The photos above show earring dangles made with typical beads from our pages, before trimming the headpin and making the loop.

Tools Needed

Chain-nose or round-nose jewelry pliers
Wire cutter

Note: the following items are included in the Starter Kit.
To get a starter kit,  go to Beads by Mail.

Findings Needed for Each Pair of Earrings

2 headpins
2 ear wires for pierced ears, or clip-with-loop finding for non-pierced ears, available in surgical steel with gold or silver plating, sterling silver, 18k gold fill, 14k gold.


Experiment with different sizes and weights of beads.
Mix colors, finishes, shapes.
Combine semiprecious, metal or enamel, beads and glass beads.
In other words, play!

Making the Earring

A dangle earring consists of a headpin with beads placed on it in a pleasing combination of colors and shapes, attached to an ear finding such as a shepherd hook or a clip with a loop. It should not be too long or too heavy for comfort.

(Many people have allergies to some of the metals in the alloys in findings. You can obtain plastic, precious metal, or non-allergenic findings.)

When you like your design, you turn a loop in the top of the headpin with the pliers and attach it to the ear wire. This step takes about 30 seconds.

Step by Step

1. Arrange your beads on the headpin. Start with only 3 or 4 beads. You are not supposed to fill the headpin. Earring length is an individual preference, but for this learning session, work with shorter ones.

2.When you like your design, take the wire cutter and snip off the excess headpin, but leave about a half-inch above the top bead. See Figure 1.
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Basic Jewelry Design Instructions
Instructions for Basic Jewelry Making Provided by

Beads by Mail

How To Make Drop or Dangle Earrings

Many years ago I paid $55 for three 2-hour jewelry lessons. We used up most of the 2 hours picking beads to use in our jewelry.

But that was OK because the actual teaching and learning took almost no time at all. Basic jewelry making is really easy to learn. Children (under supervision) do especially well with it (age 7 and up).

The classes were from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM, not my most creative hours, and I had to drive 40 minutes, find a parking space, and walk to the classroom.

The most important skill I learned was to relax my mind and my body while making my jewelry. Jewelry making should be quiet, relaxing, and meditative.

Thanks to the magic of the Internet, you'll learn more than I did, at your own speed, without ever having to leave your home -- for FREE!

Just follow these instructions to become an expert jewelry "fabricator."
Check out Beads by Mail for more FREE How-To Pages!
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Earrings You Can Make in 5 Minutes or Less!
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Beads by Mail Online Basic Jewelry Design Instructions©Beads by Mail Online 1999. All rights reserved
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Learning can be fun.  Learn about beading and design. How to make earrings. Easy, basic earrings you can make quickly.
Thought you would enjoy this photo ...
You can make these types of earrings with typical beads from sampler kits.
3.Now take your pliers in your dominant hand, and hold the headpin and beads in your other hand while pushing down lightly on the top bead so it's out of the way.
Grasp the end of the headpin wire tightly with the pliers. See Figure 2. 

4.Here's the most important step: relax while you twist your wrist slowly in a circular motion until the end of the headpin forms a small loop, while holding the headpin and beads stationary. Your goal is to turn a small loop that closes securely so the ear wire won't slip out. See Figure 3.
6.Don't worry if your loop is not completely round. It doesn't have to be. When you wear the earring, this loop will be almost invisible. People will see the beads.

Now with your pliers in your dominant hand and the ear wire in the other hand, open the loop on the ear wire by moving the pliers in one direction and your other hand in the opposite direction. You only need to open the loop enough to fit the headpin wire on it. Never pry or pull a loop open -- it is almost impossible to close it properly.

Hang the headpin loop on the open ear wire loop. See Figure 4.
9.Close the ear wire loop by squeezing it with the pliers to return the loop back to dead center, closing the circle. Test your work to make sure the headpin won't come off the ear wire. That's it! Make another one, and you have your pair!
You might find it useful to practice making loops on some scrap wire.
Jump Rings

Jump rings are most useful tiny objects. They make connections between components of your jewelry. Just look in your jewelry box or at the costume jewelry counter of your favorite store for examples of the utility of jump rings. 

You can attach a jump ring to the loop of the earwire to enable you to hang several headpins from one ear wire, which you can't do without the jump ring. There are hundreds more applications.

Charm bracelets could not exist without jump rings.

Jump rings come in many shapes: round, oval, kidney, triangle, square, and more. There's a jump ring for every jewelry design idea.

You can get jump rings in base metal, plated metal, and precious metal.

The trick with a jump ring is to open it without distorting it out of its original perfect circle (or oval or whatever) shape. The best way to do this is by gripping the ring tightly on each side of the opening with a pliers. That's why it's good to have 2 pairs of pliers. You can grip the ring on one side with your thumb and index fingertip, but you won't have the exact control you need.
Step by Step

1.Pick out a perfectly shaped jump ring, preferably round, to work on. For practice, choose a larger ring.

