Beaded Cascade Earrings (Tutorial)

Time out: Let’s do a non-Christmas post!

I made these cascade earrings as gifts for my bridesmaids. They do require patience, tools, and some basic jewelry-making experience. Similar earrings sell on Etsy for $20-50. I spent only a few dollars per pair and even used sterling silver metals.

Supply List:

Chain (I purchased a very dainty strand at Hobby Lobby)
Swarovski 4mm crystals (If you are making only a couple of pairs, buy these at a local beading store for the best deals. If you are making many like I did, purchase in bulk on eBay.)
6mm pearl beads (or smaller)
Standard headpins (I used sterling silver which are a little more expensive, because they were a special gift)
Earring posts or loops (I also used sterling silver findings as I had some bridesmaids with sensitive ears)
Jewelry-making tools: Pliers, Snips/wire cutter, and Round-nose pliers
Stand-alone magnifying glass – this is not necessary but would help!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructions:

1. Put a crystal on the headpin. 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 2.  Holding the bead between my index finger and my thumb, I used my thumb nail to manually bend the wire to one side.

3. Using round-nose pliers, pinch the wire at the bend, and wind the wire around the nose to make a loop.
4. Cut the excess wire off and you are left with a loop. Don’t worry about closing the loop yet. Also, don’t worry if your loop looks funny (this one was actually the prettiest loop I’ve ever made…the rest are not this pretty!). I also realized at this point that I should have purchased shorter headpins so there would be less waste.
5. Repeat this process for the remaining beads you need. I used 11 crystal beads and 6 pearls (per earring). This is time-consuming.
6. Cut approximately 1 inch of chain. I have 13 links of chain on mine. (Your first try you may want to add more chain — you can cut it off later.) Attach the earring finding to the end of the chain by opening the loop, hooking it on, and closing the loop with your pliers.
7. On the first chain link closest to the finding, put the first pearl on. Close the loop by pinching it with the pliers. This is where a stand-alone magnifying glass would be nice.
8. Attach a crystal loop to the same loop that holds the pearl. (On the first chain link you now have two beads, one pearl and one crystal.)
9. On the next chain link, attach a crystal loop.
10. Repeat down the chain. I drew up a VERY CRUDE version of my pattern, but you could change it up and the result would be pretty any way you do it. Because the chain itself turns, you do not end up with all pearls on one side – it will naturally fall “right”. You could also add more beads for more of a cluster effect.
11. Make the final pearl on a chain link by itself. Then space out two chain links before you add the final bead. I did this because I wanted it to create an upside-down teardrop effect, and also because the crystals are smaller than the pearls. The final crystal was getting lost in the pearl if I didn’t do that. A suggestion here would be to actually add a LARGE bead as the last one.
12. Done!

Total Time Per Earring:

At first, it took me about 25 minutes PER EARRING. But once I got the hang of it, I was able to get that time down to 15 minutes an earring. 

Suggestions:

If you are purchasing jewelry-making tools, I recommend the full-sized tools as opposed to the mini-tools. The mini tools are great for small projects but they can really hurt your hands when you are doing projects as detailed as this.
You could also use a variety of beads and colors. I think if I were to start over I might use a clear Swarovski crystal. You can also use a variety of sizes. I’ve seen some that use larger beads at the top and smaller beads towards the bottom (or reverse). Also, you could use a pretty bead cap on the end of each pearl to add more detail.
One of my bridesmaids keeps asking me to show her how to make these because she says she wears her purple and silver pair almost every day. :) Here you go, Courtney!

Three of my beautiful friends and their earrings:

Update 8/17/2012

Bridal version, used with extra beads that came with the wedding gown:

28 thoughts on “Beaded Cascade Earrings (Tutorial)

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