How to Wire-Wrap a Briolette

April 14, 2011
Wire-wrapped Aurora Borealis Swarovski Crystal Pear Briolette earrings

Wire-wrapped Aurora Borealis Swarovski Crystal Pear Briolette earrings

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.

Briolettes and 22-gauge gunmetal Artistic wire

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

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.

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.

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.

Slide your briolette down the wire until it is snug against the angle you have made in the wire.

2. Slide your briolette down the wire until it is snug against the angle you have made in the wire.

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.

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 finished step 3 - How to wire-wrap a briolette)

(Alternate view of step 3)

Step 4: How to wire-wrap a briolette

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.

Step 5: How to wire-wrap a briolette

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.

Step 6: how to Wire Wrap a Briolette

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.

Step 7: How to wire wrap a briolette

7. Use your semi-flush cutters to cut the wire short, and use your chain nose pliers to tuck any excess wire.

Step 8: How to wire wrap a briolette

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!

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

Completed Wire-wrapped Briolettes

Wire-wrapped Briolettes topped off with clusters of Swarovski Crystal Rondelles!

Wire-wrapped Briolettes topped off with clusters of Swarovski Crystal Rondelles!

Wire-wrapped Feather Bone Pendants, Amazonite Briolettes with Bronze wire, and Czech Glass Teardrops with antique bronze buttons from the craft store!

Wire-wrapped Feather Bone Pendants, Amazonite Briolettes with Bronze wire, and Czech Glass Teardrops with antique bronze buttons from the craft store!

Please feel free to ask any questions you may have about wire-wrapping or any of the beads pictured here! Have fun wrapping!

Tiffany

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27 Comments

  • Reply Deci Worland April 14, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Those earrings are fabulous! They are downright inspiring, I am going to write about this post on my blog. http://gemtrails.blogspot.com/

  • Reply Dee April 14, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    very nice tutorial and very nice wraps!

  • Reply Mags April 14, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Such a clear and thorough tutorial! Very good photos :-)

  • Reply Dave Robertson April 15, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Well done, Tiffany, I like having nice big pictures to see detailed work like this wire wrapping. Glad we finally got this blogged!

  • Reply Dee Hausker April 15, 2011 at 6:56 am

    Very consise clear tutorial. Well done!

  • Reply Janet April 15, 2011 at 7:28 am

    AWESOME tutorial, Tiffany!!!

  • Reply Joni April 15, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Are you using chain on top of the when you top them off with clusters of swarovski crystal rondelles?briolettes

    • Reply Tiffany-at-Rings-Things April 15, 2011 at 9:23 am

      Joni,
      I simply used 5mm antique brass jump rings and attached two rondelles to each jump ring. I used our ball end headpins to hang the crystal rondelles. You could certainly use chain here though instead of jump rings. Use a chain with consistent links that are about 3x5mm or 4x6mm in size. Good luck! :)

      Tiffany

      • Reply Joni April 15, 2011 at 9:33 am

        Thanks for the quick response. I’m going to try it right now.

  • Reply Shaiha April 17, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    What a great tutorial. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Reply Jane Chew May 8, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    Hi! Great tute! I will be linking at http://www.handmade-jewelry-club.com/ in future post.

    Thanks!
    Jane
    http://www.handmade-jewelry-club.com/

  • Reply Shari July 17, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    Thank you SO much! I’ve been practicing my little fingers to the bone trying to get this technique right. Now I actually know what I’m doing. I can’t wait to try your way and see what happens. Thank you, thank you, thank you. :)

  • Reply Andmre December 4, 2011 at 1:09 am

    Thank you Tiffany!! I love wire wrapping but I am still trying to get the hang of it. My Husband makes is look like a breeze like you do! No worries though I have not given up. You helped me to understand the process better.

  • Reply Linda March 18, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Thanks for the tutorial! I saw you demo this at the Rings and Things sale in the Valley and wasn’t sure that I would use the technique! But I bought some briolettes and wanted to give it a try! Of course I couldn’t remember what you did and how you made it look so easy! The tutorial was great and a great reminder of your demo!

  • Reply Mary September 1, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    I love this tutorial, it was passed on to me through Pinterest. I would like to know if you have a tutorial on how you made the wire shapes above the Amazonite Briolettes with Bronze wire earrings? I can do some shapes but yours are so crisp and exact…any tips? Thanks so much for sharing your time and your talents, it is much appreciated.

    • Reply Tiffany-at-Rings-Things September 4, 2012 at 11:02 am

      Mary, I just used 18 gauge wire to create the shapes. I used round nose pliers to make the swirls and to make the design really smooth looking I pounded them flat on a steel block. If you want to make a matching pair for earrings, make sure you cut both pieces of wire the same size before you begin. Also, you can draw the design on a piece of paper and then try to make your wire line up with the design. I hope this helps!

      Tiffany

  • Reply Sharon November 12, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Thanks for the tutorial Tiffany, it is exactly what I wanted to learn about. I am about to try my first wire wrapped briolette!

    • Reply Polly November 15, 2012 at 9:28 am

      Hi Sharon, I hope it turned out great!

  • Reply Carol January 25, 2013 at 9:04 am

    I also love briolettes The tutorial is perfect. So easy to follow. Thanks!

  • Reply Lee June 11, 2013 at 12:40 am

    Aha, this answers the question I’ve always had about this type of wire-wrapped bead cap — namely, what do you do with the end of the wire when you’ve wrapped it down as far as you want to go? The pictures in bead magazines never show you the back of the wrap, with the wire coming back up to the top! Thank you for this.

  • Reply R Brown November 6, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Best wrapping Tutorial i’ve seen yet!
    (and i’ve watched loads). ;)
    Excellent!

  • Reply Gayle March 25, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Thank you so much! This tutorial is great!!! I am so happy!!! When I am able and my pocket allows it, I hope to buy supplies from your company. A simple, yet much needed tutorial as this is a perk to make a purchase!!!

  • Reply Nancy Russell July 16, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Without a doubt the very best brio wrapping tutorial I have found. Every step is clearly laid out with clear photos in just the right places. Wonderful inspirations for other ideas, too.

    • Reply Polly July 18, 2014 at 11:17 am

      Thanks Nancy!

  • Reply Vina Winters July 28, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    What color and gauge is the artistic wire shown on the green briolette?

  • Reply Tiffany July 29, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    The wire I used on that briolette is 22 gauge non-tarnish silver plated artistic wire. Here is the link :)

    https://shop.rings-things.com/cart/pc/Artistic-Wire-Silver-Plated-Copper-Wire-22ga-30ft-p24869.htm

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