Alternative Wedding Jewelry, Part 2

It’s been said that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Weddings have been around for as long as marriage, and perusing over 100 years of wedding jewelry themes is not a terrible way to spend an afternoon. It’s true that some styles really are absolutely timeless…..in 1890, the style was a single old mine or European cut, round, white diamond, set in six prongs on a plain yellow gold band. Separate but complimentary anniversary bands hadn’t been conceived of yet. 

Grey, included, or “dirty” diamonds were never considered for the main stone and were actually considered a by-product of the white diamond production process. Brilliant cut diamonds were invented in the late 1910’s to maximize the dispersion of light. 
Metals evolve, styles ranged from simple, clean and classic to extravagant and experimental….but one thing that didn’t REALLY change is the shape of the diamond; round, white, clean, and ideally, the larger the better.
Somewhere around the 1960s, we see trends change, and alternative shapes became popular…. emerald, oval, square, baguettes. 

Even marquise shaped became popular choices, especially when
you consider that a diamond with a lower carat weight could, because of the length down the middle, give the illusion of being quite a bit bigger on the inside. Halos give otherwise smaller stones a lot more real estate as well. Somewhere around ten years ago, we finally see color entering the diamond arena in full force, and as more and more celebrities began wearing colored diamonds, the industry is giving those previously dismissed “byproducts” a second look.

 

Here we are, then, in the age of information. The power of the story means that consumers want to know the history of their purchase, and are willing to put time and resources behind wearing jewelry that is in line with the same values they use to for their food, clothing and transportation choices. 

We want our most expensive purchases to have the same personality and individuality that we value in ourselves. Many diamonds are being reused from family heirlooms, adding “upcycling” and sustainability to the jewelry’s individual history. Alternative cuts such as the rose cut look larger because of their flat bottoms, meaning you get more bling for your buck. Brown, grey or “salt and pepper” diamonds are a great way to add personality and contrast. 

We’ve recently had a demand for natural, uncut diamond crystals in wedding jewelry, which possess an unprocessed beauty and energy that can’t be replicated. Truly no two are alike. 

And if diamonds don’t give the range of color desired, sapphires are a durable and affordable alternative. 
Millennials are looking for an experience when shopping for jewelry, and knowledgeable, bespoke artisan jewelers can provide that. Your jewelry should have all the same personality that you do!

Wedding Jewelry Trends in a New Decade

Five different color sapphire and ruby wedding rings in five different settings.

Morganite in wedding jewelry seems to be the latest and greatest trend in recent years, and it’s not entirely undeserved. Jewel tones and different price points are breathing new life into time-honored trends. But, there’s good reason why diamonds have been the go-to choice for long-lasting jewelry, and it has little to do with the possibly questionable marketing strategy of decades-old diamond suppliers. Quite simply, it comes down to having a piece of jewelry that will stand the test of time. Folks, we are so hard on our hands. Experienced jewelers know that hand jewelry must be given special consideration. No one wants to spend more in repairs for their daily-wear jewelry, than they spent on the jewelry itself! Garnet was once the wedding ring gemstone of choice, too, and yet, with continuous use and wear, the gemstone loses its facets and must be recut to look new. It takes many, many years to wear down a garnet….but have you ever seen a diamond lose its facets? It just doesn’t happen.

Getting clear, unbiased information on the practicality of your personal stone choices can be a challenge for consumers. Isn’t this, like…the SECOND most important decision that will affect you for many years to come?! To back up the years of experience used to create this article, I decided to approach the question as most brides-to-be would…..I googled it 🙂 Thank GOODNESS for the people at Google who create whole algorithms that magically know what you’re trying to ask when you string together the blindingly vague words…..”Is morganite jewelry durable?”

Coming from the industry standard for gemstone information, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA for short), is the first in the list of Google links. If one is doing a cursory search and perhaps ACTIVELY SEEKING information to support a foregone conclusion, then one would be pleased with their statement “Morganite is a durable gemstone….(it) is a 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale, so it is a durable gemstone for jewelry, as long as it is treated with care to protect it against scratching and hard knocks.” Mohs scale. Durable gemstone. These are the phrases upon which big, important, expensive decisions are made!

