How to Create the Perfect Gift Earrings

My husband and I will be married 20 years next month, so I was thinking about something to get him as a gift. We always go practical (he set the tone with the Listerine incident of 1985), so I was thinking of something more fun, like tickets to a musical or a weekend at a spa . . . Okay, okay, I guess those would be the gifts I’d like to receive.

You know, that’s a big weakness of mine: I often give people gifts that I’d like to receive. Do you do that, too? I suppose it makes them more fun to make or buy. Unfortunately, I do that when I make jewelry for friends and family, too—I end up making something I’d like to wear myself and not everyone has the same eccentric taste as I do!

How to Create the Perfect Gift Earrings

As far as jewelry styles go, earrings are the quickest and easiest to make, so we beaders tend to whip them up as gifts quite often. But I think earrings are the easiest type of jewelry to get wrong. While necklaces and bracelets are like articles of clothing, embellishing the body, earrings are more like glasses or makeup—they embellish the face, contributing quite a bit to your identity. For instance, think about Foxxy Cleopatra without her hoop—the look would be all wrong!

So, in an effort to help me (and maybe you?) start making the right earrings for the women on your gift list out there, I’ve jotted down a few notes:

Choose the right color beads for your friend’s hair color and length. For example, if she’s got long, dark hair, use light-colored or metallic beads; dark beads will just get visually lost in the shuffle. If she’s got short hair, you have more leeway, but again, you want to choose a color that will look good against her skin and complement her hair color. 

Do you know your friend’s earring finding preference so she won’t have to change them out after the gift exchange?

Make sure the earring length complements your receiver’s neck length. Most people look good in a 1-inch dangle, but not everyone can pull off a 3-inch one. For short-necked earring-wearers, choose close-to-the ear styles like studs or very short dangles. Save long chandelier and drop-chain styles for your swan-necked friends.

It’s easy to get stuck in a beads-on-a-head-pin or dangles-on-a-chain rut when making earrings as gifts, but there are hundreds of other go-to designs out there. For instance, I was just paging through Denise Peck’s new book, 101 Wire Earrings and there are literally 101 step-by-step designs in this monster, all different, all wire and beads (or just wire), all fairly simple, and all very chic! There are great how-to photos at the outset so any beginner can easily learn the basics. And featured within are a wide variety of styles including big spirals, squiggly coils, geometric shapes, little wire-wrapped bundles, and more.

General Style
Style is always the hardest part of designing earrings for someone else and it’s certainly not a science. To grossly generalize, I’ve found that most under-20-somethings really like to wear colorful, modern, theme-centric earrings, but most over-40-somethings don’t.

The best bit of styling advice would probably be this: Before beginning to design the earrings, take some time to think about the receiver.  Is she stones or crystals? Chain or seed beads? Shiny or matte? It’s probably best to first dictate these elements and then get out the stash and start designing, rather than letting the stash dictate the design. 

Do you have some other elements to add to my list for making the perfect pair of gift earrings? Please share them on the website. Or hey, want to buck all this advice and just make a great-looking pair of earrings for trading? Sign up for Beading Daily’s first Earring Swap (it’s now entry-fee-free!).

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Michelle M.

About Michelle M.

I was the founding editor of Beading Daily (2007-2009) and my now a freelance designer/writer/editor.  My designs have been published in Stringing, Step by Step Beads, Jewelry Gifts for the Holidays, Creative Jewelry, Beadwork, and other magazines. I enjoy stringing, bead embroidery, wirework, metal work, mixed media, beadweaving—pretty much anything that involves beads or jewelry.  I also enjoy exploring new crafts like pottery and felting.  I write a personal blog if you want to see more of my work. 16+ Free Beading Projects: A list of the free projects I created for Beading Daily. Contact Info If you have a question regarding Beading Daily, please contact customer service at or the current editor, Kristal Wick. If you'd like to contact me, you'll find my info on my website:  You can also follow me on Twitter at: Pictured here is a pair of earrings I made for the Spring 2010 issue of Stringing in an attempt to get over my fear of designing with the color orange!

10 thoughts on “How to Create the Perfect Gift Earrings

  1. I like to make earring that incorporate earthy with sophistication. I LOVE turquoise, so, I mix it with swarovski. Your earrings can now be casual or corporate!

  2. In addition to matching scale to the receiver, face shape is a definite factor in how well the earrings will complement the wearer. Round faces need rectangular earrings; largish, round earrings, especially hoops, suit long, angular faces. Pear-shaped styles are great on any face with a small chin and width at eyebrow level. You’re looking for balance and contrast. Generally, I’ve found that a shape opposite the face shape works best, with opposing details. Don’t make tiny button earrings for friends with a round or square face; the square face needs a slightly long, oval shape. An oval face can wear anything. Find your own face shape and make earrings that are the opposite. I think you’ll find them very flattering. I’d love to hear how they work out.

  3. I have a friend with long hair, which she often wears down, who cringes at the sight of most dangly earrings because she can just see them getting caught in her hair. She likes dramatic jewelry and often wears big hoop earrings, so it’s easy to forget that she will *hate* any kind of earring complicated/bumpy/tangly enough to get caught in her hair.

  4. I try to make my Christmas gifts for the office each year, and the year I made earrings for everyone was great. I watched for months to see what colors they wore most often, and made each of them earrings to match or coordinate with those outfits as well as the styles they seemed to wear most often. It was a huge success!

  5. You could also just outright cheat and tailor your design with all of the above considerations of course to a specific outfit you’ve seen her wear that she more than likely would love to have “just the perfect earrings” to go with but lacking that luxury has always had to resort to generic, off-the-shelf substitutes. Or you could match a specific necklace or bracelet that arrived in her life unaccompanied by matching jewelry pieces. (I personally have tons of those!) Either way, she would have a unique, one-of-a-kind gift that you could even seal with a promise not to repeat just to make them even more special. Marian

  6. It´s important to think about the form of the face as well. It´s not so good with a long, dangling pair of earrings to a person with a long face. It looks a lot better with a pair of short, bulky earrings or a big round ball.