How to Make a Charm Necklace - Easy Charm Necklace Tutorial

Charm Necklace Tutorial

Finished Charm Necklace
Finished Charm Necklace

Charm necklaces are easy to make and fun to wear. Once you have all your charms and the chain necklace gathered together, a simple charm necklace such as this can be made in a few hours or less including design, layout, and attaching charms.

So first you should gather your supplies together.

Materials and Tools:

Supplies for charm necklace
Supplies for charm necklace
  1. Charms - I love vintage sterling charms, but you can also use new charms, or make your own charms. Once you have your chain necklace, you can lay the charms around it and decide how many you want. You can always make the necklace with just a few charms, and add more as you collect them.
  2. Chain necklace - I am using a vintage sterling chain here, but you can use other metals and even make your own necklace with a length of chain and a clasp set. You can find chains at jewelry supply stores. Metalliferous has a large selection of chains and findings in both silver, copper, and brass. (They also have jeweler's tools including the pliers needed for this project.)  The individual links of the chain must be large enough to put a jump ring through though, as all the charms will slide to the center front if the chain is just slid through the jump rings.
  3. Split ring jump rings - I am using 5mm. sterling split ring jump rings for the sample. These are available at jewelry and beading supplies stores.   Split ring jump rings are much more secure than unsoldered regular jump rings.  Here is one source for split ring jump rings - Metalliferous sterling split rings
  4. Split ring pliers- These are the ones with the black handle in the photo. They have one flat pointed jaw and one hooked jaw end. The hooked jaw end slips between the two wires of the split ring jump ring to separate them.  These are available at jewelry and beading supplies stores.
  5. Chain nose pliers - These are the ones with the yellow handles. They have pointed jaws that are flat on the inside (where they meet when closed).  Make sure the pliers jaws are smooth, not serrated on the inside.  If they are not smooth, they will mark the jump rings.  These are available at jewelry and beading supplies stores.
  6. Wire cutters- These are the ones with the pink handles. You only need these if you have any old soldered jump rings that may still be on the charms and should be removed before adding the new split ring jump ring.  These are available at jewelry and beading supplies stores.
  7. Ruler - for measuring distances between charms.
  8. Thread - optional for marking links (especially center front) where you will add charms.  Pins are another way to temporarily mark links, but will tend to fall out of link easily.

Directions:

1. Try on the necklace chain and decide where you want the last charm on each side to be. The charms will lie nicer and be more comfortable if they are an inch or more down from your shoulders. You can hold the spot with two fingers as you take off the necklace, or turn the necklace and measure from the clasp to the point on the chain where you want the last charm.

example of last charm on one side marked
example of last charm on one side marked

2. With the last charm point measured, fold the chain in half and also mark the center front. You can mark the last charm point and center fronts by putting a pin or loosely tying a piece of thread through the appropriate links.

Center front of chain necklace marked with thread
Center front of chain necklace marked with thread

3. lay the chain necklace down on a table in an oval shape. I like to put down a large light blue sheet of paper under the necklace so the charms and necklace show up well against the background and are easier to see. Place the charms around the necklace as desired. I start with the middle chain in the center front.

If you want your charms to be evenly spaced, you can measure the spaces between the charms, or count the links. You can play with the layout until you find a design you are happy with. I try to have the charms balanced as far as size and shape on both sides. If a charm is larger than some of the others, you may want to leave more space between it and the one next to it closer to the center front, so the spacing appears more even. It is easiest to design a charm necklace with an uneven number of charms. Then you can have one at the center front, and the same number of charms on each side of the center front.

designing necklace - placing charms
designing necklace - placing charms

Charms from upper left to upper right:

  • six pack of enameled Coke bottles
  • rocking horse with enameled details
  • enameled eggs and bacon in pan
  • enameled ice cream sundae with enameled cherry
  • enameled birthday cake with pop-up candles
  • enameled ball of yarn with needles
  • toaster with enameled pop-up toasts
  • sled with enameled riders
  • Pet Milk can with paper label

4. Using the split ring pliers, hold the split ring jump ring in your non-dominant hand. With the pliers in your dominant hand, push the hook through the space between the doubled wire of the jump ring close to but not at the end of the wire. Push hard enough to separate the wires. The two jaws of the pliers will be touching.

split ring pliers opening split ring jump ring
split ring pliers opening split ring jump ring

5. Push the wire end through the charm hole of your first hole.

Attching jump ring to charm
Attching jump ring to charm

6. Remove the split ring pliers. With the chain nose pliers (or I even just use my fingers sometimes) turn the jump ring until both wires of the split ring are going through the charm hole.

