Do-It-Yourself Beaded Gemstone Statement Necklaces

Guess what I’ve been up to. As we wait for production of the Alpha Collection (if it feels like we’ve been “waiting” for a long while now, it’s because we have; it’s been a year…), I picked up a new hobby: beading gemstone necklaces. It is so crazy-easy to make your own gemstone statement necklaces that there is basically no reason for you to buy one, unless you’re doing so to support an indie jewelry designer or artist, i.e. I am 300% in favor of people buying jewelry on Etsy.com.

I have one of those addictive personalities where I will just go at something in total OCD fashion and keep at it until I’m completely drained. I beaded 11 necklaces and 3 bracelets in a week’s time, and by the weekend, I had extinguished my supply of beads, which is a good thing because I was mentally done with beading as well. Newfound admiration for Etsy beaded jewelry entrepreneurs. I don’t know how they do it. After making these necklaces, I’m near cross-eyed.

There have been DIY (do-it-yourself) posts on this blog before, like this one on sewing your own evening bag, or this one on sewing your own day clutch. In that spirit, and after I beaded 11 necklaces, I figured I’d get a little more mileage out of the excursion by writing up a DIY.

I bought genuine natural gemstones from beadbuddies.net and abeadstore.com, both sites I highly recommend, and the rest of my supplies, such as the “fashion beads” (glass, synthetic stuff) were purchased from the local Michael’s craft store.

Since I know nothing about beading, I bought three different types of thread to experiment with, and hands down, no contest Beadalon’s Wildfire thermally bonded bead weaving thread won out. I recommend the 0.006 in./0.15 mm thread in black. Allegedly you can hang 10 pounds off this thread and it won’t break. I haven’t tried that, but I did yank really, really hard on it and nothing happened. So it’s good stuff. And inexpensive. One spool of 50 yards is under 3 bucks. If you’re going to try beading your own statement jewelry at home, definitely buy Beadalon Wildfire, 0.15 mm.

For clasps, I selected two types: magnetic drum clasps (pictured above right) and round toggle clasps (pictured above left). Lesson learned: don’t bother with round toggle clasps anymore. If I ever pick up this hobby again in the future, I will only use the magnetic drum clasps. The magnetism of the drums is super-strong and unless you intentionally yank at it with the kind of force that would break the necklace anyway, the necklace will remain secure. I love, love magnetic drum clasps.

The magnetic drum clasps have a larger hole on one end, and a smaller hole on the other. You start a necklace by pulling the thread(s) through the smaller hole. Knot it several times, cut off the excess, and then pull backward until the knotted end is secure inside the larger hole. Adding a few drops of superglue into the larger hole to plug it up makes me feel better. According to many tutorials though, this isn’t necessary.

Now you can start beading. I like the multi-tiered necklaces, so I knot together 3 to 5 strands of thread at a time and secure that to one end of the magnetic drum clasp. Since it’s a magnet, I stick it to something metal to keep it stable, and bead away.

Above photo credit: Polyvore meets Photoshop.

For the above-pictured necklace, I knotted together 3 pieces of thread, beaded them, and then braided the 3 beaded strands together. Every few inches of braiding, I would bring the three pieces together and bead in one larger bead and that would secure the braid.

Finishing off the necklace is the hard part, but not that hard. For the magnetic drum clasps, thread the strands through the smaller hole in the drum, knot it several times (I knot it something like 5 times), cut off the excess, and then with a needle or small sharp object, push the knot backward into the larger hole in the drum. Again, I add a few drops of superglue and I find that this makes the clasp virtually indestructible (as far as necklace clasps go).

For the round toggle clasps, loop the threads through the little hole, knot several times, cut off the excess, and then use clear nail polish to coat the entire knot and the ends of the thread. This acts like a glue, a gloss coating, and keeps the ends from fraying. Supposedly there is a special jeweler’s glue for this purpose, but clear nail polish works equally well.

