Handcrafted jewelry can be any sort of jewelry, so long as it is made by hand rather than machine created from a form. Usually handcrafted jewelry is quite a bit more expensive than form-based jewelry, although it is possible to find handcrafted jewelry from other countries that it extremely affordable, often even cheaper than local mass-produced jewelry. For home jewelry making, however, most people focus on simpler types of jewelry, such as beading.
Beadwork is one of the easiest types of handcrafted jewelry, because much of the difficult work is already done for you, and you can do it without any special machines. In fact, beaded handcrafted jewelry is simple enough that you can teach yourself how to make it, and be experimenting with your own designs in no time at all. It is ideal for both younger jewelers and older jeweler, and for complete novices and experts alike. A simple piece of handcrafted jewelry can be made in this way in a short period of time, making it ideal for last-minute gifts or a hobby to bring in a bit of extra money.
To begin with, you’ll need to get some basic equipment. You’ll want some thread to put the beads on, and a needle to help you place them. A good selection of different sized needles is a small investment to begin with, and can help reduce a number of potential headaches. Make sure to get string that is strong enough that it won’t easily break, ideally a thread like Nymo that is made especially for making handcrafted jewelry. A bit of beeswax to coat the thread will help make the project easier as well, and a nice case for your beads to keep them organized and a blanket of some sort to work on will finish your basic kit.
Next, you’ll have to choose your beads. Until you have a good idea what you like, you’ll want to go into an actual bead store, so you can handle the beads and see what they have to offer. Many bead stores will also offer spaces to work, and even free workshops occasionally. To begin with, start with beads no smaller than 11/0, as anything smaller than that will just be a headache, and may frustrate you to the point where you want to stop beading.
If you’ve mastered making simple handcrafted jewelry using beading techniques, you may want to move on a bit. The next logical step is to make jewelry using pre-cut and pre-bored stones, but to use silver wire to hold them instead of thread. You can find a wide assortment of pre-cast findings, out of all sorts of materials, which can help you easily make professional-looking earrings and necklaces in no time at all. You’ll want to add a good set of pliers to your kit at this point, ideally special beading pliers, crimpers, and cutters, as they are formulated not to damage the soft metals often used in creating handcrafted jewelry.
Finally, if you’ve moved on beyond using pre-cast findings, you can start to make your own findings, and to set stones yourself. There are a number of different techniques for this, but it tends to be complicated enough that you won’t want to just learn on your own. Most towns and cities have occasional classes at a college or art center, which can teach you the basics of lost wax casting, setting, and working metal with heat.