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Jewelry Making

Designing and making your own jewelry is much easier than you think. All of the important jewelers you see today started making and playing around with their jewelry designs at some point in their life.

Below is a terrific introductory article where you can learn the basics and how to get started. You can help grow our learning community by contributing your knowledge to the article. Just click on the edit tab in the wiki article below.

Use the white subtabs above to navigate the other Jewelry Making resources. We have a Jewelry Making forum where you can get your questions & doubts answered, a page with Jewelry Making how-to videos, a page with the best handpicked links to other sites, and a page with the best Jewelry Making books and products.

Good Luck and Have Fun!
Karen Davis

 

Introduction


Jewelry design is a hobby that opens up a lot of scope to show your creativity, especially if you happen to have an eye for detail. This hobby can easily turn into a lucrative home business or career with a prominent name in the industry. To begin with, most aspiring jewelry designers experiment with designs and make jewelry items as gifts for their loved ones.




There are many tools and materials to work with. As a hobby, jewelry design can be as expensive or as inexpensive as you want, depending on what kind of jewelry you intend to make – ranging from simple wire jewelry to intricate items with metals and precious stones.




Some well-known jewelry designers are Tiffany, Cartier, Faberge and Boucheron, all of whom excelled in high fashion jewelry design. Their designs were usually created for prominent personalities to commemorate special events. They worked with imagination, creativity and style. You can, too.




Three critical elements of jewelry design


When you decide to take up jewelry design as a hobby, remember that you need to do some planning before you actually get started. According to the top jewelry designers, there are three essential elements to keep in mind when you create your unique piece of jewelry. These are:




-Design




-Quality of materials




-Craftsmanship




The design is what you express through your creativity, so that you can translate it into an actual piece of jewelry. Next is the quality of the materials you work with. This could be gemstones, precious metals or other material you will work with. These must suit your design and enhance it. After you finalize your design and get the material together, it is time to put your design into a wearable piece of jewelry.




So let us now look at how you can get started with your jewelry design hobby!




Getting started


Getting started with jewelry design can be exciting. There are many techniques in jewelry making. It is a good idea to get started with beading, which is one of the easiest methods. With wire and beads that you can get from your local craft store, you can design simple jewelry items like bracelets, earrings, necklaces and finger rings.




You might want to consider getting a book on jewelry design to inspire you. Then you will need to get the necessary supplies and tools and of course, bags or boxes in which to display your completed jewelry.




Jewelry must be made carefully, regardless of whether it is a delicate piece or a chunky one, expensive or not. Always remember that. Whether as a hobby or profession, designing jewelry can be fun because it lets you experiment, while coming up with interesting pieces of jewelry. You can never tell when your hobby could turn into a lucrative career or profession since there is vast scope in this industry. There is a huge market out there both for men’s and women’s jewelry.


 



Choose your style


The first step to getting started is to choose your style. There is no hard and fast rule. But you might want to focus on a particular style depending on your preference. This could be traditional or trendy. Traditional jewelry could be similar to the chokers or necklaces while trendy jewelry can combine a variety of materials like stones, metals, leather, wood or pearls. If you intend designing jewelry as gifts, then think about the person who will wear them. Older women prefer pearl jewelry, while younger women prefer something funkier. The ideal gifts for men seem to be earrings, studs or bracelets.


 



Get your tools together


After you make up your mind what kind of jewelry you want to design, it is time to put together the tools and material you need. This includes tools you need, as well as beads, stones, clasps, strings, hooks etc. These can be bought at a jewelry supply store.




Here is a basic list of tools you might need, depending on your project:




- Pliers of several sizes & types


- Tweezers - straight and bent depending on what you are making


- Mandrels - if making wire wrap jewelry


- Wire cutters


- Clippers for thread, if beading


- Polishing cloth - if you plan on working with sterling silver


 



Material for jewelry making


This is a matter of choice, but you might be looking at:




- Beads


- Gemstones and synthetics


- Gold and silver


- Metal wire


- Polymer clay


- Organic or natural elements


- Anything you intend working with


 



What type of jewelry will you make?


