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Jewelry-Making Supplies for Beginners

These are the basic tools I really needed when I started making jewelry. Without these tools, it was a difficult craft to begin.

Jewelry making, when I first began, seemed a difficult craft to undertake. I initially took on the challenge of creating my own focal pieces of jewelry due to the cost and difficulty finding in retail just what I was looking for. I made a couple of trips to our local craft store and was overwhelmed with the products available for beading and jewelry making.

  • What tools would I need?
  • How were beads attached to make the beautiful pieces I had seen and previously bought?
  • What were eye pins and head pins and what were they used for?
  • How were clasps and beads and chain connected together to make an eye-catching piece?

I eventually did my homework and learned the language of jewelry making. The following are what I consider the bare essentials of the craft.

Close-up of nose - Left to right from top:  Cutter, Round-nose pliers, Chain-nose pliers.

Close-up of nose - Left to right from top: Cutter, Round-nose pliers, Chain-nose pliers.

Tools Required for Jewelry Making

These are the minimum required to start you in your jewelry making adventure. As you gain confidence and skill, other tools will probably be added. However, most projects involving beading of necklaces, bracelets and earrings can be successfully assembled using these three tools:

  1. Chain–nose or needle nose pliers: This tool which has a tapered flat nose is used for bending and straightening wire. It can also be used when crimping and opening and closing jump-rings. Avoid the type with ridges on the bottom edges as they can mark your wire by leaving imprints.
  2. Wire cutters: My general purpose wire cutter will cleanly cut through hard and soft metal. I use this tool to take apart jewelry when an adjustment is required, to cut through chain and also to cut headpins to size.
  3. Round-nose pliers: The nose is made of two tapered, graduated cones which are used for making various sized loops in wire. The size of the wire loop is dependent upon where on the nose the wire is placed.
Eye pins (left); standard head pins (right)

Eye pins (left); standard head pins (right)

Ball pins

Ball pins

Decorative pins

Decorative pins

Copper jump rings

Copper jump rings

Crimps

Crimps

Gold hoop earring findings; Silver ear wires

Gold hoop earring findings; Silver ear wires

Lobster Claw (top); Toggle Clasp (bottom)

Lobster Claw (top); Toggle Clasp (bottom)

Findings and Hardware Used in Making Jewelry

These are the main components I use most often when making beaded jewelry. They are used as connectors, fasteners and elements to finish-off a piece.

  • Head pins: I make sure I have a large quantity of a few sizes available always. Beads are most often threaded onto a head pin to be connected to chain or other similarly threaded beads. Loops at one or both ends allow for the connection of other components. There are four varieties of head pin which can be utilized as mere functional components or part of the overall design of your piece.
  • Eye pins have a loop at one end which can be used as a connector to chain or other beaded components;
  • Standard head pin has a flat head at one end to secure beads threaded onto the pin; this is the style I find I use most often;
  • Ball pins serve the same function as head pins but add a more decorative touch to your piece;
  • Decorative pins such as Bali pins and vermeil pins add an ornamental finish to your design.
  • Jump rings: I also make sure I have a large quantity of a few sizes of this finding on hand always. These circular rings of metal can attach two links of chain together. I most often use them for attaching beaded components to chain or earring wires. Jump rings are open and closed using both pliers to gently pull open the ring.
  • Crimps: These are small, hollow beads through which stringing wire or material is threaded. The crimp is then squeezed shut with chain-nose pliers. Crimps are most often used when stringing beads for anchoring beads at certain points on the string and for attaching a clasp and ring.
  • Bead tips: These are also known as calottes and are used to complete a beaded necklace strung with stringing wire or other stringing material. They are often used to hide crimps, providing a neater appearance to your piece.
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5. Ear wires and hoops: I use mostly ear wires when making my own earrings as I prefer the style. I have also made a few hoop style earrings and a simple chandelier earring. Ear wires and hoops make quick and simple projects. Chandeliers present a more complicated, elegant design.

6. Clasps: They are used to attach the two ends of a necklace or bracelet together and can be simple or an elegant part of your design. The ones I most commonly use are the lobster claw and the toggle clasp.

Flexible nylon-coated 19 strand beading wire.

Flexible nylon-coated 19 strand beading wire.

Stringing Material for Necklaces and Bracelets

When I string beads, my favorite material is 19 strand bead stringing wire sold by Beadalon©. It is thin, flexible, easy to cut and fits most beads. A similar stringing wire sold as Tigertail© can be found in a multitude of colors. I prefer the natural silver look myself.

Silver small cable chain (left); gun-metal large round chain

Silver small cable chain (left); gun-metal large round chain

Chain for Use in Jewelry Making

I love making beaded charm necklaces and bracelets and small link chain is perfect for this project. Chain can be purchased in a number of different metal types either shiny or matte finish. The most common are listed:

  1. Gold-filled
  2. Silver-plated
  3. Sterling Silver
  4. Gunmetal
  5. Copper

Chain can play a number of roles in your jewelry projects:

  1. Finer chain is useful when making chandelier earrings and as an accent to bead-projects.
  2. Multistring necklaces and bracelets utilizing different types of chain are very attractive.
  3. Small sections of chain are also useful for connecting bead sections together.
Various glass beads

Various glass beads

Beads

Beads can be found in a variety of shapes, sizes, hole configurations and colors. I keep a variety on hand including crystal, glass, metal and gemstone. In that way, when I am working on a project, my creativity is not stifled by lack of materials.

Gemstone beads.

Gemstone beads.

