Crimping, Part 1: How to Hide Thy Naked Cable with Jewelry Findings
Think you know jewelry findings? Take this test.
Look at the closeup image of the heart-shaped clasp on the end of a strand of black and white beads.
Trick question: What’s wrong?
Write your answer here: ________________________
If you said, “Nothing is wrong, Betsy,” you are right.
Except that I’m fussy about beading wire and other stringing cable when it’s exposed at the end of a bead strand. This kind of crimping creates a visual and physical weak spot, although this is a common, accepted practice. So I’ve been trying to create a stronger, higher-quality look for my more expensive pieces.
Solution: Solder sterling silver crimps onto sterling silver wire and cover with a cone to finish with better jewelry findings.
How to Make Stronger, Higher-Quality Jewelry Findings
Tools & Materials
jeweler’s air/acetylene torch with a fine tip *
Prip’s flux in a small spray bottle
soldering station with flux, quench and pickle
easy solder cut into tiny snips
crimping pliers (I use Magical Bead Crimpers)
2mm sterling silver crimps
20-gauge round sterling silver wire
clasp and catch
Soldering Jewelry Findings
1. Flux a 2-1/2-inch piece of wire on all sides as well as the insides of four crimps.
2. Set crimps aside and melt a small snip of easy solder near each end of your wire.
3. Thread on and position two crimps at one end of the wire, so they are touching the solder but have a gap between them.
4. Heat for a few seconds with a small flame until solder flows. You may need to press the wire down gently with the solder pick.
5. Repeat with the other end.
6. Quench, pickle, rinse. Cut in half and trim excess wire coming out of the last crimp.
* You may need to practice this if you haven’t soldered tiny things like jewelry findings before. You might be able to use a butane torch, but it would take a very light touch.
Jewelry Findings: Assembly
1. Test fit the jewelry findings parts together to make sure you get the look you want. Making a sample is helpful. Then try to pull it apart with pliers to see how strong the joins and connections are.
2. Thread your cable through the crimps on one wire.
3. Use a bead crimper to close tightly. Trim off excess cable with cutters.
4. String beads on, starting and ending with one or two beads small enough to slip into your cone. Leave a little play in your cable so beads have plenty of room to expand when curved around the neck. Your smaller beads then can move up and down, covering the naked cable.
5. Recheck your strand’s play; then crimp the second end of your project.
6. Slide on your cones. Use a pair of round-nosed jeweler’s pliers to create a loop. Slip on your clasp or catch, wrap the 20-gauge wire around twice to close this loop, and trim off excess.
Jewelry Findings and Finishes: Crimps and Clasps Samples
1. Strand with exposed stringing cable
2. Beading sample
3. Wire with two crimps; cable attached to single crimp on wire.
4. Technique with multi-strand necklace.
Betsy Lehndorff has been writing for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist since 2010. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.