How to Make Jewelry: A Guide to Getting Started
If you have been dabbling with making jewelry and are ready to get serious about your hobby and maybe even turn it into a business, there are some basic steps you will need to take to get started. This guide on how to make jewelry will give you some tips so you can get organized and be prepared to create.
Purchase Essential Jewelry Making Tools
While you will need different tools based on what type of materials you are using, there are some essential tools that every jeweler will need whether you are working with wire, beads or metal. You will want to make sure you have:
- Flat nose pliers – Used to open jump rings and finish wire-wrapped ends. Look for pliers that have a smooth surface between the jaws so they won’t leave a crimp in the metal.
- Wire cutters – Cutters should have a flush or flat side so that the cut wire has a nice smooth edge. Different cutters are available for different gauges of wire.
- Crimp tool – Allow you to squeeze tubes and beads into smoothly rounded crimps without the sharp, unattractive edges that regular pliers cause.
- Chain-nosed pliers – Have jaws that are round on the outside and flat on the inside and taper to a point. They are great for manipulating metal in tight areas.
- Round nose pliers – Allow you to make jump rings, small rings and loops, and bends in wire and flat stock. These will help give your wire a nice smooth curve.
Tools can be expensive but they are a worthwhile investment since they will reflect on the quality of your finished jewelry, save you time and make jewelry assembly easier. High end tools tend to focus on ergonomics. The handles may be bigger and wider, fit more comfortably in your hand and be latex-free. Higher end jewelry tools use high quality carbon steel, jaws with beveled corners and have no plastic handles or springs. They will give you precise control and last much longer which will save you money in the long run.
One of my favorite brands is Swanstrom. Rio Grande sells a great set that includes three pairs of pliers and one pair of cutters.
These essential tools will allow you to manage practically any situation and help you get started making jewelry.
Shop Around for Jewelry Making Supplies
The more supplies you have on hand, the easier it will be to experiment with different ideas but stocking up can get expensive. One of my favorite suppliers is Rio Grande. The quality of their products and the customer service cannot be beat. You can shop online for tools, packaging, displays and equipment or sign up for a jewelry making class. They also carry our Jewelry Designer Manager software program for keeping track of inventory and pricing.
Here are some other online jewelry suppliers:
- Rio Grande
- Otto Frei
- Wholesale Jewelry Supply Co.
- Fire Mountain Gems
- Jewelry Supply
- Taj Company
If you have never been to Tucson for the gem shows in February then you absolutely have to plan a trip. Vendors from all over the world set up booths in all the major hotels in the city. From rocks and minerals to diamonds and pearls there is something for every jewelry maker. Just be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes! This is where you can build a great list of suppliers. Take business cards and make notes for future orders. For a complete list of shows and dates check the: Tucscon Show Guide.
If you are looking for high-quality loose colored gemstones, cultured pearls or designer jewelry the AGTA GemFair at the Tucson Convention Center is the place to go. You must have a wholesale license to attend.
The International Gem and Jewelry Show has a large selection of manufactures and wholesalers. Check to see when they come to a city near you.
Create a Designated Work Space
Nothing can impede your creativity more than a messy work space. Your family will probably also appreciate it if you are able to keep your jewelry making supplies confined to a certain area. Take the time to set up a comfortable desk that can accommodate your needs and use bins and boxes to organize your supplies and have them within reach. Finally, fill your work space with colors, images and other objects that bring you joy and provide you with inspiration.
Check out our Pinterest board for some jewelry studio inspiration.
Spend Some Time on the Web
The absolute best place to look for inspiration is on the internet. Be sure to follow your favorite artists and set up boards on Pinterest where you can gather and store ideas and take a closer look at your own fashion icons. Think about why you are drawn to specific pieces and how you might be able to put your own personal spin on classic looks.
YouTube is also a great place to watch free tutorials and learn new skills. While nothing compares with the hands-on experience of taking a class, you can learn a lot about how to make jewelry by watching expert videos. At the very least, you can explore new techniques and decide which skills you want to incorporate into your own work.
Take a Jewelry Making Class
The nation’s best jewelry schools are located throughout the country and offer programs of varying lengths and costs. We have compiled a list of some of the best on our blog.
Celebrate “Happy Mistakes”
Remember that jewelry making is a learned skill. You are going to have to spend some time practicing techniques and experimenting with colors, textures and designs. Not every piece you create is going to be a masterpiece or a big seller. Don’t let that prevent you from trying new things and continuing to expand your tastes. If you are learning how to work with wire I suggest going to a home-improvement store and buying cheap wire rather than sterling silver. You can hone your wire-wrapping skills on the cheap stuff. You can get this 20 gauge wire for under $5.00 on Amazon.
Follow these simple tips on how to make jewelry and watch as your creativity flourishes, you perfect new skills and your hobby takes on new meaning. Remember to prepare your space, look for inspiration wherever you can find it and don’t be too hard on yourself when things don’t go as planned. Enjoy the process of creating and see where it takes you.
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