When making jewelry, it is handy to know about the knots which help to finish your jewelry piece, keep it all together and of course look neat and tidy in the process. There are also knots which make up the main body of your work i.e. in macrame and pearl knotting.
Before beginning any project, make sure you know which thread or cord will work best for the techniques you will be using and consider the strength of the cord if you are working with heavier elements.
So let’s get into the knots (and try not to get tangled on the way) – here are a few of the most popular knots used in jewelry making:
1. Overhand knot
This is the most simple knot to wrap your head around and is what will probably pop into your mind when you hear the word ‘knot’.
The overhand technique is what you will use when creating pearl knotted pieces of jewelry, to hold beads in place and help to stop any damage that can occur from friction between beads. Read more about pearl knotting here!
Fastenings & Finishings
2. Sliding knot
This knot is used for thicker cord such as leather or suede. The sliding tunnel knots run smoothly along the cord allowing the jewelry piece to be resizable to suit the wearer, meaning a necklace could vary from a choker, right the way through to a matinee length necklace! This fastening technique means you do not need to use any crimps or clasps, just make sure to create your beaded design or add your charms before making this knot.
TIP: Remember to leave enough excess cord to create both knots and the overlapping section
3. Lark’s head knot
This is the perfect knot for adding a fastening or pendant to your jewelry design. All you need to do is make a loop by folding the cord and then pass the loose ends through the chosen fastening or pendant and back through the loop you made. This is a really neat way to make a very simple cord necklace with a single gemstone pendant.
4. Surgeon’s knot
A surgeon’s knot is a very sturdy way to finish off a piece of jewelry and is super handy for elasticated cords. The extra twists in this knot help to keep it in place – it is definitely more of a practical knot than a decorative knot!
5. Square knot
A square knot is very similar to the lark’s head knot, only two loops are created on separate cords before being passed through one another. This technique is commonly used as a knot design for rings made from silver or gold.
This knot can also be used in braided jewelry using a slightly different technique with multiple strands. The central cord(s) act as a base for the two wrapping cords, as square knots are created in a row. This same technique can be used as a fastening, creating an adjustable piece of jewelry – most commonly found on bracelets.
TIP: If you don’t alternate the square knot from side to side (left cord then right cord), you will end up with a spiral design, rather than a flat design.
6. Pretzel knot
Also more traditionally known as a Josephine knot, this is a technique most commonly seen in macramé designs and is a really pretty and decorative knot to use. There are multiple ways to make this knot and it looks particularly pretty when it’s made using double cord in contrasting colors.
7. Half-hitch knot
Commonly used in beadwork to add in new threads or to hold beads in place within a design. This knot is created in a very similar way to an overhand knot, but formed around something i.e. a seed bead. There are many variations on a “hitch” which can be used to strengthen the hold that the knot creates, which is perfect for the finishing knot to a beaded design.
This can also be used as a decorative knot in bracelet making where 2 cords (usually different colors) make a strong and simple design.
Jewelry-making techniques that are knot-heavy
Macramé involves many different knotting techniques (some of which are mentioned above) to produce stunning, intricate designs. This form of cord work can be used for many applications, from hanging baskets to tapestries, but it can be very beautifully and effectively used on a smaller scale in jewelry-making.
As mentioned above, knotting between each pearl or bead in a jewelry design is called pearl knotting. A technique which makes sturdy jewellery where beads are not touching one another, therefore protected from cracking or becoming worn.
These knots are visible, so using matching or complementary colored threads is a must. Your thread needs to be held close to the bead as you form the knot, so using a set of needle nosed tweezers or a pearl knotting needle is a really great idea!
TIP: Make sure your beads will not pass over the knots by choosing the correct thickness of cord.