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Must-Have Tools for Designing and Making Jewelry

By Beverly McCullough on April 15, 2014

One of my favorite things about designing jewelry is the wide variety of styles and materials you can choose from. You can make jewelry out of anything from fabric to wood, to metal, or other fun materials. Choosing the right tool to go with your project is just as important as the design, and there are as many tools as there are styles and materials.

Must-Have Tools for Designing and Making Jewelry

There are a few starter tools that most jewelry designers will want to have at their disposal — and keep in mind that you'll want to choose tools that are well made. They might cost a little more to start with, but they will produce a better product and be more reliable. The last thing you want to deal with while creating a new line or an exciting new piece is faulty tools.

Basic Wire and Bead Tools

You will need some basic pliers and wire cutters for most metal and wirework. Make sure you test out the handles (or read online reviews) before you buy to make sure they are comfortable.

  • Round nose pliers: These pliers are rounded and taper to the ends. They are perfect for making loops in wire, holding small pieces, and for wire wrapping.
  • Chain nose pliers: These are flat pliers that come to a taper at the end. They are used for gripping or bending wire, opening and closing jump rings, and picking up small items.
  • Flat nose pliers: These pliers are flat but do not taper at the end. They can hold beads without scratching them and can be sued to hold wire in place or straighten it.
  • Crimp pliers: Use these to close crimp beads correctly.
  • Wire cutters: Don't skimp here. You will use these for all wire cutting — and you'll want something strong, with a comfortable grip.
Must-Have Tools for Designing and Making Jewelry

Sewing Necessities

Even if you usually create pieces with wire and metal, it's a good idea to have some sewing tools on hand so you can branch out into other materials if inspiration strikes. Since needles are inexpensive, consider buying a variety for different uses, such as embroidery, beading or leather. Also buy or borrow a pair of sharp scissors that you do not use to cut wire, as using them on wire will ruin the blades. Needles for hand sewing and scissors will get you through most simple sewn jewelry pieces, but a sewing machine can also be very useful if you frequently create jewelry with fabric, ribbons, felt or leather.

Additional Tools

Here are some additional items you'll want to have on hand, as well as some tools for more specific projects you might like to try.

  • Measuring tools: Different sized rulers and a ring gauge are necessities. You also might want to look into calipers and a bracelet gauge. Must-Have Tools for Designing and Making Jewelry
  • Hammers, blocks and steel stamps: If you are interested in shaping, texturizing or stamping metal, you will want to look at hammers and blocks. They have many different styles, and what you choose depends on your materials and the look you want to achieve. You can also texturize leather with these tools.
  • Power tools: Rotary tools have so many bits and accessories, and you can use them for a variety of cuts and finishes. You can also purchase tumblers, polishing systems and even a drill press for your projects.

These tools are all widely available online, so get what you need for your jewelry designs. Using quality tools that are right for the project go a long way in making the jewelry creation process more efficient and fun.

Bonus Offer: Want to learn how to design and fabricate your own jewelry collection? Request a Catalog, or Enroll in the New York Institute of Art and Design's Jewelry Design Course today!

About the Author

Bev grew up in a family of artists and seamstresses so it is no surprise that she loves to create. She began sewing as a teenager and made her own clothes and jewelry even then. That love for DIY and creating has grown to include jewelry making, sewing, embroidery, furniture refinishing and anything else she can learn. Her style could probably be described best as a mix between modern and vintage —she loves taking old styles and making them new and fun again. Several of Bev's projects have been published in magazines such as Jewelry Affaire, Somerset Home, FreshStyle, and Apronology, and she occasionally teaches jewelry classes. She's also the co-planner for the SoCal Social, an annual event for Southern California creative bloggers. Bev lives in gorgeous Carlsbad, California with her husband, two teenagers, and two cats, which are often more trouble than the two teenagers. Find her at

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