A lover of handmade jewelry, Donna has been crafting (and wearing) unique pieces of statement jewelry since she can remember.
Customizing Your Own Necklace
Layered necklaces with multiple chains and charms are a popular fashion trend. These necklaces are surprisingly easy to make with the right tools and supplies. Everything you need is available at most craft stores, and making your own necklace allows you to customize the length, colors, and design to match your own personal style.
My necklace is inspired by a layered necklace from a catalog. I liked the design of this necklace but wanted to create a simpler style for myself. Although I've made changes to this necklace, I've described how you can add some of the original features to your design below.
Materials for Making Your Necklace
- Pendant: This is optional, but you can use a pendant of your choice. There are a wide variety of pendants available online and in craft stores, but you can also make a layered necklace without a central pendant.
- Beads: You can use beads and eye pins to create your own chains for your necklace. Making your own chains is a great way to add color and personality to your necklace. However, you can also buy chains already strung with beads in craft stores to avoid making your own.
- Eye Pins: These are only needed if you want to make your own beaded chain. Eye pins are used for stringing beads and have a closed loop at one end as a connection point. These pins come in various lengths and metal finishes. I try to buy the longest pins that I can find and cut them down as needed.
- Decorative Chains: These chains are an easy way to add strands to your necklace. Decorative chains are available at most craft stores, but you can also use old necklaces from your own jewelry box. Be sure to choose chains that have some larger links to use as connection points.
- Linking Rings: You'll need two large rings to join the pieces of your necklace together. I used two rings from a package of toggle clasps. Be sure to choose rings with a metal finish that matches your other metal elements.
- Chain With a Clasp: This will be to close your necklace. Although my inspiration necklace featured a raw hide band, I prefer to use a chain with a simple clasp.
- Jump Rings: You'll need about ten jump rings to connect parts of your necklace together. Again, be sure to match your metal finish to the other pieces you've chosen.
- Tools: You'll need a pair of round-nose pliers, wire cutters, and measuring tape for this project. A pair of flat needle nose pliers will also be helpful.
How to Make a Layered Necklace
When making any necklace, you should first decide roughly how long you want it to be. I wanted my necklace to be about 18" long, with a little extra length in the chain for adjustment.
Start to assemble your layered necklace by making your outermost chain first. I made my own chain with beads and eye pins. To do this:
1. When working with eye pins, check that the preexisting loop is completely closed. You can tighten it with your pliers if needed. Then, string the beads of your choice onto your eye pin. Be sure to leave at least one centimeter of wire bare and undecorated.
2. Using your pliers or your fingers, bend the top of the eye pin at a 90° angle to your beads and wire. Cut the end of your bent wire, so it is only about a centimeter long.
3. With your round-nose pliers, curl your short wire tail into a loop. Do not close the loop completely. Leave a small gap to connect it to your other necklace elements.
4. Connect your beaded element through the gap in the loop to your pendant. Then, use your round or needle nose pliers to completely close the gap in your loop.
5. Now repeat steps 1-4 to connect another beaded link to your pendant to start building both sides of your necklace chain.
6. Continue to connect beaded links to make your necklace, working both sides at the same time. You can mix different beads together on your links to create your own design.
7. Once you've connected a number of links together, check the length against your neck in the mirror. Remember that your necklace will have a separate band to go around the neck. I made my outer beaded chain about 8" long on each side.
8. If you want to add more embellishments to your necklace, you can attach hanging beads at each connection point on your beaded chain (see catalog sample). To do this, put smaller beads on a headpin (available at craft stores) and form a loop as in steps 1-3. Connect your hanging bead to your chain at a connection joint, then use your pliers to close and secure your loop.
9. Once your outer chain is the length you want, connect each end of your necklace to one of your linking rings using a jump ring.
Connecting More Chains to Your Necklace
10. Place your beaded chain onto a flat surface in a "V" shape, as illustrated above. Take one of your decorative chains and connect it to one of your linking rings using a jump ring. Be sure to attach your second chain to the linking ring on the inside of your outer chain (see photo).
- Drape the decorative chain down into the "V" of your beaded chain as you would like it to hang on your finished necklace. Leave some hanging space between your two chains, so they don't get twisted together when you wear your necklace.
11. Cut the remaining end of the decorative chain to the desired length and attach it to your second linking ring using a jump ring. Be sure to attach this chain to the inside of your beaded chain.
