I got the inspiration for this necklace from the great jewelry gallery the "Sundance" catalog. Making your own is so much more fun and affordable.
I love working with wire and I think that mixing wire, nuggets and chain is a good way to go.
I know this image is big, but you can really see the detail.
What you need:
9 or 10 cool beads around 8-12mm (These are the nuggets.)
6 or 7 inches of chain.
Around 5 ft 22 or 24 gauge wire (To wrap your cool beads.)
8" of a heavy gauge wire, 16 or 18 gauge will be perfect. (This makes the clasp and the long bar.)
3 or 4 jumprings.
Round nose & chain nose pliers. Wire cutters.
A smooth head hammer and a metal surface for flattening heavy gauge wire.
If you do not know how to make wire wrapped loops, take a look at this tutorial:
Step 1: Wire wrap your beads so that you have made a link that will be the length of about half of your necklace. 6" or 7" or so for a necklace that will be about 16" total.
Step 2: Use a headpin (a thin wire with a nail-like "head" on the end to prevent the bead from falling off the bottom) and wire wrap one of the nuggets to make a pendant.
Step 3: Cut a piece of your heavy gauge wire (say about 3 or 4 inches) curve it slightly and use your hammer and metal surface to hammer it flat. This step flattens the wire and makes it stiffer so that it will really hold it's shape. (A jeweler's hammer and bench block work best, but a good flat head hammer and smooth metal surface will work, too. Just lightly tap the metal. Light taps will gradually shape your metal.)
In the sample I used a metal hole punch that I had to make the holes on each end of the wire component that I made. If you don't have a hole punch, you can curl a loop on each end before the hammering step, then you can attach the component to the pendant and chain with a jumpring on either side.
Step 4: After you have connected the metal component to the linked side, add the chain to the other using a jumpring. To make the jumprings look more interesting, you can give them a light tap with your hammer, too.
Step 5: Using 3 inches or so of the remaining heavy gauge wire, I made a hook clasp, hammered it and connected it to the end with another jumpring.
You may want to get some practice wire and play around with wire wrapping to get some wraps under your belt.
Have fun...make pretty jewelry.