Ladies like me who don’t have pierced ears but occasionally like to wear big sparkly earrings, I am about to share something I wish I’d known 20 years ago.
Look at the earrings you’re thinking of buying. If the main part of the earring dangles from a small ring, you’re in business. Like these dime-store lovelies:
When you are sure your earrings can be altered, buy them. Then hie yourself down to the craft store and buy, for a few dollars:
- A cheap pair of round-nose jewelry pliers
- A packet of cheap earring clip-backs in gold or silver-toned base metal (see note at bottom for real gold and silver)
- A packet of open jump rings, medium-size, say 3.5 mm, in the same metal color
You might not need the jump rings, if the clip-backs you find have an open ring, like the one below. You need jump rings only if you’re hooking together two solid rings, or if you need an extra ring to make the front side of the earring dangle in the right direction (think of how a chain’s links alternate — straight, sideways, straight, sideways). But jump rings are cheap, so you might grab them anyway.
This is an open ring that is very conveniently integrated into the clip-back:
Use the pliers to get rid of the pierced part of your earrings. Here, I just had to open a ring on the French wire:
Next, attach the earring to the back. The metal is pretty easy to break with pliers, so be gentle. Here, all I had to do was hook the solid ring onto the open ring. Make sure the dangly part of your dime-store earring faces forward before you close the open ring with pliers.
You are done! Behold your new clip earrings.
Tools: Read about the different kinds of jewelry pliers here. If you’re gonna make jewelry, you might need expensive ones or several kinds. But if all you’re going to do is repair or alter a few earrings, I think a cheap pair of roundies will do you fine.
Real gold or silver: There is absolutely no reason why you can’t do this with real gold and silver jewelry. (Except that, as you already know, clip earrings fall off your ears much more easily than pierced.) The same pliers will work fine, and the craft store might have gold-filled or sterling parts right there in the beading section. But clip-backs in precious metals are much harder to find than that, usually.
Try sources such as Monsterslayer.com (the name’s a reference to a Navajo origin myth), Artbeads.com and Jewelrysupply.com. Shipping is often free. The parts will cost several dollars more — I find that a single sterling clip-back can cost $8 — and be careful when ordering because these expensive items are in fact sometimes sold singly, not in pairs. Ya don’t want to eagerly rip open your package to find you only have one earring back.