Also, I took on a fascination for gemstones because I was reading about their purported metaphysical properties. It’s fun to read about, and even more fun to design talisman necklaces based on these purported metaphysical properties. I would be wary of anyone who took it too seriously though.

Most of the necklaces I made were black and white, with a tiny pop of color, like a few stones of aventurine, coral, hematite, new jade, goldstone, or colored Austrian crystals. Black and white beaded necklaces have such a sleek, chic look. Add some pearls and suddenly the piece takes on a corporate conservative flair, great with a work outfit.

Photo credit: Polyvore meets Photoshop.

I had thought about selling them on Etsy.com (not by way of TZ; just as a fun, personal side project thing), but wasn’t confident enough with the quality of my workmanship, so ended up giving the necklaces away as gifts to close friends and family.

If you’re interested in browsing photos and reading more about the gemstone necklaces I made, visit my photo album. Apologies for the fuzzy photography. For all photographs in this post and of the necklaces in the photo album, I used an 8 year old Casio Exilim digicam that I didn’t like very much 8 years ago, and like even less now, but I was too lazy to charge up the battery on the DSLR. So it is what it is.

There’s the resident kitty showing off the necklace he got, a lovely three-tiered statement piece adorned with moonstone and pink Austrian crystals. Yes it’s pink, with sparkly crystals and pearls. Yes he is a male cat. And what!?!

So flag this as an Action Required: make your own statement necklaces and style them into OOTD posts. =)

The cost of materials for all 11 necklaces and 3 bracelets (and note how all of them are made up of multi-tiered beadwork, so lots and lots of gemstones used!) was $81.57. Ignoring the bracelets, that’s less than $8.00 per necklace. For natural, genuine semiprecious gemstones!

Consider the alternatives: a multi-tiered beaded gemstone statement necklace at Ann Taylor is $98.00 to $130.00 each; Nieman Marcus offers turquoise and lapis lazuli pieces with similar design to the ones I made and they run upward $500.00; the Home Shopping Network sells the same at $50.00 to $100.00; and just forget about the designer couture stuff! So bottom line, totally worth your while.

I wouldn’t bother with purchasing patterns or kits. All the necklaces I made are my own “original designs” and you should be able to handle designing your own as well. (I put “original designs” in quotation marks because they weren’t all that original in design; I did try to make some nutty, asymmetrical crazy stuff, but they came out terrible.)

Figure out which gemstones you like the most, brainstorm a general concept, buy the supplies, and go! Check out YouTube for beading tutorials and read a couple of how-tos online if you’re still unsure of yourself.

Beading necklaces is a great stress-reliever and this newfound hobby has been incredibly therapeutic. Considering the pressures I experience in my day job and nothing going as planned for TZ, beading a couple necklaces (or a dozen) has been a welcomed exercise.

Do let me know and drop a line if you decide to try this out. Who knows, you may discover a hidden talent, become an Etsy entrepreneur or launch your own line, and fashionistas or people like me will love your designs so much we all end up your patrons!

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About tarynzhang

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  • http://misskittyandhercloset.blogspot.com/ Emma Yamada

     These are So Beautiful! My Favorite is the second one on the top row. I Love the green stones. I am especially Loving the picture of your cat sporting one of your necklaces! Too Cute : )

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  • http://www.kirstinmarie.com Kirstin Marie

     Your necklaces are gorgeous!!! I love the picture of your cat with the necklace. Its so adorable. I really enjoyed all of the different meanings of the stones. 

    Thank you so much for your comment & for visiting my blog! :)

    xo

  • http://www.minnchic.com/ Rebecca

    The cat with the necklace is the cutest thing ever.

