A Beginners Guide to Jewellery Making

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A Beginner's Guide to Jewellery Making

Handcrafted jewellery making can be a highly creative and lucrative occupation. From simple necklaces that require almost no special tools or supplies to complex designs that can be much more demanding, it is possible to learn how to create a wide variety of items in a short time.

All the necessary supplies and even some how-to guides and books are easily accessible online. There are basically four different kinds of things that are necessary to make amazing jewellery with one's own hands: beads, threading materials, findings, and special tools. Findings in this context refers to small items, such as ring bases, terminations, head pins, jump-rings, and ear wires. Jewellery making tools may include hammers, saws, files, drills and bits, metal punches, different kinds of pliers and cutters, torches, and electrical polishing devices.

In order to get started in the fascinating world of jewellery making, it is important to learn about the basic tools of the trade and their functions. It is also necessary to be aware of all the different kinds of beads available on the market. Additionally, one must learn some basic methods for creating simple projects, such as common earrings, necklaces, and bracelets.

Tools for Jewellery Making

Jewellery making involves a wide variety of tools of different kinds, including those used for cutting, bending, polishing, drilling, and texturing, to name only a few categories. However, simple jewellery, ideally suited to beginners, can be crafted using only a few basic tools.

The basic tools used in simple projects are pliers and cutters. These help manipulate head pins, threading wire, and other strong beading materials. There are certain kinds of pliers and cutters needed for simple jewellery projects. These essential items are often included in jewellery making kits.

Chain Nose Pliers

This type of pliers is used for bending and straightening wire. Also useful for opening and closing jump-rings, they are very similar to round nose pliers, but their jaws have a flat inside edge which provides more grip.

As they taper near the tip, they are ideal for tucking in wire ends and entering into small spaces. The ones without a serrated inside edge are preferable, as this can leave marks on wire.

Flat Nose Pliers

Flat nose pliers are quite similar to the chain nose variety. However, they possess jaws that have more grip, as a result of having a greater holding surface area.

Round Nose Pliers

Two tapered, graduated cones make up the nose of this type of pliers. Used for making loops in wire, they can make them in a variety of sizes, depending on the placement of the wire on the nose.

They owe their name to the shape of their jaws, and they are fantastic for making either loops or spirals, but they have a weaker grip than other types of common jewellery-making pliers.

When looking to obtain large loops, the wire needs to be placed near the handle, and the opposite should be done to obtain smaller loops. A good tip is to make a mark on the pliers when trying to make several loops of the exact same size.

Wire Cutters

This type of cutters can cut through both hard and soft metal. They can be used to cut head pins down to a suitable size, wire to be used as threading material, and even chain. Wire cutters with a spring handle are preferable, as they require less strength to cut through very hard materials.

Although wire cutters are powerful little tools, they are not suitable for cutting memory wire, which can damage them. In fact, memory wire needs to be cut with special memory wire cutters.

Popular Bead Types for Jewellery Making

Beads for jewellery making can be made of rare materials with complex, fabulous designs, but they can also be simple and affordable. Some beads are made by hand, with ancient techniques that require a lot of skill and patience, while others are simple shapes in a single colour put out by industrial machines in no time.

Common Types of Beads

There are two reasons for beads to be expensive; either the material is expensive, as in the case of natural pearls, or the process of making them is complex, and they can only be made by hand. Whichever the case, the variety of beads available to today's online shopper is quite impressive.

 Cloisonne Beads

Cloisonne is an old multi-colour enamelling technique, which creates bright, colourful beads with a very original look

 Acrylic Beads

Also called Lucite beads, they are basically made of plastic, but feel like glass.

Unlike glass, they are very hard to break

Faceted beads

Cut in a way that creates several flat faces that give them a sparkling effect.

