Updated: Jul 15, 2021
When I first became interested in making my own jewelry, I was quickly overwhelmed by the multitude of methods and the corresponding supplies lists. I bought supplies that I never ended up using, and ultimately wasted a lot of time and money. To stop you from making my mistakes, here is everything you need to know if you want to get started with jewelry making.
If you take a look at what I sell, it mostly consists of either beaded or wire creations, so I'm going to focus on supplies for those categories. However, these items can be used to make endless other jewelry pieces, so I would still recommend this list even if you're not interested in making what I make.
Beaded necklaces and bracelets
I usually use this Beadalon stringing wire for bracelets and necklaces because it is pretty reasonable and I've never had any problems with it breaking. It is flexible and easy to work with. They have many options for the wire's thickness, but I usually use the 0.012 inch because it is thin enough to fit through the seed beads I use. This wire comes in 7-strand, 19-strand, and 49-strand. The higher strand count is better quality and will last longer. It is also more flexible. The color of the string doesn't matter because it usually has beads covering it.
For bracelets, I will sometimes use stretchy string - this can also be used for making stretchy beaded rings. This one has only broken a few times for me and that's because I overstretched it. It's also pretty cheap and it comes with a lot of string, which is great for beginners.
Findings include clasps, jump rings, and crimp beads - these are all used to seal off a necklace or bracelet. They often come in gold, silver, and rose gold, but I've also seen some that are made to look antique and in random colors. They also come in a variety of metal quality (gold plated, sterling silver, 14k gold), which affects how pricey they are. Jump rings come in many sizes - they are what you will attach your clasp to, so it's up to you how big you'd like them to be. Getting a variety pack, like the one linked to this picture, is great for beginners because you can test what size is most comfortable for you. Jump rings can also be used to attach charms to jewelry and to link chain or string together, so the variety of sizes will be useful in more ways than one.
You will also need a crimping tool: here is my recommendation.
This is where it gets fun. Shopping for beads has always been my favorite part of jewelry making because it is so unique to each person. I'll put some good beginner choices that come with a lot of options so that you can experiment with what you like, then invest in that. Here is a great seed bead kit. Seed beads are essentially just small stringing beads that come in a variety of sizes and colors - they look super cute alone, but you can also add some fun accent beads, like these stars.
Wire Rings and Earrings
Wire comes in different gauges, which means thickness. As the gauge gets higher, the wire gets thinner. Wire comes in all different colors and metals, including brass, copper, aluminum, silver plated, sterling silver, gold filled, gold plated, etc etc. I find that copper is a great beginner metal because it is pretty soft and easy to work with, whereas brass is a little stiffer. Wire can be used to make wire wrapped rings, earrings, and even bracelets. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube.
The gauge of the wire is more of a personal choice once you know what you want to do with it, but to make a simple crystal bead ring, I'd suggest 18 or 20 gauge. These are also the gauges used to make ear wires, which is the hook-like part of the earring that goes into the ear. If you have sensitive ears, be wary of what wire you use to make earrings. Buying them premade is usually a better option. Here is a great premade choice.
If you want to start wire wrapping, you'll need a thicker gauge (usually between 16 and 22) of wire and a pretty thin gauge of wire (usually between 24 and 30).
18 gauge silver wire: https://amzn.to/3xrM460
18 gauge copper wire: https://amzn.to/3gABZy5
My jewelry is mostly centered around crystals, and I purchase many of them off of Etsy. I'll post another article on my favorite Etsy bead stores. There are a few options on Amazon, but I haven't personally tried them out. The one linked here is amazon's choice for crystal beads.