How to Make Earrings From Recycled Materials

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Electronic components, designed to go inside computers and other devices, are often strikingly colorful and lovely to look at. Turn them into subtly geeky jewelry with a few simple steps and tools.

Earrings from electronic components
(Karen Tanenbaum)

Things You'll Need

  • Surplus electronic components
  • Jeweler's pliers
  • Jeweler's snips
  • 1 pair of earwires
Step 1

Sourcing components is the trickiest step. Look for an electronic supply or surplus store in your area or check eBay for larger lots. Search for capacitors, diodes, and resistors. Also look for small pieces of hardware that can act as beads: nuts, springs and washers.

Electronic components
Karen Tanenbaum
Step 2

You need a couple more conventional supplies as well: small jeweler's tools including round nose pliers and a wire snip, plus a pair of earwires. An extra set of pliers can be useful but is not required.

Jewelry making supplies
Karen Tanenbaum
Step 3

Snip off one of the two leads coming from the radial capacitor, as close to the base as you can. The wire can go flying when you snip, so try and point it down and away from your eyes. If the leads are long, trim the other one down to about half an inch.

Snip one of the leads
Karen Tanenbaum
Step 4

Use the round nose pliers to grab the other lead and bend it over to form a hook. Line up the end of the lead with the stump left from the trimmed one.

Bend the lead over
Karen Tanenbaum
Step 5

Fashion each end of the axial diode into a hook, and use it to connect the earwire to the purple capacitor. Start by trimming each lead to about half an inch with the wire snips. If the leads are very thick wire, you may want to trim less, since they are harder to bend as tightly.

Trim the leads
Karen Tanenbaum
Step 6

Grab the lead at the base and bend it sharply over, almost 90 degrees perpendicular.

Bend the lead over
Karen Tanenbaum
Step 7

Grasp the top of the lead and bend around the pliers to create a hook. It may take a couple of tries to get used a smooth bending motion -- it's mostly a trick of the wrist. Repeat to form a hook on the other end of the diode.

Make the hook
Karen Tanenbaum
Step 8

Pull the loop on the capacitor apart slightly and slide the diode on, then retighten. Open the other diode loop a bit and slide the earwire on.

Attach the components
Karen Tanenbaum
Step 9

Tighten all the hooks and loops with the pliers. Repeat the whole process for the second earring.

Tighten everything
Karen Tanenbaum
Step 10

Explore other creative ways to use components. With the axial components, you can trim the bottom lead off entirely, as with the two pairs in the middle here. Use additional jewelry findings, like jump rings, to group smaller components together. Nuts, bolts, and springs can act as additional accent pieces. See what catches your eye at the surplus store and experiment.

Experiment with different options
Karen Tanenbaum

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Tips & Warnings

  • When starting out, buy a couple extra pieces of each component so you have spares in case you break one or cut something too short.
  • Electronic components contain chemicals and metals that are not intended for a lot of human contact. Look for components where the leads are clean -- not corroded or rust. Never attempt to cut into the main body of the capacitors, diodes, or resistors. Wash your hands after handling lots of component parts and keep the parts away from children.
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