Handmade Jewelry Using Natural Materials: Wood, Seed Beads, Shells and More

craftswoman creating handmade accessory with beads

Handmade Jewelry Using Natural Materials: Wood, Seed Beads, Shells and More


Incorporating organic elements like wood, seeds, shells, and stones creates stunning jewelry with natural beauty. Handcrafting earthy designs from these sustainable materials provides a mindful alternative to mass-produced accessories.

This guide explores working with diverse natural materials to make one-of-a-kind wood bead strands, shell pendants, gemstone wrapped rings, and other organic jewelry. Learn techniques for cutting, drilling, wrapping, and wireworking natural elements into wearable art.

Benefits of Natural Materials for Jewelry Making

Why use organic components like wood and shells to create jewelry? Here are some of the main advantages:

Sustainable Materials

Responsible sourcing of discarded organic materials has minimal environmental impact. Many can be foraged or thrifted.

Unique Textures and Colors

Natural variations in wood grain, stone banding, and shell markings make every piece distinctive.

Organic Beauty

Natural palettes and shapes create an earthy, bohemian style perfect for eco-conscious designs.

Rustic Charm

The simplicity and imperfection of organic materials results in artisanal style jewelry.

Tactile Appeal

The smoothness of sanded wood, coolness of stones, and intricate cuts of shells feel pleasing against the skin.

Meaningful Materials

Natural elements can hold personal significance, like beach souvenirs or heirloom gemstones.

Helpful Tools and Materials for Working with Natural Materials

Specialized tools assist in shaping and manipulating delicate natural materials:

Jeweler’s Saws

Fine tooth saws cut detailed shapes from wood, bone, antler, and shells. A ring saw cuts tiny shapes.

Rotary Tool

A rotary tool with micro drill bits, burrs, and sanding drums abrades and polishes natural materials.

Wireworking Pliers

Needle nose, round nose and flat nose pliers help bend and manipulate wire for wrapping stones and crystals.

Wood Sealer

Sealants like polyurethane protect porous materials like wood beads from damage.

Jewelry Findings

Components like clasps, ear wires, and head pins finish off organic elements into complete jewelry pieces.


Adhesives like E6000 bond natural items together or onto other jewelry pieces.

Techniques for Working with Wood

Fragrant hardwoods like sandalwood, maple, and oak make beautiful jewelry. Here are key woodworking methods:

Step 1: Cut Wood Pieces

Use a fine tooth saw to cut thin wood slices or blocks from sustainably sourced lumber scraps.

Step 2: Shape Edges

File and sand wood edges smooth with a rotary tool. Soften sharp corners.

Step 3: Drill Holes

Carve out center holes with a small drill bit so beads can be strung. Test on scraps first.

Step 4: Texture Wood

Add interest by cutting decorative edges with patterned blade tips or burning designs.

Step 5: Dye or Paint Wood

Infuse color by applying semi-transparent wood stains. Paint designs.

Step 6: Seal and Protect

Finish wood elements with a protective sealer or resin coating when fully dry.

Techniques for Creating Shell Jewelry

Seashells gathered from beaches transform into jewelry with these methods:

Step 1: Clean Shells

Scrub shells in soapy water with a toothbrush and rinse. Allow to fully dry.

Step 2: Cut Shells

Use a jeweler’s saw to cut shells into facets or strips following the natural shape.

Step 3: File Edges

Gently file away rough edges. Take care not to shatter delicate shells.

Step 4: Drill Holes

Carefully drill holes in inconspicuous spots so shells can be strung or wired.

Step 5: Polish Shells

Buff gently with a rotary tool and polishing pad to restore the shell’s sheen.

Step 6: Seal Shells

Finish with a clear sealant like polyurethane if drilling exposes porous interior layers.

Techniques for Working with Gemstones

Turn raw stones and crystals into rings, pendants, and beads with these methods:

Step 1: Cut Rough Stones

Use a rock saw or diamond blade wet saw to slice raw stones into slabs or cabs.

Step 2: Shape the Stone

Abrade stones into shapes like rounds, pears, or ovals with a rotary tool.

Step 3: Smooth and Polish

Progress through rotary tool polishing pads from coarse grit to extra fine polish.

Step 4: Drill Holes

Carefully drill holes for stringing or setting. Work slowly and use cutting oil.

Step 5: Set Stones

Wire wrap stones into place or set them into bezels using jewelry pliers.

Step 6: Protect Surfaces

Apply clear stone sealer or jewelry resin over polished surfaces to protect from scratches.

Inspiring Jewelry Projects Using Natural Materials

Need inspiration for eco-friendly jewelry creations? Here are beautiful ways to work with organic materials:

Wooden Bangle Bracelets

Cut thin wood sheets into oval bangles. Char the edges and finish with coconut oil for a natural polish.

Seaglass Pendants

Wire wrap found frosted seaglass nuggets into raw crystal pendants using copper wire.

Shell Chandelier Earrings

Cut strips of mother of pearl, abalone, and conch shells. String multiple pieces as dangly statement earrings.

Maple Leaf Jewelry

Preserve autumn maple leaves in resin jewelry like dome pendants, paperweights, or drink coasters.

Engraved Wood Jewelry

Laser engrave personal messages, lyrics, or symbols onto wood beads, pendants, or cuffs.

Ombre Wood Beads

Dye wood beads in gradients from light to dark. Mix with metal beads for boho chic.

Gemstone Jewelry

Wrap faceted stones like carnelian, ruby, turquoise, and amethyst in wire or bezel settings.

Tips for Making Professional Natural Material Jewelry

Take your nature-based jewelry to the next level with these pro tips:


Natural materials offer amazing depth, symbolism, and beauty for crafting eco-friendly jewelry designs. The imperfections and variations inherent to organic elements become desirable.

Take inspiration from the forests, beaches, and canyons. Responsibly sourced wood, shells, stones, and seeds help create sustainable jewelry and honor Mother Nature’s gifts.

With some skill working specialized tools, you can shape natural materials into stunning pendants, bead strands, statement rings, and delicate earrings. Give your jewelry line and wardrobe an organic refresh!

%d bloggers like this: