There are a ton of reasons for why people like to make their own jewelry. Maybe your tastes are on the pricier side, and you’re looking to save some cash. Or perhaps you can never find the right accessories to match your style. Or maybe, just maybe, you keep walking past your local bead shop and are dying to dive in and play.
But knowing where to begin can be super overwhelming. After all, there are so many jewelry-making tools to buy and methods to learn. If you’re feeling a bit lost, don’t fret: this rundown gives you the basic essentials that belong in every beginner’s jewelry kit. Once you have ’em, you’ll be a beading #boss in no time!
1. Crimping Pliers
For basic stringing, the first tool you’ll need is crimping pliers. They come in three sizes — mini, standard and maxi — and they’re used to crimp beads and tubes to construct your jewelry, making bracelets and necklaces super strong and secure.
If it’s your first time using them, stick to standard-size crimping pliers. And don’t be afraid to invest in the more expensive brands — while they won’t easily wear out like cutting tools, if you’re using a low-quality brand your crimping won’t be as neat or as secure as it should be for a quality piece of jewelry.
2. Wire Cutters
These are a must-have when working with wire. There are a ton of different varieties, but beginners usually start with a flush cutter, as they’re great for cutting craft wire and hard wire, like headpins. Just note that they can only handle specific gauges, so you’ll need to pay attention and possibly purchase a more heavy-duty cutter if the project calls for it.
3. Beading Wire
Beading wire is flexible and strong. It’s made of individual fine strands of stainless steel wire that are twisted together and given a sturdy nylon coating. You can get it in a ton of variations — a different numbers of strands, widths, metallic finishes, colors, etc — but go ahead and grab what’s cheap when starting out. We like a 7 strand 0.018″ to 0.021″ wire in whatever finish you like best.
Crimp beads and tubes go hand-in-hand with your pliers; they’re essentially the construction and connection points in your jewelry (not so much for decoration). To crimp, simply string a bead or tube onto your wire and use the crimping pliers to compress it into place, securing the crimp so you can begin beading.
You can easily tell crimping beads and tubes apart: the beads are round while the tubes are like little cylinders. Newbies should try tubes before beads — they tend to be stronger, sturdier and neater.
At last, we’ve made it to the fun stuff! There are no set rules when it comes to buying beads, so feel free to go wild here! That said, there are a few things to keep top of mind:
Buy Different Sizes
Make sure to start with beads in different shapes and sizes. It’s good to have a few small spacer beads and medium-sized beads for the body of your designs. Then add some larger beads for a focal point (or two)!
Variety Is Your BFF
The more you make, the sooner you’ll discover your own ~jewelry voice~ and be drawn to beads that are larger, smaller, rustic, chunky, geometric… anything! Before you get there though, you have to experiment. So stock your kit with a wide variety of options until you find your own #aesthetic.
Experiment With Different Clasps
There are a ton of jewelry clasp designs, and each one adds something different to your piece. Play around with each type and choose which looks best (and which is most conducive for your project).
Try Different Methods
Beading is just the beginning of your jewelry-making career! While it’s a good starting point (because the only technique you need is crimping), consider the jewelry world at your fingertips. Try wirework, bead weaving, even working with metal to find the craft that’s right for you.