I’ve always had a soft spot for Victorian jewellery. There’s something about the materials they use and the lines of the jewellery that make me feel like a true Lady while in costume. The unfortunate thing, however, is that jewellery from this era can be both stupidly expensive and hard to come by. If you’re anything like me, I would be rather anxious wearing something that has a place in history just in case I managed to break it.
To solve this predicament, I started making my own ‘inspired by’ jewellery and added my own flair. Obviously this doesn’t make them Period, but that isn’t my aim in this case. This tutorial involves some (very) basic knowledge of jewellery making and a fair bit of patience, but it’s well worth the end result.
In this tutorial, I’ve used the findings I have in my beading kit. Obviously if you’re after a different look or have allergies to certain metals or minerals, substitute the findings out for something that’s more appropriate.
Tools you will need:
- Round nose beading pliers
- Flat beading pliers
- Cutting pliers
- Beading board (Optional)
Materials you will need:
- Jump rings
- Eye pins
- Parrot clasp
- Feature piece (in this instance, a key)
- 2 smaller additions
- 2 colours of beads to suit
Step 1: Step 1 - Measure Once...
Using a piece of string or a soft tape measure, measure the base of your neck and allow enough extra string to create a curve towards your sternum. How much of a curve you add is entirely up to you, but this will determine how much material you will need. The necklace in question is designed to sit roughly 10cm (at the lowest point) from the base of the neck, including the key charm.
Step 2: Step 2 - Planning Your Necklace
Arrange your beads on the beading board to the desired length, leaving half a centimetre gap between beads to account for the join in the eye pins. You will need one eye pin for every bead you use. Don’t forget to arrange the parrot clasp on one end and a jump ring on the other. You will also need a pair of jump rings for each feature piece you add. Mark the middle of the arrangement.
You will also need to arrange two identical lines of beads that each measure roughly ¼ of the total length of your necklace.
Step 3: Step 3 - Bringing It Together
Begin threading your first bead onto the eye pin, trimming the excess metal (leave roughly 1.5cm) and curling the end into a loop. On one end, attach the lobster clasp. On the other, attach an eye pin and thread that pin with the next bead. Continue this until you have reached the middle of the arrangement. Set aside.
Protip: Making sure you get a tight close on your end loops is important as this stops your necklace from coming apart as you make/wear it. Getting even loops on the ends of the eye pins is good, but not essential.
Step 4: Step 4 - the Other Half
Repeat step 3, though rather than attaching the lobster clasp on the beginning of the line, this time attach a jump ring. The lobster clasp on the other string will hook onto this when we are done. Set aside.
Step 5: Step 5 - Finished Lines
Those two identical rows you set out before? Work them together into two strands, though make sure to leave each end with a curled loop. We will attach them later.
You should, at this point, have two short strands and two long strands of beads. The two long strands should have a lobster clasp or a jump ring at one end.
Step 6: Step 6 - Adding the Feature
Now we add our main feature. Those jump rings you had earlier? We’re going to need two of them right now. Connect one jump ring to each side of your charm. In my case, I’m connecting a key so I’ll have one ring on each side of the handle so that the business end of the key charm hangs down.
From there, connect the FREE ends of your longer bead strands (the ends without the clasp or ring on them) to the jump rings. One for each side, obviously.
Congratulations! You have the start of a necklace! Some people may be inclined to leave the work just the way it is, but we’re going to add those two extra strands and the other charm for a bit of extra special sparkle in the next step.
Step 7: Step 7 - Adding the Strands
At this point, the necklace is looking pretty cool.
We’re going to attach one end of the smaller strands to each of the jump rings we just put on the key charm (the same ones the main necklace is attached to), though we’re going to attach them UNDER the other chain. This could mean either in front or behind, or even below, depending on what your charm looks like. What matters at the end of the day is that you attach your strands in the same position on each loop.
In my case, I’m attaching them in front of the other loops because I find it easier to work with that way.
Step 8: Step 8 - Finishing
Now, you’ll want to lay the two strands side by side. Count how many beads you have in your short strand. The general rule of thumb for good drapery is to bring your short row two beads closer to the centre.
On the eye pin connection BETWEEN the second bead and the third bead in, attach a jump ring.
You will also need to attach a jump ring on the free end of the short length.
Using these two jump rings, connect them to the secondary charm in the same way you connected the first – one ring on each side.
Repeat this for the other side of the necklace.
Step 9: Complete!
Once you've connected both sides, you've finished your necklace!
Well done. I knew you could do it.
Now all that's left is to put on your creation and admire it. Even get other people to admire it. Wear it with a dress. Wear it with a corset. Wear it with nothing at all (okay, that's a bit much), but most of all, enjoy it.
I'd LOVE to see what people can make with this little tutorial.
For more necklaces like this (and the original until sold), check out my Etsy store.