Here’s the thing. Those are the sound bites….the synopsis. That GIA synopsis makes it sound like morganite is a fine choice and plenty durable for everyday wear, on your hands, no less! Considering the investment involved…..do you really want to make such an important decision based on a sound bite? Critical thinkers everywhere are asking themselves……”what exactly does “durable” really mean? What am I taking for granted, putting my trust in the internet?”

Critical thinkers are great. They need to put those nagging earworms to rest, and no better way than with the power of knowledge! When one CLICKS on the GIA article…. the information deepens. “Gem and mineral hardness is measured on the Mohs scale. The numbers are based on the relative ease or difficulty with which one mineral can be scratched by another. But the Mohs scale is deceptive. The steps between the minerals are not evenly spaced. For example, diamond is only one number away, but it’s many times harder than gems in the corundum family. Diamonds, with a Mohs hardness of 10, have an absolute hardness of 1600. Sapphires, a 9 on the Mohs scale, have an absolute hardness of 400. Morganite is 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale, and with an absolute hardness around 150… the next logical question the buyer should ask is, “How do I feel about wearing a stone that is 1/10th the hardness of the industry standard?”

Taken out of context, morganite IS a durable gemstone for jewelry, as long as it is treated with care to protect it against scratching and hard knocks.”

What does “treated with care” mean? There’s the obvious list of no-nos, like gardening, cooking, tire-realignment or washing dishes…but more than that, experienced jewelers will tell you that there are certain types of jewelry that are safer than others. By that I mean two things, first, that bezel settings (where the metal seat completely encircles the stone) are much more secure than prong settings (four small wires bent over the stone). Secondly, gemstones set in earrings and pendants are so much more secure than those set in rings and bracelets, again, because a gemstone hanging around your neck does not receive the wear and tear that a gemstone on your finger would receive. In this case, “treated with care” could mean “only put this stone in a pendant” OR it could also mean “put it in a ring you’re only going to wear once a month” but at this point, I hope there is enough evidence to suggest that wedding rings are not on the list of acceptable uses for morganite.


So what do you do? If you really love the color of morganite, and want to have it in your wedding jewelry, but want to make the most educated and sensible choice possible? Some people would say the obvious solution is to have three different engagement rings! Only one-third the wear on any single ring! I have to admit, this answer comes with the added advantage of coordinating with your mood and/or outfit. It’s not the worst idea I’ve ever heard of. Really!

If diamond just isn’t your thing, and having three different rings just sounds…..confusing, the very next most durable gemstone is a sapphire. Here’s the solution we came up with for one recent couple…..a pink sapphire with a color that’s a dead ringer for morganite. Encircled in diamonds and set in 14k rose gold, the traditional setting mixed with current trends was the perfect solution for our happy couple. And do you want to talk about HIS ring?! A one-of-a-kind piece that can’t even come CLOSE to being replicated…..and yet with all the variety, it’s still an incredibly durable piece. THIS is what that custom design fee will get you…..one of a kind jewelry…..alternative choices and industry knowledge backed with experience….and access to jewelers who make your custom piece from start to finish right under our very own roof.

And that’s a fact.

New Class Information and POLL RESULTS!

WHAT’S NEW!?

Tai here… sometimes I do a really bang up job putting a class schedule together. Then… sometimes… I do something like not put a single class on the schedule that deals with how to finishing and polish your jewelry for MONTHS ON END.

I’ve been getting so many questions about finishing and polishing and that forced me to face the fact that I totally dropped the ball on this one. So who wants to take an Elements of Finishing class, with a side of Flexshaft Basics? One night, mostly lecture and demo, but TONS of info to take home with you and get you going. We will talk about theory of polishing, common mistakes, supplies and equipment options and more. $50 or free with the purchase of a flexshaft. Let me know, people!!

CABOCHON OF THE WEEK!!!

We’ll get to this week’s gem of a cab in a minute….but first! Results of last week’s poll! If this is you first time receiving the newsletter, let me give you some context….last week, I had asked for help settling a running “conversation” Tai and I have been having for FAR too long about color theory…which really came down to, is it (“it” being the cab, or the watercolor paint, or the traffic light, etc etc ad nauseum)..is “it” blue, or is it green?! In this case it was this beautiful aquamarine cab pictured below….
And you, loyal readers, did not disappoint! 48 of you weighed in to give your HIGHLY varied opinions, and several participants delivered even MORE color choices! Mainly grey. Or grey-green. Or greenish-blue…or blue-grey…ish…you get the picture! What really tickled my goat was the creativity in which you explained your color choice….and the logic! Especially concerning monitor calibration….my goodness. I know where to go now when we start picking colors to paint Tai’s house! (Yes Tai, you will get a vote, but remember this is a democracy here.)

