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Quick, elegant wire bail

Use basic wire-wrapping skills to show off a focal bead in this beginner jewelry-making tutorial

A head pin is the secret to securing my custom bail to its focal bead. I used 20-gauge (0.8 mm) wire to make my own extra long head pin, but you could use a prefab one if you prefer. A couple of pairs of pliers and a few pieces of round and half-round 20-gauge (0.8 mm) sterling silver wire are all you need to make the bail. Whether you’re working with wire for the first time or have miles of experience, it’s always fun to make a quick project that’s ready to wear tonight.

Click through the gallery below for project instructions, or click here to download the free project PDF.


  • Sterling silver wire:
    - 20-gauge (0.8 mm): round, dead-soft, 4 1⁄2 in. (11.4 cm) (core wires)
    - 20-gauge (0.8 mm): round, dead-soft, 6 1⁄4 in. (15.9 cm) (head pin wire); or premade sterling silver head pin
    - 20-gauge (0.8 mm): half-round, dead-soft, 6 in. (15.2 cm) (wrapping wire)
  • 20 mm coin bead
  • Decorative bead: small (optional)
  • Chain or cord 

Additional tools & supplies

  • Head-pin-making setup: torch, flux, insulated cross-locking tweezers, fire-resistant surface (soldering pad, firebrick, or charcoal block), pickle pot, pickle
  • Fine-tip marker


Toolbox: Wirework

Head pin

If you’re using a premade 20-gauge (0.8 mm) head pin, skip to the gallery below. I make my own head pins because it’s economical and I can customize each pin’s gauge and length.

Use flush cutters to cut a 61⁄4-in. (15.9 cm) piece of 20-gauge (0.8 mm) sterling silver wire. Flux one end of the wire, and use a handheld butane torch to ball up that end.


In order to hold your focal bead securely, the ball of the head pin must be larger than the hole in the bead. If it’s not, you can slide a decorative bead on the head pin before you add the focal bead to keep the focal bead in place.

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