I created this list of must-have jewelry making supplies for beginners to go along with the many jewelry making tutorials on Moms & Crafters. Please note: this post contains affiliate links (which means I earn a small commission off your purchase.) You do not need to buy the product I linked to – it is primarily to give you a feel of the market, and show you what I’m talking about. Explore various package sizes, materials, etc to find what works best for you.
One of my primary reasons for creating this list was the realization that my crafts might be expensive, without needing to be. Meaning, if you buy each supply for each craft, in a package of 100, to make only one, it’s not very cost-efficient (unless you’re making them for a party or class setting). However, if you have the basics handy and only need to get the few “special” supplies for that project, each one can cost pennies!
How to use this list of must-have jewelry making supplies for beginners:
This post is not a tutorial for making jewelry – it is simply a guide to jewelry making supplies for beginners, to help you get started. Since I started with supplies, and then self-taught, I decided to create it this way. It is also not for those looking for elaborate beading projects using seed beads, or metalwork, as those are more advanced. This is more for general jewelry making and beading.
I DO have a few tutorials on here, in addition to my many jewelry making crafts, that can get you started with learning basic skills. I’ll link to them below, where I list the supplies. I hope to eventually bring in more “back to basics” jewelry crafts as they come along, so make sure that you subscribe for updates! (You’ll get a weekly digest of new posts, including lots of simple but fun crafts, and some friendly parenting posts. I do jewelry posts regularly – you should be seeing them at least once or twice a month.)
Regardless, I’ve written a few words about the use for each supply so that you can get started teaching yourself how to make jewelry.
This list is NOT an extensive list. The world of jewelry making supplies is massive. My advice is to start with the basics, and to take it from there. Once you get started, you’ll see what you like to do, which types of jewelry making crafts you’d like to make, and you’ll want to extend your repertoire of supplies.
Basic tools for jewelry making:
The tools are the products you use to manipulate. They are literally tools, though you should look for ones that are designed for jewelry, as they are more delicate, for finer work.
- Round nose pliers – I use these to form loops, and together with another pair of pliers to pry loops, rings, and chains open.
- Chain nose pliers – Used for bending, and prying things open, plus crimping.
- Wire cutters – Cut wires, chains, cord, rings, and more.
They come in a massive variety of price ranges. I would recommend buying mid-range tools (such as the ones linked above), and only going for the very high end ones if you feel you need them at a later point. You can also start with a tool set (which is what I did) that can come with some bonuses (such as a set of tweezers for picking up beads) that aren’t otherwise necessary.
Building blocks: basic findings for jewelry making:
“Findings” generally refer to all the metal bits and pieces that make up your jewelry. Another word is “components”, which often refers to the less necessary ones (like links or spacer bars). If you’re just starting out, stick with the basics, but maybe treat yourself to one or two “cool ones” to get your creativity flowing.
You can get each of these in a variety of metals (silver plated, sterling silver, silver filled, gold filled, gold plated, brass… the list goes on!) and styles, but I’ve linked to the basics. I’d recommend getting them in both gold plated/tone and silver plated/tone, or choosing one of those to stick with.
- Headpins – These are building blocks in projects such as my snowman earrings, bauble rings, and more. Thicker ones just need to be looped at the end, while thinner ones are for wrapping. Pay attention to length as well.
- Eye pins – I normally make these myself, from headpin trimmings or wires. They have a loop on one end to get you started.
- Crimp beads and tubes – these are tiny metal beads that hold things in place. They are great for a huge variety of jewelry making projects – including finishing off bracelets and necklaces, and my beaded pacifier clips. They are also used to hold beads mid-strand in “invisible necklace” type crafts. I like to use crimp covers as well, and you’ll find them in many of my projects, but they are not a must.
- Jump rings – these come in various sizes measured in millimeters and are used to connect things. You can buy fancy, twisted ones too. I use those as decorative links. Plain ones I rarely buy, and often make out of wire. If you are looking to make your jewelry making star easier, buy a pack with a few sizes.
- Wire – While I primarily use these for wire wrapping pieces such as this pendant or this bracelet, it’s also great for making basic findings. Wire is measured in gauge, with a higher gauge being thinner easier to work with, but lower being more durable. I would start off with 20 gauge if you plan to make jump rings and eye pins, and 24 gauge if you’ll be wrapping.
- Earrings – These are the earrings pieces that turn a dangle or cabochon into an earring. They range from lever backs, to fish hooks, to studs for gluing and for hanging. If you plan to glue anything smooth, I highly recommend using E6000 glue.
- Necklaces and bracelets: For these you’ll need clasps that come in various styles. Start with spring ring or lobster claw. Eventually, you might want to explore more decorative options that can transform a piece. My favorites are toggle clasps. It’ll attach to a jump ring or a chain.
- Rings: I like to make rings using a ring base, either with punches, loops, or a flat pad for gluing.
- Pendants: To turn something pretty into a pendant, you can use a jump ring, but it’s much nicer to use a bail. In my pendant I used a bail that snaps right on. Other options include bails that glue on, or that have a little screw to put them into a partially-drilled bead. You can also get a pinch bail that turns a top-drilled stone into a pendant.
- Finishing it – If you’re working with cord (below) you’ll want to finish it off with cord tips so that you can attach it to clasps.
Strings, Chains, and Cords for beginner jewelry making:
While you may be able to do without most of these, you should definitely start with one. Choose if you prefer strung beads, and then pick a string. If you prefer pieces that can look “real” and sophisticated, use chain. If your style is more trendy and colorful, go for cords.
- Strings – these are used for threading beads. Which you’ll need will depend on what type of project you’re making. My favorite is tiger tail for its strength and durability. If you’re stringing pearls and such, you might prefer silk thread.
- Chains – are used to string a pendant, or as spacers between beads on a necklace, bracelet, earrings… You can also use it as a main decorative element in the piece itself. I use a one inch bit as the other half of my clasp on bracelets and necklaces, to make them adjustable. For that, I use cable chain with open loops. For other projects, you can get chain in a huge variety of finishes and styles.
- Cords – I use these as decorative elements to add a little texture to a piece. These include leather cord, satin cord (rat tail), twine, and practically every texture and color imaginable. Start with a couple of your favorites, and use them as a focal element in your craft. Some examples of usage include these heart bracelets, this leather chain bracelet, and this faux gemstone bracelet.
Basic beads for jewelry making:
Beads are a huge tripping point for jewelry makers. I hoard beads. I use them in crafts other than jewelry, such as these water bottle hang tags, these cork magnets, and these Tetris magnets.
I will be following up with another post next Friday (here it is) that will navigate the world of beads. Stay tuned!
I will also feature some books and kits for beginner jewelry making in a follow up post.
Do you have any questions about jewelry making supplies for beginners, or any techniques? Got a project you’d like to me to teach? Comment below with your questions!