These days, if you want to design your own jewellery, there is no need to hunt down your nearest craft shops, everything you need to design your own jewellery can be found online! There are hundreds of jewellery online resources, and I will help you to identify the key items you will need and where you can find them to design your own jewellery online! To make it even easier for you to design your own jewellery, just click on the key items that you will need to design your own and it will take you to the best jewellery online suppliers.
Design your own jewellery online resources
There are innumerable colours, textures, shapes and sizes of beads to suit every style of jewellery piece and each individual taste, and much of the enjoyment in designing your own jewellery comes from searching for the ideal beads:
Glass beads — Glass is the most versatile of all beads, available in many different shapes and sizes, from transparent to opaque, with a huge range of surface and hole-lined finishes.
Crystals — The term ‘crystal’ describes a faceted bead made from cut glass but it is often used to describe inexpensive moulded glass or even faceted plastic beads.
Metal beads — These come in a wide range of materials, such as brass, copper, aluminium and different alloys, as well as precious metals like silver and gold. Metal beads can be moulded, modelled or shaped from sheet metal. Surface patinas can add an antique or vintage look.
Seed beads — These round, doughnut-shaped beads, also known as rocailles, range from size 3 to 15 with size 11 being the most popular. Larger seed beads are known as pebble or pony beads and the smaller ones as petites.
Cylinder beads — Also known by their trade names Delicias, Antiques or Magnificas, these precision-milled, tubular beads have a large hole which enables a thread to be passed through several times, making them ideal for bead stitching.
Charlottes — These high-quality seed beads from the Czech Republic have a single cut facet to make them sparkle.
String, wire and chain
There are many choices of thread, wire and chain for stringing together your jewellery designs:
Bead stitching thread — Some popular brands are Nymo™, KO™ and Superlon™.
Beading cord — These unwaxed twisted threads are designed for jewellery designs where the cord is to be seen.
Hemp — This traditional macramé cord is available in many different colours, including multi-coloured versions. It is available in several thicknesses, but 1mm is generally used for jewellery designs.
Chain — Available in a range of metals, metallic finishes and colours, and vintage chains can also be used in your jewellery designs.
Jewellery-making wire — Plated wires with are a copper core are economical substitutes for sterling silver and gold, and coloured enamelled wires also make for exciting designs.
Memory wire — This is an extremely hard wire that holds its circular shape, and it is available in sizes for making rings, bracelets and necklaces. It should be cut with heavyweight wire cutters.
Bead stringing wire — This is composed of tiny wires or strands twisted together and coated with nylon thread. The number of strands (49, 19 or 7) determines the flexibility of the wire, and 19 strands is a good all-rounder.
Findings and Fastenings
Findings are all the little pieces, generally made of metal, that are used to make and finish items of jewellery. Fastenings are used to fasten or attach the jewellery so that it can be worn:
Eyepins — Straight pieces of wire with a loop at one end; generally used to make bead dangles.
Jump rings — Round or oval rings with slit for opening and closing; generally used to link components and attach fastenings.
Headpins — Straight pieces of wire with flat or decorative end to stop beads falling off; used to make bead dangles.
Crimp ends — Specially designed for finishing bead stringing wire neatly; insert wire and squeeze with crimping pliers.
Crimp beads — Used to attach fastenings and space beads along beading wire; use crimping pliers or needle-nose pliers to secure in place.
Connectors — Used to join elements in jewellery. They have two holes or rings and can be functional or quite decorative.
Earring wires — Designed for pierced ears; shapes include kidney, fish hook, posts and hoops.
Toggle clasp — Two-part fastening consisting of T-bar and hoop or ring.
Spring ring clasp — Range of shapes and sizes available for fastening bracelets and necklaces.
There is a wide range of tools available to help you get the best results when making jewellery. The basic tool kit of flat-nose pliers, round-nose pliers and wire cutters are beginner’s requirements, but you can invest in more specialist tools as your skills develop:
Flat-nose pliers — These have flat jaws with a slightly rough surface to grip wire or findings. Some are called snipe- or chain-nose pliers, which taper towards the tip, and others have a blunt end (blunt-nose pliers).
Round-nose pliers — These have tubular tapered jaws and are used for coiling, bending wire and making jump rings.
Wire cutters — Known as side or end cutters depending on the position of the cutting jaws, these are essential for cutting and trimming wire.
Crimp pliers — Used to secure crimp ends and crimps for a more professional finish.
Always work in a well-ventilated area and take particular care when using instant bond glue as it sticks to skin. A cocktail stick (toothpick) is useful for applying tiny amounts of glue. There are several types of glue used for jewellery making:
Epoxy resin — A very strong, two-part glue used to secure metal and heavy embellishments, such as stones, glass and beads. Look for quick setting glue that dries clear.
Jewellery glue — Clear glue that takes a little while to dry but remains flexible when it sets. It is generally used for securing knots and popular makes include E6000 and G-S Hypo Cement.
Instant bond — Also called superglue, this sets very quickly but dries hard and may become brittle and break.
As your interest in designing and making jewellery grows you’ll begin to look for ways to get a more professional finish. Here are some other useful tools and equipment: