Today I’m going to show you how to make two different styles of perfectly matched Marquis ear wires. I polled my Instagram followers recently about the kinds of wirework skills they’d like to learn. And I was pleasantly surprised to learn that many of you want to know how to make your own findings. That made my heart so happy because I’m a firm believer that handmade jewelry should be finished with handmade findings.
This post is Part 1 of a 3-part series. Here’s what we’ll cover in this series:
- How to make perfectly matched Marquis ear wire in two different styles – Part 1 (you’re here)
- Make quick and easy head pins to create fun and flirty beaded earring dangles – Part 2
- Embellish your ear wires with a beaded wrap – Part 3
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 Marquis Ear Wires tutorial in any way, shape, or form.
This copyright applies to the printable PDF version of the Perfectly Matched Marquis 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.
In her first book, Fine Art Wire Weaving, Sarah Thompson says, “Making your own findings adds a personal touch to your finished jewelry; it shows that you have thought about every detail.”
I couldn’t agree more. I also highly recommend that book, by the way. And if you want to turn your wire weaving hobby into a business, one way to set yourself apart from the competition is to make your own jewelry findings. Because, believe me, not everyone out there thinks about every detail of their presentation.
Since we’re talking specifically about earrings and earring components, another book that I highly recommend is The Earring Style Book by Stephanie A. Wells. Stephanie is the founder of Double Happiness Jewelry, and her book contains timeless earring designs that are fun and easy to make.
In this wirework basics tutorial, I’m going to show you how to make perfectly matched Marquis ear wires, every time. These pretty ear wires are so quick, easy, and affordable to make that you’ll never want to buy commercial ear wires again.
Choosing Wire for your Marquis Ear Wires
For best results, use half-hard or dead soft solid copper or sterling silver wire. Half-hard wire will 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 the 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.
If you choose to use a filled wire, be advised that these ear wires are finished and hardened by hammering the wire. Even light hammering can expose the base metal core in filled wires, which can negatively affect your final finish. I don’t recommend plated or anodized craft wire for these earrings as those coatings will be ruined with this construction process.
Materials Needed to Make Perfectly Matched Marquis Ear Wires
- 20ga Wire – 5 inches (13 cm) per pair
The only difference between the two tempers is that you’ll need to spend more time work hardening dead soft ear wires. That’s why I prefer to use half-hard wire for this sort of component — it saves time.
I’ve provided links to my preferred source (riogrande.com) for both tempers above. Choose whichever temper you like to work with best.
Tools Needed to Make Perfectly Matched Ear Wires
- Wire Cutters
- Flat Nose Pliers
- Stepped Bail-Making Pliers
- Needle File
- Cup Burr Tool (optional)
- Nylon Mallet or Rawhide Mallet
- Chasing Hammer
- Bench Block
- Fine Point Permanent Marker
- 1-1/2-inch Mandrel (Not pictured. Any round object will do. Pill bottles work great for this purpose.)
These ear wires are about 1-inch long and 1/2-inch wide. However, you can easily change the length to suit your personal preference. Simply change the cut length of the wire.
20g wire is my preference for pierced ear wires. It’s the only gauge 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.
Skill Level: Beginner
This is a very basic wirework project that can be achieved by someone who has never worked with wire before.
Let’s Make Some Perfectly Matched Marquis Ear Wires
The instructions for the Marquis ear wires are written for the 1-inch ear wires shown in this post. However, you can easily extend the length of your hooks by simply increasing the length of the wire cut in Step 1.
Some people prefer longer hooks. I personally prefer a shorter hook because they’re less likely to get caught in my hair.
Also, be sure to stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 of this series for some fun ideas for embellishing your Marquis ear wires using beads that you already have on hand. We’ll make some fun and flirty earrings that I think you’re going to love.
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 one 5-inch piece of 20ga wire. Use your fine-point permanent marker to mark the center point of your wire, as shown.
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 5-inch wire. Then gradually fold the wire in half by tightening the bend until the two ends of your wire are parallel.
Finish the fold by gently 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 exactly the same length.