Thanks for participating guys! And without further ado…. the winner (by a hair) is….
green!

38% of you agree, it’s (mostly) green. AS IT SHOULD BE! Let’s do this again next month, shall we? Too, too much fun.

AND NOW FOR THIS WEEK’S SELECTION!

If you’ve ever photographed small, shiny things, you know how FUN it is….no really, because if it’s not hard, its not any fun! I’ve been trying for weeks to capture the beautiful blu(ish)-purple tones in this amazing little pietersite cab…..you know how some gems just have LIFE in them? This is one of those gems. We’ll work on doing video next, so you can see how AWESOME the chatoyancy is on this cab and all its little pietersite brothers and sisters. $65 to take home this 14x22mm beauty! Or 20% off of that if it’s purchased in class!

There is still room!

(click on the link to find information about the class and PICTURES!!! of the project)

Design with Silver Scrap, Wednesday, April 25, 5:30 – 8:30pm (I) $50 (prereq: SS2)
skills: Fusing sterling silver (yes, it can be done!) and having another way to use up all that silver scrap you have. Happening tonight, Wednesday April 25! 

Twisted Wire Pendant, Thursday, April 26, 5:30 – 8:30pm (I) $50 (prereq: Beginning Wirework)
skills: twisting wire that actually does what you want it to, making a pendant with just wire and a cabochon or other small stone. Learn how to make the bail too!

Silversmithing 3, Saturday, April 28, 10-5p (A) $105 (prereq: SSI and SS2)
skills: making a custom bezel out of backsheet and bezel wire to fit a freeform cabochon, and soldering that either to a bail for a pendant or a ring shank to make a ring. (No unfortunately you can’t do embellishments, I already asked.) Make sure you are able to pick solder independently before signing up for this class!

Beginning Prong Setting, Monday, April 30th, 5:30 – 8:30p ($85 includes all materials!)
skills: How to pick a gem that will be easy to set…working with PREMADE calibrated prong settings and calibrated gemstones….which are included, by the way! Bring your favorite pliers, or use one of ours.

Pendants I: Bails, Tuesdays, May 1&8, 5:30 – 8:30p  (A) $95 (prereq: SS2)
skills: All the different ways you can make a bail for a pendant, including some you never even thought of. Will also get to work with the rolling mill and set small cabs in premade bezel cups. VERY GOOD PICK SOLDERING PRACTICE if you’ve recently completed SS2 or SS3.

Rings I: Stacking, Tuesdays, May 1&8, 5:30 – 8:30p (A) $95 (prereq: SS2)
skills: Two HUGE things…..how to plan out and document your work, and how to make five rings that are all the same size but not the same shape (so, some wire rings, some ring shank rings, hammered rings….look at the picture on the web download for an idea of what all those people on Pinterest have been doing!) More opportunities to practice pick soldering and stone setting.

 
UPCOMING OPEN STUDIO TIMES

Wednesday, April 25th, 10-5
Thursday, April 26th, 10-5
Friday, April 27th, ALL DAY!
Monday, April 30th, 10-5 with BONUS HARRY INCLUDED
Tuesday, May 1st, 10-5
Wednesday, May 2nd, 10-5

As always, call ahead and if class ISN’T in session, chances are excellent you can come in and work.

CLICK HERE to see our online class list!

Tip of the Week!

Making ear wires ahead of time is a total time saver!! But I notice I have a hard time making 50 pairs of earrings match well enough to be total mix and match… so here is what I do. I make earrings two at a time, and make them match. Then I hook them together with the openings designed to hang things from. Then I make and match more pairs. When I store them in bags, I know I can pull out a matching pair any time I need them.

You’re welcome! Enjoy the sunshine! Come take a class when you’re too sunburned to stay out there.

 

New Class Information April 18, 2018

WHAT’S NEW!?

Jumpringer/Flexshaft Combo

Have you been thinking about buying a flexshaft? What about a jump ringer?  If you have, this is totally your lucky day!!!

