Making Crystal Jewelry
Making crystal jewelry can be fun and even profitable!
It isn’t that hard to make crystal necklace, bracelets and earrings but you do need to make a financial investment in supplies before you can make anything.
Making crystal jewelry involves stringing crystal beads together to form a piece of jewelry. Sounds easy, right? Well it is in it’s most basic form. Of course there are many variations and patterns you can use to make a multitude of designs. The most simple is a single strand of beads. See my tutorial with photos on the basics of how to make a necklace from start to finish. Once you learn the basics, you can move on to more fancy and creative designs.
Some of the supplies you will need for making crystal jewelry include:
wire cutting tool (if you are using eye pins, head pins or memory wire
accent beads as needed
beading wire (or beading thread and a needle)
ear wires – if you are making earrings
head pins (for earrings and dangly pieces on necklace)
eye pins (for earrings and dangly pieces on necklace)
You can buy supplies online at:
What you want to make basically dictates what you need to buy. Of course you will want to have a large selection of beads around so you can really get creative and have a variety to choose from when designing your jewelry. You can string a necklace with beading thread and a needle, or use a flexible wire like material called tigertail or beadalon that is incredibly strong and will be longer lasting although not as flexible as thread. If you use tigertail or beadalon, you will need to learn how to crimp the ends and attach a clasp. These methods can be used for bracelets or necklaces
You can also use memory wire when making crystal jewelry. This is the easiest method but somewhat limiting in design. Memory wire is a thick steel wire that comes on a spool and is sized to be necklace, bracelet or ring size. You simply cut off the desired length, make a loop on one end, string the beads on and close the other end with a loop. Check out my tutorial on how to make a memory wire bracelet. The wire will keep it’s shape so a necklace will always sit right against the throat in a choker style and fits any size neck. The bracelet is typically made to wrap around the wrist several times but will also retain it’s shape and fits any size. If you decide to use memory wire, I suggest you buy a special cutting tool as the wire is quite thick and will soon ruin your wire cutters.
A favorite in making crystal jewelry is earrings. These can be really fun and you can incorporate many interesting items into the earrings. You will need head pins or eye pins to string the beads on and you can also use vintage findings or new findings to create a unique look. Check out my tutorial on making beaded earrings to see step by step instructions.
Jewelry Making Book Review
This jewelry making book review will compare some of the jewelry making books out there and, hopefully, give you an idea of which book you might want so you don’t waste your money.
I don’t have much time for jewelry making classes, so I’ve learned mostly from books. I’ve used all the books that I’ve reviewed below so you’ll be getting a real review not just a rewrite of what’s written on the back of the book!
Exquisite Beaded Jewelry
Well, the pieces in this jewelry making book certainly are exquisite! Very unusual and contemporary looking. It’s a large book, over 100 pages with many different designs and has a good portion in the front dedicated to the basics of beaded jewelry making. I found that either the designs were too basic or too complicated for me. At the back are some wild freeform necklaces made with seed beads and other types of beads, but the instructions for making them are rather vague. The back is a good section for beaders that want to get an idea of some techniques and then go on to make their own design.
Jewels In Peyote Stitch
This jewelry making book is for anyone who wants to work with seed beads exclusively. It has several designs that include necklace, bracelet and earrings. The patterns are right in the book as are instructions on the peyote stitch. I like the book for it’s instructions and I did bead one of the bracelets, but I didn’t care for all the patterns (the peacock one was my favorite and the bracelet looks much better in person than in the photos in the book!).
Beading with Varvara – Coraling Technique
This jewelry making book gives instructions for 10 variations based on the popular Russian Coraling technique. I fell in love with this type of jewelry when I was on vacation in Florida last year and finally invested in the book. It gives great instructions on this wonderful jewelry that looks like branches of coral (thus the name!). I will say that it takes forever to make this stuff so if you don’t care for the look then this book is not for you. Here’s a photo of the piece I made using these instructions:
This Can Do Crafts book is very short – only about 9 pages but has tons of great photos and some really cute designs. Even for a small books there’s over 32 designs with variations and the descriptions are very good. It has diagrams that show how to do the basics in beading so even the earliest beginner can use this book. There is quite a variety in the designs, but I soon got bored and found that I wanted something with more complicated patterns. I think the book is out of print now……
Earring Making Supply
Your earring making supply needs depends on the types of earrings you are going to make.
