How to Make Bead Jewelry

by Adrienne Warber

If you enjoy jewelry and have an eye for matching beads, you may want to consider bead jewelry design. Beads come in a variety of materials from natural gemstones, wood and pewter to sterling silver. You can create classic pieces or modern artistic designs. This guide will teach you how to start making bead jewelry.

Items you will need

  • Bead jewelry design ideas
  • Sketchpad
  • Notebook
  • Beads
  • Jewelry components such as clasps, crimp beads or ear-wires
  • Jewelry wire cutters
  • Jewelry round-nose and flat-nose pliers
  • Crimping pliers
  • Wire
  • Stringing material such as beading wire, plastic cord or silk thread
Step 1

Draw your bead jewelry design ideas in a sketchpad. Whenever you have a design idea, record it in your sketchpad.

Step 2

Observe bead jewelry trends. Pay attention to the types of jewelry worn by people in your community and by celebrities. Write down your observations in a notebook so that you can refer to the notes during design sessions.

Step 3

Compile a list of the necessary bead jewelry making supplies. Obtain a jewelry supply catalog or research supplies on-line. A basic bead jewelry craft start up set includes the following - beads, beading wire, crimp beads, crimping pliers, sterling silver wire, flat-nose pliers and round-nose pliers.

Step 4

Learn about bead grades to shop smarter. Grade a beads are near perfect in color depth, shine, cut and lack flaws. Grade b beads are high quality with excellent color, shine and cut but may have a few flaws. Grade c beads and lower will be duller than higher grades and have some flaws. As the grade lowers, the beads are progressively more lackluster.

Step 5

Purchase your beads from a local bead shop. Most bead shops have jewelry making supplies and offer classes. Classes teach bead jewelry making techniques and often provide bonus supplies.

Step 6

Shop around for quality beads and jewelry supplies. Buy beads and jewelry supplies on-line and at craft shows to save money and find a variety of exotic beads, not found locally. Many on-line retailers offer discounts for bulk bead purchases.

Step 7

Choose a variety of bead types for jewelry projects. Beads are made from materials such as gemstones, bone, horn, glass, crystal, wood, sterling silver, gold, brass, copper or pewter.

Step 8

Use crimp beads to secure clasps on bead necklaces and bracelets in place of a knot. Crimp beads are the professional way to keep beads from sliding off of stringing material.

Step 9

Consider how beads match in each design in terms of color, shape and texture. Select beads that compliment or contrast with other beads in the piece without clashing.

Step 10

Have fun designing bead jewelry. Invite friends over to work on bead jewelry projects together. Make bead jewelry with your children who are old enough to enjoy beading. You can also use bead jewelry design as your personal time to relax. Have fun beading.

Tips

  • Look for inspiration in art at museums. Bring your sketchpad to draw any ideas that come to mind as you view art. Experiment with different types of stringing material such as beading wire, silk thread, leather cord or rubber cord. Reuse beads from discarded jewelry and vintage pieces. Look at thrift stores and flea markets for old jewelry with good beads. Keep beads organized in storage containers designed for jewelry. These containers have multiple small compartments for beads and components. You can find bead storage containers at jewelry supply stores. Invite friends and family to work on group bead jewelry projects. Older children often enjoy bead jewelry crafts.

Warnings

  • Keep beads and jewelry supplies out of the reach of small children because they can be a choking hazard. Wear protective glasses whenever you cut wire to prevent eye injuries.

Photo Credits

  • Adrienne Warber