What are those small pieces of metal and how do you use them?
Findings, also known as components, are the crucial pieces that, 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 another 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 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 to 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 decorative.
Eye Pins – similar to headpins, but with a loop at the end allowing several eye pins to be joined or attached to a headpin.
Combining an ear hook, an eye pin, and a headpin 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 capsize 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 clasp.
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 with it – to align multiple strands of beads.
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 designer touch.