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February 11, 2008

How to make easy sterling silver earrings

Hearts and Crafts

Do-It-Yourself Bling
One day, I lost an earring to the sucking vortex of the toilet.  After the shrieking stopped, I vowed to cheat the toilet gods forevermore.  I’d make my own earrings, so whenever I lost one I could replace it.  No more orphaned bijoux, no more toilet-centric anguish.   

Ann_wylietoalI was further inspired by Ann Wylie-Toal, a designer and artist living in Flesherton Ontario (www.awtdesigns.com).  I visited her studio and in 7 minutes flat, she whipped up an amazingly complex pair of gold wire earrings for me. Ann has a 3-D aptitude to rival Leonardo da Vinci’s, but I didn’t realize this until I decided to make earrings for Christmas presents.

I thought, “How hard can it be?”  So I crafted one pair after another of huge Eighties earrings until a relative said, “Are those earrings or ham radio antennae?” 

The upshot of the resulting conflagration was the valuable lesson that subtlety actually increases the value of jewelry.  An earring that’s bigger than, say, half your face, looks too flashy, too goofy or too much like it should be a wind chime.  Plus, you need Big Hair to balance the ear gear, and who has time for backcombing?

So I learned that no earring should be any larger than your eyeball, and that rule has helped me come up with bling that’s actually flattering to the wearer.

Tools and Jewels

Making jewelry is fun and materials like sterling silver wire are cheaper than you’d think, especially if you buy it at a jeweler’s supply place, which is a total paradise of cool equipment and ideas (consult your Yellow Pages under Jewelers Supply and Findings).  Supply houses (I used Lacy’s in Toronto) have everything from tools to diamonds, and the people are very helpful, even if you’re a total newb.

Sterling wire is cheap - you get about 3 feet of sterling for $8.95, and it’s nice and soft so you can whack it with a hammer to flatten it if you’re sick to death of wire being round.  And who wouldn’t be.

I’ve also been experimenting with niobium and titanium, two of the most inert and hypoallergenic metals you can use if you’ve got a nickel allergy that makes your skin itch, turn red and weep like a Patriots fan.

P1030264_hi_res The tools you’ll need are inexpensive too - I bought a set of five different pliers at Walmart for $13.  Frankly, they’re a bit lame and they don’t cut worth a sniff.  It would have been smarter to get the $30 kit at the jewelers’ supply place. 

You can sign up for a free e-course in jewelry fabrication at www.about.com ; They’ll give you basics in simple tools and techniques you can use to make chains, rings, necklaces and even chain maille, because you never know when you might need to start a sword fight.

In the meantime, here’s an easy project to get you started. 

Steps for Atomic Malteser Earrings

  1. Buy a package of Maltesers.  Freeze two Maltesers.  Eat the rest.
  2. Cut two 10-inch pieces of sterling wire
  3. P1010613_2 Using a 1/16-inch drill bit, drill a pilot hole through one frozen Malteser
  4. Feed about 2 inches of silver wire through the pilot hole
  5. Using pliers, grasp the long end of the wire where it inserts into the Malteser, and give it a 90-degree kink.
  6. Holding the frozen Malteser firmly, wrap the long end of the silver wire around the Malteser in a descending spiral
  7. When you reach the bottom of the Malteser, slide a seed pearl or other gem tidbit onto the end of each wire.      Then twist the end of each wire with round-nose pliers to form a tight coil.  (This locks the pearls in place.)
  8. You can hammer the tip of the coil a couple of whacks on an anvil to flatten the wire.  Try not to hit the pearl.       
  9. P1010627_hi_res Using a separate 1-1/2-inch piece of wire, form an earring hook.
  10. Twist a loop in the top of the earring and attach the hook. 
  11. Run the earring under hot water for about a minute until the Malteser melts and the earring is rinsed clean.  (or leave the Malteser in place for a gift of both chocolate AND jewelry)

P1030284_hi_resIf all of that effort seems like too much trouble to go to for your Valentine, simply buy a pair of fishing lures at Canadian Tire and attach them to earring hooks (see shiny trout danglers on left side of photo).  Don’t forget a hand-made card that says, “There are plenty of other fish in the sea, but you’re the only bait for me.”   



I don't even want to know HOW you happen to lose earrings in the toilet! Thanks for the jewelry making lesson, though.


I was wearing a big turtleneck sweater and the collar pushed on the earring hook and ejected it from my ear at the precise moment of flushing. I know, what are the odds?


Dont feel bad. If makes you feel better my watch once ended up in the washing machine!(laughs)

Glad to know I'm not alone in the water-logged accessories department.



Thank you *so* much for this Mag! I have a ton of my Dad's old fishing lures and I've always thought they'd make interesting earrings. I also adore the silver earrings as well. I think I am definately going to give this a try!!!

BTW I've also done the earring in the toilet bit...and a ring... and a comb... you get the idea. So you aren't alone in the toilet-accessory-eating experience. I found that these little plastic o-rings at the jewelry supply places are great for that turtleneck/hook earring dilemma. They are like posts for the hooks and help them hang on!


Hi Corey,
Thanks for commiserating on the toilet debacle! That's a fantastic idea to use those little rubber things to prevent earring loss. I've sacrificed gobs of earrings to the turtleneck factor.

Have fun with your lures!



Replyin to mag
Glad to know I'm not alone in the water-logged accessories department.


Brilliant... Heeey!(laughs)

Pearl Earrings

When you reach the bottom of the Malteser, slide a seed pearl or other gem tidbit onto the end of each wire.

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