Handmade Necklaces to Make and Give


You can learn a lot about an individual by their choice of jewelry. Do they like big beads? Delicate chains? Ribbons? Frills and trims? Minimalist-minded pendants? The only question left to answer is, "What kind of statement would you make?"

We've reimagined the charm bracelet as a necklace with new combinations of chains, ribbons, and jump rings, all found at crafts and bead shops. Here, we mixed assorted chains with one another, as well as with sturdy ribbons and braided embroidery floss that withstand wear.

Delicately detailed and alive with seasonal sparkle, our handmade necklaces are simple to construct without any special jewelry tools. Raid your sewing box, button jar, and junk drawer. Stock up on store-bought sequins, beads, and baubles. All the delightful notions you come across can be turned into jewelry. When selecting your specimens, look for a range of sizes and styles, but make sure everything is lightweight. Beads and the thin ribbon or silk beading cord on which to string them come in just about any color imaginable, so you can tailor each piece as you please. It takes only a few steps and some ordinary materials such as fabric, ribbons, paint, string, and glue to create a bunch of charming trinkets. Simply pile it all on in a crazy cluster of color and texture.

Put your personal touch on all kinds of accessories, and they'll really stand out. Your version may look nothing like this one—and that's what will make it one-of-a-kind beautiful.

01 of 14

Pearl Lariat Necklace

pearl lariat necklaces
Kirsten Francis

Combine suede and leather with glossy pearl beads. You can make two lariat styles with our sliding-knot techniques: one with two beads trailing down from the knot (left), and another with beads above and below it. The only challenge is deciding what pretty materials to pair.

02 of 14

Clay Necklace

woman wearing clay pendant necklace
Chelsea Cavanaugh

These clay necklaces can be made in two variations, create a half-moon pendant or a tube pendant. Use clay to make the pendants and once you're done just bake them in the oven to reveal the finished product.

03 of 14

Dyed Wooden Beads Necklace


A quick dye gives unfinished beads a beachy, weathered look. These monochromatic necklaces, strung on leather cord, can be worn solo or piled on for effect. String wooden beads onto leather cord to determine how many to dye. Transfer beads onto floral wire. In a nonreactive bowl, mix eight cups boiling water with dye. Bend wire ends upward. Wearing rubber gloves, submerge beads for two to six minutes, agitating gently. Let dry overnight on paper towels. To seal beads (optional), spray with polyurethane, following manufacturer's directions; let dry. Restring beads on leather cord; knot and trim the ends.

Shop Now: Rit All-Purpose Dye, in Yellow, Teal, Taupe Evening Blue, Denim Blue, $4.79, michaels.com; Bead Landing Natural Wooden Round Beads, 1/2", $4 for 20, michaels.com.

04 of 14

Wood and Neon Lanyard Necklace

Johnny Miller

Plastic lanyard (or lacing) in neon colors stands out against the natural neutrals of wood and leather. To make the center necklaces, cut two pieces of lanyard about twice the length of the desired finished product. Slide a bead over both pieces to just off center; leave at least a 12-inch tail. Loop the ends of both pieces back over the bead and thread through again (creating a backstitch). Repeat with all beads; finish with another tail at least 12 inches long. Secure around neck with a double knot. To make the necklace on the right, cut enough pieces to desired length to fill hole in bead. Thread all pieces through the holes of each bead, spacing as desired (the tight fit will hold the beads in place).

Shop Now: RexDuo Plastic Lacing, $3.49 for 100 yd., pepperell.com; Woodworks Ltd. Unfinished Wood Beads, 3/4" Round, $8.75 for 100, craftparts.com; Woodworks Ltd. Unfinished Wood Beads 1" Oval, $9.50 for 100; craftparts.com.

