Beaded Jewelry Making – Basic Terminology

But before you can get too far into beaded jewelry making, you need to have an understanding of the terminology.  Some things you may already know, others may be completely foreign to you.  To insure that you are speaking the language of jewelry making, let’s go over jewelry speak.

Metal type
Metal type is important in jewelry making.  There are several types of metal and pros and cons of each type.  It is important to know what the differences are so that you can make an informed selection.  Here are some of the options available at your local craft store:

Gold is specified by Karat or Carat, with 24Kt being 100% pure gold.   In the United States, you will usually find 10 – 18Kt. 10Kt is the minimum allowed in the US.  In addition to Karat you also have Color.  Yellow is by far the most popular but there are other choices, such as white, rose, and sometimes green.  However, at your local craft store what you will find is Gold Plated.  It is usually sterling silver or copper covered in a layer of gold.  It will specify the karat.

Platinum is a white metal that is used in jewelry.  It is very durable and heavier than gold. At your local craft store you will find Platinum Plated.  It is copper covered in a layer of platinum.

Sterling Silver is a very popular choice for earrings, necklaces and bracelets.  It is softer than gold or platinum but is also less expensive.  Oxidization causes it to turn black but it can be removed with jewelry cleaner.  It is silver mixed with copper.  Its composition is regulated by law, so it is consistent.

Stainless Steel is a great choice for several reasons.  It is durable and reasonably priced.  It does not require polishing as do silver and gold.  Plus, it is naturally hypoallergenic so it is a good choice for those who are sensitive to other jewelry metals.

You won’t get far into jewelry making without seeing the word Findings.  Findings are a broad category that includes the structure components of jewelry making.  While the design of the findings may provide some element of aesthetics, it is mainly structural.  Components that are considered findings include earring hooks and posts, jump rings, crimp beads, clasps, headpins and eye pins.

Headpins and eye pins
Headpins and eye pins are used to string beads.  The headpin’s head may be decorative or flat.  An eye pin is also used to string beads but instead of a head, it has a loop called an eye.  It is used to connect on both ends.  Once you have strung beads onto a head or eye pin, you will use tools to create an eye loop so that it can be attached to another component.

Crimp Beads and Crimp Bead Covers
Crimp beads or tubes are components that are used with wire or string.  It joins wires or acts as a connector.  It also can be used to section beads on the wire.  Crimp bead covers are decorative covers for the crimp bead.

Jump Rings
Jump Rings are connectors.  They come in different shapes and sizes.  There are a variety of logistic and aesthetic reasons for using jump rings.  But the simplest example would be to connect two elements such as hoops or links that do not open.  A jump ring could be used to connect them together.  There are also split rings as in a key ring.

AB is a coating put on crystal beads to give them an iridescent sparkle.  It stands for Aurora Borealis, as in the Northern Lights.

While this is not an extensive list of jewelry terminology, it should provide enough basic understanding so that you can go into a craft store and pick up some basic supplies for a jewelry project without total confusion.

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