Commonly used to imitate precious stones

Lampwork Beads

Lampworking is a type of glass blowing work. As they are made by hand, each one is unique; they can be made with several layers of glass and in multiple colours

Millefiori

Glass beads in flower patterns created with a special a glasswork technique. Their name means a thousand flowers in Italian

Crackle Beads

Made by heating and then quickly cooling off glass. This process forms internal crackles that make the beads sparkle

Crystal Beads

Whether they are made of Swarovski crystal or glass, this type of beads can sparkle like precious gems

Pearl Style Glass Beads

These beads shine like pearls and they are shaped like them. A way to work with "pearls" of all sizes, colours, and finishes

Polymer Clay

Lightweight handcrafted beads made of clay

Seed Beads

Short pieces of glass cane, heated to make smooth shapes. Japanese seed beads are the best, Czech ones are of average quality, and Chinese varieties are cheaper and more irregular

Pandora Style Beads

Their distinctive feature is having very large holes in the centre

Shell Beads

Natural beads made from seashells, often used to create ethnic jewellery

Wooden Beads

They usually feature large holes, as they are commonly associated with chunky jewellery styles

 Metal Beads

A wide variety of metal beads are available in many different shapes and finishes. Silver-plated beads are among the most popular

Rocailles

Rounded seed beads

Shamballa-style beads

A clay base covered with abundant crystals that make a very sparkly bead. They are used to make shamballa bracelets, which requires using the macrame technique

Bugle beads

A variation of seed beads in a tubular shape. They are commonly used as spacers between other types of beads

It is also possible to use natural pearls, precious metals, and precious stones to make handcrafted jewellery. While some of these items are rather expensive, silver-plated shapes, and low-cost gems are a very good alternative to more exclusive jewels.

Jewellery Making for Beginners

It is not necessary to spend a fortune on supplies to get started in jewellery making. There are many jewellery and beading kits available on the market. While some jewellery making kits can be expensive, basic assortments of supplies for beginners tend to be rather affordable.

Whether they are part of a special kit or bought separately, there are some essentials needed for any kind of simple jewellery project. The first things to select are the beads. Then, one must select some type of string, wire or other kind of threading material; it is important to select a material suitable for the chosen beading, as common sewing thread, for example, is very likely to break.

Beading cord and beads are the two main components of bracelets and necklaces, but they can also be used in certain types of rings and earrings. In the case of earrings; head pins and hooks are also required.

Simple Necklace Projects

A simple necklace is an ideal project for a beginner. It requires little more than good taste in choosing and combining beads and some beading cord or wire. If the necklace is long enough to put over one's head, clasps are not necessary, making this type of project even simpler.

Working with Clasps

Shorter necklaces, bracelets, and anklets generally require clasps, unless they are made with a stretchy type of cord. The rule of thumb for working with stretchy cords is that the thicker the cord, the more durable the piece of jewellery is going to be.

Clasps should be chosen by their look, as they generally feature the same mechanism. The method to make necklaces with clasps is the same as without them, except that the clasp needs to be attached to the cord before adding the beads. The other part of the clasp is fastened to the other end of the cord once all the beads are in place.

Simple Earrings Project

It is possible to make earrings using beads, head pins, and earring hooks. First, one must thread the chosen beads onto the head pin, leaving about 1.5 cm free, then, the top loop must be made; this can seem challenging at first, but it is rather simple and a number of very good video tutorials can be found by searching the Internet. The earrings can be finalised by attaching the newly made loop to the earring hooks. When looking to explore earring making techniques further, the Internet is an endless source of nice and simple earrings projects for beginners.

Once past the beginner stage, it is a good idea to consider more challenging projects. Many fashion design schools offer short jewellery making courses, but DIY enthusiasts can also profit from the wide variety of jewellery making techniques and project videos available online.

Conclusion

Jewellery making offers a myriad of possibilities for the DIY and crafts`enthusiast. On the other hand, it can open up a lucrative new career path for anyone who is willing to take it seriously. Requiring a few inexpensive tools and supplies, basic jewellery making is quite affordable.

In order to make great jewellery, it is important to know how to choose the right kinds of beads and materials for each specific project. Some jewellery making kits can easily solve this problems, as they generally contain everything needed to get started.

When not purchasing a jewellery making kit, one must get some basic tools, mainly pliers and cutters, as well as a set of threading materials and findings. When at odds about how to begin, one can always find some great tutorials online, starting by doing simple earring or necklace projects that can give great satisfaction with little effort.

eBay is a great resource for finding neatly organised categories of items such as jewellery making kits, pliers, cutters, and all the different types of beads.

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