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Jewelry Finishing Techniques

by Christina Walker

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If you like making your own jewelry, you know that you need a good way to finish your projects. Whether you plan to wear your handmade jewelry yourself or you plan to sell it, the ends of bead strings need to be strong as well as attractive. Here are three jewelry finishing techniques for your necklaces, bracelets, and anklets.

Jewelry Finishing:

  1. Crimp beads: There are two basic types of crimp beads you can use with beading wire: tube-shaped sterling silver crimp beads and round crimp beads made of base metal. Tube-shaped crimp beads are the easiest to use, especially for beginners. Either type can be used in place of bead tips or in addition to one to secure the end knot. You will need crimping pliers, which bend the bead into the proper shape to secure the knot.

    How to Use Crimp Beads

    • Slide the crimp bead onto your beading wire and loop the end of the wire back through the bead; this will leave a loop on one end for the clasp that will hold the two ends of the necklace or bracelet together.

    • Place the crimp bead in the second hole of the crimping pliers, the one closest to the joint of the pliers, and close the pliers. Because of the shape of this hole, the crimp bead will curl around the wire.

    • Move the crimp bead to the first hole of the pliers to finish rounding the bead.

    • Trim one of the tails of the beading wire and tuck it under the beads of the necklace or bracelet, and then attach a clasp to the loop on the other side of the crimp bead.

  2. Bead tips/clam shell findings: Bead tips are popular because they're fairly easy to use and don't require any special tools. Also known as a clam-shell finding, a bead tip closes like a clam shell with a hook sticking out to catch the bead tip on the other end of the necklace or bracelet.

    Use to Use Clam Shell Findings

    • Start by tying several over-hand knots on top of each other near the end of your beading cord or wire; slide the bead tip down the other end of the cord so the clam shell opening faces the knot.

    • Cut the extra cord on the other side of the knot so no cord will be sticking out of the bead tip.

    • Push the clam-shell finding to the end of the cord; the knot should be inside the clam shell.

    • Using flat-nosed pliers, close the clam shell around the knot. Before closing it, you may choose to add a drop of jeweler's glue to help secure the knot.

    • Continue with the beads and charms for the jewelry as planned. When you are ready for a bead tip for the other end of the cord, slide the bead tip on first and then tie the knots.

  3. Easy bead knotting: An old and respected jewelry-making technique, knotting is used in lots of beaded jewelry. Pearl strings and fine jewelry usually have knots between each pearl, gem, or bead to prevent them from rubbing each other; knotting also keeps the beads from flying everywhere if the string breaks. If you're new to knotting, try this easy method before moving on to the traditional knotting technique.

    How to Use the Easy Knotting Method

    • Choose what type of cord you'll use. Silk and nylon are the two most commonly used threads for knotted jewelry; silk is the more traditional choice, but it can fray and snag. Unlike the traditional knotting method, which uses only one cord, the easy knotting method requires that two strands of cord be put through each bead, so a thinner cord is best. For example, use two strands of size two if you have 6 mm beads.

    • Tie the two strands together and start your necklace or bracelet with a bead tip, inserting both strands through the bead tip and proceeding as usual.

    • String on a bead and tie an over-hand knot immediately after.

    • Continue to create the jewelry as normal and finish with another bead tip.

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