I love briolettes! I love them in all shapes, sizes, colors and materials. So what is a briolette? A briolette is a pear or teardrop-shaped bead that is faceted and tip-drilled. Some briolettes are flat and some are round, kind of like a ball that comes to a point on one end. When they are flat, the hole can either be front to back or side to side.
There are several great ways to make jewelry using briolettes. You can use briolette bails, simply string them onto necklaces (big ones make great center pendants) or you can take it to the next level with wire-wrapping! Wire-wrapping a briolette, or any tip-drilled bead or pendant, really transforms a piece into a one-of-kind creation. And though it’s a little tricky to get the hang of at first, the payoff is well worth it.
My favorite wire to work with is 22 gauge Artistic Wire in Gunmetal finish. The actual color on this wire is more of an antique brass than gunmetal, and looks great paired with antique brass findings such as those found in the Vintaj line.
The first thing to consider when wire-wrapping is what kind of wire you want to use. If you are new to wire -wrapping I recommend using an inexpensive Artistic Wire to practice. Anything from a 20 gauge to a 24 gauge works well. (20 gauge being the thickest, 24 gauge being the thinnest, and 22 gauge in the middle). Because this technique takes practice, it is good to learn on an affordable wire, since you will inevitably have to re-do your wraps several times to reach perfection.
An assortment of briolettes in crystal and gemstones
The next thing to consider is the briolette that you want to wrap. Flat shapes are the easiest to learn on because the edge on the pendant will hold your wire in place better. It is also good to start with a larger briolette, something that is over 15mm in length is ideal.
To begin you will need a briolette, wire, round nose pliers, chain nose pliers, and semi-flush cutter.
1. Cut a piece of wire about 18 inches in length. It is better to have too much wire than too little. On one side of the wire, create a bend of about 45 degrees using your chain nose pliers two inches in.
2. Slide your briolette down the wire until it is snug against the angle you have made in the wire.
3. Bring the long side of the wire up and using your chain nose pliers, and pinch the two pieces of wire together snugly against the point of the briolette.
(Alternate view of step 3)
4. Take the longer piece of wire and fold it over so it is horizontal. The short piece of wire should be vertical from the center of the top of the briolette and the long piece of wire should be perpendicular to the short piece. Begin wrapping the long piece of wire around the short piece, using your finger to guide the wire and keep it snug.
5. Slowly work the wire downward. Let the previous wire guide you down the briolette. I like to wrap the wire down until you have covered the hole in the briolette, but it is your preference.
6. Once you have wrapped down the pendant as far as you like, you want to bring that wire back up to the top of the pendant to secure it. The easiest way to do this is in one swift movement, using your finger to guide the wire after you come around an edge on the briolette. Wrap the wire around the shorter segment of wire at the top a few times to secure your wrap in place.
7. Use your semi-flush cutters to cut the wire short, and use your chain nose pliers to tuck any excess wire.
8. You are now left with a wrapped briolette that has a 2 inch piece of wire coming out vertically from the center of the pendant. Simply use your round nose pliers to make a wrapped loop with this piece of wire. Again use your semi-flush cutters to trim the excess wire and use your chain nose pliers to tuck the excess piece of wire.
Finished wire-wrapped briolette!
Now you can take your completed piece and add it your jewelry however you like! Pair it with some sparkly crystals or use a wire wrapped briolette as a large focal pendant on a necklace. The possibilities are endless. Once you get your wire wrapping skills down, you can wrap all different beads and pendants that are tip-drilled.
Completed Wire-wrapped Briolettes
Wire-wrapped Briolettes topped off with clusters of Swarovski Crystal Rondelles!
Please feel free to ask any questions you may have about wire-wrapping or any of the beads pictured here! Have fun wrapping!