by Rena Klingenberg.
This adjustable neckwire is an artistic, alternative way to wear a pendant.
Many years ago when I first started making neckwires, I made a hook at each end of the wire for a clasp – but those hooks can sometimes come unfastened during wearing.
So the design we’ll make today includes an adjustable closure with a secure clasp:
Another feature is the V-shaped dip, to keep the pendant in the center of the neckwire – which also helps prevent the back of the neckwire from “traveling” around to the front:
Neckwires look especially striking with pendants made from metal, wire, or dichroic glass (shown below with a metal pendant from my Easy Riveted Pendant Tutorial):
Another cool feature: This neckwire design isn’t just a flat circle. Instead, we’ll gently bend it so it will curve gracefully over your collarbone rather than sticking out like a flat neck-ring:
Two ways to put a pendant on your neckwire:
- Attach a pendant to the V-shaped center of the neckwire with a jump ring.
- Alternatively, you can thread the pendant bail or jump ring onto the chain end of the neckwire, and slide it around to the V-shaped center of the wire.
(This is why we’ll make the wire’s end loops and jump rings small.)
Also, I recommend always making pendant bails large enough to slide over a variety of necklace ends.
- 12-gauge or 14-gauge soft round wire (I’m using 14 gauge copper wire).
The wire length should be the measurement around of the base of your neck, plus 1″ (25.4mm).
Example: For a neck base circumference that’s 16″ around, add 1″ for a total wire length of 17″.
- 2 sturdy but smallish jump rings (I used 6mm size).
- Clasp (I’m using a 7mm x 9mm lobster clasp).
- A few inches of chain with links large enough to fasten your clasp into.
- Wire cutter – make sure it’s made for working with the heavy gauge of wire you’ll be using.
- Wire rounder / cup bur (or jewelry file or knife sharpening stone) for smoothing and rounding both ends of your wire.
- Round nose pliers – make sure they’re pliers that are made for working with the heavy gauge wire you’ll be using.
- Flat nose pliers / chain nose pliers – for twisting jump rings open and shut.
- Sharpie marker – for marking your wire.
- Cylindrical mandrel that’s a few inches smaller around than your neck measurement – for shaping your neckwire into a circle. A hard metal or wood object would be best. You might have a kitchen pot, metal bowl, large can of food, or other object to use for this. I used a very hard, unopened roll of packing tape, measuring 14″ (355mm) in circumference.
- Cylindrical mandrel that’s about the same circumference as your neck measurement – for bending the finished neckwire to curve over the collarbone. I used a small kitchen pot.
- Rubber, plastic, or nylon hammer – for shaping and hardening your neckwire.
- Jeweler’s steel block (or other flat, smooth, sturdy surface) – to hammer-harden your neckwire.
How to Make an
Adjustable Neckwire for Pendants:
Start by cutting your wire to the length specified above in the “Supplies” section.
Next we’ll mark the wire using a Sharpie marker (you can remove the Sharpie ink from the wire later, using a few drops of rubbing alcohol on a scrap of paper towel).
Use your Sharpie marker to make 3 marks on your wire:
- 1 mark on the centerpoint of your wire
- 1 mark that’s 0.5″ (13mm) to the left of your centerpoint mark
- 1 mark that’s 0.5″ (13mm) to the right of your centerpoint mark
Your marked wire should look like this:
Use your wire rounder / cup bur to smooth and round both wire ends:
Now it’s time to wrap your wire tightly around the mandrel that’s a few inches smaller than the length of your wire.
Your wire ends will pass each other, as shown in the photo:
Hold the wire tightly wrapped around the mandrel.
Now use your nylon, plastic, or rubber hammer to pound your wire around the mandrel.
Make sure you hammer every bit of the wire:
Now you can let go of the wire.
It should spring back to a size that’s a bit larger than the mandrel:
Now your neckwire should look like this:
Next we’ll form the small V-shape in the center front of the neckwire.
Use the tips of your round nose pliers to grasp the centerpoint mark you made on your wire:
Holding the wire tightly with your pliers, use the fingers of your other hand to press the sides of your wire straight down:
Now your wire should look like this:
Use your round nose pliers to grasp the mark on your wire that’s to the right of the centerpoint mark:
Holding the wire tightly with your pliers, use the fingers of your other hand to bend the wire end over the pliers jaw until the wire has a wide-angled bend:
Now your wire should look like this – with the center point at the bottom of the V-shape, and a wide-angle bend on the Sharpie mark that’s to the right of centerpoint:
Use your round nose pliers to grasp the mark on your wire that’s to the left of the centerpoint mark:
Holding the wire tightly with your pliers, use the fingers of your other hand to bend the wire end over the pliers jaw until the wire has a wide-angled bend (just like the bend you previously made in the other side of the wire):
Now the V-shape is done, and your wire should look like this:
It’s time to hammer your neckwire to harden the metal, making the neckwire sturdier.
Place the neckwire on your steel block.
Use your nylon, rubber, or plastic hammer to hammer every bit of your neckwire.
Then turn the neckwire over and thoroughly hammer the other side:
Now we’ll make the curve for the collarbone.
I’m using a small kitchen pot as a mandrel for this.
Place one side of your neckwire against the mandrel as shown below, and wrap that side of the neckwire around the pot, so that the V-shaped centerpoint and the wire end are wrapped toward the back of the mandrel:
Then remove the neckwire from the mandrel.
Turn the neckwire over, and wrap the other side of the neckwire around the mandrel in the same way:
Remove the neckwire from the mandrel.
Now if you lay the neckwire on a tabletop, the V-shaped centerpoint and the tips of the wire ends should touch the table – while the sides of the neckwire arch upward above the tabletop.
Next we’ll make a loop in each end of the wire.
Use your round nose pliers to grasp one end of your wire:
Then roll that wire end into a small loop:
Do the same thing at the other end of the neckwire, so that each end has a loop like this:
Now we’ll attach your clasp and chain to the neckwire.
Use your flat nose / chain nose pliers to twist open both jump rings:
Thread one jump ring through one loop end of your wire.
String the clasp onto the jump ring, and then twist the jump ring shut:
Now move to the other end of your neckwire.
Thread the remaining jump ring through the remaining loop end of your wire.
String one end of the chain onto the jump ring, and then twist the jump ring shut:
When wearing the neckwire, you can fasten the clasp to one of the links of the chain.
You can adjust the fit and length of the neckwire by fastening the clasp into different links of the chain.
The finished neckwire is also flexible enough to be re-shaped a bit to customize the fit.
The fastened clasp should look something like this:
And your finished neckwire should look something like this (notice how the neckwire’s sides arch above the table, while the V-shape centerpoint and the clasp ends of the wire touch the tabletop:
Want to Learn the Basics of
Designing Your Own Wire Jewelry?
In my Design and Make Artistic Jewelry Components video class, you’ll learn how to get great ideas for wire jewelry designs – and then follow my easy system for turning those ideas into successful pieces of jewelry.
By the end of this online video class, you’ll be designing and making your own artistic earwires, clasps, connectors, and pendant bails.
You’ll also learn my tips for making wire jewelry more easily, with more professional looking results.