Pro-Tip: Use one cutter for metal, so you always have one that's sharp.

10 Essential Items Every Novice Jewelry Maker Needs

Jewelry making can be both fun and rewarding, and is something that pretty much anyone can do… so long as you have the right tools. Whether you plan on designing a full line, or just want to jewelry for yourself and friends, we have a checklist of all the essentials that you need to have at your disposal before you get started.

Cyrus headshot by Cyrus Nemani,
Over a decade of designing and consulting for jewelry brands, 
partner at Bella Findings/Gempacked.com

1. Cutters

Cutters are probably the tools you’ll go through the most because basically every jewelry project requires them. Whether it is stringing, wire wrapping, or even casting, you’ll need a trusty pair or two to get it done. It is a good idea to have at least two sets of cutters–one for soft things like thread, and one for harder things like wire, chains and metals. Having a dedicated cutter for soft items will make touching up your jobs easier, and they will stay sharper for longer. When your new cutters eventually become dull, you can start using them for things that require more force and less precision.

Pro-Tip: Use one cutter for metal, so you always have one that's sharp.
Pro-Tip: Use your older cutter on metal, and your newer cutter on thread. This way you’ll always have one that’s sharp.

2. Pliers

Pliers, are pretty straight forward all purpose tools. The type of pliers that you need depend on the specific type of design. For example, if you are doing wire wrapping chains, you will need a round nose and a flat nose. If you want to read more on wire wrapping, we have other dedicated guides for them here. When you visit GemPacked, we can guide you toward the ones that will best suit your needs and budget.

The tools you will need: A Wire Cutter, Round Nose Plier and Flat Nose Plier
Some all purpose tools you will need: Wire Cutter, Round Nose Plier and Flat Nose Plier

3. Super Glue

Super glue is essential for stringing jobs and can be a lifesaver when doing minor repairs. Super glue generally dries clear and sets within around 1 minute, but can cause problems if not applied properly. For example, if you use too much on thread or leather, it may dry cloudy and white or make the area brittle. Anyone who has made jewelry can also relate to having their fingers stuck together (hint: acetone or nail polish remover works wonders). Experience is key so you end up using the right amount, and only in the places that you need it.

Super glue holds knots in place at the ends of necklaces and bracelets.
Super glue holds knots in place at the ends of necklaces and bracelets.

4. Measuring Tape

Jewelry making is all about proportions, so measuring tape is absolutely essential. You need to keep track of spacing, and ensure that the final lengths of your pieces come out as you envisioned. Good numbers to remember are that standard lengths necklaces for women are around 16-18 inches, and bracelets are usually 6.75 to 7.5 inches.

5. Caliper

We use measuring tape for finished pieces, but calipers are best for measuring the dimensions of individual parts. Calipers are either digital or analog, and usually measure in millimeters, or inches. These are great for reordering the parts you need like jump rings or beads.

Measuring pearls and ciamond caps with an electronic caliper
Measuring pearls and diamond caps with an electronic caliper

6. Thread, cord, or wire

The types of beads and parts you get depend on what you use to hold everything together. If you are a novice jewelry maker, stringing on stainless steel wire like Softlex is a great way to make your first design. It requires the least amount of effort to start and end your piece, but there is less flexibility in the types of styles you can make. Many types of findings work best on thread, other parts work best with wire and leather.  For example, bar clasps work best with thread because it is softer and more flexible than wire. If you are interested in wire wrapping designs, we have a few tutorials on how to choose the right wire for you, and you can read more here.

https://www.gempacked.com/blog/wire-wrapping-101-choosing-wire-material-and-metal-color/

https://www.gempacked.com/blog/wire-wrapping-101-what-gauge-wire-should-i-use/

https://www.gempacked.com/blog/wire-wrapping-101-should-i-use-soft-half-hard-or-hard-wire/

A few different kinds of thick leather and nylon cord.
A few different kinds of thick leather and nylon cord.
Spools of different color silk thread for beading and stringing.
Spools of different color silk thread for beading and stringing.

7. Findings

“Findings” is the term used to describe basically any of the parts that go into making your jewelry. This includes jewelry components, such as clasps, jump rings, or semi-finished items like chain by foot and plain earrings. Findings come in all shapes and sizes but you’ll find yourself using similar items when you are creating your jewelry line. Gempacked makes it easy to narrow down your options, even if you don’t know the exact name of what you are looking for. You can navigate to the type of item you want based on your design and narrow down the choices by size, shape, and metal type. Once you know the types of items you regularly work with, making the same items in the future will be much easier going forward.

Sterling Silver, Gold Filled Clasps with Diamonds and Different Colors
Sterling Silver, Gold Filled Clasps with Diamonds and Different Colors

8. Beads

Beads come in all kinds of materials, shapes, and sizes. How you tie everything together comes down to how you envision your line as a whole. For example, smaller beads are great for making layered designs and large beads are best as centerpieces or to make a statement.  Since there are so many choices, it is also best to narrow down based on a few criteria and go from there.

A few different types of gemstone beads.
A few different types of gemstone beads.

9. A Tidy Workspace

It is also important to not neglect the space where you will be doing all of your work. You will need to have a space where you can both design and assemble your pieces. They don’t necessarily have to be the same physical location–you can design anywhere inspiration hits you. Whether it’s in your studio or in a coffee shop, as long as you have a way to put your ideas on paper and come back to it later, that is a great way to start. As for the actual assembly space, the goal is to have an easy process for setting up and maintaining a lot of bits, bobbles, and tools. While a dedicated workstation is not necessary, you definitely want a place where you can leave your projects safely to finish later if you cannot finish in one sitting. This means that you need to organize all your tools, and parts in easy to maintain containers. We like using small clear plastic boxes, and paper labels that you can write on with pencil or ball point pens.

Your workspace doesn't need to be too fancy. The important thing is that is convenient and organized.
Your workspace doesn’t need to be too fancy. The important thing is that is convenient and organized.

10 . Your imagination!

Sparking your imagination is the biggest and most important challenge when you are designing your jewelry line, but seeing different parts and beads is a great way to start.Have a look at our instagram page, as well as any other fashion bloggers that catch your interest.A large part of the creative process is compiling all the things you’ve seen with the techniques you have mastered or continue to develop. If you see design elements in different contexts like social media or magazines, you can put your own spin on and express them in ways that uniquely showcase your style. We do our best to display our products in many different ways to help your creative process along.

There are so many ways to customize and put your take on this design.
There are so many ways to customize and put your take on this design.
Gold Filled chains, blank tags, and a flat nose plier.
Gold Filled chains, blank tags, and a flat nose plier.

Ready? Start your jewelry line the right way!

One of the worst things you can do when running any business is to cut corners on quality supplies. This is especially true when you are creating your jewelry line, as lower quality supplies will be harder to work with, and more difficult to get repeat customers. Gempacked has all the components used by name brands, high end department stores, and private boutique designers use, all at bulk pricing. Start your line off with quality you can trust at a price point that you can rely on. Contact GemPacked if you have any questions about jewelry making supplies or tools, and we’ll be glad to point you in the right direction.

-Cyrus Nemani,

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