05 of 14

Shimmery Lariat Necklace

Raymond Hom

Metallic ribbon and silvery bugle beads echo pearls' luster with a subtle sheen. If a few bugle beads come loose from the ties, don't fret. They can easily be replaced. Generously apply glue to one side of the end of one of the twill tapes (you will need two 12-inch pieces), and begin to press bugle beads into rows on the glue. Continue working until about six inches of the twill tape are covered in bugle beads; repeat on the other twill tape; let dry. Attach a length of twill tape about four inches up from each end of the ribbon by knotting it to the ribbon. Glue two pearls at each knot, one on each side. Using thread and a beading needle, stitch pearls in place. Then create a cluster to cover each knot with a mix of about a dozen additional pearls and beads. Working between the knots at about four-inch intervals along the metallic ribbon, glue pairs of pearls to either side, and add five or six additional beads and sequins at each pearl point to make smaller clusters.

Shop Now: Beacon Magna-Tac Glue, $12, beaconadhesives.com; Purl Soho Linen Twill with Cream Edging, from $3.75, purlsoho.com; John James Beading Needle, $3, joann.com.

06 of 14

Braided Dupioni Silk Necklace


Dupioni silk in sherbet shades has a lovely luster. When you tear the fabric into strips, it frays, giving the braids a soft, fringed look. Rip dupioni silk into one-inch-wide strips; 1/2 yard makes three necklaces. Knot ends of three strips, and braid. When you get to the end, hand-stitch additional fabric strips onto the first three (stagger the new additions if possible to disguise the seams). Continue braiding to the desired length (our necklaces are as long as 60 inches), and knot. Knot ends together to make a loop.

Shop Now: Bungalow Quilting Dupioni Silk, in Gold, $18.24 per 1/2 yd., etsy.com.

07 of 14

Jade Beaded Necklace with Ribbon


A single strand of beads is enough for a necklace, thanks to satin ribbons. The beads are strung onto silk cord that comes with a needle on one end for easy threading. Cut two one-yard lengths of ribbon. Unwind the silk cord fully from its spool. Thread one bead onto cord, sliding it down and leaving a five-inch tail. Attach ribbon: Holding bead on tail, use cord to tie a secure double knot at midpoint of one ribbon. Secure bead: Pull the needle back through the first bead. Knot tail and needle ends together next to the second bead; trim tail. Thread second bead; knot cord next to bead. Repeat to add remaining beads. After last knot, use cord to tie a secure double knot at midpoint of second ribbon. Pull needle back through last bead, and tie a knot around existing cord; trim end.

Shop Now: MJ Trimming French Double Faced Satin Ribbon, 1", $3 per yd., mjtrim.com.

08 of 14

Wooden-Circle Bib Necklace


Here, the basic stringing technique is adapted to create interlinking loops. Make the center piece: Cut an 18-inch length of nylon-coated beading wire. String 12 beads onto the middle of wire, and thread the opposite end through the last bead to make the bottom circle. For the middle circle, string five beads onto each end. Add one more, and thread opposite end through it. For the top circle, string 5 beads onto each end. Add one more bead and a metal crimp, and thread opposite end through each. Close crimp with needlenose pliers; trim ends. Make the right piece: Cut a 55-inch length of wire. String seven beads onto the middle of wire, then loop in far-right bead of center piece’s middle circle. Add three more beads to left end, and thread opposite end through last bead to make bottom circle. For second circle, add five beads to right end. Add two beads to left end, then loop in far-right bead of top-center circle. Add three more beads to left end, and thread opposite end through last bead. For third circle, thread five beads onto each end. Add one more, and thread opposite end through it. Repeat to add more circles to reach nape of neck, and close final circle with a crimp. Make the left piece: Follow steps above. On the final circle, loop in a bead from right piece's last circle as the 12th bead, and close with a crimp.

Shop Now: Woodworks Ltd. Unfinished Wood Beads, 3/8" Round, $2.30 for 100, craftparts.com

09 of 14

Brooch Ribbon Necklace


Treat your sisters and girlfriends (and yourself) to jewelry that shimmers with style. Start with a handful of inexpensive costume pieces—brooches and earrings with openwork designs—and give them a new-old coppery patina using spray paint. Then link them together (using jump rings—metal rings that open and close—and pliers) and add pretty pink ribbon.

Shop Now: Kyezi Silver Crystal Brooches, $24 for 32, etsy.com.

