Michelle has been beading and making wire jewellery for over 15 years. She owns a bead store in Australia & loves to demonstrate techniques.
This Cluster Technique Is Easier Than It Looks (And So Versatile)
This step-by-step tutorial will demonstrate the techniques required to make one-of-a-kind gemstone cluster earrings! We have included two different variations in this tutorial. With these basic techniques, you can use your imagination and come up with all sorts of different styles and layouts.
What You'll Need
- Feature Beads: In this tutorial, we have used 20mm long Lapis Lazuli beads. However, you may use any bead for this - it doesn't have to be a gemstone! So long as it is reasonably large (16mm and larger seem to work well) it will work!
- Small Beads: We have used a mixture of 6mm Pyrite beads, 6mm Crystal Rondelle beads and 8mm Crystal Round beads. Any smaller beads work well, in fact, 4mm work especially well as they fill in the holes in the cluster (we just didn't have any 4mm on hand when making this tutorial!).
- Ballpins: We have used 50mm ballpins (headpins with a ball at the end), which we have then gone ahead and trimmed mostly down to a 20mm size. The only time you need the longer pin is for the body of the earring itself.
- Eyepins: For the second version, we use a single eyepin for the body of the earring rather than a ballpin.
- Earwires: You may use whatever type of earring hook you like. Even clip ons (with a loop) will work just fine.
- 6mm Jump Rings: These are used for the second version.
- Daisy Spacers: These are optional for the second version.
- Flat Nose Pliers
- Cutting Pliers
- Round Nose Pliers
Step 1: Make the Dangles for the Cluster
Take your ballpin, and slide on the bead. Cut the pin so that about 15mm remains above the bead, then form a double-loop around your round nose pliers. The reason we make a double loop is this ensures the dangle can not fall off the earring (it may do so if we made a simple single loop that can open and close). Make about 8–10 randomly mixed dangles for each earring.
Step 2: Assemble the Earring
Take your long ballpin and slide on the Lapis Lazuli nugget bead. Then, start to slide on your dangles. This is done in a fairly random manner, however, it looks best if the larger beads are used first, with the smaller beads towards the top.
Step 3: Continue the Assembly
After you have what looks like enough beads on and you have them sitting in a nice order, take one of your 6mm rondelle beads and put it straight on top onto the ballpin. This bead holds everything in place after step four.
Step 4: Make a Loop and Attach to Earwire
Cut the ballpin approximately 10mm above the 6mm rondelle crystal using flush cutters. Then, take your round nose pliers and form a loop. Attach this loop directly onto the earwire, then close it up.
That's it for the first design! Just go ahead and make the second earring to match. Part of why we love this design so much is you can change just where you put your dangles and it changes the look of the earring dramatically! You can put them above or below the bead…or even both! Or, you may like to make a cluster between two beads. The possibilities are endless!
Step 1: Make Dangles
The second design uses the same concept as the last earring; you will need to make another 10 or so dangles as before for each earring.
Step 2: Add Dangles to the Eyepin
Take an eyepin this time, and add three dangles to the open loop. Then, close up the loop using flat-nose pliers.
Step 3: Add Dangles to the Jump Ring
Now, take a 6mm jump ring and add 5 dangles. Then take that jump ring and attach it to the loop on the eyepin and close it up.
Repeat this for as many jump rings as you like! We have used just two jump rings in total (see photos below), however, you can make this as long and dangly as you like! The only rule is to use slightly fewer dangles on the last jump ring so that the cluster has a fuller look towards the middle (we used three in this example)
Step 4: Assemble With the Feature Bead
Now it is time to put it all together. We have used a 6mm silver daisy spacer on either side of the lapis lazuli nugget bead, as this gives it a nice finished look. This is optional, however. After you have put your feature bead onto the eyepin (and daisy spacers if you wish), cut the eyepin 1cm above the bead and form a loop using round nose pliers.
Step 5: Attach to the Earwire
Finally, attach the loop you have just made to the earwire and close it up. That's it— you're done!
Versatility and Ease in Jewellery Design
Over the years we have made so many variations of this design, we love it! Making the dangles in this way can be used for other jewellery as well—not just earrings! We have used these dangles on necklaces and bracelets as well, and the double loop stops the dangles from being able to fall off the tigertail/string. You may be wondering why we haven't done a normal wrapped loop (which also won't be able to fall off the string)…well, this is so much quicker and easier!