  • The Versastyle

    you’re so cute with your new hobby! … I sometimes get the same way and get super obsessed about something and don’t quit till I’m blue in the face… haha

    these are cute! i’ve been wanting to make jewelry lately too… after seeing this I think you just inspired me some more!

    xo 
    annette

  • Anonymous

    I like the necklaces and gem stones and the meaning behind them. I enjoyed this post, the technical aspect of starting an etsy business. I have been contemplating for the longest time, just haven’t find the time to make stuff for selling. Your motivation and passion kind of inspires me. Thanks! Thank you for dropping by my blog too!

    love~mongs
    mythriftycloset.blogspot.com

  • http://blog.tarynzhang.com AppleSidra

    You should totally make some! With your eye for style and aesthetics, I think you’d put together some phenomenal statement pieces1

  • http://blog.tarynzhang.com AppleSidra

    Annette, your jewelry line would be *to die for.* It’d be spunky and hard-edge-rock, one-of-a-kind stuff that make women go, “Huh, I never seen anything quite like that, wow, it’s fabulous.”

    Yeah, I have a weird addictive personality; hence the gazillion beaded necklaces in a week, and now this week, nada. Silent. Well.. that and it’s back to TZ production work. =P

  • http://blog.tarynzhang.com AppleSidra

    I’m a religious Etsy shopper myself and just love everything that people hand-craft and sell there. A lot of fashion bloggers who started off with no intention of turning their eye for style into a business ended up getting into accessories design, selling on Etsy, and their stuff is just fantastic! So you should definitely consider the venture more seriously, esp. if it’s already been in the back of your mind for some time! =) Good luck!

  • http://highmaintenancewoman.blogspot.com MizzJ

    Omg is there nothing you can’t do?! These necklaces are quite pretty! Normally I find beaded necklaces kinda junior high-ish, but these actually look like something I would wear :)

  • http://blog.tarynzhang.com AppleSidra

    Thanks! Yes I know what you mean — because while I beaded the necklaces, I kept thinking to myself, “Oh man, I feel like this is a 7th grade summer camp project or something…” =P Oh well. About 30% of them came out okay and I would actually wear them on occasion. +)

  • http://made-to-travel.com/ Jamillah

    Oh pretty! I like how sophisticated they are…I also totally have a problem with obsessing over a new hobby and then I drain my self dry of the interest…vicious cycle!

  • http://blog.tarynzhang.com AppleSidra

    lol! that definitely makes two of us.

  • http://blog.tarynzhang.com AppleSidra

    lol, if only the cat thought so too! I don’t think he liked my necklace very much. =(   He kept trying to yank it off. =(

  • http://profiles.google.com/mademoiselle0lala Mademoiselle Lala

    Lovely! I remember that me and my mum did together a pearl necklace for my High School ball. It was simple, but stylish! :)

    Thank you visiting my blog and leaving a lovely comment -
    means a lot to me! :) X

     

    P.S. Don’t forget about my giveaway!

     

    http://mademoiselle-la-la.blogspot.com/

     

  • http://blog.tarynzhang.com AppleSidra

    Pearls *ARE* quite stylish! I know a lot of young fashionistas turn their noses at pearls and think it’s a little too old-lady, but I love pearls. =)

  • http://brokenproject.wordpress.com/ Julia Falci

    Thanx for stopping by my blog :)
    I love DIY stuff, so I will definitely come back often!
    XO

  • http://gapingwhole.wordpress.com/ westwood

    Good plug for etsy. Love it. Been thinking about necklaces like that, too…

  • http://www.cryskay.com crystal

    so many pretty necklaces. ive always wanted to try making my own jewelry. xx

  • http://blog.tarynzhang.com AppleSidra

    Same here re: always wanting to make my own jewelry. That’s why I did this. =P  It’s pretty easy actually.

  • http://blog.tarynzhang.com AppleSidra

    That’s because I totally heart Etsy! There are some incredibly talented artists there!

  • http://blog.tarynzhang.com AppleSidra

    Sadly this blog doesn’t do many DIYs… =*(  This is the 3rd (and sort of at that.. these are like pseudo-DIYs…) in 2 years! The focus here is mainly on handbag design, but who today is one track minded? Ergo, the  content here tends to be all over the place. If you had stopped by at another particular point in time, you might’ve thought this blog was a vacation photos blog! =D

  • http://blog.tarynzhang.com AppleSidra

    Love your blog! Indeed, the kitty with his necklace is truly adorable. =) Thanks!!

