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What Do I Need to Make Earrings?

Bead stores contain a variety of bead options for earrings.
Obtaining the right hardware is an important step in making earrings.
Earrings.
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  • Written By: Devon Pryor
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 17 March 2014
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Aside from the desire to make unique, personalized accessories, the first step in making your own earrings is to find a great bead store. You'll need to make sure that the beads and other materials that you choose look good together, and that the holes in the beads will allow them to hang in the way you want. Next, you'll need to buy the hardware, including earwires and pins to attach those beads to.

When making your own jewelry, the source of the beads is very important. Entering a store should fill you with inspiration. Some stores specialize in natural beads — those made from various kinds of stones, gems, and other natural formations found in the earth. Others may specialize in handmade glass beads, or in plastic beads designed for children’s jewelry.

A good bead store will carry a variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and beads made from a range of materials. Common shapes include rounded, graduated, saucer, rondelle, rice-shaped, and seed-beads. The beads should catch your eye, and you should start to get ideas about what your earrings will look like. If you don’t find inspiration, find another store.

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Next, begin to select your beads. Most stores use the tray system, where shoppers fill a tray with beads, writing down the number and per unit price on a provided pad of paper. Set the beads next to each other to see how they will look together. Also pay attention to the location of the hole in the bead. Some teardrop-shaped beads have holes at the top, whereas most symmetrical beads have holes in the middle. This will affect the placement of the bead and the way it hangs. In general, beads with the hole in the middle are used in the main body of the earring, and teardrop beads dangle off the ends.

The next step is selecting your hardware. The piece that goes through the ear is called an earwire, and is shaped like a question mark. The spine of the earring is called a pin. Pins are long, straight pieces of metal with either a round hoop at the end, as in the case of an eyepin, or a flat end as in the case of a headpin. Some variations include pins with decorative balls on the end. Beads are strung onto the pin, so the size of the hole cannot be larger than the end of the pin, or the beads will fall off.

Most hardware is either silver or gold in color. Choose the color that compliments the beads you have selected. Before making any final decisions, string the beads directly on the pin to see how the jewelry will look. It is difficult to amend or correct an earring once it is made, and usually requires starting over with new hardware. If you have chosen some teardrop beads, and want to hang them off the end of the piece, you will need jump rings. These are metal rings that are cut in one place. The bead can be hung directly from the ring on an eyepin, or hung from a jump ring, which then hangs on the eyepin.

Some teardrop beads will not fit on a jump ring, in which case they can be wire-wrapped onto the pin. This is a simple procedure that includes stringing the bead on the wire, passing the wire through the ring of the eyepin, and wrapping the wire around itself to create a closure. The bead store staff can demonstrate this method. The wire-wrapping technique can be used to make chain earrings, in which the beads are wire wrapped to the end of a chain, which then hangs directly from the earwire. Wire comes in many colors and thicknesses.

The final step is constructing the end of the earring and hanging it on the earwire. This requires two essential tools, wire-cutters and round-nose pliers. Using the round-nose pliers, hold the finished piece by the pin and cut the pin, leaving 0.25 inch (6.35 mm) excess. Then move the round-nose pliers to the tip of the pin, and wrap the excess pin around the curve of the round-nose pliers to create a loop. Hang this loop on the earwire, and you're done — once you've made one for the other ear.

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Discuss this Article

JaneAir
Post 11

@strawCake - That's pretty good advice for doing any craft project. I knit, and I always buy a little bit of extra yarn in case I mess up, or want to make the project a little bit longer than the directions call for.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that there are a lot of good places to get craft supplies online. I don't have any bead stores near me that I know of, so whenever I need beads, I always shop online. It's better if you can see the beads in person first, of course, but if you can't, online stores are a great option. They're also good for re-purchasing supplies you already know you like.

strawCake
Post 10

When you're shopping for earring making supplies, it's always good to get some extras. As the article said, mistakes are hard to fix, so you might have to just start over if you mess up. And if you only buy enough supplies to make two of the same kind of earring, you're going to be out of luck!

Azuza
Post 9

@sunnySkys - That's nice you didn't want to hurt your friends feelings, but it probably wouldn't have hurt to tell her. Maybe she could have fixed the earrings for you! On the other hand, some people get their feelings hurt pretty easily, so this might be the case for your friend.

I've been wanting to get into jewelry making for awhile, and making earrings seems like a great way to get started. It doesn't seem too difficult, and the materials don't look all that expensive.

sunnySkys
Post 8

@Perdido - That's good advice. I have a friend who makes jewelry, and she gave me a necklace and earring set for my birthday a few years ago. The set was so nice looking, but she made the same mistake you made and the earrings scratched up my neck something terrible. I never told her though, because I didn't want to hurt her feelings.

Perdido
Post 7

It is so important to remember to turn the end of your wire under before selling the earrings you make. I made and sold some heart earrings two months ago, and I forgot to twist the end of the wire under itself.

The customer who bought the earrings brought them back and demanded a refund. She said that they had scratched her neck and caused her to break out in a rash.

Humiliated, I gave her back her money. Then, I went and checked all my other earrings to be sure that I hadn't made the same mistake with them.

wavy58
Post 6

I started using wire to craft handmade earrings last year, and now, I'm hooked. I absolutely love the process, and it gets my mind off of whatever else is going on in my life.

I like to buy wire of a moderate stiffness. That way, I can manipulate it easily with my hands, but it doesn't lose shape every time it bumps into something.

I like using copper colored jewelry wire to make daisy earrings. I loop the wire around my fingers and twist it in the center before moving onto the next petal. When I'm done, I twist the wire around the center one more time and cut it with pliers.

orangey03
Post 5

I think that gemstone earrings are beautiful, but I would never attempt to make them. If I want these earrings, I just buy them somewhere else.

I have no idea how to set precious stones. I'm afraid I might ruin them if I tried. So, I stick to using cheap beads when making my own earrings.

giddion
Post 4

@chivebasil – If you are making dangle earrings, it's always good to use jump rings between beads and between the French hook and the first bead. This gives the earring plenty of room to move and adjust to gravity.

I used to hook my first bead directly onto the loop at the end of the French hook. This made the earring very stiff. It had no natural movement at all.

Ivan83
Post 3

My daughter just got into earring making and she made these incredibly cool lightning bolt earrings. They are not like anything I have seen in the store. I am so excited for her because this could be something she does for the rest of her life. Designing jewelry seems like it would be such a fascinating job.

chivebasil
Post 2

Is there a trick for making long earrings? I have made earrings in the past but every time I have attempted a long or dangly one it turns out wrong. They hang weird and they do not feel right in the ear. What am I doing wrong? Any tips?

truman12
Post 1

I used to have a girlfriend that made earrings and actually made a pretty nice second income selling them.

She had an Etsy site and she sold at some craft stores. She would get orders every week. Not tons, but enough to keep her making earring and put some extra money in her pocket.

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