Jewelers hear a lot of the same advice over and over again. One example would be the persistent call to take high-quality photographs. There is a very good reason for this being repeated ad nauseam—many, many jewelers do not take high-quality photographs.

Well, here’s my addition to the professional mantra. It’s a bit of a Mommy-Dearest-moment that my colleagues hear with abundant and annoying frequency. So let me just jump up on my soapbox, grab my bullhorn, and holler to the heavens…“No more ready-made findings!”

The elements that make a piece of jewelry wearable—the clasp, the bail, the pin finding, the ear wires—are an integral part of your overall design. They should be carefully considered early in your process and created by you rather than store-bought and slapped on as an afterthought.

Joanna Gollberg, Charm Necklace

Joanna Gollberg, Charm Necklace

Rachel Nelson Smith

Rachel Nelson Smith

Gillian E. Batcher, In Bloom

Would a potter wheel-throw a mug and attach a manufactured handle to it? Would a furniture maker build the seat and back of a chair and screw on commercial legs? I don’t think so. In my eyes, using ready-made findings is equally absurd.

Your handmade findings should complement the aesthetic of your overall design. I’m not suggesting that you to invent something never-before-seen for every project, just that you put thought and skill into the construction of your functional elements.

Basic metalworking skills are all you need to make a wide range of many attractive findings. If you can bend, clip, and wrap wire, you’re all set for earrings. If you can drill, saw, sand, and rivet, you can make a unique and very respectable pin stem.

Gina Pankowski

Gina Pankowski, Lattis #8

Sandra Enterline

Sandra Enterline, Shield

Joan Tenenbaum

Joan Tenenbaum, Raven in Flight

Handmade findings work for you to enhance and strengthen your design. Handmade findings are a reflection of your attention to detail in your jewelry and declare that your jewelry should be taken seriously.

Just like bad photography, commercial findings can be a deal-breaker for handmade jewelry. All too often I have seen great pieces get rejected because of an unfortunate clasp. Using commercial findings automatically undermines the perception of your abilities and lessens the value and appeal of your work. If you are going to devote your time, effort, and expertise to making handmade jewelry, you need to design and create the functional elements, too.

Now, I believe I am finished with my Faye Dunaway moment and can wipe off this red lipstick and hop down from my soapbox. Thanks so much for listening!


Metalworking 101 for BeadersThe Ultimate Jeweler's Guide

When you are ready to start making metal components, I recommend the information in these two books:

Metalworking 101 for Beaders: Create Custom Findings, Pendants & Projects

by Candie Cooper

The Ultimate Jeweler’s Guide: The Illustrated Reference of Techniques, Tools & Materials

by Joanna Gollberg

The jewelers featured in this blog design and create outstanding handmade findings. To learn more about them and be inspired by their jewelry, please visit their websites:

Joanna Gollberg

Rachel Nelson Smith

Gillian E. Batcher

Gina Pankowski

Sandra Enterline

Joan Tenenbaum

If you like this blog, you may also like Not Untitled: 40+ Incentives to Name Your Jewelry


14 Responses

    Robyn Hawk says:

    So when does 500 Clasps come out? or 30 minute Findings? hmmm ;-p


    Anonymous says:

    Hi Robyn…Thanks for the golden nuggets and feel free to float more ideas our way anytime! Seriously, would love a book that featured lots and lots of clasp designs and instructions. You might have been jesting…but I think it’s a great idea!

    RJ says:

    Hey Robyn,

    500 clasps would be so awesome!!! I really hope Lark makes it their next 500 series book, well after the Rings of course!

    Heidi Bundy says:

    As a bench jeweler, I have to agree on your recommendation of “The Ultimate Jeweler’s Guide.” It’s a FANTASTIC reference filled with not only facts, but projects you can try to test your self and expand on. HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone interested in any aspect of jewelry design/fabrication.

    Robyn Hawk says:

    Bring it on! I love looking at vintage pieces with hand fashioned clasps that are the focus of the piece…hidden clasps…

    I’d buy one!

    I TOTALLY approve !!!
    I recently made a jewelry exhibition, and some pieces were “downed” by , for example, an horrible ready-made (for children…) gold tone necklace clasp !!! WHAT A PITY, when the necklace itself costed SO many hours of work !!!!!!!

    Barbara Simon says:

    oh, here! here

    Oh, Here! Here! I have been ranting and raving about this for years.

    artist_w_a_good_i says:

    My sentiments, exactly. Anyone can string beads. To add a handmade component really puts the artists mark on the piece.

    Tom McCarthy says:

    The soap box is a good accessory for you, Marthe, and it goes with so much more than just red lipstick. I’m a big fan of
    simple; closures need not come with owner’s manuals. I think often the ready-made ends up on work because the maker sees the piece as done and just doesn’t want to spend more time on the piece. Plus, “It’s on the back; no one will see.” etc.
    One: realize that everything you make is going to take longer than you think it will. I call this “jewelry time”. Just accept it. I still underestimate how long things will take me.
    Two: If you don’t want to spend more time to do your own findings cause you want to finish and make something else, make the finding first!
    Lastly, people always look at the back…You comb the back of your hair and tuck in the back of your shirt… Don’t you?
    (Confession: I’ve been known to use commercial findings in production work.)

    Marcy Swanson says:

    500 Clasps, YES PLEASE!

    Hi friend..good day. to be honest, I even couldn’t envision how tough it is to find respectable piece of info around the above topic. It took me a couple of hours prior to I arrived across your site about handmade jewelry…Incredible ! You sure have done a great effort putting these inputs..handcrafted jewelry

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    Jewelers says:

    Sweet necklaces and nice post. I was always into jewelers, specially necklaces.

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