  • b_chan307

    totally in LOVE with the jade necklace! ;) i’ve actually tried making my own jewelry and stuff, but i guess i just don’t have the skill to do so =(

  • http://sololisa.com lisa

    Hooray for DIYs! Wow, that is a lot of necklaces and bracelets to make in such a short time. Also, I can’t believe the cat got his own necklace. You’re hilarious!

    Thanks for the kind words re. the Flare article Sunny!

  • Lindsay Kujawa

    Beautiful!! You are pretty talented.  Thank you so much for stopping by my blog.  YES magnetic drum closures rock!! I mean really…best idea ever.

    XO
    Delighted Momma

  • http://blog.tarynzhang.com AppleSidra

    I’m surprised that department store jewelry lines don’t get in on the magnetic drum action. That whole lobster claw clasp closure thing is so passe! =D

  • http://blog.tarynzhang.com AppleSidra

    It’s the awesome beast that is the fashion blogosphere, seriously. I got inspired to do DIYs from reading a few too many DIYs on other blogs and so the cycle continues. =)

  • http://blog.tarynzhang.com AppleSidra

    Aww, I’d give you that one but my baby sister claimed it already. =*(  No, seriously, it’s super easy. You should totally give it a second chance. It’s easy, inexpensive, and awesome!

  • http://www.makinen.fr/susa/wordpress/ Susu Paris Chic

    Hey this is fun… I am more of an artist and not so much of a handy-gal, but who knows… The kitty is the cutest!

  • http://blog.tarynzhang.com AppleSidra

    I’m pretty terrible at hands-on crafts. There are all sorts of absurd flaws in the craftsmanship of these necklaces. =) BUT… it’s so much fun!

  • http://thereafterish.wordpress.com/ Mae Lu

    I honestly think I’m in love.

    I can’t believe how artful you are with jewelry. As if you weren’t busy enough, though! I don’t have the creativity for this… I’ve been seeing statement neclaces all over the place, esp the bib kind, and I’d die if someone made one for me. I just don’t have this kind of mental wherewithal.

    xx{ish.},
    Mae Lu @ thereafterish.!

  • http://blog.tarynzhang.com AppleSidra

    I *LOVE* the bib necklaces! Except I can’t seem to figure out how to make one that isn’t with felt and a glue gun and icky synthetic stuff. You know? If you’re going to go through all that trouble and time to make one, mind as well make it a good quality one, with “real” stuff. =P But no clue how to do that. Once I figure it out, though, I’ll get into bib necklaces and may even to a DIY for a bib necklace. Though… at my rate, by the time I figure it out, bib necklaces will probably be way out of trend already….

  • http://www.popchampagneblog.com pop champagne

     the necklaces are nice, so cool that you made it. and lol thats ok that your male cat is wearing the necklace, it’s super cute on him haha

  • http://blog.tarynzhang.com AppleSidra

    Hehe, my thoughts exactly! =D

  • http://stylewilderness.blogspot.com Fourth Daughter

    Nice work! Have you tried eBay for beads? I love all these stones too and bought some beads from eBay as the prices seem more reasonable than elsewhere, but I usually rework old accessories that I find at markets and op shops rather than make things from scratch. Haven’t tried any of my earrings on my cat yet though :)

  • http://blog.tarynzhang.com AppleSidra

    Zomg, totally. I had this really (okay, honestly here, ugly) ugly coral beaded necklace that was gifted to me by a relative and for reals, it’s ugly, and I was 5000% sure I could use the coral beads and rework them into a way prettier necklace that I’d actually wear.. but.. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t cut open the gifted beaded necklace, no matter how ugly it was. =*(

  • The Compassion Fashion Project

    My daughter and I just made 45 pieces of jewelry for our event last week and whew…it is fun, but tedious work.  You have done a great job here!  More genius work by Sunny Woan!

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  • corasilayan

    Where do you buy gemstones?