Read these 19 Jewelry Making Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Beadwork tips and hundreds of other topics.
Most traditional pearl necklaces use knots between each pearl to keep the tender pearls from rubbing together and wearing or scratching the nacre. You can use the traditional knotting method, or you can use a double-needle method, that uses two needles through each pearl. You simply tie a knot with the two strands, eliminating the need to use a knotting tool. Then string the next pearl, and continue with all your pearls. If you have small pearls, or you really aren't worried about wear, you can string them close together on the strand without knots. Happy stringing!
To choose the right kind of silver wire for your project, you should know how you want the piece to look and what kind of piece you are creating. You will need to consider both the hardness of the wire and the gauge of the wire. There are three kinds of sterling silver wire. They are: Dead soft, half hard and full hard. Dead soft wire is very easy to bend. It can be better for wire wrapping or for making wire beads but will often not hold shapes intended for wire wrapping. Dead soft silver wire is usually used by people who "work" silver because it hardens as its shaped and hammered. Half hard sterling wire is stronger than dead soft but is still quite malleable. It is excellent in wire wrapping smaller or heavier beads and is a good choice for beading and jewelry making projects. Full hard silver wire is hard to use and bend and not necessarily recommended for jewelry making - at least for a hobbyist.
A common problem in jewelry making is slipping crimps. Crimps most often slip because you are using the wrong tool. If you are just flattening crimps with a needle nosed plier, the cable can easily slip out. You can find a tool that is spcifically designed for crimping at an online jewelry beading supply center. Crimping Pliers are designed to crimp special beads called crimping beads or crimping tubes. The lower position of the pliers crimp, then the upper position rounds off the crimped bead for a clean, professional look. A crimping tool leaves a smooth, round bead and eliminates sharp edges and wire slipping, that can result with conventional pliers. If you are already using a crimping pliers, as described above, the problem could be the crimp beads that you are using. The easiest and most secure type of crimp is the tube style. Since the outer surface is smooth and flat, this style of crimp tends to work best with the slots in the Crimping Pliers. Most standard pliers have a 2x2mm slot - so use 2x2mm tube crimps that come in many metals including sterling silver.
A bail is piece of metal or wire, often made of sterling silver, that is designed to showcase a specific bead or pendant. You will need a bead or pendant that has a pre-drilled hole because the bail is designed to go into the pendant or bead hole and then be suspended from a chain. There are bails in many sizes to accommodate both different sized beads and pendants and different size chains and cords. If you are using a bail for a valuable piece, you should make sure the bail is made of a strong metal and will stand up to the weight of the pendant or bead and that it will withstand the test of time.
Here's an easy way to string loose seed beads. Just take a bowl that is slightly larger than your needle and pour your loose beads into the bowl. Then take your beading needle (either hard or flexible) and dip the sharp end of the needle repeatedly into the bowl. The needle will catch some of the beads with each pass and your bead stringing will fly.
Here is a simple guide to basic clasps that you can use in your bead jewelry making.
1. A toggle clasp can either be used in necklace making or in bracelet making. This is a clasp that is both easy to use when trying to put a necklace on and also pleasing to the eye.
2. Spring Ring Clasps use a small spring within the enclosure that helps the clasp to open and close. These are very common clasps but they can be difficult to use for people without fine motor skills.
3. Lobster Claw Clasps are very secure, so they are popular with more valuable pieces of jewelry like those made with gemstones or gold. Lanyard Clasps have a simpler and earthier look and are often used with beaded pieces using leather cord or hemp.
4. Hook and eye clasps can actually be made by the bead hobbyist using stiff and strong wire. Because of their simplicity, they work best with necklaces. They are not recommended for bracelets which require a sturdier clasp that will withstand your arm movements.
5. Safety Clasps are most often used with fine jewelry because they have not only a sliding clasp to hold the piece together, but they also an extra piece of metal or wire that secures the sliding clasp.
6. A Slide Clasp has one piece, typically flat, that slides into another piece and it hold the piece together. In many instances, a slide clasp is built to hold multiple strands of cord or wire, so these are very useful for multi strand necklaces and bracelets.
