The Secrets of Beading & Jewelry Findings
By Charles Hopkins
Published 11/28/2007 | Hobbies
What are those small pieces of metal and how do you use them?
Findings (also known as components) are the crucial pieces which,
when used properly, hold your beading or jewelry pieces together. They
also have the capability to add to the decorative beauty of your work.
Findings are manufactured in a variety of metals, finishes, shapes and
sizes. They can be purely functional (and hidden) or functional and
decorative at the same time. There is a vast array available and the
ones described here are the most useful and readily obtainable.
Findings are generally sold by quantity. Some are sold by weight and
some singly, depending on their individual value and size.
Once you enter the intriguing world of findings your experience of
beading or other jewelry making will be greatly enhanced. Coach
yourself by looking at the available range and you'll discover the
closely kept secrets that skilled jewelry makers have long known. Your
level of expertise will increase exponentially, and when you use these
components in both functional and creative ways your projects will have
the professional finish you desire.
While almost every bead supplier will have a range of findings,
there are companies that specialize only in manufacturing and selling
findings. As with most aspects of life, the specialists have the most
extensive knowledge and reviewing their stock will reveal hidden gems.
First we'll start with the things almost everyone knows (or at
least thinks they do). The most obvious and something you're sure to
have used many times is a clasp.
Used to enable a finished piece to be open and closed for easy
wearing. Seems simple? Sure! However, there are a myriad of different
types, some are easier for the wearer to use than others, and some are
available in multi-strand versions. It's very important to consider the
"usability" of the clasp for the wearer. If it's too difficult to "do
up" by yourself it's probably the wrong clasp for your project. Also,
consider the weight of your piece, not just the actual weight but also
the visual weight where you need to get the balance right. For example
it would not be appropriate to use a spring ring clasp for a chunky
rope of wooden beads, nor a toggle clasp for a fine bead strand.
Some different types of clasps are:
Bayonet clasps - one piece is inserted into another until it clicks into place.
Box - also called tab insert clasps, often the upper surface is highly decorated.
Hook Style Clasps - a two-piece clasp with an interlocking hook, can be hidden or visible.
"S" Hook Clasps - an "S" shaped hook which hooks into a ring.
Toggle Clasps - a favorite because you don't need help from anyone
to open and close this style (even a bracelet). Styles vary from very
simple to very decorative.
Twist Clasps - the two pieces simply screw together.
Spring Ring clasps - a very simple style, but not always easy for the wearer to use.
Lobster Claw clasps - same principle as the spring ring - a little easier to use because there is more to hold.
Magnetic Clasps - easy to use, but not always the most secure.
Ear Studs (post and ear nuts) - both with and without a decorative ball or loop.
Drop earring pieces - available in a variety of designs, used to create chandelier style earrings.
Ear Hoops - both with and without loops to add your choice of beads.
Ear Wires - simple hook style or lever back they are available in a huge variety of shapes, lengths and finishes.
Jump Rings and Split Rings
Round rings in a variety of sizes, some textured or patterned -used
as connecting pieces, for example a jump ring through a pendant.
Pins (not the sewing type) used to make earrings or other items.
Head Pins - a metal pin of varying lengths and thickness, with a
small "stopper" at the end. The stopper can be inconspicuous or
Eye Pins - similar to head pins, but with a loop at the end allowing several eye pins to be joined or attached to a head pin.
Combining an ear hook, an eye pin and a head pin with beads, results in an earring.
Bead Caps - plain or decorative open-ended "caps" placed each side
of a bead just for fun, or at one side at the finishing end of your
work. The cap size should match the bead size.
Bead Tips - these are used to protect and conceal knots at the end of beaded strands.
Crimp Beads - small metal beads (tube or rounded) which are
squashed with pliers to fix beads in place. Crimp beads are an
indispensable asset to your beading ventures, they will be the secret
to your success.
Charlotte Crimps - crimps with a small hollow ball designed to be "crimped" over knots.
French Wire - also called bullion - a very fine-coiled wire. Used
to cover strands of beading wire or threads to protect them from wear
and tear. If you have a knotted strand of pearls, then chances are the
maker used French wire to finish the thread ends where they meet the
Bails - the part used in the middle between a pendant and chain. Can be plain or very decorative.
Mountings - mounts encircle and close around a cabochon stone. Some
modern ones are designed to "click" together to hold the stone in
place. Includes a ring to attach the bail.
Spacer Bars - small pieces of flat metal (plain or decorative) with
a varied number of holes spaced along it - to align multiple strands of
Cones - for ending multi-strand work securely and neatly by
covering the crimped ends. Can also be used decoratively in making
earrings and bracelets.
Stick Pins - simply slide beads onto a stickpin to decorate it.
Lapel Pins and Safety Pins - designed for jewelry making, very easy
to slide on a few attractive beads onto several safety pins, then slide
each beaded pin onto one safety pin forming a pattern.
Ultimately your imagination and eye for design will make the
difference between an ordinary or a unique piece of functional jewelry.
Using the right findings for your project ensures beauty and longevity,
while at the same time providing you the scope to add your personal