How it's Made: Wire Wrapped Briolette Earrings
How it's Made: Wire Wrapped Briolette Earrings
In this "How it's Made" post, I will walk you through the steps that I follow when creating a perfect pair of Lemon Quartz Briolette Earrings. Wire wrapped briolettes are my favorite style of earrings to make because the technique creates an artistic and secure setting for the stone, and it doesn't detract from its natural beauty. For this particular earring set, I will be using a technique that doubles the wire up when it is wrapped. This provides a different look than a single wire, and it preserves the earring's integrity since I will be creating a larger than normal loop for the earwire.
Step 1: Prep Your Tools
There are several tools that I use when creating wire wrapped briolette earrings. My go-to-tools are long flat/half-round pliers, round nose pliers, and a precision nipper. Since the stones I will be using have tiny holes, I will use a 26 gauge sterling silver wire. The hardness of the wire is half-hard. While some jewelers use dead-soft wire for their wire wrapping, I prefer to have the strength and stability of wire that has less give, and the half-hard wire provides that. A great website I have shopped at for years is Monster Slayer. They have a large selection of affordable tools, and offer a variety of wire types.
Step 2: Match Your Stones
Unless I have purchased a "matched pair", I spend a good amount of time matching the color, cut, and size of the stones in order to find a pair that will work. Often I can only get a few matched pairs from a single strand of briolettes, so when I am able to find a match, it makes the pair that more special. Another consideration I take into account is the position of the drilled holes of the stones. If the hole is drilled higher on one stone than on the other, when the stones have been wire wrapped they will be noticeably unsymmetrical.
Step 3: Cut Your Wire
This part is easy, but important! I typically give myself 8 to 10 inches of wire to work with per stone. While there is usually excess wire to cut at the end, I find using the extra length as leverage allows me to tightly wrap the wire with precision.
Step 4: Set Up Your Wire Wrap
Setting up that first twist correctly is crucial. I thread the wire through the briolette hole until the stone is in the center of the wire, and then I bend up both sides, ensuring that the bend is as close to the stone as possible. Next, I use my round nose pliers to create another bend on one wire right above the apex of the stone, so the wire sticks up straight. I then wrap the other wire around the straight wire once, keeping the wrap as close to the top of the stone as possible. This will be the foundation for a secure and symmetrical wire wrap.
Step 5: Create the Earwire Loop
Next, I grab both wires, and using the round nose pliers, I create a large loop for the earwires. For this particular style, I am creating an extra large loop.
Step 6: Finish Wire Wrap
I keep the round nose pliers in the loop for the earwires and use it as leverage as I wrap the two wires around and down. I keep wrapping the stone with a significant amount of tension until the holes of the stone are covered. It isn't always possible to wrap until the holes are covered, but with this particular pair it works out beautifully. Once I get to the bottom of the holes, I cross both wires up the front of the wire wrapping, and then make a final wrap at the base of the earwire loop. I then snip the excess wire on the back of the briolette with my nippers, and use my flat nose pliers to push the ends of the wire into the wrapping. This last step is important, because it will prevent the ends from catching on material or hair, and helps keep the integrity of the wire wrap.
Step 7: Create Match
I then move on to the other stone. This is always the hardest part, because no two stones are cut and drilled exactly alike, and I have to do my best to make the stones and wire wrapping as symmetrical as possible. Once they are complete, I place them side by side and make sure they match. If they don't, I redo the second briolette.
Step 8: Select Your Earwires
Next, I select the earwires to use. Like the stones, no two earwires are exactly alike since they are handmade. I select two earwires that are a match in height, loop drop, and length, and then attach them to the briolettes.
Step 9: Inspect Pair
In this final step, I inspect the pair to make sure they are equal in total length, that the wire wrapping matches, and that the briolettes are secure. Once they are done, I give them a final polish if needed, and they are ready to wear! If you are a jewelry designer and have specific questions on the details of the wire wrapping technique that I used, let me know! Or, if you are curious as to how I make another one of my pieces, please leave a comment and I will select that as my next post.