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Monday, December 10, 2007

DIY Lariat Necklace

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about how I planned to take on DIY jewelry. Well, I did it. And I'm quite pleased with the results.

Here it is! I handmade each and every little chain link. It was a lot of work, but after several of them, I started to really get the hang of it. I think it probably took me a total of 5 or 6 hours (over two nights) to complete the whole thing. It's certainly not perfect, but unless you're looking for its imperfections, you can't really tell.

Here is the back. One of my teardrops (the bead on the ends) was accidentally tucked behind my tanktop for the photo. I might have to tweak the length of the chains down the back because they might be a little too long. We'll see how it works with my dress when it comes in (which could be TODAY!).

So, how do you make your own? Well, I'll provide the list of supplies I bought, and point you in the direction of the instructions I used to make the chain links. Other than that, I had a little bit of help from L&R070707 in terms of how many links should make up each strand, but I ended up having to modify it to my own style/preferences anyway.

Here is the list of supplies:

- Round nose pliers
- Chain nose/bent nose pliers
- Side cutters
- Bead board
- Sterling silver half hard round wire, 24 or 26 gauge
- Swarovski Crystal Pearls, 4mm (any color) - I bought a strand of 50
- Swarovski 4mm bicone beads (any color) - One pack of 50
- Swarovski 3mm bicone beads (any color) - Two packs of 50
- Swarovski 10.5x7mm faceted teardrop beads - One pair
- Sterling silver headpins (24 or 26 gauge) - only need two, but I bought a package
- Sterling silver oval jumprings, 4x3mm
- Sterling silver round jumprings, 3.5mm (for the clasp) - I bought these, but didn't use them. I found the oval jumprings worked better for me.

I'll share the other info Lauren (L&R070707) gave me, but like I said, I had to modify it anyway.

For the two strands down the back, Lauren used 6 pearl links and 6 crystal links for the shorter strand, and 8 links of each for the longer strand. Her main necklace strand had 21 pearl links and 20 crystal links. Her shorter necklace strand had 16 pearl links and 15 crystal links and was attached to the main strand three links before the clasp on each side (using the oval jumprings).

Here is my bead board, some of my supplies, and the main strand of my necklace (which I ultimately ended up shortening a bit). You can see my Swarovski Crystal beads in the lower left corner, my silver half hard wire in the middle, and my strand of Swarovski Crystal pearls at the upper right.

Here is a close-up of that first main strand. As you can see, I used one pearl for each of the pearl links, and one 4mm bicone crystal with two 3mm bicone crystals (one on each side) for the crystal links. I'm pretty sure that Lauren used TWO crystals on EACH SIDE of her 4mm bicone crystals for each of her crystal links. Only change there is that the crystal links will be a little bit longer.

If you look closely, you can see the little loops at the ends of each link. You have to form each and every one of those by clipping the wire to the right length, and then rounding it with the round-nose pliers. Then you gently pinch it closed (after you've hooked them together) using the bent-nose pliers.

Click here for the instructions that I found really helpful in terms of demonstrating how to make each link. The only difference between the instructions there and what Lauren and I did... those instructions use eyepins (instead of the regular wire), which already have one of the loops done for you. You simply slip your beads onto it, clip the excess wire, and then loop the clipped end. I checked into the eyepins, but they are more expensive, and probably don't really provide that much time savings, so I decided to just make each and every one from scratch with the wire, like Lauren did.

If all of this sounds a bit overwhelming to you, I suggest doing some googling for DIY jewelry instructions and examples. Or you can check with your local craft stores--many of them offer a jewelry-making class (just a one-time class where they teach you the basics). One of Lauren's suggestions for practicing your loops was to buy cheap floral wire. I ultimately did not end up doing that, and wasted very little wire. But if you think the loops might be a challenge for you, it would be worth it to do some practicing on something cheap. The wire is sterling silver, so it's not the most inexpensive stuff to be throwing away!

I bought all of my supplies at Fire Mountain Gems online, but all of this stuff is also available in your local craft stores. I did buy my pliers locally at a Michael's--I used coupons (they were regularly $6.99 each) for each of them. I made the BRILLIANT decision to go with the pliers that have springs in them--meaning you squeeze them and they spring right back into the starting position when you let go. It made the repetitive task of clipping, rounding loops, and squeezing them closed much more bearable for my hands and fingers.

Anyway... now I'm planning on doing the bridesmaids' jewelry, too! :)


Linda said...

Wow. That looks great. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

How do you do the clasp on the necklace? It looks so pretty, I think I want to try making one myself!

Heather said...

You just buy the clasp and attach it. Very simple. :)

Lindsay said...

I absolutely love this. LOVE. :)