Jewelry-Making Firsts: Wire Earrings, Gem Cutting, and More

Everyone remembers the big "firsts" in their lives–first car, first home, first kiss. For jewelry makers, their first jewelry designs always stick in their minds. Whether it's the first piece they ever made or the first time they tried a new jewelry-making technique or medium, they never forget! Firsts aren't always successful, but they certainly are memorable.


Photo by Karla Rosenbusch.

Some of my favorite first jewelry designs are my first wire efforts. When I began using wire, I experimented with the basics of wirework (always a good place to start). When I "mastered" creating perfect wire spirals, I decided to use them to make my first wire-spiral earrings. Being a lover of stones, naturally I had to combine my wire with one of my favorites–a couple of lovely tigereyes. I used 16-gauge black copper craft wire to make two large double spirals to give the earrings a scroll feel.

I then made small loops in 20-gauge wire and fed that through two large tigereye coin beads. I bent the "top center" of my wire spirals 90 degrees and placed them over the smaller wire and in front of the stones. I made a larger loop in the 20-gauge wire and attached ear wires.


Photo by Tom and Kay Benham.

Voila! My very first wire project! Oh, they're not perfect by any means, but I still love those earrings. I get wonderfully positive comments on them every time I wear them–just what every jewelry maker loves to hear.

One of the coolest jewelry "firsts" I've ever come across can be found in the November issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. Tom and Kay Benham are incredible stone cutters and jewelry designers who write the "Ask the Experts" column in each issue. They often send us fantastic jewelry-making projects and articles as well. For the November issue, they gave us the delightful story of their grandson Jake's first attempt at cutting his own cabochon.

Under Tom's watchful eye, Jake cut a perfectly domed agate cab. It really is stunning, and not only is it a tremendous first effort, it's a cab that any lapidary would have been proud to have done. Way to go, Jake! 


Photo by Tom and Kay Benham.

But the Benhams weren't quite done yet. The proud grandparents figured that such a terrific stone needed an equally terrific setting. The November issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist also includes their no-solder setting project, which shows you how to make a delightfully simple bezel. And of course, the stone that they set was Jake's agate.

If you want to take the next step beyond the no-solder setting and create your first (or thousandth) soldered jewelry project, check out Part 9 of Lexi Erickson's series on soldering in the November Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. This installment answers all of the most frequently asked soldering questions.


This issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist is actually the annual "tools" issue, too, and gives you a look at some of the newest, coolest tools out there, with special articles on files, handheld torches, and more. There's also a fantastic article on organizing your workspace–a must for any jewelry maker, whether you're a first-timer or an old hand!

Make sure to check out this terrific issue, and subscribe to Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist so you don't miss another one!

Don't forget to tell us all about your own jewelry-making firsts in the comments below. We love it when you share!

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