12. Repeat steps 9 and 10 to connect more chains and add more layers to your necklace. Be sure to connect each additional chain on the inside of the previous chain.
13. You can add pendants to each of these chains (as in the catalog sample) by connecting charms to the center of each chain with a jump ring.
Adding the Neck Band to Your Necklace
Once you have finished attaching the decorative elements to your layered necklace, it is time to add a neck band. I used a chain for my neck band because I think it is easier to use and more comfortable to wear. However, you can attach a raw hide band if you prefer.
To Add a Chain Neck Band With Clasp
- Decide how long you need your chain to be on each side of your necklace. I cut each piece of my chain to be about 4" long. This gave me some extra length to adjust my necklace as needed.
- Attach each piece of your chain to one of the linking rings using a jump ring.
- Attach your clasp with a jump ring to one side of your chain as a closure.
To Make Raw Hide Band
- Buy a length of raw hide at a craft or bead store. There are many types of toggle clasps you can buy online to use with raw hide. Decide what type of closure you want to use before securing the ends to your necklace.
- Draw one end of the raw hide through one of your linking rings.
- Fold about 1/2 an inch to 3/4 of an inch of your end back onto your neck band (see catalog photo).
- Carefully wrap the folded end multiple times with either thin, flexible wire or embroidery floss. If using wire, cut the ends and tuck them into your wraps. If using embroidery floss, use a couple of stitches to secure your ends. You may want to add a few drops of glue to make sure your ends hold together.
- Repeat the step above with the other end of your raw hide by drawing through the other linking ring.
14. I added another small heart pendant to one side of my necklace for more detail. I simply attached this pendant to my linking ring using a jump ring.
I hope you enjoy making your own fashionable layering necklace with chains, charms, and pendants!
Questions & Answers
Question: Where did you get your beads from?
Answer: I bought the beads on the lowest chain at Michael's. The other chains are old necklaces I had in my jewelry box.
© 2018 Donna Herron
Donna Herron (author) from USA on June 24, 2018:
Hi Heather - Thanks for your suggestion! You can check out youtube.com for more tutorials on how to make jewelry from wire. Thanks for stopping by and reading!
HEATHER LEILA MILLER on June 23, 2018:
Hi Donna this is my first time on your jewelry tutorials on how to use eye pins can you do some tutorials on wire bending and how to make loops eg like making a rosary chain thanks form the information from TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Donna Herron (author) from USA on April 18, 2018:
Hi Jill - Thank so much! Anything is fun to do with martinis, but I agree that this would be a fun project to do with a group of friends. Especially if people were sharing and swapping beads and materials. Sharing materials is a great way to try new things and create something fun. Thanks for the great suggestion. I appreciate it!
Jill Spencer from United States on April 13, 2018:
I adore your first picture with all the materials set out and numbered and love boho. This would be a fun project to do with friends and martinis!
Donna Herron (author) from USA on April 10, 2018:
Hi Suzanne - So glad that this project has inspired you to get into jewelry making again. Now that I've invested in some good quality tools, I find it's much easier and I'm much more excited to make my own jewelry. Thanks so much for commenting!
Donna Herron (author) from USA on April 10, 2018:
Thanks, Sally! I'm really happy with how this necklace turned out, especially since I was able to incorporate some beads that I bought years ago on a trip to New Mexico. So glad you like it. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
Donna Herron (author) from USA on April 10, 2018:
Thanks, Larry! I appreciate your kind words. It sounds like your father made some lovely things. I don't do silversmithing, I just put together materials I can get at craft or bead shops. I have other jewelry tutorials here on HubPages if you'd like to see them. Thanks so much for your comments!
Suzanne Ridgeway from Dublin, Ireland on April 09, 2018:
Hi Donna, great easy to follow tutorial on a lovely Boho piece! Used to make jewellery and while I have not done any in ages this got me thinking I want to get back to doing it again, thanks so much!!
Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on April 09, 2018:
Love the finished project! It is such a great color and definitely fits the Boho look. Well done Donna.
Larry W Fish from Raleigh on April 09, 2018:
You do good work, Donna. The necklace is stunning. My father made handcrafted sterling silver jewelry for years. I still have many pieces that he made in the mid 1960s. I would like to see more of your work.