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Why buy jewelry clasps when you can make your own?
Making your own jewelry findings can add interest and a special touch to your work. It can even save you money and fetch you a higher profit at sale time.
I have been making handcrafted jewelry for a long time, and more often than not I make my own jewelry findings. I enjoy adding the special touch to my work, and I find that I can save a lot by making my own rather than buying them premade. It takes a little time to get used to doing it, but it can really add a special touch and save some money too.
To make your own jewelry findings you will need a few materials. You’ll need to have some wire in colors that will compliment or match the rest of the jewelry piece. I suggest making your findings from 16 or 18 gauge wire, since it’s strong but still flexible. You may want to use heavier wire for some applications. In addition to wire, you’ll also need flat needle nosed pliers, round and half-round pliers, and a mandrel or dowels. Having a wire jig with various size pegs can also make things easier.
One of the most common jewelry findings you’ll make will be a hook clasp. This is just a hook and a ring, and is best for necklaces and chokers. To make the hook, take about 2 ½ – 3 inches of wire and bend it in half. Press the wire so the pieces lay neatly side-by-side. Use your round or half round pliers to turn each end of the wire into a loop. Now take the long folded part of the wire and bend it down to form the hook. Make sure you hold it with your flat pliers to prevent twisting, and leave enough space for the hook to slide over a loop. This hook will attach to one end of the necklace, and a jump ring will go on the other.
Another type of jewelry finding you can make is a bar and loop, which is often used on necklaces and bracelets. Again, use about 2 ½ to 3 inches of wire. Bend the wire to make sort of a squared-off “U”, with the bottom measuring about ½ to ¾ inches. Now bend each of the ends toward the center. Where they meet in the middle, you want to then bend them down so they run vertically side-by-side. Your finding should now look like a “T”. Now use your round pliers to make each end into a loop, and attach the bar to one side of your piece. Make a hoop out of wire that is just large enough to angle the bar into, and attach it to the other end of the necklace or bracelet.
You can also make your own ear wires. If you have any French hook earrings, you can use them as a guide to get the right size and shape. I always keep one of my broken earrings around to use as a guide. You can use pliers and a mandrel or dowel to curve and shape the hook from your wire, then add a loop to the end for hanging your decorative work. If you have a wire jig, you can set up different sized pegs and use them as the guide for forming your earwires. If you make your own hook earrings, be sure to tell your customers what type of metal you used so they can be aware of possible allergic reactions.
I have found that buying a roll of wire for $3.00-4.00 and making my own jewelry findings is far more cost effective than buying them already made. Obviously you can’t make your own spring or lobster claw clasps, but you can make some nice clasps and ear wires. I can make about 4 clasp sets or 2 pair of ear wires from each foot of wire.
Once you get the hang of making your own jewelry findings in the basic fashion, you can get really creative with them. I have made earrings where the wire that goes into the ear just keeps going, and I weave it into a design so each earring is one single piece. I have also shaped my hooks and bars with extra swirls and bends of wire to make them far more decorative. When you make your own jewelry findings like this, it adds and extra unique touch to your work. This added touch can make your items more desirable, and allow you to charge a higher price.
Take some time and learn how to make your own basic jewelry findings. Once you get the hang of it, you will be able to adapt them into more unique designs. If you get really good at it, you may even be able to sell your hand crafted jewelry findings to other people for use in their own projects.