Measure your folded wire and mark the center point with your permanent marker.
The folded wire should be about 2-1/2-inches long at this point. So you’ll mark it at 1-1/4-inch, as shown.
Form your folded wire into a soft continuous curve by shaping it around your 1-1/2-inch mandrel.
Set that curve by gently tapping the full length of the folded wire on the mandrel with your soft nylon or rawhide mallet.
At this point, you need to decide if you want the simple loops on your ear wires to face outward or inward. This is purely personal preference. I use both options to make slightly different styles of earrings.
To make the simple loops face outward, position the 2mm step (the smallest step) of your stepped bail-making pliers on the convex side of the curve on your folded wire, as shown here.
To make the simple loops face inward, skip ahead to Step 7B.
Then roll the wire around the mandrel until the cut ends of the wire touch the long length of the wire, as shown.
You just created a small outward-facing simple loop for each of the two ear wires. These are the loops that will attach to your earring dangles.
To make the simple loops face inward, position the 2mm step of your bail-making pliers on the concave side of the curve, as shown in the next image.
Then roll the wire around the mandrel until the cut ends of the wire touch the long length of the wire, as shown.
You just created a small inward-facing simple loop for each of the two ear wires. These are the loops that will attach to your earring dangles.
Now place one edge of your flat nose pliers at the center mark that you made in Step 5.
Then use your thumb to firmly bend the wire against the other side of the jaws of your flat nose pliers (the side that is not on the center line).
Depending on the width of your flat nose pliers, this will result in bend that is roughly in the center of the folded wires.
Keep folding your wires into a sharp “V” until you have a shape that you like. This completes the distinctive Marquis shape for your ear wires.
Use your wire cutters to trim off the folded end. You should now have two perfectly matched Marquis ear wires.
Use your needle file to smooth the cut ends of the wires and round off the edges. The goal here is to make sure there are no sharp points that might make the earrings uncomfortable to put on and take off.
If you have a cup burr, you can also use that to smooth and round the cut ends of your Marquis ear wires.
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 12.
Otherwise, 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 wire.
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 stiff and springy.
That’s it. Your perfectly matched Marquis 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 these ear wires in small batches of about a dozen pairs, so I always have some perfectly matched ear wires on hand.
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 pretty Marquis ear wires will last a lifetime. They also look better and cost significantly less than commercially manufactured ear wires.
Part 2 of the Marquis Earring Series
Are you ready to embellish your Marquis ear wires? Be sure to check out Part 2 of this series where you’ll learn to make your own headpins to create some fun and flirty Beaded Tassel Marquis Earrings.
Perfectly Matched Ear Wire Variations
This method of making matched pairs of ear wires can be easily adapted to almost any shape and style. Here are just a few examples of some popular ear wire silhouettes you can try.
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.
Also, watch for upcoming tutorials on the other ear wire shapes shown here. I’ll be writing tutorials for each of them. And I’ll work out all the measurements for you so you don’t have to figure it out yourself.
Want to know how to embellish your new Marquis ear wires? Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series where I’ll show you how to make some quick and easy beaded tassel earring dangles. And in Part 3 I’ll show you how to wrap beads around the front side of your Marquis ear wires for a bit of extra sparkle and interest. Both of these techniques are easy to master, and they’re great ways to clear out your bead stash.
If you haven’t already seen the tutorial for the classic French Hooks (shown bottom left in the photo above), be sure to check that one out! Just click on the link below.
I patina all of my copper and silver jewelry with Liver of Sulfur (LOS), and then I burnish the patinated pieces 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 fiish on your jewelry.
Thanks so much for joining me today. I hope you enjoyed creating your own Perfectly Matched Marquis Ear Wires from scratch. If you’d like a printable PDF version of this tutorial, you can find it here.
Also, be sure to favorite my Etsy shop for the latest ad-free printable PDF tutorials. As always, I’d love to see what you’ve made and hear your ideas and suggestions for new tutorials and blog posts. So, be sure to connect with me @door44studios on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.
Until next time, go make something beautiful!