Since I’ve started making jewelry, I’ve noticed that hoop earrings are both incredibly easy and amazingly versatile. They’re usually lightweight and they are quick to make. Once I started making hoop earrings, I just couldn’t stop!
It’s not difficult to make your own hoop earrings, but I’ve noticed that a lot of homemade jewelry artists out there buy premade hoops! It’s really not necessary, and when you make your own hoops, you can determine exactly how big you want them to be and what you want to make them out of.
So, for those intrepid jewelry makers out there who want to give handmade hoops a try, here are some simple instructions:
1. Choose Appropriate Wire
It’s easy to make the mistake of picking just any wire for your project because you like the color of it. Choose 20- or 22-gauge wire, but make sure that your wire is half-hard, not dead soft. If you go with dead soft, you’ll notice that your hoops don’t have any strength and won’t hold their shape. You’re better off choosing something like sterling silver wire or another harder metal, since soft metals like copper don’t work very well for hoop frames.
2. Use A Mandrel
This doesn’t have to be a traditional mandrel, like a ring mandrel. This can be anything that’s large and cylindrical. When I make my hoop earrings, I actually use a large highlighter. The important thing to remember is that you choose a mandrel that is actually about 30% smaller than the hoop you want to create.
Also, if your mandrel is not the same size all the way along, then you may want to use tape or a marker to pinpoint where on that mandrel you want to wrap your wire. This will help with uniformity.
3. Wrap The Wire
Now it’s time to take your wire and wrap it around your mandrel. There are a couple of things you’ll want to keep in mind: One wrap around the mandrel will not make one hoop. You’ll actually need to go about one and a half times around the mandrel to make one hoop, because you will need some extra for a) when the wire springs back towards its natural curl, and b) creating your hook and eye.
It’s also best to create two hoops at once when you’re wrapping, so that they’ll be the same size. Larger hoops will need less extra wrapping than smaller hoops will, so the more you do this, the more you’ll be able to gauge how much wire you’ll need for your hoops. To start, though, try wrapping the wire around at least three times to make two hoops.
When you let go of your wire, it should spring back outward and pop off of the mandrel. If the wire doesn’t spring back at all, then it’s a sign that your wire is too soft and it probably won’t be good for hoops.
4. Cut Your Wire & Loop It
Cut your wire off your spool at the end of your coil. You should be able to just cut your coil at the halfway point and have two wraps with overlapping ends that look sort of like a double jump ring or a keyring.
File one of the cut ends so that it’s round and smooth. You can do this with a jewelry file or a nail file. Then, take a pair of round nose pliers and grip that filed end with the tip of the pliers. Curl it around sideways until it forms a 3/4 circle. Then gently squeeze it shut with the pliers. This forms the eye of the hook-and-eye combo.
Now’s the fun part! You get to put your beads onto your hoop earring. Go crazy! You can put as few or as many beads on here as you want. The reason we already closed off one end of the hoop is so that if you drop it (like I tend to do), you’ll only have one end where all the beads can slide off. Trust me, that saves time and frustration.
6. Create The Hook
Once you’ve got your beads on your hoop and it looks the way you want it, it’s time to lock the other end in. One thing to keep in mind: if you put a thin, flat bead as your finishing bead, it might be able to make it around the right-angle of the hook and fall off the earring. So just be mindful of your end beads.
To make the hook, first trim off the extra wire. You’ll want to make sure that there’s about a quarter inch of wire that overlaps with the “eye” you created earlier. Then, using a pair of flat nose pliers, grab that extra quarter inch and bend it at a right angle upward. This creates the hook that will fit into the eye. Go ahead and file the end.
7. Finish It Off
All that’s left is a little quality check. Make sure that you can close your hoop earring easily. The hook should slide into the eye without having to distort the earring too much. You might find that you have to make your hook a little shorter, or that you have to angle the eye down for a better fit. If you adjust the size of your hook, make sure that you file it again after. You wouldn’t want to put a jagged piece of metal through your ear!
Now, hold your earring out and take a look at it. When you look at it sideways, is the wire bent? If so, just straighten it a little. If you’ve accidentally lost some of the curl in your wire, go ahead and take your mandrel and gently put it inside your hoop and press the wire around it to restore some of the curve.
Once you’re satisfied, you’re finished! Congratulations! You’ve successfully made your own hoop earrings from scratch!
If you’re looking for supplies, StravaMax offers everything from jewelry tools to wire, findings, and beads. We have everything you need to create your own jewelry!