Position yourself as a jewelry making professional by knowing the names of different jewelry components. You will know better how to impress potential customers and how to speak with jewelry shop owners and potential suppliers by knowing the industry terminology.
Definition of a Jewelry Finding
In jewelry terms, a “finding” is a component of jewelry less than a finished piece. Findings include jewelry closures such as clasps and toggles, Tiffany mounts and bezels for setting stones and crystals, headpins, eyepins and earring findings.
Definition of Earwire Findings
One type of finding used for earrings is an earwire. As the name implies, an earwire is for the ear and is made of wire. An earwire normally goes through an ear where it is pierced, although there are large earwires or earcuffs that fit around different parts of the ear. The area where a dangle or wire wrap is hung is often called a “loop”.
Earwires are also known as “french wires”, “earring hooks” or just “hooks”.
The simplest of earwire designs is a round wire shaped into a curve, with an open loop at the front of the wire to hold a dangle or wire wrap. When sections of the earwires have been flattened, they are called hammered earwires. Very traditional variations of earwires include earwires with coils, with a tiny coil of wire above the loop or ball-and-coil earwires, which have both a bead and a coil above the loop. “Ball-end” earwires are shaped wire with a ball soldered onto the front end; the loop is usually more of a “U” shape than a circle.
Fancier earwires will incorporate granulated beads, bezel-set crystals and other embellishments to enhance their appearance. The use of a twisted wire, with optional oxidizing, is another enhancement made to earwires.
Earwires are produced in precious and base metals. The materials most often used by the DIY jewelry community will include:
- Sterling Silver
- Silver Plate
- Gold Plate
- Antique Brass Plate
- Bright Copper Plate
- Antique Copper Plate
- Gunmetal Plate (Hematite/Hematine)
- Black Oxide Plate (Matte Black)
The plated earwires are most often made over brass or surgical steel. People with nickel allergies will want to avoid many gunmetal plates, which are defined as “black nickel”. U.S. and European-standard sterling silver will be nickel free. Many people look for earwires which are both nickel free and lead free.
Rather than risking the loss of one or both earrings, earring stops are recommended. For earwires, the stops are usually a white rubber cylinder with a center hole or clear plastic of a similar design. Stops are inexpensive insurance for those who sell earrings or give them as gifts.
Tools Recommended for Assembling Earrings
Jewelry-grade chain nose pliers or flat nose pliers are recommended for assembling earrings using earwires. (Wire wrapping the dangles or creating your own earwires will require additional tools.) These pliers will be smooth on the inside to minimize any marks transferred to earwires or dangles. An upgrade from normal jewelry pliers to nylon-jawed pliers will prevent accidental marking even more.
Earwires are one set of inexpensive jewelry findings that will let you unleash your personal creativity in jewelry design. The variety of earwire designs available will keep you from getting bored while making earrings.