How to: Convert Lever Backs to Sterling Silver

Here’s another post about how to convert cheap fashion earrings to better quality metals. Sterling silver, gold or surgical steel hooks are all easily available for this.

This method is a bit longer than my last few ones as you need to adjust the direction of the hook’s loop so that the earring will face the right way. Here it goes.

You’ll need: Cheap lever backs, quality metal hooks, jewellery pliers, about 5minutes.
For more information about types of hooks and use of jewellery pliers see this previous post.

1. The curved part of metal at the top of the lever back is what we’ll use to create a loop for the hook.
2. Open the lever back.
3. Cut off the hinge part with jewellery pliers. This can leave a bit of a sharp piece of metal so you might want to sand it back.
4. Lever back without the hinge.
5. Cut wire in half, leaving about 1cm of metal to bend at top.
6. Lever back ready to bend.
7. Grab the end of the metal with the jewellery pliers.
8. Begin creating a loop by gently curling metal back. Be slow and gentle – the metal wire in cheaper earrings is generally weaker than most craft jewellery wire. Some metals can be quite firm and require a bit of strength to bend.
9. Leave a small gap in loop for attaching hook.
10. Grab a couple of hooks. The loops will need to be opened and straightened out.
11. Hooks with straightened loops. Simply use pliers to do this – you can get specific pliers to straighten metal (nylon jaw pliers), but basic jewellery pliers will work just fine here.
12. Form a loop in the opposite direction and close. 
13. Insert hooks onto former lever backs. 
14. Close loop.
Here we are!
Would love to hear your thoughts and experience :)

How to Make Basic Beaded Earrings

Beaded earrings are super easy and cheap to make. Here a simple way to make them.

You will need: 2 beads, 2 headpins, 2 earring hooks, jewellery pliers, 2 minutes.
For more information regarding jewellery hooks and pliers see my previous post.

how to make basic beaded earringstute


1. Get your 2 basic headpins. These can be purchased at craft shops or on ebay.
2. Place bead on headpin.
3. Press the head pin back firmly against the bead till it reaches about a 90 degree angle.
4. Trim the head pin back to leave approximately 1cm of metal.
5. Grab the end of the head pin with jewellery pliers and begin forming a loop.
6. Keep moving the wire around the pliers, leaving a small gap for hook.
7. Put on hook.
8. Close the loop using inside of pliers.
This technique is really quick and easy but can take some practice to get refined looking results.
Headpins are easily available to buy from craft stores and online jewellery sites. I actually buy the majority of mine in bulk from ebay as it tends to be a lot cheaper. Headpins come in a range of sizes to fit different shaped beads and purposes, from just a centimetre or so on upwards. They also come in a range gauges. The smaller the number of gauge, the thicker the wire will be. Many of the cheaper ones won’t state a gauge. I don’t have much experience in using different gauges as I generally buy the cheaper ones! From what I’ve read I think a gauge of about 22 is about average – 24 on up is used for more delicate work. You can buy sterling silver or real gold headpins but I don’t see much point if you’re only making basic jewellery for yourself.

Beads are of course easy to buy at craft stores, markets, online and also easy to make yourself too. I like to look out for cheap, discounted or thrift shop jewellery to cut up for beads. Keep your eyes out for them!!! You can come across some really interesting and special beads that way.

TIP: You can create more unique beads yourself by painting them with craft paints or nail polish.

Make sure to use good quality hooks (ie surgical steel, sterling silver) if you have metal sensitivity though.  They aren’t expensive. See this previous post for more information.

For beads with larger holes you can purchase headpins with different sized/shaped endings. You can also use bead caps, which are available at craft stores. I prefer to just use sequins.  They tend to be less noticeable than bead caps and you can coordinate their colours to suit your design!
I enjoy making more complicated designs but I think simple earrings look the best on. Some of my favourite earrings to wear are just round beads on a headpin!
If you want to add more beads to your design you can stack them on the head pin –  try mixing them up with bead caps or sequins too!
You can also link other beads to your original bead. For this you’ll need an eyepin. You can buy these at craft stores too but I tend to just make mine own by creating a loop at the end of a headpin offcut.

