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Pearls and wire on any budget

Make a Grade A necklace no matter the grade of your pearls

SUPPLIES

  • BeadSmith craft wire, silver:
    • 20-gauge (0.8 mm), 52 1⁄2 in. (1.3 m) 
    • 24-gauge (0.5 mm), 21 in. (53.3 cm)
  • 14 7 mm pearls
  • Pliers: chainnose, roundnose
  • Wire cutters
  • Hammer: chasing or planishing
  • Bench block

INSTRUCTIONS

Pearls and wire on any budget 1
Photo 1
You’ll be making two types of links: A links and B links. If, while you’re working, any parts of your links become misshapen, reestablish angles and straighten sections by gently squeezing the straight sections with chainnose pliers. This will also work-harden the wire and make the links stronger.
Pearls and wire on any budget 2
Photo 2

Form the link bases. Cut 14 31⁄2-in. (89 mm) pieces of 20-gauge (0.8 mm) wire. Grasp the center of one wire with chainnose pliers and bend the wire. Pinch the outside of the bend with chainnose pliers to form a tight U.

Pearls and wire on any budget 3
Photo 3
Open the U slightly and straighten the wire with chainnose pliers to form a V. The opening should be about 3⁄8–1⁄2 in. (9.5–13 mm) wide.
Pearls and wire on any budget 4
Photo 4

Measure 3⁄8 in. (9.5 mm) from one of the ends of the wire, and make a perpendicular bend. Push the two wire ends together, and grip them tightly with roundnose pliers just above the bent wire. 

Grip the perpendicular wire with chainnose pliers, and wrap it two to three times around the straight wire. Repeat to make 13 more link bases.

 

Pearls and wire on any budget 5
Photo 5

Form seven A links. Insert chainnose pliers into a link base, positioning the pliers two-thirds of the distance from the wrapped end, and then open your pliers to spread the wires. 

 

To create an angle, grip the wire firmly, positioning the edge of your pliers at the two-thirds point, and gently twist the wire against the pliers. Repeat on the other side of the link to form a matching angle. Repeat with six other link bases to make seven total A links.

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Photo 6

Form seven B links. Repeat the previous step with the remaining seven link bases, but create the angles one-third, rather than two-thirds, of the distance from the wrapped end.

Form connecting loops on the links. On one link, grip the tip of the wire stem with roundnose pliers, and then roll the pliers over to form a plain loop. Position the loop perpendicular to the open diamond shape of the link. Repeat to make connecting loops on the remaining links.

Pearls and wire on any budget 7
Photo 7

Hammer the links. Place a link on a bench block, with the wrapped section hanging just over the edge of the block. Lightly hammer the link to flatten and work-harden it, avoiding the wraps. Don’t hammer too much, or you may weaken your link. 

 

Turn the link around, and hammer the connecting loop, again making sure to avoid the wraps. Repeat to hammer the remaining links.

Pearls and wire on any budget 8
Photo 8

Use wraps to attach a center wire. Cut 14 11⁄2-in. (38 mm) pieces of 24-gauge (0.5 mm) wire. Leaving about 1⁄2 in. (13 mm) of excess wire, loosely wrap one wire three times around an angle on one of the links. Close any gaps in the wraps by squeezing the wraps together with chainnose pliers. 

NOTE: If you find it difficult to wrap the wire, cut the pieces slightly longer than 1 1⁄2 in. (38 mm).

Pearls and wire on any budget 9
Photo 9

Add a pearl. Slide a pearl onto the center wire and into the center of the link. If your pearl isn’t closely framed by the link, slide the wire wraps just off the angle, and use chainnose pliers to squeeze the sides of the link together. When you’re done making adjustments, slide the wraps back onto the angle.

Pearls and wire on any budget 10
Photo 10

Complete the second set of wraps. Wrap the center wire around the opposite angle of the link by using chainnose pliers to carefully pull the center wire through the space between the link and the pearl.

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Photo 11

Once you’ve completed a wrap, pull the wire to tighten it. Don’t pull too hard or the link may bow. Pull the end of the center wire around the link one more time to make three complete wraps.

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Photo 12

Trim the ends of the center wire and refine the wraps. Trim the excess center wire, leaving just enough of a tail to fold to the back of the link. Use chainnose pliers to press the wire tails against the back of the link.

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Photo 13

Close any gaps in the wraps by squeez-ing the ends of the wraps together with chainnose pliers. 

Pearls and wire on any budget 14
Photo 14

To further secure the wraps to the link, use chainnose pliers to clamp down very hard on each set of wraps to flatten them. If any gaps form between the wraps, squeeze them together again.

Add pearls to the 13 remaining links.

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