July 29, 2015

'Summer Citrus' Jewel-Toned Wire Statement Necklace and Earrings (with step-by-step details on embellishing wire focal elements with beads)

And now folks, back to our regular programming. Ha! You got a little something different with the last two posts, but I just couldn't forego my wire-wrapping love for too long. And this necklace (which also has matching chandelier earrings) is the most recent result of my love affair with German copper wire.

This necklace and earrings set was inspired by these earrings, and I chose to mix glorious citrus shades like pink, orange, red, and yellow (think grapefruit, tangerines, blood oranges, lemons...). And I'm totally in love with this mix of bright jewel tones! What's better than sweet and tangy citrus fruits for summer?? (This is actually kind of ironic as in real life I'm totally allergic to citrus fruits...but if I can't eat them or smell them or be anywhere near them at least I can wear their colors, right?)


I created my basic wire focal elements using the same process as detailed in the Twilight Skies necklace post. Lately though I've been experimenting with embellishing the wire focals by 'setting' them with crystals, pearls and/or beads (like in the Green Goddess necklace and both Industrial Glam necklaces).

So I thought I'd share a quick look at my process for 'embellishing' the wire focals and how I get those beads into those tiny spaces!

Note: if these images don't appear sharp on your computer/laptop/tablet, etc., just click on the image and it should open in a separate page with better resolution.

Note: this tutorial assumes that you already have your basic wire forms created using the previous tutorial. They should also be wrapped for stability before adding embellishments; I got a little ahead of myself while taking photos and started adding the beads before the frame was wrapped, so please excuse my bare naked wire forms in the first few photos!

1. I like to work straight from the wire spool with this process, so I don't cut off a free-standing length of wire, but you are welcome to if you prefer to work a little more freely! So on a spool or length of 26-gauge wire, string the beads for one of your focal 'windows'. I work from the bottom to the top of the focal element, and so string my beads accordingly.
2. Using the smallest point of your round nose pliers, create a very tiny loop about 1/2" from the end of your wire. (Do not wrap this loop closed yet!)
3. Thread the bottom part of the frame of the focal element onto the wire and into the loop you've created and, using your needle nose pliers, tighten the loop around the frame wire so that it is almost snug but still moveable.
4. Using pliers or your fingers, begin to wrap the wire tail tightly around the beaded wire, as snug up against the frame as you can (you can use your needle nose pliers to gently maneuver your wire wraps more snugly against the frame, if needed). After you've completed 2-3 wraps (or more, if you expect to have a lot of empty space between your beads and your frame), snip your wire tail and use your needle nose pliers to tuck in the end neatly. Can you tell I'm not really a fan of 'messy' wraps?

5. Now that your wire/beads are attached to the bottom of the focal element, pull the wire up to lay inside the frame, and use your pliers (I actually just use my fingernail) to create a light bend just under where the wire touches the top of the frame.
6. At the bend you've created, use your needle nose pliers to create a loop a bit larger than you made for the bottom (again, don't wrap the loop closed yet), and now trim your wire from the spool leaving about a 1 1/4" tail.
7. This part takes a little finagling and lots of practice. Pull your beaded wire back up inside the window and wrap the open tail of the wire over the top of the focal element frame, snugging the frame inside the open loop you created in step 6, making sure the tail comes back through the window so that it's fully encircling the wire frame. You might have to use your pliers to reshape things a little at this point.
8. Use your needle nose pliers to pull the wire loop snugly around the wire frame so that the top of the beaded element does not move around.

9. This part takes the most finagling and practice. Start closing the loop by tightly wrapping the wire tail around the beaded wire, making as many wraps as necessary to fill the space between the upper loop and the beads (the beads need to be wrapped snugly to stay in place and not move up and down on the wire; plus, this adds stability to the beaded element). Use your pliers if necessary to gently snug the wraps up against the top loop to keep things tight.
10. Once you have all of your wraps created, trim off the extra wire and use your needle nose pliers to tuck in the end neatly.
11. Use the same process to embellish any other windows on your focal element(s) you wish to.
12. Once all of your frame windows are embellished, then you can add any top focal beads.

I won't lie, this can be a time-consuming process. Especially if you have a lot of frame windows to embellish. And the smaller the window, the more difficult it is to get the wraps to be snug and tidy. But it really only takes a little bit of practice and repetition to get the process down smoothly, and then you can just veg in front of something interesting on tv (or at least something interesting to listen to, because what beader ever really gets to look at what they're 'watching' on tv while beading??) and embellish all your frames at once.

I love how the frames look all bejeweled with crystals, quartzite and bamboo coral beads! It's sort of my wire-wrap interpretation of the rhinestone statement necklaces that are super trendy right now.

I used a mix of metals in this set--silver wire for the beaded wire focal components and copper wire for the wire connector elements on either side, as well as the chain links separating the glass pearls in the middle strand.

I also used silver wire for the handmade chain around the back of the necklace, and I used a simple copper colored toggle clasp to finish it off. As usual, everything in this necklace is handmade except for the toggle (same with the earrings below--entirely handmade except for the earwires), and all of the wire elements are made with German-style copper wire. Seriously, I love that stuff.

I had two extra wire frames left over once I completed the necklace, so I turned them into matching chandelier earrings. They're a little bit gaudy, but gaudy is sort of the name-of-the-statement-jewelry-game these days, so I figured, why the heck not? They could easily be worn casually without the necklace, or super-fancy-dressed-up with the necklace.

I really love this blend of colors together. I think in person it's much more stunning than in the photos. And because it's constructed mostly from wire, it's unexpectedly lightweight and easy to wear. Perfect for summer festivities!

What do you think of the citrus color pallette? Do you like the bejeweled wire frames, or would you prefer them more unembellished? How would you wear the earrings?

I'd love to know!


Linking up with:

Show and Tell Link Party at Flamingo Toes
Worthwhile Wednesday at Crafty Allie
Your Whims Wednesday at My Girlish Whims
Friday Finds at Minted Strawberry
Link Party Palooza at I Heart Naptime
The Creative Corner at Curly Crafty Mom


  1. Love this necklace. Thank you for sharing. I plan on starting this first thing in the morning. SueM

    1. Many thanks Sue! I really hope you enjoy using this tutorial!


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