How to: Pendant Charm Earrings

This is such a fun way to make earrings. Pendant Charm Necklaces tend to have really unique and lovely pieces on them. The next time you come across one you like, or one on sale, buy two! and end up with lots of one-of-a-kind earrings!

You will need: 2 identical (or not) pendant charm necklaces, lots of earring hooks, preferably 2 pairs of jewellery pliers (but can work out just fine with 1 pair)
For more information regarding jewellery hooks and pliers see my previous post.

how to pendant charm earrings

Click image to enlarge

1. Using jewellery pliers open headpin loops
2. Remove charms, leave loops open
3. Using a second pair of jewellery pliers, open any of the jump/split rings. Jump rings are easier to open using two pairs of pliers. If you only have one pair you can press the rings back into the charms and they should open fine – or just cut them open!
4. Remove all remaining charms.
Add hooks and it’s good to go!

For more information about attaching hooks see my previous post.

I bought these necklaces from Kmart for $9 each. Including the cost of hooks, that’s 12 pairs of earrings for around $20!

As the charms aren’t designed to be worn as earrings, some of them may be facing the wrong way for the hook or be too thick to fit through it. You can work around this by manipulating the size or direction of the hook’s loop. Simply straighten out the wire at the end up the hook using the jewellery pliers. It doesn’t have to be perfectly straight to look ok. There are specific pliers you can get for straightening metal called nylon jaw pliers. I don’t have a pair myself. To change the direction of the loop, simply grab metal at the end and bend to one side. To make a larger loop you need to remove any of the beads or coils from the base of the hook and curl the wire back to form the desired size. If the top of the charm is still too large you can always insert a jump ring before attaching the hook.

A few more ideas:
Combining 2 or more of the charms – or combine with other beads.
Selecting some of the charms to create your own unique necklace design.
Make a bracelet using some of the charms. I made this by linking black beads on head pins then attaching the charm with a jump ring. See this post to learn more about looping beads.
So many possibilities here!

Solutions for large and heavy earring discomfort.

I love larger earrings but their weight can hurt my ears. Occasionally catching them in things also scares me that I might loose an earlobe. For quite some time I avoided them altogether until recently I discovered a good solution to the issue.

These are sterling silver clip-on findings. They are really good quality and much gentler than the majority of other clip-ons. They have a firm, solid grip but don’t hurt my ears or make them look red while I’m wearing them. I wear them to work for periods over 7 hours and forget I have them on! When I take them off I will have a slightly pink dent where the clip-on has been which usually lasts about half an hour – sometimes a weird feeling too as my earlobe returns to shape. I’m in Australia and I purchased them from Over The Rainbow online for $20 (these are the ones pictured). Here is the exact page. I only need one pair to share between all my earrings as it’s so simple to change them (for information about how to change earring findings over see my previous post) I have also seen them at Fire Mountain Gems and Beads which is a US site. Remember silver plated is not the same quality as sterling silver though.

I am yet to discover a pair of good quality gold clip-ons. I imagine they are out there, probably fairly pricey but would definitely be worth a shot. You can always try painting the outside of the silver with gold/brass nail polish – this has worked well for me. *UPDATE – they now sell gold filled at Over The Rainbow. They are $24 a pair.

It’s also easy to find basic clip-on earring findings in all colours at craft stores and online jewellery sites. These will be much cheaper but my experience with these has been a little more painful. There are pads available that can soften a clip-on’s pinch. The Earring Doctor is a great online resource for all sorts of things that can aid earring issues. I don’t think you can purchase sterling silver clip-ons there though. For solely weight issues they sell small pads that you stick to the back of your earlobes to distribute the weight more evenly. These are probably great – I think a simple band-aid could achieve a similar result if you’re up for experimenting – but I say “Use clip-ons! Please don’t hurt your earlobes!”

Love wearing big earrings!

PS: Earrings in photo are some I made – and they aren’t actually heavy! I wear them with the clip-ons due to their size. I made them using plastic white beads and a simple chandelier finding I got at Spotlight. I’ll write a blog about how to make similar earrings in coming weeks.