If you are just learning about jewelry making, it can be very confusing to know what exactly you will need, what each component is, and how to work with each of them. There are also a wide range of jewelry findings, tools, and techniques to learn about, you probably don’t know where to start.
So, what are calottes? Calottes, also called clamshells, are little spherical jewelry findings made of metal that can be clasped to the knot at the end of a thread and finish your beadwork. It allows you to attach a hook to create an earring, a necklace, or another piece of beadwork jewelry.
In this article, we will help you get started and understand what jewelry findings are and help you learn more about calottes, which is a type of jewelry finding.
What Are Jewelry Findings?
Jewelry findings are pieces in jewelry making that are used to join various components together. You don’t often notice them, but without these findings, a piece of jewelry may not be able to serve its purpose.
Jewelry findings are used to establish links to create a whole piece, and each finding has a unique function and can be used to create different looks.
Aside from offering structure, they are also very much a design element that can change the look of a jewelry item. From simple to complex, plain to filigree, and silver to black, they’re available in a variety of materials, colors, and sizes.
Jewelry findings are also very versatile; there are so many types of jewelry findings that have different purposes and different looks which require different ways to assemble a piece of jewelry.
Jewelry findings can be made of various metals, such as brass, copper, gold, and silver. Keep in mind that jewelry findings are normally at the joint between different pieces of jewelry, which means that they have to withstand a lot of movement, rubbing, and scratching.
Therefore, when it comes to materials for jewelry findings, you will want to invest in a durable material that can withstand all that pressure. If you want a piece of jewelry that won’t break after some use, then highly strong and durable metals are the way to go.
It is a bit impossible to tell you about all the types of jewelry findings, especially because new types of findings are invented very often. We can tell you about some of the most common types of jewelry findings below.
1. Calottes Or Clamshells
Calottes, also called clamshells, are tiny round metal pieces with a hook, meant for clasping onto a knot at the end of your beadwork or wire.
This type of finishing is a great way to hide the knots on your thread, creating a clean finish for your necklace or bracelet.
Among all of these types of finishing, calottes are probably the most high-end type of finishing.
They are usually made of sterling silver, which is an ideal material for jewelry findings, thanks to its affordability and durability, but you can also find them in brass and stainless steel with different colored coatings or platings.
Pure silver is soft and malleable and can easily be damaged when used. Silver is often combined with defensive metal to make it more durable. Sterling silver is one such combination, with at least 92.5% pure silver and some percentage of copper plated with rhodium to prevent scratches.
If you are making your own jewelry, you can easily purchase sterling silver calottes at an affordable price to add strength and class to your piece. There are so many reasons why sterling silver can make a great jewelry finding; let’s go over some great reasons below.
Sterling silver is naturally hypoallergenic, which is great for those with sensitive skin or allergies.
Although you can surely find more affordable options for jewelry findings, other metals may not have the same hypoallergenic ability. Approximately 10% of people have a nickel allergy. Other metals, such as brass, can also cause allergic reactions similar to nickel and cause minor injuries to the skin.
Sterling silver is a safe alternative since it is less likely to cause an allergic response. You don’t have to worry about allergies, especially if you are making jewelry to sell or to give as gifts to others who may or may not have a nickel or brass allergy.
When it comes to quality and strength, sterling silver definitely lives up to the price point. It is stronger than gold and more durable than other precious metals.
A sterling silver piece is incredibly durable and will keep its shape even after being worn daily. It is also a great choice for people who love the look of silver but hate having to bend their bracelets back into shape.
Thanks to its durability, sterling silver makes great jewelry findings because these areas tend to experience the most rubbing and pressure. Wearing out or breaking your jewelry is less of a worry if you have a sterling silver finding to finish it off.
Silver is also a well-known neutral metal, so you don’t have to worry too much about it not matching with the other elements in your piece. Because of its timelessness, sterling silver findings can add a subtle, elegant touch to your jewelry without much effort!
However, be aware that sterling silver is more prone to tarnishing than pure silver.
2. Bead Caps
Bead caps have different designs, sizes, and shapes and are typically placed on the end of a bead as spacers or simply for extra decoration. They’re an easy way to add some class to your beads.
A bead cap can be used with different shapes and sizes of beads and even with beaded ropes or tassels to add a bit of drama to a piece.
You’ll often see bead caps used in earrings or pendants. Since they have to work with the rounded shape of the beads, they often take the shapes of stars or flowers, wrapping nicely around the beads to create an interesting, intricate design.
3. Crimp Beads
Crimp beads are versatile gems that are used to secure ends of beading wire to other components such as jump rings and clasps.
They come in two different shapes, rounded and tubes. After the crimp is secured on a wire, it has to be flattened with pliers.
You don’t often notice crimp beads in a piece of jewelry, but they play a crucial role in helping secure a connection between different elements in a piece of jewelry.
Crimp beads are commonly used with clamshell findings (also known as calottes).
Clasps are often used to join the two sides of a necklace or bracelet. There are a huge variety of styles and materials to choose from.
The clasp can be the most subtle, almost invisible, part of a piece of jewelry, but it can also be a focal point that adds an interesting touch to a piece.
A general rule for clasps is that they have to be a strong and durable material because this is the part of a piece of jewelry that gets used most often.
5. Headpins And Eyepins
Headpins have a round ball on their ends, but there are also various headpins with flattened paddles that can be used to create more decorative embellishments.