Again, you have a huge choice here. Just some of the jewelry items you can design are:




- Necklaces


- Bracelets


- Earrings


- Rings and toe rings


- Wedding and engagement rings


- Belly-button jewelry


- Brooches and pins


- Men`s jewelry, such as cufflinks and tie pins


- Belt buckles


- Tiaras


- Buttons


 



Creating your workspace


You will need a space of your own to work in when you design your jewelry. Choose a spot that lets you concentrate. Find a private place – this could be in your garage, your attic. Remember you’ll need adequate lighting, which is an important aspect of jewelry designing. Natural light is best, but if that is not available, look for good alternatives that resemble sunlight. For instance, full spectrum bulbs can be a good choice.




Next, you will need to organize your tools and supplies. There are professional jewelry benches in the market, but these can be quite expensive. You can also look for one in used furniture stores. It goes without saying that you will need a comfortable chair, since you will be spending a lot of time in it.




If you do not want to spend money on creating your workspace right away, you can also simply clear your kitchen table and get started there!


 



Design your jewelry


Come up with your jewelry design now. You will find a lot of ideas online or in magazines to inspire you. Designing wire jewelry is very popular and many people have turned this into a lucrative hobby. Wire is especially easy for beginners to work with. Let us take a look at the tools and materials you need to get you started on making wire jewelry.


 



Wire jewelry design


Tools




- Pliers – there is an assortment of pliers and cutters you will find for wire jewelry. Each of these is meant for a particular job. As you get further in your hobby, you will probably build your own collection of pliers and cutters. As a beginner, you can get started with a few. Pliers come with different nose shapes and some have springs, which help control the wire’s tension. You will also find pliers with nylon jaws to keep the wire from getting scratched.




- Flat Nose Pliers - used for holding, flattening or straightening the wire, these help in making angular bends.




- Round Nose Pliers – help with making bends, curves and loops especially when your work involves a lot of detail.




- Flush Wire Cutter - this cuts through metal like gold, silver, brass and copper wire neatly.


 



Choosing the wire for the jewelry


You can choose your wire based on thickness, shape, hardness and material.




- You will find wire in different sizes, or gauges. Gauges work like this: a higher gauge wire has a smaller diameter than a lower gauge wire. When you start off, go in for higher gauge wire so that you find it easy to work with.




- As your skill grows, you will find it easier to work with thicker wires. You can also get wire in different shapes like round, square and semi-round. The most common choice is round wire. To give your jewelry a unique look, you can choose an unusual shape.




- Wire is available as soft and hard wire. Softer wire is easy to bend while the harder ones are tougher to shape. So depending on your jewelry you can choose the right kind of wire.




- You can choose from brass, copper, silver and gold wire. Naturally, copper and brass are less expensive compared with silver and gold. Begin with copper and brass, to help you get used to your hobby initially.




As you can see, there’s a lot of choice in material and your jewelry design can be made, keeping in mind the right kind of tools and material.


 



And now, it is time to design your first piece of jewelry


You now have your work area marked out and your supplies in place. It is time to design your very first piece of jewelry. You are probably overflowing with ideas by now. So it is time to get started. If you find it challenging at first to put your design on paper, you can browse the internet for wire jewelry, or even look at beginner’s books that give you step-by-step instructions on how to go about it.




Design tips


Now that you are excited about your jewelry design hobby, here are some design tips that will help you. These tips apply to any kind of jewelry you might decide to design.




- Stick to a few designs initially. Too many can be confusing at first, making it hard to choose your material.




- Begin with the focal point of your design, which can be a gemstone in the center or whatever you choose to make the focal point. This is what people will notice first when they see your design.




- Avoid using two or more center pieces as this can make your design look crowded. If you are using stones, using two or more of the same size will not be complementary and make it difficult to balance.




- If you are working with precious stones, remember that anything that is more than .25 carat in round, marquise, oval and pear shapes are good for the overall design. While size or shape do not determine your design, emeralds can be hard to use in a round shape. You decide.




- Keep your design simple and balanced. Sometimes less can be more.




- Refer to jewelry magazines, jewelry store catalogs and websites online. This will get your creative juices flowing and trigger your unique ideas.




- When you design jewelry, remember to start with the central gemstone followed by the mounting design. After this, decide on the gemstones or finishes that will highlight your central gemstone. Everything about the jewel must focus on the central gemstone in terms of form, shape and finish.




- When you set the central gemstone, the mounting should be aligned with it in shape, setting off its beauty. Go in for shapes that match the center stone. It is okay to make it unusual by setting it off center. Soon, you’ll have a great piece of jewelry.




