A Guide to Jewelry Making for Beginners
Jewelry making is a great skill to have whether it’s to turn your craft into a business or just to acquire as a fun hobby or creative outlet. The sky is the limit when it comes to the creativity involved in jewelry making. If you’re looking to start a jewelry making hobby but don’t know where to begin, then this guide will help you get started.
This guide to beginner jewelry making will cover the different types of jewelry to know about, the tools, supplies and beginner jewelry making kits you’ll need to get started as well as some tips for starting out jewelry making. Finally, you’ll learn about some of the basic skills required to start making jewelry for beginners.
Types of Jewelry
When starting out making jewelry, it may seem overwhelming given there are so many types and styles of jewelry to try. Some types may be more difficult or require more supplies than others. Here are 10 different types of jewelry to consider as you get started making jewelry.
- 1. Beading: Jewelry making using beads is great for beginnings because of its simplicity and versatility. Beads are easy to string together to create a variety of jewelry pieces including necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Beads come in different colors, shapes and sizes so you can feel free to play around with beads that come in a beading supply kit.
- 2. Perspex: Perspex is a type of solid plastic and transparent material made from acrylic. Perspex can be cut into fun and funky geometrical shapes strung together or layered over each other. Perspex jewelry is great for a retro or modern jewelry look and comes in many colors that can be mixed and matched together.
- 3. Stone Setting: Stone setting involves securely placing and setting gemstones into silver jewelry. There are different styles of stone settings including cabochons, tube settings and gypsy settings. Stone settings look elegant but can also be colorful and playful with gemstones like rubies, emeralds or sapphires.
- 4. Wire Wrapping: Wire wrapped jewelry uses the technique of stringing beads or stones along jewelry wire and combining the pieces together to create jewelry. Wire wrapping gives the jewelry piece a sturdy or stiff structure. Wire wrapping is great to make earrings or bracelets and can even be used to make certain styles of necklaces.
- 5. Metal Clay: Metal clay is a method of creating jewelry that uses very small particles of metals like silver, gold, bronze or copper. The metal particles are bound together and can be shaped and fired to create countless styles. This method of jewelry making allows you to make beautiful silver or gold pieces that are true works of art.
- 6. Wax Carving: Wax carving using wax models or wax pieces. It is a process of cutting and carving into the wax piece to create a design to be used in jewelry pieces. Wax carving can be done by hand or using a computerized system.
- 7. Wood Jewelry: Wood jewelry is jewelry made from wood pieces and often looks more earthy or traditional. Different types of wood can be used in wood jewelry depending on the nature of design as different woods provide different naturals colors.
- 8. Fused Glass: Fused glass jewelry is the technique of taking pieces of glass and heating them at a high temperature to fuse them together to create different shapes and designs. Fused glass can take many forms such as baubles or beads and can be made using many different colors.
- 9. Fabric: Jewelry pieces can also be made using fabrics and textiles. A variety of fabrics can be used such as silk, velvet, satin, felt, cotton or leather. These fabric pieces can be rolled and shaped to form different designs to be featured on jewelry pieces. Fabric jewelry can be elegant or funky depending on how you choose to mix and match textures and colors.
- 10. Chain Making: There are several different ways to make chains but they are generally all made from a metal material and attached together by fastening loops. Chain making can result in simple and elegant jewelry or it can be a great way to express more creativity by using different materials, shapes and sizes.
Tool and Supplies to Begin Making Jewelry
Before getting started, you’ll need to assemble a jewelry making starter kit. This kit should have different tools and supplies that are essential for jewelry making.
Here are some of the basic tools you’ll need to add to your jeweler’s toolkit.
- 1. Wire Cutters: An essential tool for helping you create and finish off your jewelry pieces is a set of wire cutters. Wire cutters allow you to snip off headpins and eyepins as well as the wire used to string the jewelry together.
- 2. Round Nose Pliers: Use round nose pliers to help you to easily make loops. The round nose plier jaws are tapered down which allow you to get a better angle on the wire in order to create the desired size of loop. The thinner end of the plier jaws allows you to make small loops, while the thicker end allows you to make bigger loops.
- 3. Chain Nose Pliers: Like round nose pliers, chain nose pliers also taper down. However, the insides of the jaws on chain nose pliers are flat as opposed to round nose pliers which are round all the way around. Chain nose pliers work well for holding wire firmly in place by offering better grip support. Chain nose pliers also give you better maneuverability in tight loops.
- 4. Flat Nose Pliers: Flat nose pliers are a great gripping tool for holding wires in place while you cut. Like chain nose pliers, flat nose pliers have flat jaws, but they do not taper down. They stay straight and flat along the whole jaw edge. Many jewelry makers use two or more sets of flat nose pliers. So as you advance you may decide to acquire additional pairs for additional functionality.
- 5. Crimp Tool: A crimp tool is very useful for ensuring your beads stay on the wire in a specific location. A crimp tool marks a crimp in the wire so that beads can’t fall off the end. The crimp tool helps beads and stones to remain fastened specifically to one location on the wire. Specifically, the crimp tool creates notches in the wire that secure the bead so it can’t move on either side.
In addition to these tools, you may want to consider purchasing the following jewelry making supplies to create yourself an all-inclusive jewelry making kit:
- 6. Bead Stays: For the sake of convenience, bead stays are a useful supply to get when starting out jewelry making. Bead stays fasten to the wire and stop the beads from falling off the end. This can save you the time and the headache of having to restring your beads back onto the wire should they all fall off the one end when you pick up the wire.
