Online is a great way to shop as you can sit in the comfort of your own home with a cup of tea and shop to your hearts content and many online jewellery suppliers ship to you next day as long as you order before a certain time in the day. A few I have ordered from in the past include Fire Mountain Gems, Rings ‘n’ Things, Beadsunlimited and some eBay shops.
The service for me has been great although I do sometimes get clobbered with the shipping costs because I live in England but most of the time it’s well worth it for the unusual items that are available. For silver I use a couple of the above stores but I like Cookson Precious Metals, they have a great line in silver and don’t just sell wire!
eBay is a good source for jewellery making supplies too as there are shops now that are dedicated to selling jewellery making items and beads and although a lot of the time it’s the price you would pay in a shop, you have the same rights as if you bought online or in a physical store and you have the added excitement of being able to bid for an item and perhaps not having to pay full price!
My most favourite way of shopping though is going to an actual shop and being able to pick up beads, feel the texture and soak up the atmosphere. There is a little bead shop opened recently in my town and another about 10 miles away from where I live which incorporates jewellery making classes too. Many times have I dreamt of setting up my own little store complete with coffee stop and magazines…
My most favourite jewellery making supplies shop in England is in Brighton and it’s called The Brighton Bead Shop or if you shop online beadsunlimited. I love Brighton anyway so having the bead shop there is a complete bonus for a bead addict like me.
Making silver jewellery
Now you can either go down the route of buying your sterling silver findings already made, which is a route I strongly recommend for a newbie to jewellery making, or you can make your own sterling jewellery out of sterling wire and sheet.
To make sterling silver jewellery you will need your basic jewellery making tools as well as sterling silver wire. Sterling silver wire comes in ‘gauges’ and sometimes instead of a gauge, you will find a number like 0.03 which is inches. You can find wire converters online which are great if you’re anything like me and can never remember what 0.3 is in a gauge!
If you want to make your own adjustable sterling silver ring you need to use about six inches of 18ga (0.04inches) wire and you will need either a mandrel or a piece of wooden dowel. In very basic terms, curl one end of the wire so it forms a small snails shell shape about 1/4in diameter then veer so slightly bend the straight piece of wire just by the end of the snails shell you have just made. Wrap the wire around the mandrel/dowel passing the middle of the wire, so it overlaps slightly. Once you’ve done this, slightly bend the wire again and make another snail shell shape with the other end of the wire, forming it inwards from the outside of the spiral (this can be a bit tricky) and if there is any wire left, snip it off with your wire cutters and smooth it with a small file so there are no sharp ends.