Jewelry making is a fun hobby for millions of people around the globe, and every year consumers spend millions of dollars purchasing Jewelry in galleries and online. Names like Buccellati, Chopard, and Tiffany & Co. spring to mind as some of the most well-known figures in the world of Jewelry design. It may not seem that way now, but there isn’t much separating an amateur jewelry designer who crafts in her room from the top designers with top studios in major cities. In fact, if you work to improve your skills in jewelry design, you can become the next big name designer by promoting your brand online. We’ve compiled a few ways to take your jewelry designs to the top including beading techniques, wire wrapping, and color theory.
Modnitsa Atelier’s Intro to Jewelry Design is the perfect way to jump into the world of designing your own fantastic accessories. If you don’t already know the basics of Jewelry design, this class is a perfect place to start! You’ll learn more about the materials, stringing techniques and best practices of jewelry and accessory design as well as explore popular modern color and style pallets. By the time you’re done with the 16 lecture course you’ll be able to create your own earrings, bracelets and necklaces and be ready to move on to more advanced techniques like beading.
Basic Beading Techniques
Beading is the perfect way to liven up a piece of jewelry that needs more color or pizazz. Pearls, beads, gemstones and found objects can all be used in these techniques that will take a drab piece and turn it into something really special. But beading isn’t something that one can just learn overnight, there are dozens of complex beading patterns and techniques to learn before manufacturing beaded necklaces and jewelry becomes natural to you, but don’t worry: a little persistence goes a long way in the world of jewelry design.
Before we go over some of the more basic beading techniques, it’s important to make sure we have all the tools and materials we’ll need available to us. While you can use virtually anything to craft your own bead, for beginners it’s good to practice with plastic beads or rhinestones.
Even big name designers use rhinestones in the creation of their mockup pieces, or in place of real gems in a piece in order to show to a potential customer. It’s perfectly normal – encouraged even – to keep using the cheaper plastic rhinestones for as long as it takes for you to get comfortable with the beading process, only moving on to more expensive materials when you are confident you won’t ruin them in the process, so without further ado, here is a short list of the necessary materials for creating professional quality beading:
- Beads (Plastic or Glass to Start)
- Beading Wire – Tiger Tail or any other flexible wire works great here.
- Wrapping Wire – A little stiffer, but still flexible.
- Crimp Beads & Jump Rings
- Bead Design Board – A positive essential tool that makes designing beaded jewelry much easier.
- Tape measure
- Wire Cutters
- Pliers – Chainnose or Roundnose pliers only, just make sure there are no marks on the pliers that could cause damage to the beading wire.
Creating jump rings is an extremely important technique to master for putting together the separate parts of your jewelry. Not all pieces are made all at once; some are made in multiple parts and then linked together using jump rings. Jump rings can also be used decoratively, or hold beads for a more fashionable look. To create a jump ring, you’ll of course need a small length of wire, preferably a pre-created but unsoldered jump ring.
If you don’t have access to unsoldered jump rings, but have enough stiff but malleable wire to create a jump ring, all you’ll need are 2 pair of pliers, one of them Round Nose. Round Nose pliers are necessary because they are used to both hold and wrap the jump ring all at once; the second set of piers holds the wire in place. Once you’ve got the wire in a circular shape (or oval, or square, don’t let conventions limit your creativity!) it’s time to close the jump ring. Use both pliers to gently move the two ends of the wire to a solid meeting point and press them together until the seam is completely sealed. Of course, if you want to add beads to or extras to the jump ring, you should do that before you close the ring.
You’ve just learned how to create a basic circular jump ring, which, if you didn’t know, is the first step down the path to learning wire wrapping. Wire wrapping is the general discipline of manipulating small metal wires to create everything from charms to ear ring hooks to bracelet clasps. Wire wrapping is a fairly large part of jewelry making, and mastering is definitely worth your while, especially if you want to create gallery quality jewelry. This class by professional craftsman Monique Littlejohn will show you the basics of wire wrapping in a more in depth and setting, so you can put this beading technique to work for you in your best pieces.
Crimping is the fastest and easiest way to create beaded jewelry and is usually one of the first ways people learn to create beaded pieces. It requires nothing more than a crimp bead, some pliers, and of course a piece to crimp. Crimping offers a hassle free way to add a charm, clasp, or combine two different pieces into one.
Prepare the wire where you want to add the crimp, then slide the charm or clasp onto the wire and pull the wire through until the charm is in place to crimp. Ensure that both the entering and exiting strands of wire are of relatively parallel and attach a crimp bead to both strands. Gently apply pressure to the crimp bead with your fingers or pliers until it’s just a little less than halfway compressed, turn the bead slightly and squish the bead again until its fully closed. All that’s left is to cut off the short tail and you’re done with your very first crimp.
You can learn all these basic beading techniques and more in this great Udemy course by gallery owner and professional bead stringer Fleury Sommers. This class for serious jewelry design students and amateurs will walk you through the creation of your first piece of beaded jewelry, as well as help you achieve a better understanding of important beading techniques to bring your crafts up to professional standards.
If you think you’ve mastered the basics and want to learn more about how to start marketing and making a profit from your creations, look no further than this guide to Marketing Jewelry at Craft Shows for Fun and Profit. In this quick and easy guide you’ll learn all the secrets to making your very own stunning jewelry displays for craft shows, as well as how to choose the right show and competitively price your pieces to sell. So what are you waiting for? Get busy creating the kinds of fashionable jewelry you want to see and who knows, maybe you’ll become the next big name jewelry designer