How to make a gemstone bracelet –

How to make a gemstone bracelet –

Making an elasticated bracelet with gemstone beads is one of the easiest ways to get into making jewellery. And they’re not just for kids, or if you’re going to a Taylor Swift concert!  I’m going to show you how to make a beautiful bracelet using sterling silver and semi-precious gemstone beads on elastic cord. It’s really easy to do and the perfect way to begin learning how to make beaded gemstone jewellery. 

Jump to the simple step-by-step tutorial here, or read on for lots of top tips and advice to get you started making beaded gemstone bracelets. 

*Disclaimer* Cooksongold very kindly sent me a box of beading supplies to play with, which I have used to create this project. I only ever recommend products that I personally use and think are good. I have used Cooksongold as a customer for many years, and I’m more than happy to recommend them as a supplier!

What elastic is best to make gemstone bracelets?

The best type of elastic to use is a single piece, moulded elastic like Elasticity. It is super strong, and you don’t need a needle to thread on your beads. Because it is so tough, pre-stretching the elastic a couple of times before beginning to thread on your beads is helpful. The 0.8mm Elasticity will go through my chosen beads: 4mm sterling silver laser cut beads, and rose quartz beads.

How many beads does it take to make a bracelet?

Let’s get to the magic question; how many beads does it take to make a bracelet? Now there isn’t an easy answer to that, because it’s going to depend on your wrist size, the size of the beads you’re using, and whether you like a tighter or a looser bracelet! But there are ways which you can work out, or at least guesstimate how many beads you’re going to need.

If you are using beads that are all the same size, you can measure your wrist (or the wrist of the person you are making it for) and work out how many beads are needed to take to fill that measurement. So if I’m using 4mm beads, and my wrist is 175mm, 175 ÷ 4 =  43.75. Rounded up, that means I’ll need a minimum of 44 beads. Then because the elastic is going through the middle of the beads, not up tight against your skin, add an extra couple of beads to compensate. 

If you are using lots of differently sized beads, it’s tricky to use a mathematical method, so I would recommend using a bead board like I’m using here, or a measuring tape on a bead mat. 

However you go about it, remember this is a guesstimate, and that once the design is threaded up and around an actual wrist, you might need to add or take away some beads to get a good fit.

Designing a beaded bracelet

Most people I have taught, naturally want to create some sort of repeating pattern. As humans, we love a pattern! A simple 2- 1 repeat (two of bead A, one of bead B) is a great way to start. Why? It satisfies our love of a pattern, but is easy to get the correct fit. Sometimes you may need to add or remove beads to your initial design to , which may disrupt a more complex pattern, leaving you with the choice of the pattern not repeating, or the bracelet not fitting. 

I actually love what I call “random pattern” designs. By random pattern, I mean having some sort of common some similarity or unity between the beads. This might be varying shades of purple, but all the same size beads, or using pastel tones, but in a variety of shapes. I’m going to go into more detail on designing with beads in future post.

The main thing is to create a bracelet you like. Have fun, play around and see what works for you! Once you are happy with your design, lay it out on a board like I’m using here, or use a bead mat.

Do you need a needle with jewellery elastic?

With this type of elastic, you don’t need a needle. It is pretty sturdy stuff, so holds itself enough to thread beads straight on. If you are having trouble seeing the ends of the clear elastic, colour the tip in with a Sharpie, You can also trim the end to a point if you find that helpful. 

If you’re doing a random design, or very simple pattern, you can literally just start threading beads onto your elastic. Yep, with the other end of the elastic still attached to the roll. Keep checking until it fits around your wrist. Try not to make it too tight, allow for a bit of wiggle room. 

Alternatively, you can measure your wrist and then either use your bead board or a beading mat and measuring tape to lay out your design. Just bear in mind that it can be very hard to get an exact fit when you’re designing on a board or mat, as the beads will sit differently once threaded. 

Tying a knot in Jewellery Elastic

Once your design is long enough, you are ready to tie the knot!  Give yourself at least 10 cm of elastic on either side of the beads. Trying to tie a knot with short ends on slippery elastic is never going to end well. The best way I have found to knot this type of elastic is to tie a reef knot. 

The number one tip is to pull that knot tighter than you think you need to pull it! I have had many people tell me they struggle with elastic bracelets, because the knot just keeps coming undone. The main reason this happens is that they are so worried that the elastic is going to snap, that they don’t pull the knot tight enough, and it just unravels. I understand the fear; no one wants the elastic to twang and beads to fly everywhere. But, the only reason for the elastic to snap when you are tying the knot, is if there was already a tiny kind of nick, cut or damaged area in the elastic to begin with, and it’s best that you know now before you go out wearing it.

I like to do two reef knots, one on top of the other. Make sure that you can see they’re tight, and  not wanting to come undone before applying a tiny bit of glue. Something like GS hypo cement which is a specialist jewellery glue is brilliant,  but if you don’t have that, just put the tiniest amount of super glue on there. Bracelets are put under a lot of pressure. We catch them on clothing, they get wet when we’re washing our hands and they stretch when we take them on and off, so they need to withstand a lot of abuse. The glue is just an added bit of extra security.

Top Tip for using jewellery elastic and small beads

When you’re using small beads, like these 4mm beads I’m using, it can be tricky to tighten the knot without the beads sliding up and getting involved in the knot. So let me show you my favourite trick! Believe it or not, it involves a can of hairspray, or indeed anything that is of a similar diameter to your wrist. 

We are going to use the can, or whatever object you have, as a form to knot around. Wrap your bracelet around the can, as if it was someone’s arm, and tie the reef knot on there. It just provides a bit of tension that stops the beads sliding up. Magic.

Hands tying a gemstone bracelet around a can of hairspray

Once your glue has dried, you can then snip off any excess elastic. I like to leave about 1mm; if you cut it too close, you run the risk of cutting the knot.

I am never worried about the knot being visible in my finished bracelets. The knot is clear and it’s tiny. It’s much smaller than the beads, and when it’s on your wrist, unless someone really goes looking for it, they’re not going to find it. But if it does bother you, you can cover it with crimp covers, which are like opened versions of the sterling silver beads. They go around the knot, you squeeze them shut, and they just look like another bead!

Please don’t try and force the knot inside a bead unless the hole is much bigger than the knot, however tempting that might be. You might break the bead trying to force the knot in, you can damage the elastic, and when the time comes to rethread your bracelet, the knot probably isn’t coming out of that bead. This is fine if you’ve got a spare bead to use. But if you don’t have one that matches, or the bracelet was a gift, you are a bead short.

How to make a gemstone bracelet – Tutorial

You will need:

Tiny 4mm beads in silver and pink on a grey beading design board, with a white woman's hand creating a jewellery design

1.Choose your design; I like to use a bead board to lay out my design, but a bead mat works fine too.

2.Give your elastic a couple of stretches, then start to thread your beads on. You can keep the elastic on the reel to minimise waste, or cut off about a 30cm piece to work with. You don’t need to use a needle with this type of elastic.

3.Once you have enough beads to fit around your wrist, or the person you are making the bracelet for, cut the elastic from the reel if it is still attached, making sure you have a good 10cm of bare elastic on either side.

4.Tie 2 reef knots, one after the other, making sure to pull them as tight as you can. Once both knots are secure, add a tiny spot of glue.

5. When the glue is dry, trim the ends of elastic and you are done!