How to Create the Perfect Gift Earrings

My husband and I will be married 20 years next month, so I was thinking about something to get him as a gift. We always go practical (he set the tone with the Listerine incident of 1985), so I was thinking of something more fun, like tickets to a musical or a weekend at a spa . . . Okay, okay, I guess those would be the gifts I’d like to receive.

You know, that’s a big weakness of mine: I often give people gifts that I’d like to receive. Do you do that, too? I suppose it makes them more fun to make or buy. Unfortunately, I do that when I make jewelry for friends and family, too—I end up making something I’d like to wear myself and not everyone has the same eccentric taste as I do!

How to Create the Perfect Gift Earrings

As far as jewelry styles go, earrings are the quickest and easiest to make, so we beaders tend to whip them up as gifts quite often. But I think earrings are the easiest type of jewelry to get wrong. While necklaces and bracelets are like articles of clothing, embellishing the body, earrings are more like glasses or makeup—they embellish the face, contributing quite a bit to your identity. For instance, think about Foxxy Cleopatra without her hoop—the look would be all wrong!

So, in an effort to help me (and maybe you?) start making the right earrings for the women on your gift list out there, I’ve jotted down a few notes:

Choose the right color beads for your friend’s hair color and length. For example, if she’s got long, dark hair, use light-colored or metallic beads; dark beads will just get visually lost in the shuffle. If she’s got short hair, you have more leeway, but again, you want to choose a color that will look good against her skin and complement her hair color. 

Do you know your friend’s earring finding preference so she won’t have to change them out after the gift exchange?

Make sure the earring length complements your receiver’s neck length. Most people look good in a 1-inch dangle, but not everyone can pull off a 3-inch one. For short-necked earring-wearers, choose close-to-the ear styles like studs or very short dangles. Save long chandelier and drop-chain styles for your swan-necked friends.

It’s easy to get stuck in a beads-on-a-head-pin or dangles-on-a-chain rut when making earrings as gifts, but there are hundreds of other go-to designs out there. For instance, I was just paging through Denise Peck’s new book, 101 Wire Earrings and there are literally 101 step-by-step designs in this monster, all different, all wire and beads (or just wire), all fairly simple, and all very chic! There are great how-to photos at the outset so any beginner can easily learn the basics. And featured within are a wide variety of styles including big spirals, squiggly coils, geometric shapes, little wire-wrapped bundles, and more.

General Style
Style is always the hardest part of designing earrings for someone else and it’s certainly not a science. To grossly generalize, I’ve found that most under-20-somethings really like to wear colorful, modern, theme-centric earrings, but most over-40-somethings don’t.

The best bit of styling advice would probably be this: Before beginning to design the earrings, take some time to think about the receiver.  Is she stones or crystals? Chain or seed beads? Shiny or matte? It’s probably best to first dictate these elements and then get out the stash and start designing, rather than letting the stash dictate the design. 

Do you have some other elements to add to my list for making the perfect pair of gift earrings? Please share them on the website. Or hey, want to buck all this advice and just make a great-looking pair of earrings for trading? Sign up for Beading Daily’s first Earring Swap (it’s now entry-fee-free!).

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