ball-jointed dolls & accessories

The Ultimate Guide on BJD jewelry supplies


I buy almost all my jewelry supplies on two sites: Ebay and Aliexpress. Most manufacturers are located in China anyway))

So I created a list of items that you may need to create jewelry in a similar style. You'll learn which ones are better, what types of jewelry you could use, and by what keywords to do your search.


I use mostly golden items, and also a silver ones. Sometimes I use bronze stuff but not often. 


Golden and silver pieces come in 2 types: the ones that look like new, and there are aged pieces, they're called antique. You can buy antique pieces if they're available, but if there is a particular "like new" design that you want to match with antique ones you can make your own antique piece with a simple method: paint a piece of jewelry with black acrylic paint, let it dry, then rub it with a cotton swab or fabric so there is only paint left in the dents. I show the method in this tutorial.


Here is the difference between like new and antique findings:



Also there are several colors of gold on the market. Plain yellow gold is the most common, but also there are KC gold (dunno what KC is for) and rose gold. There are also gunmetal (aka black), rhodium (slightly darker than silver) and other custom colors, but they're pretty rare, and it's hard to match findings for the whole piece of jewelry. 


Antique pieces are often called "tibetan": there are a plenty of silver tibetan stuff and sometimes there are gold tibetan stuff,  bronze tibetan pieces are rare.



I try not to mix like new and antique pieces in a single item, and also avoid mixing different colors together.


There are several types of jewelry findings that you can use:


Jump rings are used to join other pieces together. Must have for any jewelry. I prefer 4 mm rings, they're pretty universal, easy to work with and aren't too big. You can use 3 mm rings for the places where 4 mm ones look too big. Or you can use links from one of your chains.



Chains come in a lot of designs, but there are plain chains that are the easiest to use for me:



It's easy to count the links to get the same length on the both sides of your work, and it's great to hang a tiny pendants on every 2nd link.



You can get interesting effects combining plain chains with twisted chains:



Round link chains:



And many other styles:



There are chains with already attached pendants:



Just be careful to buy the ones with in-scale links so they're not too big! Sometimes sellers mention the link size, sometimes you have to determine it looking for familiar items on the photos, like books, people's hands, and so on. Also pay attention to the chain color, as these can be KC or rose gold that wouldn't go with the rest of the supplies in plain gold color.


Clasps are a must have too. The easiest ones to put on a doll are magnetic clasps, but I don't trust them, especially for the heavy jewelry, and I prefer lobster clasps - the smallest you can find (9-10 mm long). Round clasps are good too, but these are harder to put on, especially if your nails aren't strong enough.



The core of the most jewelry pieces are connectors. There are endless variations of designs, for almost any purpose. There are two main types: the ones that can be bent and the ones that can't.


You can see that the connectors below have some thickness. They're usually made of metal alloy that is fragile to a certain degree, so they would broke while being bent. They should be used as is; the most you can do with them is cutting some pieces off them.



Search for a human size adornments, like Boho head chains, waist chains, bracelets, anklets, as they may have some interesting pendants and connectors already attached to them:



And there are connectors that are made of a thin brass, aluminium or copper sheet, and are called filigree. They don't have such volume, but you can bend them as you wish. 



I love to use those for shoes, headbands, crowns, bracelets and so on:



You've noticed that I adorn the connectors with beads so they're custom for every outfit. I usually do that with a strong synthetic thread folded in two, tying the ends of a thread or gluing them with a hot glue on the back of a jewelry piece. I used wire before but noticed that it doesn't pull the beads tightly enough. Sometimes I fix the beads with hot glue too, in addition to the thread. The beads should be big enough so they won't fall through the holes.


But you can also not only make jewelry but adorn your outfit with filigree items and beads, so the size of beads against holes doesn't matter:



There are some items that are initially conical but I flattened them and used in my outfits too (couldn't find the exact match for Egyptian's costume belt so used the closest example):



While using connectors pay attention to the size. Some are really big!


There is a good source of filigree pieces, like multilayer earrings. Just take them apart and cut out the loops if needed. 



You can use bead caps as connectors, too. Just pay attention to the holes: the more of them - the better. The holes also should be big enough for the wire of jump rings to fit in.



I try to pick more flat bead caps, because there are very deep conical ones that would be too hard to sew onto the garment or to lay flat on the chest or the belt.


I love to make tiny pendants to hang on chains and bigger pieces, and I usually make them by myself in custom colors and shapes. I use ball head pins for the base:



The ones which are 20 mm long are pretty universal. I simply cut the edges out to a desired length if I need a shorter pins.


Then I string the beads onto the pin one by one, I also often use the smallest beads and bead caps too (tip: search for 5-6-7 mm metal beads). I finish the pendant making a loop so I can hang the piece onto the jewelry.



You need a nice tools to make jewelry. I have Slim Line kit from Beadalon, but unfortunately it's out of stock, and its price was not for beginners anyway. You can search for it or for a separate tools from it on Ebay, those tools are worth every cent. I never used the bent pliers in the center though, but the rest of them are used constantly.



You can buy jewelry pliers set like this instead:



They're pretty small and of a decent quality. You can buy the whole set or a separate tools.


Also, I have some tips on how to search for the items you need on Ebay or Aliexpress effectively.


Generally, you can start from "gold filigree findings" search query to look what the whole market can offer you; if you need something more narrow try "silver tibetan beads 7mm" so you'll get a variety of items of that color and size. 


It's hard to search for connectors that way, as they can be listed "22x43mm" or something like that, so add keywords like "round", "flower", etc. to find what you need. When you found a nice item and want more of this kind look what this seller can offer you. Also study the item's description to understand what keywords sellers use to describe it, and use them in your search.


Aliexpress specific tips:


Always look into "Recommended For You" section on the top right and "Seller Recommendations" section at the very bottom of the page: there are similar items that might be interesting to you. 


Also, when you add the item to the cart or to your Favorites there will be a popup screen called "Buyers Who Bought This Item Also Bought". I always review it, as there are not only similar items but the same items from other sellers at better prices. I don't know why it happens but Aliexpress doesn't show you ALL of the items with the same keywords, but maybe the most relevant ones, so it's easy to miss a deal.


Wish you a good hunt on jewelry items so you could create a lot of beautiful ornamentals for your dolls!

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