The 11 Tools Every Jewelry Maker Needs

Jewelry making tools

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If you want to make necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings and more, you too will need a pair of flat nose pliers, plus a few other wire-wrapping tools. But before you drop a ton of money on a lot of equipment, you gotta know the basics. Here are my essentials tools that every jewelry maker needs.

1. Flat Nose Pliers

These will be your go-to. They’ll help you open jump rings, finish wire-wrapped ends and complete a multitude of other tasks you’ve yet to imagine. You may want to consider two pairs so you can grasp anything without leaving a crimp in the metal. Be sure to look for pliers that have a smooth surface between the jaws.

Earrings and pliers

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2. Round Nose Pliers

These will help you make wire loops and hoops, bends, clasps and jump rings. You’ll reach for them whenever you want to make a nice smooth curve.

3. Nylon Tipped Pliers

Learning how to bend wire takes some practice and you will inevitably get some kinks in your material. You can curse the gods…or you can reach for a pair of nylon tipped pliers. Simply grab one end of the wire, grip tightly with your pliers and pull your wire through to smooth it out.

Jewelry maker woman working in her store. pixelfit/Getty Images

4. Wire Cutters

You want these, and you want them to be good quality. There are a lot of cheap ones out there and they can wear out pretty quickly, especially when trying to cut thicker wire. Swanstrom and Lindstrom both make great pairs that you’ll have for years. Do future you a favor and make the investment.

Pro Tip If you’re cutting thin wire and don’t have any wire cutters, toenail clippers can be a great substitute. Trust me — it’s the best $3 you will ever spend in your jewelry-making life. Along with being cheap and easily accessible, they can get in very close to your work so you don’t have rough stray ends.

5. Flush Cutter

Cutting lots of wire for all those new wire-wrapping techniques you’re learning? Consider a flush cutter. You will use them the way that you would good regular wire cutters, but they magically never leave loose ends! But pay attention to the size of wire you’re cutting — flush cutters can only handle a specified guage (and you don’t want to ruin your pair by cutting something too thick. I’m speaking from experience).

Jewelry making

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6. Practice Material

You really don’t want to get spendy on silver or gold fill wire until you figure out what you’re doing. Copper wire or other base metal wire will help you get a feel for things without wasting your money on valuable metals.

7. Ruler

The most basic piece of jewelry equipment would be a standard ruler, and likely it’s something you already have. I prefer a graphing ruler because being able to see through it helps me visualize a little better.

8. Disk Punch

Do you want to cut circles, squares or even hearts, evenly and repeatedly? Look no further than a disk punch, a tool that will consistently produce identical shapes.

To use a disk punch, you simply sandwich a sheet of metal in between the two layers, insert the proper circle and hammer out a disk. I’ve found that a brass hammer works best due to the fact that it’s heavy enough to give you lots of extra power, yet soft enough that it will land a strong blow without a lot of bounce back. Again, price = ability to produce the same results and save you time.

9. Jeweler’s Saw

If your designs are relatively small and require lots of little, intricate cuts, turn to a jeweler’s saw. They give you the freedom to detail the work of a piece, and blades come in sizes that range in uses — from thin blades that barely part the metal to strong, thick blades that remove more metal.

Pro Tip When using a jeweler’s saw, use a lubricant to help keep your fingers safe from catches, reduce the chance of breaking a blade, and preserve the cutting edge. Just run your blade through a little before cutting and I promise an all-around smoother experience. Bur-Life is the lubricant you’ll find on my bench.

There are blade frames that are a standard size and ones with a deeper throat depth. The deeper one will allow you to make long cuts if you’re working with a long piece of metal or a larger piece. My small jeweler’s saw gets a lot more use than my rusty, old one. That’s because a smaller frame is easier to control, which is something to keep in mind if you decide to invest in one.

10. Wire

Wire comes in all different materials—sterling silver, gold-filled, rose gold, aluminum, copper to name a few—as well as sizes, or “gauges”. While it may sound counterintuitive, the higher the gauge number, the thinner the wire. Here are the three sizes you need in your jewelry toolkit.

24-gauge wire

This gauge will serve you well for projects that need a little extra strength or for beads that might have larger holes.

26-gauge wire

This wire will fit through most beads. It’s thin enough to make wire-wrapping easy peasy, but has enough heft to be secure. Just be careful not to crimp or bend it multiple times—it’s not that sturdy.

28- or 30-gauge wire

If you’ll be working with small precious stone beads, known for their teeny-tiny holes, you’ll need some extra-thin wire on hand. Just keep in mind that this wire isn’t the best choice for wire-wrapping those stones onto a bracelet (or any piece that will get jostled around) — it’s pretty delicate.

11. Your Imagination

Look around: You may be able to hack something you already own. Need to make a circle? Look in your pantry. Use a baseball bat instead of a mandrel or a marker to mark your metal before you cut. Pretty soon you’ll be noticing jewelry-making tools everywhere you look!

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38 Responses to “The 11 Tools Every Jewelry Maker Needs”

  1. Dorothea Weber

    I love your advise and honest directions. I’m just starting out, already have a bench. I want quality stuff. Thank you

  2. Alica Potter

    I found your post incredibly informative and helpful. Your post is a valuable resource for beginner and experienced jewelry makers looking to improve their craft. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and expertise on this topic.

  3. josw

    Im looking for this tool , if you know where i can buy this tool let me know , Its adjustable square to draw a bracelet after all links are assemble together flatten it and remove all the offset in edges making bracelet nice and square and straight .. its an adjustable square or rectangle …

  4. Yolanda Trullinger

    Your very informative, for one I wasn’t too sure on the wire gauges and you helped me with it. I’m just starting on my own with jewelry making. Thank you

  5. Earrings

    Thank you for sharing this helpful information about 11 Tools Every Jewelry Maker Needs. Not only can you learn about the tool, but you can also learn the fundamentals. This guide is really helpful in learning more about pliers and wires used in jewellery making. It’s ideal for newbies. Keep posting these types of blogs.

  6. Uellan

    What can you tell me about the clasps for bracelets and necklaces? Are there any silver ones that won’t tarnish?

    • Gregory Sloane-Bey


      I thought about your question and I’m going to try using fishing thread or a heavy duty string.

  7. Alii

    I have a workshop in Kenya I make silver jewelry ..I need to know and go beyond kenya

    • Alii

      I have a workshop in Kenya I make silver jewelry ..I need to know and go beyond kenya

    • Chris Spirocostas

      How do I measure ring size both ways? Someone’s finger or a ring already made!

  8. Teresa

    My dad dad I run I’ve been adding many beauty components to wit decorative wood, types of makeups and skincare and I’m concentrating on many jtypescof jewelry. I’ve made many Acrylic. Resin Epoxy..Leather several ideas ideas I had with, am looking forward t learning !

    • Carl coshow

      I’m looking into making metal bracelets. I’m going to hand craft the metal. Do they make machines that can bend metal strips that are thin and not vary wide?