A bail is an attachment for a pendant that allows the pendant to be worn on a chain or necklace. Some types of bail have prongs that fit in a hole of the pendant, and when pinched together form a loop that allows the pendant to be strung through a chain. Other types of bail have mounts to which the pendant can be glued. This web page will show you how to make a pendant bail using jewelry craft wire.
For this project we will use 20-gauge craft wire and a jade pendant. The jade pendant used to be an earring, but the other matching earring broke. Since this was still a nice stone, it seemed like a good idea to reuse it. The following wiring technique can be used for any stone that has a hole big enough for the 20-gauge wire.
The most important tools for this work will be the wire cutters and the round nose pliers. Other useful tools are small needle-nose pliers and curved-nose pliers. Use good quality tools that operate smoothly and fit comfortably in your hands. Below, there is a section where you can order jewelry supplies online.
Cut the wire
Make sure that the piece of wire will be sufficient for the job. It is better to have a little excess that can be trimmed off, rather than not enough, in which case all the material is wasted because you have to do it over again. If the wire is too short you may not be able to hold it with the pliers to bend it properly and keep from scratching the portion that will be visible. For this case, we need a section of wire 6 inches long (15 cm).
Put the wire on the pendant
The wire is passed through the hole and shaped with the pliers so that the wire goes snuggly around the stone and the two ends of the wire are parallel and adjacent to each other. As you mold the wire around the stone, be careful not to chip or crack the stone. Some types of material, like seashells, are brittle and fragile.
Start forming the loop for the chain
Using the round-nose pliers, bend the wire at a right angle at a distance of about 4 millimeters (3/16 inch). This corresponds to 4 or 5 times the width of the wire. The short stem between the stone and the loop will be wrapped with wire after the loop is formed. Using the thickest end of the round-nose pliers, start forming a loop by bending the wire in the opposite direction of the right angle. This will create a loop that is centered on the wire stem. A common mistake is to make the loop for the chain too small. If the diameter of the round-nose pliers is not wide enough for your chain, form the loop around something with a wider diameter like a thick knitting needle or a round chop-stick.
Continue forming the loop for the chain
Once you have shaped the loop for the chain, the wire needs to be wrapped around the stem between the loop and the stone. Before going further, check to make sure that the clasp and the chain can go through the loop. Hold the loop with the round nose pliers. Hold the wire end that is closer to the loop with the curved nose pliers, and wrap it 180 degrees (half a circle) around the stem. Repeat the process with the second wire.
Start wrapping the wire
Each time that you wrap the wires half around the stem, remove the loop from the round nose pliers, and re-inert them after rotating the pendant along the axis of the wire stem half a turn. In this way, the wires are wrapped around the stem one-half turn at a time.
Wrap the wire evenly
Once the wires have been wrapped around the stem, make sure that the ends of the wire are on opposite sides of the stem. This will give the wrapping a uniform look. Notice that in this case we only had about 4 millimeters of excess wire.
Trim excess wire
Trim the excess wire as close as possible to the pendant. Use small needle-nose pliers to press the wire so that there are no sharp projections that can snag clothing or scratch the skin. At this point, your pendant is ready to be threaded on a chain or necklace cord.
Faceted jade bead pendant
This is another example of how to make a pendant using craft wire. For this project we also use some star-shaped decorative bead caps.
Thread the caps and the bead
Put the wire through the caps and the bead in the proper sequence and make a decorative curl at the end of the wire.
Create a loop for the pendant
Bend the wire at right angles approximately 4 millimeters (1/4 inch) from the top of the pendant, and form a loop with some round-nose pliers.
Wind the wire around the stem
Hold the loop with flat needle-nose pliers and start wrapping the wire around the stem between the loop and the top of the pendant. Make sure that the winding is even.
The finished pendant
The finished jade pendant is an accessory that will stand out on light colored blouses or sweaters. It will also provide good contrast on dark clothing that does not have a busy design.