There are many ways of making your own jewellery, and many styles, but as it happens I just love ethnic looking silver and semi-precious stone jewellery and this is ridiculously easy to make yourself. I usually buy the stones on my visits to China, but lately I have discovered that I can also buy them on Aliexpress, together with the ‘silver’ beads and findings I need.
The results are very inexpensive but can make quite an impact. The silver components are only silver plated, if that, but when I make myself a necklace I am more after a pretty accessory than a precious metal investment.
What I love most about the process of making jewellery is that every decision is one hundred percent reversible. How often have you made up a garment and then regretted your pattern choice, or the choice of fabric f? There is no way back once you have started to cut out!
With jewellery making you can just cut the wire if you don’t like the end result and start again. Nothing is wasted except the crimp beads and covers and even the wire can be reused, for a shorter necklace if it was long or patched if it was a choker.
Crimp beads and covers? These might be very foreign terms for the novice, but they are what holds a necklace together and really the only bits that are at all technical. A crimp bead or tube is a tiny, soft, easily squashable metal tube that joins the ends of the wire securely to the clasp. You loop the wire through the eye of the clasp, feed it back through the crimp tube and crimp the tube to hold everything in place. Crimp bead covers are put over the crimp beads to hide this utilitarian part and stop it from being scratchy and uncomfortable on the skin. Stringing the beads is dead simple, toddlers do it for entertainment, and only the crimping is something requiring a little skill and practice. With the right tools it is not hard, and even if it goes awry you can simply cut the wire and start again.
What makes the crimping process easy is this tool I bought online. It has one notch that squashes the crimp bead into a sort of V shape (E) that makes it hold the wire securely, then another notch (F) that folds this V shape again into itself to leave a small round metal bead easily covered by the crimp bead cover.
Here is a video explaining the process. I am not at all affiliated with the organisation in this video, and there are many more videos on YouTube to help you learn. Once you know the right terms like crimp tubes/beads, beading wire, clasps etc it is easy to search and find a wealth of information to teach you and shops offering supplies.
I have a few pairs of pliers I use for jewellery making, bought inexpensively at Aldi or any other place that sells tools. I use the yellow for cutting the wire to size, the red helps me pull the wire through tight once it has been looped through the clasp and crimp bead, and I use the black to squeeze the crimp bead covers closed over the crimp beads.
The wire I use is tiger tail beading wire and I like magnetic clasps, at least for chokers that need to be opened and closed every time you put them on. Traditional clasps are a real fiddle. For longer necklaces it doesn’t matter, as you can just pull them over your head. If you live in the US there are many online shops to buy your supplies from, but in Australia there is much less choice and everything is expensive. I have been buying my supplies directly from China via Aliexpress and so far my experience with them has been good.
Here are some of my latest makes. I only wear necklaces, but the same process can be applied to bracelets just as well. If you wear earrings, there is a wealth of information online on how to make those too.
Black onyx and silver leaves
Long jade and Tibetan silver necklace that can be knotted
Lava stone and ornate silver spacers
Blue onyx and filigree silver beads