Silk pearl thread is your best choice for knotting because it's soft, pliable, and won't harm your pearls. That's why most beaders choose this type of thread to pair with the queen of gems. Keep enough spare silk pearl thread on hand to repair a pearl strand if should break. It's also a good idea to restring your pearls about once a year if you like to wear them often - spare thread is a must for that, too.
Want to do something special for a baby shower? If you are the new mom, or a friend of the new mom, ask everyone coming to the shower to bring a special bead and to explain the meaning of the bead in their card. Bring the beads together to create a special necklace for the new mom to bring to the hospital during labor. Most women relish having a focal point, or something they can feel that reminds them of the support of their friends and family. Afterwards, she and the baby will have something to cherish that commemorates the amazing occasion. Put the cards in the new baby book so she can remember all of the meanings and feelings behind her beautiful necklace.
What could be more elegant and classic than a string of pearls? There's a reason they remain in style year after year - they're entirely timeless! Once you try it, you'll find it's really not that hard to string your own pearls. Many conventional necklaces use smaller pearls toward the clap with larger pearls in the center front. You can use that traditional method, or use some of the newer sizes and shapes of cultured pearls to vary the style. The time-honored length for a string of pearls is the "princess" length of 17 to 19 inches, which lies just below the neckline.
A sterling silver bead can make for decoration or spacing in a necklace or bracelet. Silver beads come in a multitude of shapes and sizes. Some sterling silver jewelry beads are large, flat ovals with patterned surfaces. Others are shaped like stars, beaded squares, berries and tubes. Patterned beads and shaped beads can accent a necklace or be stranded together in a lovely and simple design. You could choose a single sterling silver bead and put it on a silver chain for a simple and elegant pendant look.
One great way to use Memory Wire is to bead only the middle of the wire - then finish the outer portion using Liquid Sterling Silver (or even Gold-Filled Liquid Beads). These beads, typically measuring 1x4mm slip easily over the memory wire material and give a much nice finished look.
You can find online tutorials that have photos to guide you through the process the materials you need to complete the project!
Many beaders use silk cord usually size 0 to 2 for their projects. Nylon coated wire is gentle too, and while it can cut some pearls, it is especially good for working with the coin freshwater pearl delicately strung between findings, spacers, and lengthy beads. The nylon is sturdy, and if you're using an end or center drilled coin freshwater pearl, it won't have much contact area to damage. As with all pearl projects, if you wear them a lot, plan to restring the pearls each 1 to 2 years to keep them looking their best. If you're not using knots between your coin pearls, nylon thread is a good, strong alternative to silk.
Crimps are the last beads you'll string on your piece of jewelry before attaching the clasp. Put crimps on after your last beads on each end of the wire. Once you crimp the final end you can't make changes unless you cut the beading wire and restring the piece. Trim off excess beading wire as close to the crimp as you can. Little pieces of wire can irritate the skin when you wear your bead jewelry. Keep flush cutters among your beading supplies. The blades are at an angle which allows you to get as close to the crimp as possible.
Many of today's most beautiful sterling silver bead jewelry employ a technique called wire wrapping. Using sterling silver wire, you literally wrap the bead, in part, in full, or in a pattern. It gives necklaces a different texture and added flare. Wire wrapping is also an excellent solution if you have a pendant without a hole for a bail. Not only will you be able to use your pendant, you will be making a wonderful artistic statement. When you are choosing which wire to use you need to consider both the hardness of the wire and the gauge. Obviously, the thinner the wire, the easier it will be to manipulate - but you don't want one that is too thin or you may not get the look you are going for. Wire that is too thin may also not hold your intended shape, especially if it is a structural part of your piece like a link.
To prevent sharp-edged bugle beads from cutting your thread, keep an emery board nearby. When you encounter a bugle bead with sharp edges, run the ends gently over the emery board to smooth them.
Beads that have rough edges or burrs within the drilled opening for the hole can be easily repaired with a tool called a Bead Reamer.