- 7. Headpins: Headpins are used to keep the jewelry pieces like beads or stones in place. They are straight wires and have flat pieces called heads on one end that secure the bead and block it from moving.
- 8. Eyepins: Eyepins are also straight wires but at the one end they have a loop instead of a flat head like headpins. They also help to keep the beads or stones in place on the wire.
- 9. Chains: Chains are other important supplies to keep in your jewelry making kit. You can purchase a wide variety of chains in different sizes and materials to have on hand. Chains also have clasps already on them for more convenience.
- 10. Bead Stringing Wires: Bead stringing wires are an essential supply in a beginner’s jewelry making kit. They come in different diameters with .012 being the smallest. You may decide to keep a few different sizes of bead stringing wires on hand to use for different projects.
Pre-assembled jewelry making kits are available to take the hassle out of sourcing the right tools and supplies. Depending on the type of jewelry making you’re doing there are assorted jeweler’s kits, beading supply kits, and jewelry soldering and torch kits for you to pick up and try out. Another useful supply to consider as you learn jewelry making is a jewelry cleaning kit.
Beginner Jewelry Making Tips
As a beginner, there are some simple tips and tricks to know before getting started. These tips will help you to start out on a good foot so you can enjoy the process of learning jewelry making skills.
Here are some beginner jewelry making tips for you to consider:
- 1. Find Your Own Jewelry Making Interest: Not all types of jewelry making are for everyone. As you start out, narrow down which types of jewelry making is for you and try these out to find the right fit.
- 2. Master Some Basic Skills: Take your jewelry making craft one step at a time by first learning some basic skills. There are plenty of online resources or classes available to teach these basic skills so you can learn more over time.
- 3. Invest in Good Tools: In order to make jewelry making fun, it’s important to have all the necessary tools and ensure they work well. Invest in the right tools from the beginning and it will make jewelry make much more enjoyable.
- 4. Learn the Lingo: Learning the correct jewelry making terminology will make it easier to follow along when reading and learning about jewelry making. When you learn the lingo you also familiarize yourself with the various techniques and can put your skills to the test.
- 5. Have a Good Workspace: To really commit to your jewelry making hobby, be sure to dedicate an area in your home as your personal workspace. This is where you can keep all your tools and supplies. This helps keep everything organized which makes your time spent jewelry making much more enjoyable.
- 6. Find Ideas and Inspiration: The fun part of jewelry making is getting to be creative. You can find lots of ideas and inspiration online with websites like Pinterest and other blogs. As you see more examples of works of art, you can start to develop your own style or your own spin on certain ideas.
- 7. Take Classes: Classes are a great way to develop your jewelry making skills. You can start to learn the basic skills and terminology and continue to be filled with inspiration as you build up your jewelry making experience.
- 8. Don't Get Discouraged: As you start out you may wish to try more simple pieces. But as you progress don’t be afraid to take risks. Getting creative and trying new things is an important part of learning any new skill. Even if it doesn’t turn out the way you want, don’t get discouraged because you can always start over or try again.
Basic Jewelry Making Skills for Beginners
As you start out with your new jewelry making hobby, you’ll want to get started by learning some new and basic skills. These skills will act as fundamentals to help you develop your craft over time so you can create diverse pieces.
Here are some of the basic entry-level or beginning skills you’ll want to master to start:
- 1. Wire Cutting: Wire cutting is one of the most basic skills to learn in jewelry making. Using the proper tools and techniques you can ensure that one side of the cut wire stays flat and the other side stays sharp.
- 2. Opening and Closing Jump Rings: Jump rings are used to connect and hold other pieces of jewelry wire. Knowing how to properly open and close jump rings will properly secure the connected jewelry wire components.
- 3. Straightening Jewelry Wire: Jewelry wire is packaged in coils or spools and so it has a natural bend to it. Learning how to properly straighten the jewelry wire when it comes off the spool is important so you can ensure it remains straight.
- 4. Bending Jewelry Wire: Making a bend in the jewelry wire is a skill required whenever you need an angle in the wire. Specific tools like chain nose pliers or bent chain nose pliers can make a sharp and crisp bend in the wire without damaging or distorting the wire in an undesirable way.
- 5. Learning Different Loops: There are many types of jewelry wire loops that you will need to use in different situations. Loops such as ‘P” loops, eye loops, open loops or wrapped loops all have different purposes. They also require different techniques using different types of pliers to achieve these unique loops.
As you start to familiarize yourself more and more with the types of skills required for jewelry making, you may also want to consider the classes that are available to you.
Here are some examples of jewelry making classes to try if you’re looking to learn new skills or brush up on existing skills:
- - Basic jewelry workshops
- - Wire weaving techniques
- - Torch-firing techniques
- - Kiln-firing techniques
- - Jewelry design for different jewelry types like beading or stone setting
- - Basic beading classes
There are more specialized jewelry making classes available that offer skills development for each type of jewelry making. These may include wood carvings, metal clay or wax carvings.
There are lots of great reasons to get started making your own jewelry. It’s a fun hobby, a great skill to have and allows you to show off your talent by wearing some fun and fabulous pieces. Now that you have the basic tools and knowledge of jewelry making for beginners, it's time to get creative and making your own unique jewelry pieces.