If you will make your own earwires, you’ll need earring making wire but if you don’t want to get that ambitious you can buy premade ear wires and just attach your earring decoration to them. If you make earrings solely out of seed beads, your needs will be less than if you want to use crystals, pearls and semi precious gems.
One of the tools you’ll need in your earring making supply kit is pliers. You’ll probably want a needlenose and a regular (maybe even with rubber tips so you don’t scratch the wire).
The needlenose will be needed to make loops in your headpins so that you can attach beads to each other and the earring findings. The regular pliers may be needed to open the loop in the pre made ear wire and perhaps for other tasks depending on how you are attaching the beads to the earrings.
One of the tools you’ll need in your earring making supply kit is pliers. You’ll probably want a needlenose and a regular (maybe even with rubber tips so you don’t scratch the wire). The needlenose will be needed to make loops in your headpins so that you can attach beads to each other and the earring findings. The regular pliers may be needed to open the loop in the pre made ear wire and perhaps for other tasks depending on how you are attaching the beads to the earrings.
Another item to add to your earring making supply kit is, of course, ear wires or earring making wire. You can buy the ear wires – either fish hooks, leverbacks, hoops or even studs premade to save a step or fashion your own using a thin gauge wire to save money.
If you are making seed bead earrings you will need seed beads, beading thread, a beading needle any accents beads your pattern calls for and a pattern. This is the least expensive but most time consuming type of earring to make.
Some sort of earring finding may or may not be part of your earring making supply. You can hang beads simply from the ear wire in strands or use a chain to hang from the wire and add beads to the chain in a cascade. For chandelier earrings, you can buy premade findings with loops you can use to attach cascades of beads. I think it’s fun to use vintage parts and pieces from old necklaces and even earrings to make mine – the end pieces of a necklace where the strands meet sometimes make great finding to turn into an earring. Depending on the amount of strands in the necklaces you’ll have your premade loops all set and you can use the end with loop to attach to the ear wire.
In order to attach the beads to the finding, you’ll want to add head pins or eyepins or both to your earring making supply list. These pins will be used to string the beads on and then attach to the finding like on my example page for making beaded earrings.
Making Beaded Earrings
Making beaded earrings can be done in many styles.
There’s earrings made from only seed beads, ones with seed beads and larger beads and ones with just larger beads. Earrings can be chandelier style, hand one long drop or a short drop, a cascade or waterfall or even just a simple stud.
No matter which style you choose to make, you’ll need some basic tools and, of course, beads!
If you are making seed bead earrings, you won’t need pliers or a headpin – you’ll really only need the seed beads, beading string, beading needle and an earring finding.
In this demo, however I’m going to show how to make beaded earrings in a chandelier style so I’m only going to talk about what you need for those.
What You’ll Need:
Finding to hang beads from – I am using a vintage piece but you can buy new or vintage – the metal piece at the end of a vintage necklace where the strands meet sometimes make for a unique and interesting piece to use.
Beads – I use seed beads and swarovski crystals in this one, but you can mix and match for whatever look you want.
Earwire – if you are really ambitious, you can make your own from jewelry wire but I just used premade ones.
Where To Buy It:
The first step to making beaded earrings is to decide what you want them to look like. Do you want the middle piece to dangle lower? How long do you want them? What colors etc… Then you can construct the earrings step by step as shown.
Now that you know how you want them to look take a headpin and simply string the beads on in the order you want – adding the bottom bead first since you are working from the top of the pin.
Next Make a loop at the top of the head pin (Note that you must use a headpin that is at least 1/4″ longer than the desired length in order to have enough room to make the loop – give it more room if you have less experience).
Attach the head pin to the earring finding.
Repeat for each “strand” that dangles from the earring.
The final step is to attach the ear wire. Typically the wire will have it’s own loop that you can pry open with the pliers, insert the top of the earring finding and then close. Ta-Da! You’ve made a beaded earring! Just repeat the steps above for the other earring and you have a pair!
Packaging Jewelry For Safe Shipment
Packaging jewelry for safe shipment doesn’t have to mean it can’t be fun for the recipient to open!
If you are shipping jewelry, of course your first priority is to have it arrive safe and sound. But you also want to leave a lasting impression on the buyer so that she will come back and buy from you time and time again. And you need to accomplish both these while keeping costs down!
