Designing Earrings to Match a Cabochon
by Linda Gale
Most of us like 'sets' - coordinating pieces like slacks and a top - handbag and shoes - and, of course, necklace, earrings and bracelet. In fact, earrings have become such a 'fact of fashion', that we often match earrings to our outfit - and bypass the necklace and bracelet - if we're rushed for time.
Earrings are important. Not only do they add a touch of color and bling, but they also call attention to our faces, rather than other parts of our body. We won't mention waistlines here..... ;D

Cabochons - those beautifully shaped natural gemstones that we love to wire-wrap - come in so many wondrous color combinations! Thanks to Mother Nature, and occasionally with the help of 'artificial color', cabochons come in every color of the rainbow.

The problem with 'cabs' isn't a lack of color - it's a lack of duplicates! Just as Mother Nature abhors a vacuum, she also apparently abhors twins - particular identical twins - when it comes to a matching 'pair' of almost anything.

This 'one-of-a-kind' gemstone mind-set makes creating a matching set of jewelry difficult - probably impossible. No doubt there is a great demand for a 'set of pendant and earrings', but how do you 'match' the earrings?

Simple! You color coordinate the beads and other materials used in earrings to complement the gemstone. There's almost no guesswork involved. Every color you need is laid out for you in a geological color map - right in the stone itself.

Linda Gale's Designing Earrings to Match a Cabochon - , Wire Jewelry Design, Loops, Wire Loop, Wrapped Wire Loop, Design, cabochon
Cabochons like the one pictured above make color selection easy. Some people, I know, are more 'color challenged' than others. They have difficulty perceiving the fine nuances of color. But, with a little study and consideration, you can 'teach' yourself to 'see' colors as you've never seen them before!

Though the depth of color in this 'cab', in real life, can't be appreciated in the photograph, I'll help a bit by telling you all the colors I 'see': soft coral, peach, warm beige, gray with a touch of green, dark ivory, clay, dark grey and even a touch of golden beige. Don't forget the primary color that ties this piece together - the antique copper of the weave and wrapping.

Armed with this 'shopping list' of colors, sort through your 'bead stash', looking for similar colors. They don't have to match exactly, but should be similar enough so that there is no harsh, glaring difference in color.

Try as I might, I couldn't use some coral peach beads that I wanted to use - because they were just too...colorful. By themselves, they were 'perfect'. But, when put together with the other beads that I chose, they jumped out - demanding too much attention!

I like 'dangly' earrings - with an interesting selection of colors, shapes and sizes of beads, stones, chain, even tiny charms - whatever seems an interesting combination. This is also a great time to use up those little bead chips that you bought long ago! Consider, also, how you might use the wire as a 'bead-like' component, to further the 'circle of design'....the combination of wire, beads and design.

I also like to keep these 'dangles' fairly short - no more than 2 inches in length - for my shorter stature. But, you're welcome to keep adding 'layers' until you're happy.
Linda Gale's Designing Earrings to Match a Cabochon - , Wire Jewelry Design, Loops, Wire Loop, Wrapped Wire Loop, Design, matching earrings
In the photo above, I've made my choices - using a similar gemstone bead as the 'base' of the earring combination, and smaller beads - and findings - for the remainder of the 'beaded chain'. Note that I have used Size 8 seed beads, also, in the steel gray, clay and white/beige small beads. Ball pins are also used to further decorate the beads - subtly changing them from a 'ball' to a more interesting shape - an absolute necessity, to me, when creating individual bead 'dangles'.

I've also used copper wire to continue the 'coordination'. Copper ball pins, copper links, and even 26g copper wire, threaded through the hole in a Size 8 bead, to create a little 'bling' and break up the 'brightness' of the white - making it a more subtle light-colored combination.

'Wrapping' the seed beads with copper wire took more time than assembling the rest of the earring, but it gives a 'special effect' that I found appealing. After winding the wire around the bead four times, I doubled the wire, put the end down into the hole 'top', and created a doubled loop. I then made a tiny spiral at the bottom of the bead.

I also made my own copper links - which took a bit more time - but I had no copper jump rings on hand - and, again, I liked the little 'glimmer' that the additional metal gave.

To assemble, you put a 'pair' of beads onto the bottom jump ring - with the larger bead in the center. Then, working up, each set of jump rings/beads is attached to the last link. But - be sure you put one of the bead pair on each side of the jump ring link. This keeps the beads hanging in a 'semi-balanced' manner.

You'll notice that it is necessary to fasten the jump rings together in a horizontal - then vertical - then horizontal - pattern. This creates the earring shape - and may help you if you drop the earrings, in progress, and can't figure out where you stopped! ;D

As you work, consider if you need to add or subtract beads to your design. You want the finished earring to hang 'like a bunch of bananas' - with all the 'bananas' fairly evenly distributed from top to bottom. I decided that I needed to double the dark grey bead by adding a light grey bead. I also added a 'steel gray' bead to the clay bead. By doubling the beads there, I was able to 'fill in' a gap at that area.
After all the work we put into wire-wrapped jewelry, it seems only fitting to me that equal consideration should be given to earrings that change a 'necklace' to a 'set' of necklace and earrings. Like powder for your nose, and a touch of color for your lips, they are just meant to 'go together'.

True - this type of earring is much more labor intensive than other simple drops. But for me, it just 'makes sense' to have both pieces as unique as possible - so I can be quite proud of myself when people compliment me, and I can say: "I made it myself!"
Linda Gale's Designing Earrings to Match a Cabochon - , Wire Jewelry Design, Loops, Wire Loop, Wrapped Wire Loop, Design, matching earrings
Linda Gale's Designing Earrings to Match a Cabochon - , Wire Jewelry Design, Loops, Wire Loop, Wrapped Wire Loop, Design, matching set


20 Gauge Round Dead Soft Copper Wire
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Ultimate wire-pliers Set
  • G15-20
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  • Category: Design
  • Technique(s): Making Loops, Design