Today we’re going to make another popular shape for ear wires. Interestingly, these wires don’t have a common name. Some people call them French Hoops. I’ve also seen Demi Hoops and Loop ear wires. And because I can’t seem to come up with a clever name for the ear wires we’re about to make, let’s just call them the Circle Ear Wires for simplicity.
These ear wires are particularly suited for minimalist earring designs. The clean modern lines of the circle ear wires are appealing on their own without any adornment. So, a super simple beaded drop is all you’ll need to create beautiful earrings with these wires.
Pretty. Quick. And Easy. It doesn’t get better than that!
Copyright & Disclosure
You’re welcome to make and sell products from this tutorial. These ear wires are a common design that’s been around for eons, so I claim no exclusive rights to the design itself.
When it comes to my written tutorials, however, I do reserve exclusive rights to all images and written content. You may not reproduce or redistribute any portion of the Perfectly Matched Circle Ear Wires tutorial in any way, shape, or form.
This copyright applies to the printable PDF version of the Perfectly Matched Circle Ear Wire tutorial as well, and it’s included therein. You may share the free version of this tutorial only by linking directly to this page.
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Skill Level: Beginner
This is a basic wirework project that can be achieved by someone who has never worked with wire before.
Choosing the Right Wire for Your Circle Ear Wires
For best results, use half-hard or dead soft solid copper or sterling silver wire. Half-hard wire will always save you time when it comes to making ear wires, but dead soft works well, too. You’ll just have to spend a bit of extra time work hardening ear wires that you make with dead soft wire. I used dead soft wire for this tutorial because I’m currently out of half-hard 20ga wire.
We’re going to make these wires in two different sizes, 9mm and 12mm. The construction method is nearly identical for both sizes. Wherever there are differences, I’ll specify which size I’m making in each step.
You can use a filled wire for the circle ear wires if you choose not to use a chasing hammer on your wires. I don’t recommend plated or anodized craft wire for this tutorial because those types of wire are rarely hard enough to retain their shape, and even a soft mallet can ruin the coated finish on craft wire.
Tools & Materials
- Large Ear Wires
- WIDTH: about 5/8 inch (1.6 cm)
- LENGTH: about 3/4 inch (1.9 cm)
- Small Ear Wires
- WIDTH: about 1/2 inch (1.3 cm)
- LENGTH: about 5/8 inch (1.6 cm)
20g wire is my preference for pierced ear wires. It’s the only gauge that I use for ear wires unless someone specifically asks for a smaller or larger gauge. Commercial ear wires typically range between 18g and 22g. So, 20g is a comfortable size for pretty much everyone with pierced ears.
How to Make Perfectly Matched Circle Ear Wires
The instructions for the Circle Ear Wires are written for both sizes. I’ll specify which size I’m talking about wherever there are differences between the two sizes. Essentially, though, the wires are constructed in the same way.
You can easily customize the size of your circles by simply changing the cut length of your wire and the mandrel size that you choose to form the circles.
Straighten a length of 20ga wire by running it between your fingers or the jaws of your Nylon jaw pliers a few times. Once the wire is straight, measure and cut a piece of wire to one of the following lengths:
- 4 inches for the 9mm (small) circles
- 5 inches for the 12mm (large) circles
Use your fine-point permanent marker to mark the center point of your wire.
The key to making matched sets of ear wires is to create both wires at the same time, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do here.
Use your flat nose pliers to form a sharp 90-degree bend at the center mark of your 4-inch or 5-inch wire. Then carefully fold the wire in half by gradually tightening that bend until the two ends of your wire are parallel.
Tighten the fold by squeezing it closed with the tips of your flat-nose pliers, as shown.
Check the ends of your wire to make sure they’re even. If not, trim the wire so that both ends are the same length.
Grasp the cut tips of the wire with the 2mm step (the smallest step) of your bail-making pliers, as shown.
Using the thumb of your free hand, firmly roll the wires all the way around the 2mm mandrel.
Adjust the position of your bail-making pliers, if necessary to roll the wire all the way around until the cut ends touch the long length of the wire.
These are the simple loops that will attach to your earring dangle.
At this point, we’re going to make the 9mm circles first. If you’re making the 12mm circles, skip ahead to Step 11 now.
Place the small loops that you just made between the 8mm and 9mm steps on your bail-making pliers (the two largest steps). Make sure that the loops are facing the 8mm step, as shown.
Now roll the wire all the way around the 9mm mandrel, as shown.
Be sure to press the wire firmly against the mandrel with your thumb or fingers as you roll. This helps form the wire into a clean circle.
Once you reach the point where the folded end of your wire is touching the small loops that you made in Step 6, shift the folded end of the wire over a bit so you can continue the curve.
Adjust the position of your bail-making pliers, as needed, and keep pressing the folded end of the wire around the mandrel until you have a complete circle, as shown.
Finally, use your soft mallet to tap the folded end of the wire down until it fully conforms to the shape of the mandrel, as shown.