One of the things to consider when packaging jewelry for shipment is to make sure it is not exposed to harsh weather. We’ve all gotten a package on our doorstep that was soaked in water, haven’t we? Well if your jewelry gets soaked in water it could well be ruined. Moisture is deadly to jewelry – it may not ruin it right away but if moisture gets in the little cracks and crevices it will start to cause deterioration of the materials that might not manifest itself until month or years later! When shipping jewelry, I always wrap it in tissue paper and put it in a tightly sealed zip lock bag. This will protect it from any moisture that the package might be subjected to.
In order to keep costs down when packaging jewelry, I ship all my items in a bubble mailer. These are quite inexpensive and light weight so they don’t add much to the cost of the mailing. But in order to create a little excitement for the recipient and to protect against damage, I put the jewelry piece in a gold foil jewelry box. My procedure for shipping jewelry is:
Wrap the jewelry in tissue paper
Put wrapped piece inside zip lock jewelry sized baggie
Put that inside foil lined box
Add a little bubble wrap around the jewelry to keep it from sliding around inside the box
Tape the sides of the foil lined box closed
Put foil lined box and receipt inside bubble mailer and mail!
I find that this method of packaging jewelry is optimal for safe shipment, good presentation and cost containment. If you buy the zip lock bags, foil boxes and bubble mailers in bulk you can get them pretty cheaply so your total outlay for each jewelry shipment is less than $1.00. Depending on how heavy the jewelry is, you can ship a package like that anywhere in the US for $0.60 to $1.20.
Jewelry Making Wire
Jewelry making wire can be combined with gems, crystals or even used alone to make beautiful jewelry designs.
It can be used for necklaces, earrings, bracelets and even rings. Wired jewelry has a unique contemporary look that regular “strung” jewelry cannot replicate. The wire can even be hand hammered to give it a flattened appearance and can be used to wrap cabochons or raw stones for pendants and rings.
You can buy jewelry making wire for any project. It comes in solid gold, silver and copper. If you like color you can buy Niobium wire in intense colors. The gold wire is quite expensive, of course and is quite soft. The silver comes in a number of hardness.
The copper adds an warm earthy feel to any piece but does require hardening to keep it’s shape. If you plan to use Niobium wire, you will need rubber or coated pliers as the coating on the wire is brittle and can damage easily and flake off.
Jewelry making wire comes in different “hardness”. Memory wire is steel wire that is rounded in shape like a spring. It is very hard and comes in a coil. You cut off the desired length and string your beads on it. It is not used to form embellishments or for wire wrapping but is great to make chokers that sit close to the neck or wrap bracelets that wrap around the wrist multiple times. It retains it;s shape and will stretch out to be put n or taken off and then spring back into shape. Dead soft
wire is very soft and is easily bent with your bare fingers. It will not hold it’s shape if any weigh is applied to it but is good for wire wrapping around a cabochon. Half hard wire has been heated or annealed and will keep it’s shape. It is good for making findings, claps and ear hooks.
When selecting jewelry making wire, you’ll need different gauge wires depending on what you intend to use the wire for. The thickest gauge is 16 gauge which will retain it’s shape when formed. Too thick for wire wrapping, it can be used to create embellishments and requires tools to form shapes with . 18 gauge wire can be used for almost anything including wire wrapping. You will need pliers to create sharp bends, but this wire is easily shapable and holds it’s shape well. 20 gauge wire is rather thin and good for attaching beads and also to use as ear wires. 22 and 24 gauge wire is really too thin for practical use but can be used to create delicate wire embellishments.
A Unique Idea Jewelry Making Brainstorm Session
Looking for a unique idea jewelry making brainstorm session?
Finding new and innovative ideas for jewelry designs isn’t easy, but it is those unique ideas that set your designs apart from everyone else and a truly unique set of jewels will command a high price.
One idea that any jeweler can use to inspire themselves to create is to look at vintage jewelry. There are some very unique and unusual designs from the past that can be used as an inspiration to make modern jewelry in a similar style with a unique twist.
Some of the costume jewelry designs from the 1940’s and 50’s are highly collectible and studying their construction and design can foster new ideas for making unique designs.
Victorian jewelry can be quite inspirational as well. Study the shapes and colors of the jewelry as well as the materials combined in each piece to try to get a feel for design similarities. You can find tons of old jewels to look at on the web – eBay is a particularly good reference as you can find anything and everything on there!
Modern made jewelry can be inspirational as well. Check out high end jewelry at your local department store or artisan sites on the web.