10 of 14

Curios Cluster Necklace

Raymond Hom

The carefree cool look of this anything-goes necklace extends to how you wear it. Tie the bow in the back or off to the side for a funkier finish. For the backing, print the two crescent templates. Use the larger template to cut a crescent of lightweight linen. Use smaller template to cut a crescent of heavyweight linen. Starting with bigger items, arrange embellishments as desired on the smaller linen crescent. When pleased with the placement, take photos to record the sequence. With the photos as a guide, use beading needle to stitch the larger pieces in place on the fabric. Next, layer in the smaller pieces, filling in crevices. When all elements are stitched on, glue one ribbon to the back of each end of the fabric for ties. Glue plain, larger linen crescent to the adorned one as a backing. Let dry. Secure the base of the ribbon ties with a few stitches. Place completed piece, backing-side down, on a scratch-proof surface; use sewing needle to gently fray the edges of both fabrics for a softly fringed effect.

Shop Now: Gray Lines Linen Lightweight Linen, $20 per yd., graylinelinen.com.

11 of 14

Shell Necklace

Bryan Gardner

Wearing beach finds as jewelry gives you custom accessories reminiscent of summer. To make a pendant, choose a good-size shell, like the mussel shown, left; drill a hole in it with a craft drill. Place a sponge in a shallow container. Fill it with enough water to just cover the sponge. (The water will keep the drill from overheating and the shell from cracking.) Set a shell on the sponge, top-side down, and hold securely with your fingers. Keeping edges barely submerged, slowly drill through shell.

Shop Now: Sea Treasure Box Mussel Shells, $8.14 for 30, etsy.com; Dremel Micro 8-Volt MAX Variable Speed Cordless Rotary Tool Kit, $69, homedepot.com. Eurotool Diamond-Coated Twist Drill Bit (#56), $7, metalliferous.com.

12 of 14

Two-Tone Beaded Necklaces with Tassels

Necklaces with Pearls and Tassels
Kate Mathis

Remember how proud you felt handing Mom macaroni jewelry back in the day? Our two-tone necklaces are made with the same amount of love but produce a more refined result—and they might be even easier to craft. Buy two strands of stones or glass beads, a package of crimp beads, and two tassels on rings. Thread the strands through a crimp bead, one tassel ring, and then back through the crimp bead. Flatten with pliers to secure. Repeat on the other end with the second tassel.

Shop Now: Taiwanese Pink Ombre Cheesewood Beads, 6mm, $4 for 16" strand, firemountaingems.com; Bead Center Tassels, in Coral Red and Black, inquire for pricing, beadcenterny.com.

13 of 14

Appliqué Bib Necklace


Iron-on appliqué, originally used for embellishing clothing, takes on new life when strung from metallic cord or ribbon. Choose your embroidered iron-on trim, which typically comes on a roll and is purchased by the yard. Use a pair of detail scissors to carefully cut into the trim. On a flat surface, piece together your desired design. For the most durable necklaces, make sure the appliqué pieces overlap one another. On another flat surface, lay out a piece of fabric, cut slightly larger than the design. (The fabric layer will back your appliqué and ensure that your necklace is sturdy.) Cut a piece of cord or ribbon to the desired necklace length. Drape it on the fabric. Transfer the design onto the fabric, sandwiching the cord. Iron all layers to seal; let cool. Use detail scissors to cut away any excess fabric. Trim the ribbon to the desired length, and knot the loose ends to finish.

Shop Now: Pacific Trimming Leaves Embroidery Iron-on Trim, 2 3/4", in Orange, $8, pacifictrimming.com.

14 of 14

Photo Necklaces

Linda Pugliese

A seashell pendant makes a lovely natural backing for landscape photos. The images take on a dreamy, painterly quality when printed on decal film and smoothed onto the shells. (These super-thin clear printable decals come on a paper backing. Give them a coat of clear varnish, then soak them briefly in water—they will slide off the backing, ready to be applied.) Thread them with leather cord for necklaces that are far more stylish than your average seaside souvenir.

Shop Now: Papilio Clear Water-Slide Decal Paper, 8 1/2" by 11", $17 for 20 sheets, duradecal.com; Krylon Kamar Varnish, $6, dickblick.com.

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