I have been on and off teaching myself jewelry making techniques. With the goal of making jewelry for historical costuming, of course! Here is some of what I have learned: how to make a set of pearl drop earrings, similar to those worn in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Inspiration images followed by how-to pictures are below.
Painting by Alexandre Roslin (Detail), 1763
Painting by Zacarías González Velázquez (Detail), 1820
First the materials needed: two round glass pearls (approx. 8 mm), two glass pearl drops (a little larger circumference than the rounds), two fancy head pins, two eye pins, two hanging earring findings (clip on here, but you could also use pierced lever backs), a ruler, round nosed pliers, and a bead mat to work on (the scrap muslin in this case). Missing from this photo: flat nosed pliers.
Place one of the round pearls on an eye pin. Trim the pin to a little less than 1 cm above the pearl. Bend the pin at a 90 degree angle.
Bend the end of the pin into another eye using the round nosed pliers.
The result is a pearl link. Repeat to make another pearl link.
Place one of the pearl drops on a fancy eye pin. Trim this pin to a little less than 1 cm above the pearl drop. Bend the pin at a 90 degree angle, as you did with the round pearl.
Again use the round nosed pliers to create an eye, making a drop. Repeat to make another drop.
The result is two drops and two links.
Use the flat nosed pliers to open one of the eyes on a drop. Twist the eye laterally in order to open.
Attach the drop to a link. Close the eye with the flat nosed pliers.
Use the flat nosed pliers to open the dangle loop on an earring finding. Again, twist the loop laterally in order to open. Attach the eye of the pearl to the finding.
Repeat with the other earring finding. The result is a pair of finished earrings!