Bead & Coil Earwires (Tutorial)
by Rena Klingenberg. © 2003-Present Rena Klingenberg. All Rights Reserved
Bead and coil earwires are one of the most common manufactured earring findings.
But we’re going to put a creative spin on this type of jewelry component.
We’ll make a pair of these earwires with colorful beads (and if you like, you can make contrasting coils too)!
I hope this tutorial also inspires you with how small changes can make a big difference between ordinary and unique jewelry details.
- 20 or 21 gauge round soft or half-hard wire – 2 pieces, each 5.5cm (2.17″) long.
We’ll use this for the earwires, so be sure to check my earring wire guidelines.
I used 21 gauge copper wire here.
- 22 gauge round soft wire – for the coils.
I used Artistic wire for this.
- 2 beads – one for each earwire.
Recommended bead size: 3mm or 4mm beads in any shape; or size 6/0 seed beads.
Make sure your beads’ holes are big enough to string onto your 20 or 21 gauge wire.
I used size 6/0 pink & orange iridescent seed beads from this collection:
- Round nose pliers.
- Flat nose pliers.
- Wire cutter.
- Wire rounder, cup burr, jewelry file, or knife-sharpening stone – for smoothing and rounding your wire ends.
- Small piece of #0000 steel wool – for final smoothing of your earwire ends.
- Sharpie marker – for marking your pliers.
- A piece of 18-gauge round brass wire, about 5 or 6cm (2 to 2.5″) long – to use as a mandrel for making your wire coils.
I recommend using brass because it’s a fairly stiff, sturdy wire that won’t bend while you’re winding your coils around it.
But you can use any sturdy wire – or any other object that’s the size of 18 gauge wire.
How to Make
Bead & Coil Earwires:
The beads and coils for these earwires are quite small – and if you drop them, you might never find them in the carpet!
So you may want to work over a tray to catch any runaway seed beads or mini-coils. 🙂
We’ll start by making our coils.
Cut a piece of 18 gauge round brass wire, about 5 or 6 cm (2 to 2.5″) long, to use as your mandrel for winding the coils around.
We’ll be winding our 22-gauge Artistic wire around this piece of brass wire.
We’re going to work with the 22 gauge Artistic wire directly from the roll, since we don’t know the exact length of wire we’ll be using.
Hold the 18 gauge brass wire horizontally, and lay the tail of the 22-gauge Artistic wire across it at an angle.
Use your flat nose pliers to tightly grip both wires on the spot where the Artistic wire lies across the brass wire:
With the fingers of your other hand, wind the Artistic wire from the roll tightly around the brass wire mandrel about 5 times.
Tip: You’ll make the best coil by pulling the wire taut as you wind it around the mandrel. Don’t push the wire around the mandrel; instead, pull the wire firmly and wind it tightly:
Remove your wire coil from the mandrel:
Now use your wire cutter to clip off both wire ends from your coil:
Make a second coil, so you’ll have one for each earwire.
Your finished coils should look like this:
Set your coils aside.
Now we’ll work on the earwires.
Cut 2 pieces of your earring wire, each 5.5cm (2.17″) long:
Use your wire rounder, cup burr, jewelry file, or knife-sharpening stone to round and smooth each end of both wires:
To make your earwire loops a uniform size, use a Sharpie marker to mark a spot on one jaw of your round nose pliers, fairly close to the tip:
(You can remove the mark from your pliers later with a bit of rubbing alcohol on a paper towel scrap.)
Now we’ll work on one earwire at a time.
Use your round nose pliers to grasp the tip of one of your 5.5cm wires. The wire tip should be on the mark you just made on the pliers:
Roll that wire end into a loop:
Now your wire should look like this:
Use the tips of your round nose pliers to straighten the loop so that it’s centered at the end of the wire, like a lollipop:
Now your wire end should look like this:
String one of your beads onto the wire, so that the bead rests against the loop you just made:
Then string one of your coils onto the wire, so that the coil rests against the bead:
Now we’ll make a bend in the wire, just above the coil.
This bend will prevent the coil and bead from sliding off the hook of the finished earwire.
Using the tips of your flat nose pliers, grasp the wire just above the coil:
Then make a bend in the wire so that your wire looks like this:
Now use the widest part of your round nose pliers to grasp the wire, right above the bend you just made:
Use your fingers to pull the wire tail tightly around one jaw of your pliers, forming the hook of your earwire:
Your wire should look like this:
Use your #0000 steel wool to completely smooth the tip of your earwire.
Now use the tips of your flat nose pliers to grasp the tip of your earwire.
Make a small bend at the end of the wire:
Now your finished earwire should look like this:
Make the second earwire, the same way you made the first one.
Your finished earwires should look something like this: