Saving money on DIY jewelry

Make Your Own Jewelry for Less

by Shaunna Privratsky

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Lots of people are getting into the jewelry making trend. Craft stores that hold workshops are filled to capacity, typically 25 people or more. A local Michael's employee revealed that the average cost of one project like a necklace with semi-precious stones runs about $80 for the supplies.

I'm all for being creative, but I don't have an extra $80 to throw around. I looked around for some less expensive alternatives. Walmart has an extensive array of kits to make earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. They come with everything you need, including the beads or decorations, the string or wire, and any hardware pieces.

Each kit runs $10 up to $28, which is a substantial savings over the craft store. Yet I thought I could do even better. Walmart also sells individual beads, packs of earring hardware, lengths of necklaces, and a large assortment of unique decorations like metal or glass medallions, chunks of pretty stones, feathers, etc. You could pick out the exact pieces you want for the look you are creating.

You can also pick up the tools to make jewelry. It is handy to have a wire cutter, needle-nose pliers, and regular pliers. A set of three pliers runs only $8. Or you may have the necessary tools already.

Another way to save money on making your own jewelry is to use the beads, buttons, and unique pieces you already have. Look no further than your jewelry box or bead collection. Give all your old or broken necklaces new life as bracelets or earrings.

Small pieces of exotic or carved wood, metal, lightweight shells, or other materials from nature make striking and unusual jewelry. Fashion handmade pieces by boring a small hole through the piece with a tiny drill bit.

It's easy to design and make your own earrings. First, purchase earring hardware. I bought a large pack of earring hooks at Walmart for only $1.96. You could also find them at craft or hobby stores near you. Then I gathered my beads, buttons, sturdy fishing line, and two pairs of pliers.

Tie a sturdy knot through the ring at the bottom of the earring hook. Next, string your buttons or beads in the pattern you want. Tie off with another sturdy knot. You can gently apply heat from a lighter to slightly melt the nylon string and fuse the knot tighter. Repeat for matching earring. Use the pliers to open and close metal rings or to connect pieces.

Some beads can simply be slipped on, depending on the backing and how it hangs. Several pairs I designed used buttons with small metal hoops on the back. A dot of clear crafter's glue holds the button vertical and hides the back. Hot glue from a glue gun would work as well.

If you prefer the stud-type earrings, there are a couple of different options. For a large button or bead, simply glue the piece to the flat surface of the earring post. Others come with a small loop at the base that you can string a row of beads from, similar to the hook style. Finish it with a flourish by gluing an additional bead to the post. Bracelets and necklaces are just as simple to make, using the same basic steps.

If you don't have an interesting collection of beads and buttons, you can shop garage sales, thrift stores, and antique shops. My daughter found a dozen jars of old buttons at a neighborhood sale for mere pennies. Together we gleaned tons of wonderful buttons for crafts and jewelry making.

Ask your mom or grandma for some old pieces. They might have some interesting stories about old buttons and beads they've saved. The resulting earrings or jewelry will be steeped in history and sentiment. I still wear my mom's original, 1970s bright orange lava stone bracelet, paired with my bead and feather earrings that I made. I inherited her collection of jewelry and beads when she passed away and I've made good use of them.

Her old silver charm bracelet yielded four pairs of unique earrings. An unraveling necklace made a matching set of earrings and a bracelet. Her varied beads and buttons found their way into necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and lots of craft projects. I even designed a decorative screen using beads and baubles strung on black yarn.

I'm having a blast wearing my new jewelry. You can do it, too. Look through your jewelry box, beads, and buttons for inspiration. Shop at garage sales and thrift stores for unusual pieces. Use your imagination to form your own beautiful jewelry for less.

Reviewed May 2017

Shaunna Privratsky became an expert in personal finance out of necessity. Between writing, reading and gardening, she is always on the lookout for bargains. Please sign up for the free newsletters at The Discount Diva. You can also visit Shaunna on Google+.

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