- 1 string of semi-precious bead stones (at least 12 inches long)
- 2 bead tips with double loop or hook
- 1 package #6 or #5 silk cord with built-in needle
- Clear nail polish
- Needle-nose tweezers
- Small chain-nosed (flat) pliers or needle-nosed pliers
- 1 folded bath towel
- 2 split rings, about 7 mm
- 1 clasp in 2 parts, or 1 clasp and 1 large closed jump ring
Semi-precious stones are readily available and affordable, and can range in price and quality from semi-precious rubies or emeralds, to fresh water pearls, to polished and cut minerals like quartzite and chalcedony. The easiest way to make your own jewelry using semi-precious stones is to buy predrilled beads. These can be strung, wired or attached to chain to make any sort of jewelry you like. Learn to make one simple thing well, and you can expand your skills to other pieces and techniques.
Choose your semi-precious beads. These are available predrilled in many sizes and varieties, and are in craft stores, some specialty jewelry or bead stores and many sites online. Pay attention to drill hole size, as you will want to make sure it is slightly larger than your stringing silk. If the holes are too big, they will not hang cleanly on the string, and if too small, you won’t be able to double the string in them. Choose a length of silk string to match or contrast your beads. Standard carded cord comes in a package with its own needle, in 6.5-foot lengths, plenty for this project. The #1 silk is thinnest, with #10 being very thick. If you like, use nylon or another strong cording.
Unwrap and unravel the bead cord, and wet it through with warm water. Pull it straight with light tension by pinching it between your fingers, which straightens the cord and stretches it slightly.
Cut your beads off their string and place them on a table on a folded towel to keep them from rolling away. Take your bead tips and thread through the first one, starting on the side with the loops or hook, and pull it through until it is a couple of inches from the end of the cord. Tie a standard double knot that will not pull through the bead tip. Place a dot of nail polish on the knot to secure it, and trim the tail of the knotted cord. String on your semi-precious beads, pulling the needle all the way through each time. If your beads are graduated (going from small to large and then back to small) then string them in order, or arrange them on the towel if they are different colors, sizes or cuts.
When all your semi-precious beads are strung, take your other bead tip and string it on, threading it from the side opposite the loops or hook. Using your tweezers to make the knot snug against the bead tip, tie another double knot that will not slip through the bead tip, and dot it with polish to secure the knot. Trim off the remaining cord with the needle, which you can use for another project.
Close the bead tip by squeezing it shut with your pliers, if it is a clam-shell tip with double loops. If it has a hook, bend the hook gently back toward the bead tip so that it closes. (If you want, you can secure the bead tip closed with a tiny dot of super glue.)
Open your first split ring by prizing it apart with one tip of your tweezers. A split ring is like the split ring that attaches keys to most key rings, and it is more reliable than an open jump ring. Holding your slit ring open, slide the double loop or hook end of your bead tip and rotate the split ring until it snaps closed again. Repeat on the other end of your bead strand, placing the other split ring through the other loop or hook.
Attach your clasp to one split ring, using the same technique. If your clasp comes in two parts, like a magnetic clasp, attach one part to each split ring. If you have only a clasp part, you can fasten it to the split ring, or you can buy a larger closed jump ring to act as the other part of the clasp.
If this is your first project, you will want to buy the beads in a store so that you can hold them in your hand and see what you are getting. It is much easier to notice drill hole sizes and stringing cord diameter in the store, and you can go back there if things don’t fit.
You can make more professional-looking jewelry by using quality sterling or gold findings, or metal rings, bead tips and clasps. Unlike filled or coated metals, the precious metals will not fade and have to be replaced, but can be cleaned as needed.