Now, I don’t mean for you to copy what you see – just for you to use the ideas that you see in a different way that is unique to you. Perhaps you can combine 2 ideas that you see to make a truly unique design. Or maybe you see a design that you like in seed beads and crystals that inspires you to make a similar (but not identical) one in sterling and pearls.
Getting an idea for jewelry making isn’t so hard – try looking through any beading magazine for tons of ideas, but add a new twist to make it your own. How about using vintage buttons as a clasp or just as an adornment on a piece of jewelry. What about incorporating old fabrics or laminating small pieces of memorabilia and incorporating that into a jewelry design?
Use your eyes to look at existing ideas, but use your imagination to improve on them for unique jewelry making ideas.
Jewelry Selling Supplies
In order to produce and market jewelry, you need jewelry selling supplies as well as jewelry making supplies.
The supplies that you need depend on the venue you choose to sell your jewelry in. A business that focuses on online sales will need more computer related supplies, while a business that focuses on person to person sales will need more displays and price tags and such.
Some jewelry selling supplies that you will need no matter where you sell your inventory are receipts, zip lock bags and jewelry boxes or bags – or both! Whether you sell online or at shows or parties, it’s nice for your customer to be able to take their jewels home in a pretty package. It will give your business an air of quality and bring in repeat business.
I sell mostly online and I package all of my jewelry in a zip lock bag and put that inside a gold foil jewelry box. When the customer opens her package it’s like getting a little present inside! I also include a receipt with my URL to encourage a repeat visit. You can also include little gift certificates and pens or magnets with your shop name and URL.
Some jewelry selling supplies for online sales that might not be obvious is the equipment that helps you present your items online. You will need a computer, a high speed internet connection and a digital camera. You have 3 choices in online marketing – an online mall, your own site or an online auction. Each requires that you learn how to take excellent photos of your jewelry and write adequate descriptions as well as a minimum of computer knowledge so that you can find your way around the site and get your items uploaded.
Jewelry selling supplies for shows, fairs and jewelry parties are all about the presentation. You will need some good displays that enhance your jewels and present an air of quality. Don’t buy cheap displays as they will not show your products to their best advantage and will fall apart easily.
Nice necklace busts can be bought quite reasonably and are well worth the price as are ring displays, earring trees and bracelet ramps. You can even buy a whole display set, complete with all the different pieces and goes together looking like an expensive jewelry store display. Tags are important too – don’t buy tags that are too big as they will take away from the jewelry.
Making Beaded Jewelry – How To:
Making beaded jewelry is easier than you think!
To make beaded jewelry, you will need:
Tigertail beading wire (or any kind of jewelry making wire
Jump rings (soldered and unsoldered)
Jump ring tool (not necessary but really nice to have to close those rings neatly!)
And, of course, Beads!
The first step in making beaded jewelry is to layout your design. Whether you are making a necklace or bracelet the same principals apply, simply lay out the beads in the order that you want them to appear on the necklace. It is very helpful to have a bead board so that you can see where to place each bead so that the piece is symmetrical and also, to make sure you are getting the desired length.
String the Beads
Once your design is done, measure off a piece of tiger tail that is about 10” longer than the final length of the piece. Put tape on one end of the tigertail so the beads won’t slip off. Starting at the end of your design, string each bead in order.
Crimp The Ends
The hardest part about making beaded jewelry is crimping the ends to secure the beads! This step might take a bit of practice to get a good crimp, so don’t feel bad if it looks awful or doesn’t hold to begin with – remember practice makes perfect! Keep the tape on one end of your necklace (or bracelet) and work with the “open” end. Remove the last bead and string these pieces in order – a crimp bead, replace the last bead again, and another crimp bead and finally, your soldered jump ring.
Pass the tiger tail back through the beads you have just strung and the first 2 or 3 beads of the necklace. This should create a loop that holds the jump ring. Now take your crimping tool and crush the crimp bead. You can use the rounded places of the tool to try to get a finished look, but don’t keep crushing the crimp bead especially if it is sterling silver as you will weaken the metal. Remove the tape from the other end and repeat.
Add the Clasp
The final step to making beaded jewelry is attaching the clasp. Simply take a non soldered jump ring and open it either with pliers or the jump ring tool. Put one part of the clasp and one end of the necklace (or bracelet) onto the ring and close. Repeat for the other end of the clasp and other side of the piece and you’ve got a great wearable piece of art that you made yourself!