2.Holding a pliers in each hand, place the pliers on each side of the ring, close to the opening of the ring. Make sure you grip each side of the jump ring really tightly.

3.Then press one pliers away from you -- slowly -- while you bring the other pliers toward you. As you move the ends of the ring, avoid twisting or pulling them apart sideways. The ring opens. You needn't open it very far. Do not pull to the side as you open the ring. (For some reason, I always bring my right hand toward me and press my left away from me. It really doesn't matter as long as the movement is smooth.)

To close the ring, just perform the same movements in the opposite directions.

Make sure the ends of the ring line up perfectly without overlapping and without a space. The ends should just barely touch eachother. You don't want the item inside the jump ring to slip out.
Occasionally you will have to discard a jump ring becuase it was poorly manufactured or because you don't like the way you handled it. Never try to "rescue" a jump ring that is out of true. Let it go ...

Earring Project, One Hour (approximately)

These large (1.5") hoops have 2 rows of 22 holes so you can "weave" 2 rows of beads on each hoop. The example has Swarovski 6mm beads in rose pink, attached by threading a headpin through a hole from the wrong side, adding 2 beads, and bending the headpin back through the next hole. I skipped some holes because I added 2 beads to each headpin. You need strong earlobes or very lightweight beads for this design. But it is super dramatic, looks stunning on anyone, and can be designed for day (casual beads) or evening (crystal & semiprecious). You could also thread the beads with wire or heavier thread such as waxed hemp and larger hole beads. You could use very small beads, with larger holes, similar to some of the glass beads we sell, for a casual look. The design possibilities are many. The inside is concave and conceals the wire or thread. The post is cast as one with the rest of the earring. Goldplated perforated hoop, one pair $2.75. Clutches not included. Available at Beads by Mail.
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Making a Bracelet or Necklace

These instructions are for a bracelet strung on TigerTail (TT). TT hangs well but you need to conceal it, since it is not visually appealing. On the other hand, it won't shrink or stretch as do some other stringing materials such as silk or cotton.

Decide the type of "look" you want -- conservative, funky, elegant, sophisticated, naive ... you can achieve all these and more with clever bead choices!

Next, you string the beads onto the TT and add crimps and clasp. The actual stringing and finishing should take less than 10 minutes for a single-strand necklace or bracelet.

To make a necklace you use the same techniques. You'll find the length of a necklace can vary and does have an effect on the look of the necklace. Your jewelry can look elegant, funky, conservative, sophisticated, naive ... it just depends on the design.

For an instant bracelet, try using memory wire. After you string on the beads, it simply snaps around your wrist, and you don't need a clasp. You can design some wonderful effects with memory wire. Call us 781-293-4475 or email (see links at end) to learn more about memory wire.

Step by Step

As mentioned above, selecting beads can take as much time as you want. Perfection is not the goal, since anything you make can be taken apart and redone.

1.Arrange the beads on a bead board or non-roll surface such as a towel. You don't need to cut the TT off the spool yet.

2.Start stringing at one end. When all beads are on the TT, hold the piece on your wrist to check the length. It's easy to make changes at this point.

To add the clasp on one end, string a crimp bead (a tiny silver or gold tube), push the TT through the hole on one part of the clasp, and push the TT through the crimp bead and back through a couple of beads. See Figure 5.

Slide the clasp down so it is close to the crimp but not right on top of it.

Squeeze the crimp flat with a chain-nose pliers. Squeeze tightly. Make sure the TT can't slip out of the crimp.

Now, cut the TT, leaving about 4" of extra TT. Attach the crimp and spring ring the same as on the first end. This will be a bit trickier as you must avoid having empty TT showing between the last bead and the other part of the clasp. Work slowly, moving the spring ring down until it is close to the last bead. There should be a little "play" between the last bead, the crimp, and the ring. Squeeze the crimp tightly.
Trim off the extra TT. Done! Wear your bracelet proudly.

You can order a 30-foot spool of TigerTail for $7.50. Since the average necklace is about 24 inches long, 30 feet would suffice for at least a dozen necklaces.

For a bracelet, you should use a clasp that you can fasten with one hand, such as a lobster claw clasp (unless you own one of those bracelet hook gizmos). The clasp hooks into a small (10mm or so) split ring, which is like your key ring, only tiny. It is much better for a clasp than a jump ring which might come open from the strain of wear.

Bracelets and rings get the hardest wear compared with necklaces, pins, and earrings.
So, now you want to learn more, or at the very least get some great beading supplies? Just Click Here to go to Beads by Mail.  You will find a large selection of Beads, Kits, Tools, vintage, bargains, and more!

(Jane's website has gone to the cosmos)

Thanks to Jane Shafrin, of Beads by Mail, for sharing this article with us!
Get an education in jewelry making and design.  Make your own beaded earings.
Thinking about making some jewelry? Want to know the metaphysical meanings of some of the stones? Click Here to go to the Crystal Pages!