18 gauge, dead soft for my work. The 18 gauge gives the pendant a more solid look and feel to it, and the dead soft strength makes it easier to twist the wire - and my fingers appreciate that.
If you use half hard strength, the wire is still very pliable, however, for the smaller details, it is necessary to use pliers to make any of the loops and swirls - dead soft can be twisted with bare fingers. Being that I am (what I call) inherently lazy - something my sister disagrees with - I prefer not to have to use pliers unless necessary.
To be honest, it really isn't laziness that makes me prefer the softer wire, but the fact that I can create my designs quicker and with more control and ease than if forced to use pliers all the time.
Semi-precious gem stones
The pendants in the photograph give you a clear picture of what I mean by semi-precious gem stones. These stones are not faceted, but are a tumbled, rough cut bead that can be purchase from many rock and gem stores by the string.
A very easy and eyecatching pendant can be created very simply with a bit of ingenuity and an eye for detail.
Tools of the trade
As with any hobby or craft, you need to have the proper tools to do a good job. For wire wrapping, you should have at least three pairs of pliers - one flat nose, one regular serrated grip, and one smooth, round nose. You also need a good pair of wire cutters. I use two pair, one heavy duty for cutting memory wire, and one for my gold and silver wire.
You need to be very careful when using pliers with sterling silver and 14k gold wire, because they could inadvertently crimp the metal, and leave a nick or mark in the finished product. Not only does that not look professional, it weakens the metal which could cause it to break easily.
The spirit stone in the picture above is a good example of standard wrapping. After you make the bail (the loop that holds the pendant on the chain) you simply wrap the wire around the stone, and using your pliers, make twists in the wire to tighten it around the stone, to insure it won't slip out.
If you look closely, you can see the wire through the stone - as you can see, you twist the wire on the back of the piece as well. This makes it impossible for the stone to come loose, unless of course, you drop and break it.
Wire pattern for caged tumbled gemstone pendant
Here is a complete set of instructions for a beautiful caged pendant.
- 30 inches of 14kt. r.gold 21 gauge square half hard wire or brass practice wire
- 1 small tumbled stone approx. 1 inch long
- Flat nose pliers
- Chain nose pliers
- Round nose pliers
- Wire cutter or flush cutter
- Sharpie metal marking pen
Let's get started!
Cut four 6 inch lengths of 21 gauge Gold-filled square half hard wire.
Cut one wrap wire 2 inches long and cut another wrap wire 4 inches long, both from 21 gauge Gold-filled square half hard wire.
Make a flat bundle with the four 6 inch wires and mark the center of the bundle with a Sharpie pen.
With the 2 inch wrap wire, make three wraps at the center of the bundle and trim excess wire with the cut edges on the inside of the cage.
Working out from the center of the bundle, mark the bundle at 1/4 inch on each side. Then 1/2 inch and then at 1-1/2 inches. At this point you should have your wraps in the center with three lines on each side of the center. NOTE: Mark the inside of the bundle which is the side with the cut ends of the wrap wire.
Using your flat nose pliers, make a 45 degree bend at the pen mark closest to the center.
Repeat the bend on the other side of the bundle.
Next use your flat nose pliers to make a second 45 degree bend at the second pen mark from the center.
With your flat nose pliers, grasp one side of the bundle at the pen mark and bend the wire 45 degrees outward. At the pen mark on the other side of the bundle bend the wires 45 degrees outward. Your bundle should look like this.
With the 4 inch wrap wire, start wrapping the two section of wire together at the uppermost pen mark, wrapping upwards. Make about three complete wraps. NOTE: Do not clip off the wrap wire.
Next, using your hands, bend the two rear wires of each side of the bundle backwards. These will be your bail wires.
Bend the remaining three wires down on each side, covering the wraps. Clip the wires even with the bottom of the wrap wire.
With your chain nose pliers, press the cut ends of the wire against the wrap wires.
Place your round nose pliers about 3/4 inch up from the top of the wrap wires and bend the two bail wires back and around.
Clip the bail wires even with the uppermost wrap wire and continue wrapping the bail wires to the pendant using the same wrap wire. Make about 5 more complete wraps and clip the excess wire on the backside of the pendant.
With a knife, carefully separate the pendant wires starting with the outermost wires on the backside of the pendant cage. Then separate the next set of wires on the pendant cage.
Using your knife, carefully separate the pendant wires on the front side of the pendant leaving a space between the wires in the front of the pendant in order to slip the stone into the cage.
Slip the tumble stone into the cage and bend the remaining two wires to close the stone into the cage.
You're on your way
Once you have finished creating your pendant, you are on your way to creating beautiful, one-of-a-kind jewellery anyone will be proud to wear.