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Summer is around the corner, so if you are heading to the beach, you may be on the lookout for seashells to add into your collection. Seashells are beautiful materials to work with when jewelry making, and they provide some gorgeous natural patterns and colors to your designs. To get the best out of your seashells, here are our favorite tips and tricks for DIY seashell jewelry making.
Use the natural holes and openings created by the tiny creatures that once lived inside the shells for an easy way to string the shells onto links, wire or line. This helps you to avoid the hassle of drilling your own holes, which could potentially damage the delicate shells.
If you do decide to drill your own holes in the shells, then you need to choose the right drill bit. Most jewelry making uses diamond drill bits to cuts through glass beads and other harder gemstones. However, diamond drills won't cut it with your seashells, which can occasionally be tougher to cut than glass.
Titanium oxide drill bits are as tough as you can get, and they will cut through even the toughest shells cleanly and quickly.
Another way to avoid drilling into your shells is to wire wrap the shell to create a pendant or shell bead for a statement ring. This is also a great method if you have a large or pattered shell that you want to keep intact. It works best with rounded shells, such as conch, cowrie or miter, rather than flattened clam or scallop shells.
Though natural-colored seashells with their soft, muted tones can look beautiful, if you want to create a piece that is a little more vibrant and bold, you can paint your shells any color you like. Several gloss enamel paints are suitable for painting shells, but there is something you can use that you probably already have at home.
Nail polish is an excellent option for painting shells, as it hardens to a high gloss for a professional-looking finish, plus it comes in a huge variety of colors, including dazzling metallic shades. It also already has its own tiny brush that works perfectly for getting into the nooks and crannies of tiny shells.
With such variety in pattern, color and shape, seashells are naturally beautiful materials to be used on their own in jewelry making. However, when paired with the right gemstone beads or metallic elements, they can make for a striking statement piece.
Freshwater pearls create a natural pairing for seashells due to their beautiful luster and nautical theme. Other great matches are opaque or solid-colored gemstones, such as turquoise, lapis lazuli or milky quartz, which keep the coastal theme and enhance the delicate colors in the shell.
With all the cleaning, drilling and polishing, you are bound the have a few accidents that result in damaged shells. But don't throw out your damaged shells along with your design plans. Use the shell’s shard to create a new statement necklace by drilling into the corner of each shard and using a jump ring to attach it to a chain in an overlapping pattern.