Making a pearl bracelet for yourself allows you to customize the piece to fit your own taste, needs and budget. Jewelry making has become a popular hobby, so the items you need--pearls, clasps, wire and crimp beads--are available from a growing number of craft stores, specialty beading shops and online stores, in a range of styles and prices.
Things You'll Need
- Pearls or pearl-like beads
- Clasp or toggle set
- 2 crimp beads
- Beading wire
- Wire cutters
Select your materials. You will need to decide whether you want to make a fancy, expensive bracelet or a costume piece. Your price range and intended purpose for the bracelet will help make this determination. If you are spending a lot for a fancy piece, you could choose cultured pearls and would want to select a sterling silver or gold clasp and a high-quality wire to protect your investment. If your goal is simply to make a fun costume bracelet, you could choose from a variety of simulated pearls, and you would select less expensive clasp and wire. Another factor in selecting your clasp, wire and crimp beads will be the size of the pearls and the diameter of their holes. Smaller pearls would demand a finer wire; larger, heavier pearls would require stronger wire. Read the wire packaging to help determine which should be used for your project. Clasps should be chosen to fit the scale and purpose. For example, some toggles are quite decorative and could enhance a fancy bracelet.
Cut your wire so that it is long enough to fit the wrist of the wearer, plus add 6 inches of extra wire to allow for finishing. Too much is better than too little at this point; you can always cut off excess wire.
String the pearls on the wire. This should be fairly easy to do, but you will want to make sure the pearls are not sliding off one end while you are adding them on the other. Inexpensive clamps are available to hold one end of your bracelet, or you might devise your own method. When you think your bracelet is long enough, try it against the wearer's wrist, remembering to allow for the space the clasp will take. A piece that is too long could slip off the wrist.
When your bracelet has enough pearls, add a crimp bead at the loose end. Pass the wire through the ring for one half of the clasp and back through the crimp bead. Pass the wire back through several pearls and pull to tighten. Holding the wire taut, use the pliers to crimp the crimp bead. Cut the excess wire.
Repeat Step 4 to finish the other end. If you have been using a clamp, remove it. Add a crimp bead at the loose end. Pass the wire through the ring for the other half of the clasp or toggle and back through the crimp bead. Pass the wire back through several pearls and pull to tighten. Note that it is especially important to pull the wire tight on this side. Holding the wire taut, use the pliers to crimp the crimp bead. Cut the excess wire.
Tips & Warnings
- Depending on the size of pearl and the type of clasp selected, you may need several smaller beads before each crimp bead to allow the toggle to work properly.
- Some beaders advocate using "tornado tubes" instead of crimp beads, saying they are less prone to come loose.
- Wire and crimp beads are fairly inexpensive, so don't panic if you make a mistake (for instance, if your finished piece winds up too short or too long). Simply cut the wire or break the crimp bead and start again.
- When crimping, you'll need to use plenty of force, but don't overdo it. Crimp beads can break.
- When selecting clasps, some are better suited to use with bracelets. The new magnetic clasps might seem easy to close, but they could come apart easily if the bracelet gets caught on something.
- Photo Credit Photos by Melanie Gibbs
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