Jewelry-Making Supplies for Beginners
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.
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.
Findings 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.
1. 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.
a. Eye pins have a loop at one end which can be used as a connector to chain or other beaded components;
b. 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;
c. Ball pins serve the same function as head pins but add a more decorative touch to your piece;
d. Decorative pins such as Bali pins and vermeil pins add an ornamental finish to your design.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
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.
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.
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:
- Sterling Silver
Chain can play a number of roles in your jewelry projects:
- Finer chain is useful when making chandelier earrings and as an accent to bead-projects.
- Multistring necklaces and bracelets utilizing different types of chain are very attractive.
- Small sections of chain are also useful for connecting bead sections together.
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.
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.
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 hub 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