- The center gemstone should be set off by the stones or finishes that accent it. The ratio to remember is, half your design is about the center stone, a quarter about the way it is mounted, and the remaining part is the accents and the finish. Go ahead and be creative, taking care that your design looks balanced.




- Color plays a pivotal role in your design. This means that some gemstones suit yellow metal while some suit white metal. For example, if your gemstone is white or blue, it is better off in a white metal setting. While this is not a rule that cannot be broken, it is the norm, depending on your design and technique. A little bit of research about color combinations when you plan your jewelry design will go a long way.




- Choose the design style that matches your personal taste and your personality. Make a statement through your work. Feel comfortable with whatever you design, as it will be identified with you.




- Make sure your presentation and balance are well matched. All the design elements like color, setting and impression should be complementary.




- Plan your design as this the starting point, helping you get a grip on the design process from beginning to end. This will enable you come up with a design that you are completely satisfied with.




- You can use technology to see how your finished jewelry will look in color, with a graphic design program on your computer. This will give your imagination a new dimension as you add and accent on your screen




- Once you have your design ready, you are ready to make the prototype. If working with gemstones set in precious metal, you might want to make a wax model first. This will help you make the necessary adjustments and changes, which are hard to do with precious metal. While working with the wax model, you will also know if there are any practical problems with the design that can be changed.




- If you decide to work with precious metals, you might need the help of a goldsmith to transform your design into the jewelry piece. Make sure you see visuals of how your design settings and finish will appear before the goldsmith begins to work on it. There must be a balance of texture and depth, resulting in your imagination brought to life.




- Finally, think about durability. Some jewelry designers make fabulous pieces that develop the need for repairs after a short period of time. So think about how well it will wear by using the appropriate materials.




Talking about wearability, as a jewelry designer, you not only end up making jewelry pieces, but might sometimes have to handle jewelry repair as well.




Should you handle jewelry repairs?


Most jewelry shops offer jewelry repair as a part of their services. In fact, jewelry repair brings in substantial revenue. You will find that most jewelry courses include a session on jewelry repair. So, you will probably find yourself having to fix an item once in a while. It is an unavoidable part of jewelry design and jewelry making. Even if you give someone your work of art, there’s a good chance that they might come back because it broke, or came unstuck. This can happen with gemstones and clasps. Nevertheless, you would need to fix it for them.




If you start an exclusive line in jewelry based on your design for special customers, naturally they would come back to you if they had a problem. Even if your jewelry items were perfectly okay, your customer will think of you if they have a problem with any of their jewelry items. Thus, you need to decide whether you will handle these repairs yourself, and how.




This is a question especially if you make different types of jewelry. Your customer may approach you to fix a broken clasp. If you are not experienced with techniques like soldering, now may be the time to develop some good contacts in jewelry shops that can handle these repairs for you. If you go commercial and sell your jewelry, you will have to think about charging for these repairs and this can be a delicate affair, because most customers simply assume you’ll do it for free, while the rare ones will agree to pay you.




In closing


Jewelry is something everyone loves. Trends in jewelry design change rapidly, and so do the methods of making jewelry. The great thing about jewelry design is you can simply follow your imagination. All you need are the right supplies and tools to put the pieces together to come up with that special, unique piece. Just remember some basic rules. Choose materials that are durable yet easy to use. This will ensure that your jewelry pieces last. It is great to be unique, but not at the cost of durability. This will ensure that your designs are remembered in the long run.




Today, there are millions of accessories that you can use in designing jewelry. Beads are perhaps the most popular preference as they can easily be strung to make a bracelet, earring or necklace and there you are – your jewelry is ready. You can also use wood, plastic and glass to go with the beads. Gemstones can give your design a more expensive look. Carved wood pendants look great with good, silver or bronze necklaces. No matter what material you use, be careful that the focal point of your jewelry does not get damaged over time. Look always for materials that help you create lasting designs.




Packaging is an important aspect of jewelry design. If you turn your jewelry design hobby into a profession, you will need to think about displaying and packaging your designs.




Jewelry design is a wonderful hobby that lets you show your creativity. You can wear your own creations, give them as gifts, or sell them and make money. Go ahead and let your creativity take wing. Express yourself through your designs. Create jewelry that is one of a kind and memorable.