Eyepins have round loops and can be used to add a bit of bling to a project.
6. Jump Rings
Jump rings are metal loops that are used to join various components of jewelry, such as chains and ear wires.
They are often “invisible” in a piece of jewelry but very crucial in establishing links between the different parts of a piece. These overlooked tools are an essential part of any crafter’s tool kit.
They can even be used on their own and linked to one another to create a chainmail-like pattern. You can incorporate this into your designs to make durable and jangly flowers, chains, and armour for cosplay, LARP, Halloween, Renaissance fairs, and more!
They come in all sizes and colors and are easy to use with a pair of round-nosed jewelry pliers.
Calottes For Jewellery Making
Calottes are also called clamshells, thanks to their shell-like shape. They are a great alternative to traditional wirework finishings since they hide the knot inside the shell and adds an additional loop for clasping.
When you understand the principles of calottes, working with them is actually quite easy. These tiny metal findings can be used to create a neat finish on a piece of beadwork.
They are ideal for hiding a crimp or a knot at the ends of a piece of jewelry. If you have several stands of beadwork (secured with a crimp), the calottes are great to create a uniform finish as well.
Similar to other types of findings, calottes come in a wide range of materials and colors, which you can match with your jewelry to create a seamless finish. Thanks to its elegant design, finishing with calottes tends to give your jewelry a high-end, seamless look.
Since calottes are most often used to hide a single knot, we will show you how to use calottes to hide a knot using a crimp. When you are ready to finish the beadwork, thread the calotte and push it along so that it sits right up close to the beads.
After that, you have to add your crimp (or knot your stringing material) and push it inside the shell, which will then be entirely covered when the shell is closed.
The crimp bead (or knot) should end up located inside the calotte when the clasp is closed. If you place the crimp bead (or knot) further along the thread, outside the calotte area, then when you close the calotte, it will still be visible.
After your crimp or knot is secure, you can now cut the thread. Try to get close to the knot or crimp so that the end can be entirely covered by the tiny clamshell, but don’t get too close, or the knot will unravel.
You can now close the clamshell shut, hiding the knot or crimp bead inside the calotte. If you wish to attach a clasp or a jump ring, you can use the chain nose pliers to form a loop on the end to do so.
This method gives your jewelry a nice, clean, and professional finish. If your knot or bead is hidden inside the calotte, it is also less likely to become undone, so your finish will be very secure and stable.
Different Types Of Handmade Jewelry
Although everyone starts with the simple tools, materials, and basic techniques, when it comes to handmade jewelry, there are so many different possibilities and so many different areas that allow you to express your artistry. Let’s explore some basic types of handmade jewelry below.
1. Assembled Jewelry Making
You can find the tools and materials to make this type of jewelry in most craft stores at an affordable price, and this is a great introduction to jewelry making.
All the findings we have mentioned, and the techniques above are employed in assembled jewelry making. Although this one is the most accessible type of jewelry making, it doesn’t mean it is the simplest to learn.
You can take some time to explore the craft and its many different tools, materials, and techniques, and start making jewelry just how you like it. Because this type of jewelry making is so accessible, you can always learn new techniques and adapt to new trends.
If you love resin art, knitting, crocheting, or pottery, you can also incorporate some of those crafts into jewelry making. You can make pendants out of resin or clay, for example, and use them in your DIY jewelry pieces.
That way, you don’t have to buy generic pieces in a store, and instead, you’ll have a truly unique piece for your own collection.
2. Wire-Wrapped Jewelry
Wire wrapping is very easy to spot because it makes use of wire to attach gemstones and beads to create a piece of jewelry. This type of jewelry making takes some time to learn and a lot of practice to make something that looks aesthetically pleasing.
If the piece of jewelry looks like it is intricately crafted with many rounds and layers of wire, it is wire-wrapped jewelry.
This type of jewelry making is fascinating to many crafters because it doesn’t take a lot of materials to start with, but it requires a lot of time investment to figure out a design and pattern to make a piece.
For different designs, they can use different wire gauges. For instance, a simple woven design may require a thinner gauge, while a more complex one may require a thicker one.
There are also many fascinating techniques that you can learn with this type of craft, so this is a great way to explore your creativity and learn more about jewelry making.
3. Beaded Jewelry
When you think of beaded jewelry, the picture that comes to mind might be of the simple chain necklaces that you make in arts and crafts in primary school, but that isn’t always the case.
Beaded jewelry can be made with a variety of beads and shapes; you can have some very bold and bright beads or use tiny beads with masterful techniques to create more intricate designs.
Beads can also be incorporated into most jewelry pieces; if you have a simple chain, adding beads can be a great way to add some spice to the piece.
With beaded jewelry, you can start simple with bigger beads to create bold patterns. Then, you can move on to smaller ones, exploring ways to incorporate them into a piece to create beautiful, sophisticated patterns that really show your craftsmanship.
4. Fabricated Jewelry
Handmade, fabricated jewelry is made from various metals such as gold, silver, and gemstones. This type of handmade jewelry requires you to understand the basics of metalsmithing to transform the material into rings, earrings, and necklaces.
With this type of jewelry, it takes time and dedication to learn how to make metalwork. Most jewelers start by just learning a few basic concepts, and as they gain experience, their designs can become more sophisticated.
Fabricated jewelry also requires you to invest in tools and have a dedicated workshop space to work with the metal, so it is probably not as accessible as the other types of handmade crafts.
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