Sharilyn Miller demonstrates how to make a beautiful necklace that can be worn long or converted into a short choker and bracelet set.
Materials and Tools:
18 small pearls
hard plastic mallet
small round-nose pliers
36 sterling-silver bead caps
extra-long round-nose pliers
electric drill with keyless chuck
22-gauge sterling-silver round wire
16-gauge sterling-silver round wire
steel bench block, 2-1/4" square
6 sterling-silver headpins, 2" long
1. Plain Jump Rings: Cut 15 inches of 16-gauge sterling-silver round wire and place one wire end in the back of the extra-long round-nose pliers. Bend the wire around the tool into a continuous coil of equally sized loops. Remove the finished coil from the tool and cut 13 jump rings using flush cutters. Bring the ends together using flat-nose pliers and chain-nose pliers. Option: Hammer lightly with a chasing hammer on the bench block. Set the jump rings aside.
2. Twisted-Wire Jump Rings: Cut 18 inches of 16-gauge sterling-silver round wire and bend it in half. Insert the cut ends into the keyless chuck of an electric drill and tighten the chuck firmly. Grasp the bent end of the wire with the extra-long round-nose pliers and turn on the drill. Hold firmly as the wire twists; when it breaks, it's twisted tightly enough. Place one end of the twisted wire in the back of the extra-long round-nose pliers and bend the wire into a continuous coil of equally sized loops. When finished coiling, remove it from the tool and use flush cutters to cut off several jump rings. Bring the ends together on each jump ring with flat-nose pliers and chain-nose pliers, and flatten the finished jump rings slightly using a chasing hammer on the bench block. Set the jump rings aside.
3. S-Clasps: Flush-cut two pieces of 16-gauge sterling silver round wire to 4 inches each. Flatten each end of both pieces using a chasing hammer on a steel bench block. Using the small round-nose pliers, bend each end around to make a tiny spiral. Place the wire end in the back of the extra-long round-nose pliers, tiny spiral facing you, and bend the wire up and over to create a shepherd's hook shape. Repeat on opposite end. You now have two S-clasps. Place the rounded end of an S-clasp on the bench block and hammer it with a chasing hammer. Repeat on the opposite side. Repeat with second S-clasp. Set the S-clasps aside.
4. Easy Links: Flush-cut four pieces of 16-gauge sterling silver round wire to 1-1/2 inches each. Bend a loop on one end of each wire piece around the back of the extra-long round-nose pliers. Use chain-nose pliers to "break the neck," and reinsert the extra-long round-nose pliers to shape it. Then bend the opposite end of each wire piece — this time on the back of the small round-nose pliers. Then "break the neck" with chain-nose pliers, and reshape as necessary. The loops on each wire piece should be at 90-degree angles to each other. Set the easy links aside.
5. Bead Dangles: Place a bead cap on a headpin, then a pearl, and a second bead cap. Form a loop with the remaining straight wire on the middle of the small round-nose pliers. Repeat until you have six bead dangles; set them aside.
6. Bead Connectors: Flush-cut 12 4-inch pieces of 22-gauge sterling-silver round wire. About two-thirds of the way down the wire, place it into the back of the small round-nose pliers and form a loop. Wrap the neck (the area beneath the loop) twice, and then place a bead cap, pearl, and bead cap onto the wire. Create another loop on the opposite end of the wire, and then wrap the neck snugly until the pearl is secure (the neck will be wrapped about three times on each end). Repeat until you have 12 bead connectors; set them aside.
7. Heart Links: Flush-cut 12 pieces of 16-gauge sterling-silver round wire to 3 inches each. Place one end of the wire in the middle of the small round-nose pliers and bend the wire around the tool. Do not completely close the loop. Open the tool, bring it back around, and close it down again. Then, with a quick twist of the wrist, bend the wire around to create a small round spiral. Repeat until you have 12 beginning heart links; set them aside. Note: Do NOT spiral the opposite end of the wire yet.
8. Bracelet Assembly: It's now time to begin the bracelet assembly and finish making the heart links, which must be done simultaneously. Pick up one bead connector and place it on a beginning heart link. Then place the straight end of the wire in the middle of the small round-nose pliers and bend the wire around the tool. Do not completely close the loop. Open the tool, bring it back around, and close it down again. Then, with a quick twist of the wrist, bend the wire around to create a small round spiral. Use flat-nose pliers to continue spiraling on each end until the unit measures 1 inch long.
9. Align one edge of the flat-nose pliers with the center of the unit and bend at this point, bringing the two spirals together and forming a heart shape. Pick up another beginning heart link and place the opposite loop of the bead connector on it. Bend the heart link into shape as described above. The heart links may be lightly hammered with a chasing hammer on a steel bench block if desired.
10. Repeat the above process until you have two bead connectors with a heart link on each end. Connect two hearts together using plain jump rings; the jump rings will fit within the center of the spiral. Next, place another bead connector on a beginning heart link and finish the link as described above. On the opposite loop of the bead connector, place the small loop end of an easy link. Repeat this process to have two bead connectors with a heart link and an easy link on each end. Connect everything together in this way: easy link, bead connector, heart link connected to a heart link with jump rings, bead connector, heart link connected to a heart link with jump rings, bead connector, heart link connected to a heart link with jump rings, bead connector, easy link. On each end of the bracelet, attach an S-clasp. Set this aside.
11. Necklace Assembly: Connect an easy link to a bead connector, and connect the opposite loop on the bead connector to a twisted-wire jump ring. Connect this to another bead connector, then a twisted-wire jump ring, a bead connector, twisted wire jump ring, bead connector, twisted wire jump ring, and then a plain jump ring. Set this aside, and repeat the entire process until you have two strands of bead connectors and jump rings.
12. Pendants Section Assembly: Form the beginning of a heart link as described above, but place a bead dangle on the link before finishing the spiral on the opposite end of the wire and bending it into a heart shape. Repeat until you have six heart links suspended with bead dangles. Then connect all the heart links side by side with jump rings. Set this aside.
13. Lay the pendants section down on the work surface and open the plain jump ring on the end of a bead strand (from step 11); connect this to the heart on the pendants section. Repeat on the opposite side until you have a bead strand, pendants section, bead strand. Open up an S-clasp on the bracelet and place it on one of the easy links on the necklace. Repeat on the opposite side; the necklace is now assembled.
14. Wearing Your Jewelry: The necklace may be worn long. As an option, it can be converted into a short choker and bracelet set. To do this, open an S-clasp and remove it from the necklace section. Open the other S-clasp, leaving the clasp on the necklace. For the bracelet, connect the S-clasp to the easy link on the opposite end. For the choker, also connect the S-clasp to the easy link on the opposite end.
15. To make earrings, create two bead dangles and suspend them from ear hooks.