Saturday, August 6, 2011

Jewelry Making, Where to Start? A Beginner's Guide to Supplies

This is one of the very first jewelry items that I learned to make, and believe it or not, I made them from a kit I bought at Walmart, although the garnet beads are from an online supplier.

If you are like me and always wanted to try jewelry making, but are intimidated by all the tools and components, you don't need much more that some basic tools, findings, and beads to be on your way to discovering how to make your own wearable art.

First, you are going to need some basic tools, like this pliers set available from Fire Mountain Gems:

Any hobby or craft store should offer a 3-5 piece beginner's tool set for 20 dollars or less. You can buy more expensive implements, but I suggest buying ones in the middle price range- durable enough to last, but not an outrageous investment if you don't like jewelry making.

Now that you have the tools, what's next? The fun part, shopping for beads and findings. In the world of jewelry making, "findings" refers to the components used in jewelry making that are not beads, like clasps and ear wires. You might want to buy a kit, like this one here, so that you have everything you need for a complete project.

If you are like me and enjoy being able to mix and match beads and findings, your best bet is to head to the local craft or bead store and start looking in person. Bead Dazzled is a local bead shop in Nashville, offering a huge selection of beads and findings for your projects. They also offer classes and assistance with any questions you may have about purchasing beginner supplies. You can also browse displays of finished projects for inspiration. See for directions, classes, and hours. 

If you prefer to shop at the local craft store or online, make sure to pick up these basic findings. You can create almost anything on the beginner level with these supplies. Make sure to select everything in the same color to minimize your initial investment cost. When shopping for beads, start with a few different colors and sizes and add few metal decorative spacer beads. 

Basic Findings Shopping List:
-ear wires
-jump rings
-eye pins
-beading wire (fireline)
-crimp beads (you will need a crimping pliers)

I made these earrings to the right using gold-tone base metal findings. You can also find silver, bronze and copper findings in most craft stores and websites. If you are sensitive to metals, make sure to shop with a supplier where you can ask questions about the materials. Sterling silver is a good choice for those who cannot tolerate nickel alloys; however, it can be pricy. 

So, now you have your tools, findings, and beads. If you didn't buy a kit, where do you learn how to put this all together? You have several options, with the best being to take a class, so that you can see the techniques in person and ask questions. The bead store in Nashville, Bead Dazzled, offers classes.

Second, you can turn to the internet. There are many video tutorials on you tube and on supplier websites, like this video from Auntie's Beads

There are also books and magazines. This book is from Amazon, but check your library, too.

Finally, another fun source of materials is buying old and broken jewelry to harvest for parts. Watch estate sales, auctions, and mall clearance racks for that special something you could rescue. I hope you have fun starting the adventurous craft of jewelry making. Please follow us on Facebook, where we have many local jewelry designers happy to answer your questions:


  1. I didn't know there was such a thing as crimping pliers. I need some!!! I've been wondering why I can't get crimps to crimp right with regular pliers.

  2. There are 2 types, one where you crimp it in half and the turn and crimp again or one that does it all in one step. I got mine at hobby lobby for 7 dollars :)

  3. I enjoyed your post. I want to make jewelry but I have a certain style in mind. How do I learn how using the types of charms etc that I want and not waste money on beads that don't fit the vision I'm going for?