A few months ago I was browsing the J.Crew website when my eyes beheld this dramatic pair of black leather drop earrings covered in a dazzling display of colorful jewels and gems. I am an earring kind of gal, and these pretty things had my name written all over them. The price, however? It did not. My next thought? Yep, you guessed it! I COULD MAKE THEM MYSELF!
So I did.
Of course, the jewels and rhinestones used on the J.crew pair are probably of a finer quality than the ones I found in a plastic tub at Michaels craft store. Nonetheless I have to say that for the small amount of time and money that I spent, I am really quite pleased with the final product. Not to mention, it ended up being super fun and ended in a whole lot of pizazz. Though the pair from J.Crew were my inspiration for this DIY, I used a bit of artistic license to create my very own original pair to dangle from my ears, just like you can!
So if you’re the kind of lady that needs to rock an over-the-top accessory that makes a statement and screams, “Look at me!”, then these loud little numbers are for you.
Whether you’re wearing jeans and a t-shirt or a fancy frock, these earrings will add loads of glamour. Feel free to make them your own big, small, turn it up, or tone it down. Follow the steps below to create your very own pair!
What You Need: 1 of 10
Leather Scraps: I bought a bag full of random leather scraps from JoAnn's for $10. You can buy swatches in metallic colors. I wanted black and this was the only way I could find it.
Earring Posts: You can buy a bag full of earring post. Make sure they have a flat round surface attached and go for the larger size.
Gems with Holes: You need to buy one pack of these to glue to the earring posts, but they also need the holes so that the leather can dangle when you use a jump ring. And you should make sure that the gems are larger than the posts, that's very important! I found mine at JoAnn's, they came in a variety pack of sizes.
Gems, Jewels, and Rhinestones: I had a tub of leftover gems from a project I did a while back. They were both clear and multi-color and I found them at Michael's. I would recommend that the additional decorative gems do not have holes as they will be used for bedazzling your leather dangles. Also, you can buy little rhinestones, or use any old jewelry pieces that you may have at home. Or you could use pearls or crystals. Whatever sparkly thing you fancy. There's lots of creative license here.
Jewelry and Metal Glue: This glue can be found in the jewelry section at your local craft store. It is crazy, literally as strong and sticky as crazy glue. You need something with a good solid hold, but make sure to be very careful when using this product. I made a big mess, and I would recommend wearing a pair of latex gloves. Also, use sparingly! A little should go a long way.
Small Jump Rings: It is important to go with a smaller size that will fit through the holes in the Gems. The ones I found at JoAnn's worked perfectly, but they can be found at most craft and bead stores.
Scissors: To cut your Leather
Paper: It's not shown, but you'll need paper to create a little shape template.
Step 1: Select 2 Gems with Pre-Made Holes 2 of 10
It is important to use the gems with holes to glue to the earring post. This will enable you to attach a jump ring where the leather piece can hang. Also, make sure that the gem is larger than the post. I used a larger gem and it was much easier.
Step 2: Glue the Gems with Holes to Your Earring Posts 3 of 10
Pay close attention to this step! Add a small dab of the glue to the surface of the earring post as demonstrated in the photo above. You must apply the earring post to the upper part of the backside of the jewel, making sure that the lower hole isn't covered and is centered beneath the post. This is why you need to select a gem larger than the post size, as these holes are where you will hang the leather piece from the jump ring. When you are finished, they should look exactly like the photo above. Allow time to dry.
NOTE: The glue is as strong as crazy glue, it is very messy and easy to glue your fingers together. Use sparingly, but make sure you have enough to hold the pieces together.
Step 3: Create A Template Shape from Paper 4 of 10
Fold a piece of paper in half and cut out your desired shape. This is what you will use as a template to cut your leather piece to dangle from the posts and cover with jewels. I went with a tear drop shape about 2" long by 1.5" wide. Feel free to create any shape you like, a diamond, rectangle, circle, etc.
Step 4: Use Your Templates to Cut Out the Two Leather Shapes 5 of 10
Use your paper template to cut out two leather pieces and compare so that they look even.
Step 5 & 6: Make A Hole In the Top of Each Leather Piece, Then Feed A Jump Ring Through the Holes 6 of 10
I used a large needle to poke holes in the top of my leather pieces. Then I took the fatter end of the needle with the eye to widen the hole. It might take a couple passes.
Open the jump ring, then wiggle it through the hole that you made in the leather. This might take a little effort. Do this to both pieces. Leave the jump rings separated until you complete the next step.
Step 7: Attach the Leather Pieces to The Earring Gems 7 of 10
Make sure that the glue is dry and the gems are secured to the earring posts. Then loop the open jump rings attached to the leather, through the hole on the bottom of the gems on the earring posts as seen above. Once you have looped them through using a bit of pressure, pinch the jump rings closed.
NOTE: It is easier to loop it through the back side of the gem!
Step 8 & 9: First Arrange Your Design, Then Glue Into Place 8 of 10
Now for the fun part! Using all the gems and jewels that you can find, start playing around with the design and try as many arrangements as your heart desires before you make it permanent. I tried a variety of colors, sizes, and designs before gluing it all down on the leather.
Once you have created a design with your jewels that you are happy with, you can then start to glue. My suggestion is to keep one of the sides arranged so that you have a guide to recreate your design on the other earring, as you may have to move things around a bit. It's kind of like a sparkly puzzle.
READ THIS NOTE! : As mentioned before, this glue is serious, and extremely sticky and has a strong hold, be careful to not go overboard! Treat it like super glue. Take a tip from me as I used a bit too much and it got all over my hands, and wasn't the easiest to remove. Next time I will be using a pair of latex gloves. Also, if you use to much glue it creates a layer of gunk all over your jewels and leather and will ruin the look of your earring. So really try to keep that glue under control!
Step 10: Allow the Glue To Dry 9 of 10
Once you have glued all of your jewels into place, allow the glue time to dry and set! You might want to wait a full 24 hours.
Jewel it Up! 10 of 10
Hooray! You're all done! All that's left for you to do now is throw your hair up in a messy bun, and let these pretty not-so little leather and jeweled earrings shine!
Photos by Priscilla Chang
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