I have always admired the minimalist, simple silver jewelry that manages to be both elegant and fun. And so, when I found some sterling silver wire in the craft stash, I decided it was time to try my hand at making some. Little did I realize, when I began, how simple and how addictive the process is!
The first thing you need, to create jewelry like these earrings, is sterling silver wire. A 20-gauge wire spool will cost around US$20 and can be found at local jewelry supply stores or at online vendors. You’ll also need a metal surface on which to hammer your jewelry – I got a piece of scrap steel at the surplus store for $7.50. You’ll need a hammer and also various jewelry pliers for shaping your wire.
To make this pair of earrings, I snipped off two equal lengths of wire that were about 2 1/2 inches long. I used my round-nose pliers to form a curl on one end. Then, with my flat-nose pliers, I bent a portion of the wire back to form the backside of the earring.
When I had two forms that were close to matching and otherwise made me happy, I pulled out my hammer and steel block.
Hammering is loud, so don’t try this late at night if you have neighbors.
Place the earring flat on the steel block. Use your hammer on the front side of the earring. Start with gentle hammer strikes until you get a feel for how much force is necessary. Don’t hammer your metal TOO thin or it will break easily.
Turn the earring over and repeat so that the other side receives the same hammered texture. You can use a variety of hammers for different effects. Then, very gently, hammer the rear portion of the earring. You don’t want to flatten the wire, just tap it.
This hammering lends strength to the silver wire. It is called work hardening.
You can continue to shape and bend your earrings after they are hammered, but try to make such adjustments small. Rehammer if necessary. Finish your new earrings off with a polish and then enjoy!