Your 9mm circle ear wires should look something like this when you’re finished forming the 9mm circle. Skip ahead to Step 15 where we’ll trim the folded end off and separate your perfectly matched circle ear wires.
To make the 12mm circle ear wires, place the small loops that you just made on the Size 1 mark on your ring mandrel.
Make sure that the loops are facing up and away from the mandrel’s surface, as shown.
Now roll the wire all the way around the ring mandrel, as shown. Be sure to press the wire firmly against the mandrel with your thumb or fingers as you roll. This helps form the wire into a clean circle.
Once you reach the point where the folded end of your wire touches the small loops that you made in Step 6, shift the folded end of the wire over a bit so you can continue the curve.
Keep pressing the folded end of the wire around the mandrel until you have a complete circle all the way around the mandrel, as shown.
Now use your soft mallet to tap the folded end of the wire down until it fully conforms to the shape of the mandrel, as shown.
Fully forming this curve is the key to maintaining the circular line on your ear wires from beginning to end, even though we’re going to trim off some of the length of that formed wire.
Your 12mm circle ear wires should look something like this when you’re finished forming the 12mm circle.
Now use your wire cutters to trim off the folded end of your wires.
Make sure you position your wire cutters with the beveled side facing the fold, as shown. This gives you the cleanest cut on your finished ear wires.
Use your needle file to remove any sharp edges on the cut ends of your circle ear wires.
If you have a cup burr, you can use that tool now to round off the ends of your ear wires, as shown.
Now that your ear wires are fully formed, we need to work harden them, so they’ll retain their shape.
I like to slightly flatten certain points on my ear wires because I think it gives them a bit more dimension and more of a hand-forged look. If you prefer your wires to remain round, skip this step and go on to Step 18.
Use your chasing hammer and bench block to lightly flatten the small loops, the hook ends, and the top point of the ear wires. Don’t use too much force or the wire will spread to a width larger than 20g, which could make the wires uncomfortable to wear.
Once you’re satisfied with the look of your wires, use a nylon or rawhide hammer and your bench block to further harden the wires.
Just tap lightly and evenly on the wires several times. Then check to see how sturdy your wires are by giving them the slightest twist. If the wire bends easily, harden it some more with your soft hammer and bench block.
Continue this process until the ear wires are noticeably stiff and springy.
That’s it. Your sleek and modern circle ear wires are now complete and ready to use. You can patina them now if you like. Or just leave them bright and patina along with whatever you decide to attach them to.
I like to make ear wires in small batches of about a dozen pairs. That way I always have some perfectly matched ear wires on hand when I want to assemble earrings quickly.
It’s not easy to make copper or sterling silver ear wires as hard as the base metals used in commercially manufactured ear wires. But being able to make wires that match your jewelry perfectly is totally worth the effort.
With proper care, these wires will last a lifetime. They also look better and cost significantly less than commercially manufactured ear wires.
More Ear Wire Styles
These ear wires are part of a 5-part series of ear wire tutorials. The other ear wire shapes that we covered in the series are linked below.
All of these ear wires are formed using the same basic principal of shaping both wires at the same time. This allows you to create perfectly matched pairs of ear wires. In any shape. Every time.
Experiment with this method. See if you can come up with an ear wire design that is uniquely your own. As with my Easy Infinity Clasp, it’s often those extra personal touches that ultimately become your signature – that unique little detail that clearly sets your work apart from the competition.
Finishing Your Ear Wires
I patina all of my copper and silver jewelry with Liver of Sulfur (LOS), and then I burnish the antiqued components with super fine steel wool (Grade #0000) in a warm bath of water and original Blue Dawn dish soap. The steel wool brings back the bright copper highlights on the high spots.
Once that’s done, I rinse the jewelry thoroughly to remove any particles of steel wool. Then I put the jewelry in a tumbler barrel filled with warm water and a generous squirt of Blue Dawn. I tumble all of my finished jewelry for a minimum of two hours.
There’s a lot of debate about whether tumbling will work harden wire. My experience is that you can achieve some hardening, but only by tumbling for extended periods of time. So, two hours on the tumbler won’t make a noticeable difference. Twenty-four hours of tumbling does seem to noticeably increase hardness, however.
I never recommend tumbling wire jewelry with beads or gemstones for extended periods. However, there’s no risk in tumbling plain wire findings for several hours. Tumblers are designed to run for days at a time because that’s how long it takes to polish rough stones. So, if you don’t mind listening to the rustle of a tumbler for a full day, give it a try. And let me know if your ear wires came out of the tumbler noticeably harder than when they went in.
If you’re new to wirework, read this detailed tutorial that walks you through my 7-step patina process. And if you’re wondering why I recommend tumble polishing specifically, check out this post. Also, be sure to clean your stainless steel shot regularly. Because clean shot gives you the best possible final finish on your jewelry.
Discover More Behind Door 44
Thanks so much for joining me today. I hope you enjoyed creating your own Perfectly Matched Circle Ear Wires from scratch. If you’d like a printable PDF version of this tutorial, you can find it here.
Want more wire jewelry tips?
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Until next time, go make something beautiful!