People always stop me to ask about this necklace and they’re so surprised when they hear that it only cost me $5 to make AND that I’m not even someone who makes jewelry as a rule. I would have had no idea how easy it is to make these if I hadn’t been frustrated by not being able to find exactly what I wanted on Etsy. Turns out, I just needed to get a little creative!
- Bench Block – $18
- Three stamping blanks (I used 1″ copper, 3/4″ nickel, and 1/2″ copper circles) – $1.95
- Letter stamp set – $28
- Circle stamp set – $22
- Jewelry hammer – $24
- Practice sheet metal – $1.75
- Permanent marker
- Jewelry polishing pads – $3
- Hole punch pliers – $16
- Jump Rings – $2.65
- Ball chain with clasps (if not cut to desired length, you also need wire cutters) – $3.50
- Cardboard (optional: to protect table)
- TOTAL COST FOR THE FIRST NECKLACE: $120.85
- TOTAL COST FOR A NECKLACE ONCE YOU HAVE ALL THE TOOLS: $4.45
Note: you can see that it’s quite an investment the first time around, but I used these tools to make seven holiday gifts last year. I usually spend about $30 on each of those people, so this was a good way to justify making the investment and now I can make necklaces at a cost of $5 that would be sold for much more than that on Etsy. I wish I had known how to do this for our wedding, because it would have been much better than the gifts we ended up giving to the wedding party. Even the guys could have gotten stamped steel guitar picks, etc.
I made this necklace last year after seeing a similar one selling on Etsy. I had always wanted to learn how to stamp my own jewelry and November was the perfect month to get started because it allowed me to make a bunch of homemade gifts for the holidays.
This necklace is very personal and I wear it all the time. I chose to do a Disney-inspired design on the top layer because Disney brought me Kyle (who brought me Eva). I was originally going to do one with Kyle’s name and our wedding date, but the letter stamp set I purchased doesn’t include numbers.
1. First, you want to put cardboard down (if you need to protect your table) and place your bench block on it. The bench block is what gives resistance to the hammer and if you forget to put the block down and try to just stamp on the cardboard, you’ll scuff and bend your blanks. Take out your practice sheet metal and practice stamping both circles and letters. Try to get even pressure and keep the stamp up and down so you don’t have a lopsided stamp or a little mark from catching the edge of the circle around the letter stamp.
Some things to keep in mind:
- If you aren’t able to keep good pressure on the stamp, it could skip and leave a scuff mark like the one in the photo below.
- This is also a good time to practice spacing and lining up your letters (or your circles if you’re going to make a Mickey).
- Your stamped letters won’t be very dark because the letters are filled in with a Sharpie before a necklace is finished. So, for now, don’t worry about how dark they are. Just look at whether or not they’re consistently deep enough to be seen.
One of the things that you can’t really practice is whether or not your stamps will fit on the blank you’d like to stamp. This is the time, though, to try to estimate as best you can if your design will fit. The smaller circle blanks, especially, can only accommodate so many letters before some get hidden by the other circles, so it’s best to keep it brief. Even if you’re not stamping a circle or stacking your blanks, you still might find yourself running off the edge…
2. Now that you’ve practiced, you’re ready to stamp. Place the stamping blank you want to start with on your bench block.
I decided to start with a Mickey design on the smallest blank. For this design, I use a set of circle stamps to create Mickey’s head. I’ll be making the smaller size Mickey for this project, but the larger size Mickey looks just as cute (especially on dog tags!).
3. Line Mickey’s head up on your blank where you want it. You don’t want it to be dead center because you want to leave some room at the top of the circle for the hole punch, because you’re going to be turning this blank into a pendant. You also don’t want Mickey to look like he’s falling off the circle, though, so watch your placement. I usually put him about 2/3rds of the way down the middle.
4. Use the hammer to stamp your circle. The exact pressure you need will depend on the metal you’ve chosen, which is why it’s a good idea to practice with all metals if you can before you stamp your blanks. I usually only practice on copper, which is why I scuffed the first few silver and nickel circles.
5. To make Mickey’s ears, line up the smaller circle stamp so that it just touches the edge of the larger circle. It can be hard to line up the stamps, but you can use the reflection in the metal to help you visualize where the circle should go.
6. Do the same for the second ear. At this point, it’s possible that your ears aren’t exactly lined up right or the whole Mickey is a little off center. Unless you’re a complete perfectionist and it will absolutely drive you crazy, don’t worry about it. Your pendant will look different when it’s hanging with the other circles and I personally love the handmade look that happens when things are just a little…off.
7. That blank is finished, so move it to the side and place your next blank on the bench block. Get the letters out that you’ll be using for your name.
8. Line the letters up along the edge of the blank so that they run along the curve. You can use the reflection to help guide you (especially if you’re using nickel or silver).
9. If you make a mistake, you can either just go with it (remember: flawed is charming) or, if you haven’t stamped much, you can turn the blank so you’re stamping along the other edge. In a stacked necklace, the top of the circle will be hidden and you can hide mistakes. (Be sure to place the smaller circle on top before you do this, to make sure it will cover everything you don’t want people to see.)
10. When that blank is finished, continue with the next blank. If you’re using copper with letter stamps, I like to give the copper blanks a quick buff with the jewelry polishing pad before I stamp them because it makes it easier to see the reflection of the letter stamps when lining them up.
11. When you’re finished, check your work by stacking the blanks on top of each other like you would like them to hang. Sometimes, especially when you’re just starting out, the letters will be too far away from the edge and they’ll be hidden by the other circles. In that case, start over with a new blank and use the mistake as a single pendant for another necklace.
12. Grab your permanent marker and use it to color over your stamped designs, being sure to gently push ink down into the stamp. Remember: don’t color in anything you don’t want people to see (scratches, mistake letters, etc.).
13. Wait a second for the ink to dry (it needs to not be sticky) and then buff it off with your jewelry polishing pad. The remaining ink will be down in the stamp, making it easier to see.
14. Grab your hole punch pliers and start punching holes to make pendants. Be sure to line it up so that the holes are all about the same distance from the edge so that they hang nicely together. You also want to make sure that the pendant will hang so that the design and names are all lined up – too far to one side and your whole pendant has tilted.
15. Open up your jump ring, either with your fingers or with a pair of pliers. Stack the pendants on the ring and close it up.
16. Grab your ball chain. If you don’t have it cut to the desired length, measure it out on your own neck and then use wire cutters to trim it to the length you want. String the pendant on the chain and close it up.
Ta da!! A personalized necklace. Told you it was easy! This necklace will get a little oxidized after a while, so it’s a good idea to keep a jewelry polishing pad in a convenient place if you’re going to wear the necklace all the time. A quick rub leaves it looking good as new!
If you’re still a little lost or you just want to watch me screw up and mumble to myself, you can see this whole tutorial in the video below. Note – the audio somehow skipped a little and it’s off for most of the video by about 2 seconds. I don’t know. You’ll still get the general idea.