Turning jump ring with chain nose pliers
Turning jump ring with chain nose pliers

7. Now take the charm with the added split ring and open the split ring again with the split ring pliers.

Charm with Link Attached and opened with split ring pliers
Charm with Link Attached and opened with split ring pliers

8. This time, put the wire through the center front link. Turn with chain nose pliers (or fingers) until both wires are going through the link.

Attaching charm to chain necklace link
Attaching charm to chain necklace link

9. Your first charm is now attached.

charm attached to necklace chain
charm attached to necklace chain

Charm partially attached to necklace chain - split ring not completely through here.

charm fully attached to necklace chain
charm fully attached to necklace chain

Charm fully attached to necklace chain - split ring completely through here.

10. Repeat steps 4 - 8 for each charm. I like to do the charm next to the center front on each side, then the next charm up on both sides, so I am working up the sides from the center front going from left side to right side and back to left side again and am continuing to see a symmetrical necklace as I work.

Your charm necklace is now finished!  Put it on and go enjoy the day. :)

Charms are Charming - "A Charmed Life"

 "Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests, I bear a charmed life, which must not yield To one of woman born."  Macbeth (5:8):        Recently trying to find the origin of the phrase "a charmed life", I was surprised to find that the phrase "a charmed life" actually originated with Shakespeare.  Doing a little more research, I found that charms (or objects used to protect, give luck, and show status) date all the way back to the stone age, with records of the first actual charm jewelry appearing in ancient Egypt.

vintage sterling and enamel charms
vintage sterling and enamel charms
eggs and bacon in pan enamel charm
eggs and bacon in pan enamel charm

I love charms - mostly the vintage ones that look like pop art to me, depictions of every day objects, sometimes enhanced with bright enameled colors or that have interactive themes such as mechanical movement or a view of a special scene through a tiny telescope charm.         

For one of my adult birthdays, my mom gave me a beautiful gold chain bracelet and said she was starting a charm bracelet for me.  She was an avid flea market shopper and had a knack for finding the best bargains, which she many times turned around and sold for a profit.  After that birthday, I received vintage charms for several birthdays, which I added to my bracelet.  I still have two charms that need to be added onto the bracelet.  I don't wear my charm bracelet too often, but take it out occasionally to enjoy the special charms and to reminisce.  I would like to have it eventually added to another chain and made into a necklace. 

gold charm bracelet with vintage charms
gold charm bracelet with vintage charms

 Charms left to right:

  • Miami palm tree and flamingo
  • removable dice in crate
  • trapeze artist
  • bee (or fly?)
  • baby bootie
  • small puff heart
  • enameled frog
  • winged roller skates
  • enameled ladybug

I also started collecting vintage sterling charms.  I found a couple of vintage sterling chains and decided to make some charm necklaces.  The finished necklaces are special to me, and I always get compliments on them when I wear them. 

sterling necklace with vintage charms and chain
sterling necklace with vintage charms and chain

Charms left to right:

  • abacus with moving beads
  • bike with moving handles, wheels, and pedals
  • scissors with moving parts
  • helicopter with moving main rotor
  • flashlight with glass bulb
  • tractor with moving wheels
  • typewriter with moving carriage
  • crate with orange Florida oranges and Fort Lauderdale tag
  • old fashioned telephone
  • camper with moving wheels
  • eraser with brush and real spinning eraser
  • working hourglass
  • scooter with moving handle and wheels
  • railroad hand cart
  • lawn mower

Please stay tuned for an easy tutorial on making your own charm necklaces in a future post.