January 7, 2011 § Leave a comment
At the close of 2010 I enjoyed making tin cup necklaces. Not too difficult, they are enjoyable to make in the morning over coffee or over tea in the evening. Even nicer…spending time with my husband or one of our kids while I make them.
For my mother, I’d created a tiger’s eye tin cup with plated gold chain. While I’m not a big fan of plating, there are places where it has merit. The tiger’s eye tin cup necklace (posting a pic tomorrow if possible) used nice sized beads. Too heavy for karat gold chain, not too heavy for 14k gold plated.
With a nod to financial recovery and tightened purse strings, we’ve decided to offer plated gold as a metal option for our customers.
Tin Cup necklaces are called that for a reason. It was a necklace form worn in the movie “Tin Cup”. I make them 18 and 20 inches roughly. Some are several strands, or single strands that can be worn together. Pearls are beautiful with the right chain, but I favor a wide variety of stones and beads. Even Swarovsky beads work well. I like gold chain for this, and I am learning to appreciate argentium sterling…it doesn’t tarnish the way typical sterling silver. Especially in our humid climate.
Let me know how you like your tin cup necklace.
And before the next semester begins I’ll be spending more time on a project or two. One is a labor of love (dino bone cab set for our 8 year old), and the other is more labor intensive…including moving parts. Here’s hoping for success!
September 26, 2008 § 4 Comments
Your jewelry’s finish is probably not something you’ve spent time thinking about, though it was likely a factor in choosing the piece you did. And the more you know about the finish on your jewelry, the better you will be able to care for it.
There are several common forms of metal finishing: polishing, buffing and burnishing. Among these mechanical finishes, there are similarities. They are applied by physical abrasion of the metal surface using a secondary media. The media may include cloth, stone, metal and plastics combined with finishing compounds to aid the process. Methods of application include wheel abrasion, hand abrasion, blasting, tumbling barrels and vibratory finishers.
Mechanical finishes can be categorized by the way the parts to be finished are handled:
- Individually handled and finished using wheel abrasion or hand abrasion
- Mass finishing using tumbling barrels or vibratory finishers
The highest quality mechanical metal finishes are usually obtained by individually handling the parts and using some type of wheel abrasion. Fine hardware, furniture, and motorcycle parts are typically finished using this method. These finishes include:
- Grinding – Used to remove large amounts of metal, grinding can be used to remove large burrs (deburring), heavy scale, rust, and major metal imperfections. The resulting finish has significant grit lines and needs additional mechanical finishing prior to electroplating.
- Polishing – Very often mistaken as a mirror bright finish, polishing is similar to grinding but uses finer grits and compounds to remove significant metal imperfections and small metal burrs. It is usually used prior to buffing in order to obtain a mirror bright finish. In some cases multiple polishing steps using progressively finer grits are needed to obtain the desired finish.
- Buffing – Using cloth wheels combined with compounds, buffing is a final mechanical finish that results in a mirror bright to near mirror bright finish, depending upon the base metal and/or prior mechanical finishing steps. Buffing does not remove a large amount of metal.
- Satin – Also a final mechanical finish, a satin finish is an even, fine-grain, brush-type finish. A fine grit polishing finish produces a finish similar to a satin, which can be achieved using emery paper 350 grit.
Mass mechanical finishing is usually referred to as burnishing. It is a cost effective way to remove burrs and brighten metal where a perfect mirror finish is not required. A wide variety of methods exist using different types of machinery, media, and compounds depending upon the base metal and the desired results. Burnishing is also often used for brightening parts after the plating process.
Cleaning your jewelry can affect the finish on the metal. This is particularly true if you have jewelry that is plated (this includes vermeil). Ask your jeweler how to best take care of your jewelry. Metals and gemstones each have special care requirements. Know these before you clean and you’ll be more likely to keep your jewelry looking good for years to come.
September 16, 2008 § 2 Comments
If you’ve heard the phrase “cultured” gemstone or “cultured diamond”, chances are you’re one of the first. The Federal Trade Commission has made sure you won’t be the last, however.
Despite a petition submitted to the FTC by Jewelers Vigilance Committee and jewelry trade associations, the FTC has decided that use of the word ‘cultured’ is acceptable when referring to a laboratory-created gemstone. One caveat, the marketers must include one of four terms meant to clarify the origin of the stone: (laboratory created, laboratory-grown, manufacturer-created, synthetic)
Most consumers these days are at least somewhat familiar with the word “cultured” when related to pearls. It’s a term used to describe pearls that are implanted with a piece of shell, returned to salt water, and then taken when there is enough nacre built up to satisfy the ‘grower’. Laboratory grown diamonds and colored gemstones are, scientifically speaking, as real as the diamonds mined from the earth. Lab-grown stones are generally less expensive, are more clear (have less inclusions), and are much more ecologically sound for our environment. Still, people are more inclined to want the ‘real’ stone.
It’s important to remember that the term ‘cultured’ still refers to lab-grown or synthetic stones, and these stones are as real and genuine as the gem mined straight from rock. Its simply grown under more ideal conditions in a much shorter span of time.
Cultured gems are not fakes, and are often more technically ‘perfect’ versions of gemstones. A diamond is still a diamond at a molecular level, regardless of whether it is mined or laboratory-grown, and synthetic does not mean your stone is fake.
Of the Earth Artisans often recommends laboratory grown stones for customers who can’t afford the more expensive, mined versions. We also sell these gems to die-hard environmentalists, as the stone is frequently more ethically sourced.
My advice: think about what is important to you with regards to your jewelry, then talk to your jeweler about what options you are most comfortable with. Or email my husband or myself, and we’ll be glad to discuss these (and many other) issues.
August 26, 2008 § 5 Comments
I’ve returned to the world of school, to the tech college. After spending time with Don Norris, who taught me quite a bit about silversmithing and jewelry work, I decided to head back. And, as luck would have it, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College happens to have a good, solid program for jewelry design, fabrication and repair.
Not only will I improve my knowledge and skill, I will have more tools to explore. I look forward to working with the instructors I have…they have a good reputation and are good people to work with. My husband and I are hoping to find, through this time in school, to set up a public access/club access for a local art studio we’re planning.
We’re also taking time to focus on our customers and what they need. Each customer has an entry in our Special Dates and Days database. We include personal information, dates to remember, names aand addresses of anyone they might like to have reminded of said dates (some have listed themselves to be reminded of anniversary, etc.). In it we include information on what their gift recipient has had his/her eye on, what gifts are connected to certain dates, etc. Putting this together has been a large undertaking. And while I had hopes of the information being entered from several websites, it is only available to those who purchase or work with our company.
And the moral I’m sharing is to not put off for tomorrow what can be done today. I have not spent as much time drawing as I should have. And drawing is not something to be rushed. So I’m off…and those of you working with me on custom jewelry will probably notice a big difference in my sketches as well as the software I use to scan it and then send it out.
Enjoy the day!