Lamp work Beads

Lamp work Beads

Where to Purchase Jewelry Supplies

I have purchased in store and online. Especially at the beginning, I loved to go into a craft store and see the products and feel and see the beads I would purchase. Retail buying of jewelry supplies is a much more expensive prospect and I only use it now if I am running low of a component for a current project. Otherwise, I buy online. If you type ‘jewelry making supplies’ or ‘beading supplies’ into a search engine, local online vendors for your jewelry making needs will appear. Be sure to check their shipping and handling fees and custom fees if ordering out of country. Many of the online companies I have checked into have a flat-rate shipping fee which is very helpful for large orders.

Seed beads.

Seed beads.

The above list of materials I have found kept me satisfyingly busy preparing my first projects and beyond. I started with a bit less as I was tentative about mastering the art of jewelry-making (and by no means have I reached mastery level yet). However, looking back at my infancy in the craft, I have modified the list of essentials provided in this article to include those things that when left out made the process of creativity and the ease of working on projects much more difficult. Good luck and enjoy the process of jewelry-making. It is a satisfying and creative outlet!

© 2012 Teresa Coppens

Comments

Elaine Denny on July 18, 2018:

Hi folks, I am interested in making sterling silver bracelets with charms, however I don’t know how.. These charms are very unique and I would need tips on how to bend and even colour pieces.

Teresa Coppens (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 22, 2018:

Thanks Larry. It is an interesting craft. I have a girlfriend who makes stunning jewelry. I wish I had half her talent but I have fun experimenting none the less!

Larry W Fish from Raleigh on May 24, 2018:

Interesting article about jewelry making, Teresa. Whenever I see any article concerning jewelry making I have to read it. My father was a famous silversmith in eastern Pennsylvania and he make beautiful sterling silver jewelry. Jewelry making comes in many different forms and styles.

Brandi Lynn on January 25, 2018:

Thank you very much for sharing your thorough knowledge on Jewelry creating tools and supplies. I went threw hours of book reading and internet research to find beginner jewelry information and it has been a confusing time has many authors at times think others already know about basic knowledge like chain types and bead choices ect. It was just really nice to have you share this article because it answered alot of my questions and definitely helped me understand the world of jewelry making much better. Very greatful, Thank You!!

Richard on June 02, 2014:

Thanks for the info. Thumbs up 4 de great job.

LensMan999 from Trans-Neptunian region on June 19, 2013:

The hub is very useful especially for beginners in this field. Very good written and informative hub.

Teresa Coppens (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 22, 2013:

justmesuzanne, thanks for the vote up. So glad you found this hub useful. Hope you get back to making your own jewelry!

justmesuzanne from Texas on May 21, 2013:

Excellent information! I used to make my own jewelry - especially earrings. I had to assemble my kit by trial and error. This is very useful information for people who want to start out right! Voted up and useful! :)

Teresa Coppens (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 14, 2013:

Thanks Anamika. I hope you share some of your efforts with your friends on hubpages!

Anamika S Jain from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India on May 14, 2013:

Jewelry making is something I wanted to try too ever since a friend gifted me a book on it. Thanks for this useful Hub, voted up!

Teresa Coppens (author) from Ontario, Canada on April 28, 2013:

Kevin Peter, glad you found the information useful. The creative process is a wonderful thing. I hope you get a chance to try some of the techniques in my hub!

Kevin Peter from Global Citizen on April 28, 2013:

The Jewelry Making Supplies mentioned in your hub would be very useful for beginners. I love to try the art of making such things. Your hub is very wonderful. Practicing such things will surely increase creativity.

Teresa Coppens (author) from Ontario, Canada on April 18, 2013:

lulu hewitt, I am sure you will love the creative process of jewelry making. Good luck!

lulu hewitt on April 17, 2013:

I think I might have to get some of the stuff and try it out. Thanks for the article.

Teresa Coppens (author) from Ontario, Canada on March 24, 2013:

sparkleyfinger, so glad you will find this of future use. I will soon be working on a series of bracelets. They should be published as an exclusive hub. Hope you will check it out in the near future. Enjoy discovering the usefulness of your toots. It is a joy when you can put them to creative use making brilliant pieces of jewelry!

Lynsey Hart from Lanarkshire on March 21, 2013:

Useful hub, have pinned it! Will definitely reuse this one in future, as I have the tools, but if I'm honest, I don't know exactly what they are used for. Great hub, thanks! Up and useful!

Teresa Coppens (author) from Ontario, Canada on February 27, 2013:

carrierichard, so glad you found it useful. Good luck in any creations you are inspired to make!

carrierichard from California, USA on February 27, 2013:

Thank you for the basics great informative hub.

Teresa Coppens (author) from Ontario, Canada on February 04, 2013:

Emmanuel, thanks so much for the generous comment. And no, I had thought of using fishing line but never did try. II will be sure to use it for my next projects. Thanks for the tip and the share! Keep well my friend.

Emmanuel Kariuki from Nairobi, Kenya on February 04, 2013:

Speaking as an artist, this is as detailed and generous as you can possibly be about DIY jewellery making. Great for sharing with other enthusiasts.

Have you tried 'fishing line' for stringing the beads? It comes in a variety of thicknesses, doesn't stretch easily and is very flexible - in Nairobi we buy it from a sports shop. Shared!

Teresa Coppens (author) from Ontario, Canada on January 19, 2013:

Glass-Jewelry, thank you for the lovely review. I am also still investigating different materials for stringing beads. I too find nylon tends to stretch. Some metal wire has much too little flexibility and you lose the nice flow to a hanging necklace. To find strength, flexibility and durability is a challenge. I too am searching for a better alternative. If I come upon an alternative I will add to my hub!