Handmade Jewelry Making Basics - What is an Earwire?
As an emerging jewelry designer, you will position yourself more professionally by knowing the names of different jewelry components. Impress potential customers and how to speak with jewelry shop owners and potential suppliers by knowing the industry terminology.
Definition of a Jewelry Finding
A "jewelry finding" is a component of jewelry less than a finished piece. Findings include jewelry closures such as clasps and toggles, Tiffany mounts and bezels for setting stones and crystals, headpins, eyepins and earring findings.
Definition of Earwire Findings
One finding for earrings is an earwire, which fits through a piercing in the ear and is made of wire. (There are large earwires or earcuffs that fit around different parts of the ear, but we do not cover them here.) The area where a dangle or wire wrap is hung is often called a "loop".
People will call earwires by other names such as "french wires", "earring hooks" or just "hooks".
The simplest of earwire designs is a round wire shaped into a curve, with an open loop at the front of the wire to hold a dangle or wire wrap. Hammered earwires have a section of wire that has been flattened. Very traditional variations of earwires include earwires with coils, with a tiny coil of wire above the loop or ball-and-coil earwires, which have both a bead and a coil above the loop. "Ball-end" earwires are shaped wire with a ball soldered onto the front end.
Twisted wire, oxidation, granulated beads, bezel-set crystals and other embellishments may enhance other earwire styles.
Although you can get earwires in the noble metals (platinum, karat gold and sterling silver), handmade jewelry most often uses earwires of gold-filled, sterling silver, and either brass or surgical steel plated in bright or antique silver, bright or antique gold (or Russian Gold), antique brass, bright or antique copper or black plate, which may be either hematite (black nickel) plate or (nickel-free) black oxide (which makes a matte black finish).
Titanium earwires are available anodized in a number of colors.
A variety of earwire designs available will keep you from getting bored while making earrings.
Earring stops, made of white rubber or clear plastic cylinders which fit over the backs of the wires, are inexpensive insurance for those who sell earrings or give them as gifts. The stops fit over the earwires on the back side of the ear.
Tools Recommended for Assembling Earrings
Jewelry-grade chain nose pliers or flat nose pliers are recommended for assembling earrings using earwires. These pliers will be smooth on the inside to minimize any marks transferred to earwires or dangles. An upgrade from normal jewelry pliers to nylon-jawed pliers will prevent accidental marking even more. (Wire wrapping the dangles or creating your own earwires will require additional tools.)
Earwires are inexpensive jewelry findings that will let you unleash your personal creativity in jewelry design.
Paul Brandon knows earwires and writes for OhioBeads.com, which sells bulk jewelry chains and jewelry findings (in sterling silver, gold-filled, antique brass, antique copper, gunmetal, imitation rhodium, silver-plate and gold-plate) to the U.S. market.
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