We JUST got in a combo buy with the Foredom Flexshaft SR and a Pepe Tools jump ringer that you can get for $412!!! That is *almost* a free jump ringer!!! OR you can buy the Pepe Tools jump ringer separately for $249.

Remember, any flexshaft purchase includes the Flexshaft Basics class for FREE!!!!

CABOCHON OF THE WEEK!!!

PLEASE, please please will you help settle a….let’s call it a “discussion”….between myself and Tai regarding the finer points of color theory. See, we’re almost positive we’re not seeing the same colors. (Admit it, you’ve always wondered if the red you’re seeing, that you call red, is the same color Jimmy across the street sees, and ALSO calls red….like, how would you ever know?!?!?!)

Case in point…..this awesome aquamarine. I’m willing to bet that if I asked Tai what color this is, it’s not the same as what I see. So I wonder if you’re willing to take thirty seconds and tell us what you think…..is this cab in the blue color family, or is it in the green? I’m so emotionally invested in this argument DISCUSSION!!! that I’ve even figured out how to create an internet poll, just to make my point.

I promise this is completely anonymous and purely for fun. Help us answer once and for all, if one of us is color-blind. And then come visit the beautiful cab in the store! Or just bring it home for $50 and end this silliness. Please. I’m kind of obsessed right now and it’s not helping.

There is still room…

(click on the link to find information about the class and PICTURES!!! of the project)

Advanced Byzantine Options, Monday, April 23, 5:30 – 8:30pm (I) $50 (prereq: knowing the Byzantine weave)
skills: Level up on your Byzantine weave! Learn how to scale up or down the Byzantine you already know, how to make variations on the weave with a Byzantine knot or even gemstones.

Byzantine Bracelet, Wednesday, April 25, 5:30-8:30pm (B) $50 (prereq: none)
skills: Make jump rings look like they’re ready for prom with this complex-looking but super easy to learn weave! Literally all you need is jump rings and two pliers.

Design with Silver Scrap, Wednesday, April 25, 5:30 – 8:30pm (I) $50 (prereq: SS2)
skills: Fusing sterling silver (yes, it can be done!) and having another way to use up all that silver scrap you have.

Twisted Wire Pendant, Thursday, April 26, 5:30 – 8:30pm (I) $50 (prereq: Beginning Wirework)
skills: twisting wire that actually does what you want it to, making a pendant with just wire and a cabochon or other small stone. Learn how to make the bail too!

Silversmithing 3, Saturday, April 28, 10-5p (A) $105 (prereq: SSI and SS2)
skills: making a custom bezel out of backsheet and bezel wire to fit a freeform cabochon, and soldering that either to a bail for a pendant or a ring shank to make a ring. (No unfortunately you can’t do embellishments, I already asked.) Make sure you are able to pick solder independently before signing up for this class!

 
UPCOMING OPEN STUDIO TIMES

Wednesday, April 18th, 10-5
Thursday, April 19th, 5:30 – 8:30pm
Friday, April 20th, no open studio nada
Saturday, April 21st, no open studio nada tambien
Monday, April 23rd, 10-5
Tuesday, April 24th, 10-5
Wednesday, April 25th, 10-5
Thursday, April 26th, 10-5
Friday, April 27th, ALL DAY!

As always, call ahead and if class ISN’T in session, chances are excellent you can come in and work.

CLICK HERE to see our online class list!

Tip of the Week!

I know I talk on and on and on about making teeny tiny jumprings, but… they come in incredibly handy, and if you can make them yourself, you get exactly what you want! In Earrings I, for example, one of the options is soldering very small earrings on to posts to allow for dangles, or to solder same to bezels, to *make* dangles. To be able to just make those babies is a huge relief.

ANYWAY- finding the right mandrel to wind and cut tiny jumprings on is kind of a bear. But here is an idea- take 10 or 12 or 14ga copper (brass works too) and put one end of a 3-4″ piece in a vise and the other end in a drill. Pull back and turn the drill on slowly to twist the wire. This will harden and straighten the wire and make it into a perfect mandrel for winding your jumprings. You can even saw into it, like we do with the wooden dowels!

New Class Information April 11, 2018

WHAT’S NEW!?
New Rolling Mill Patterns
We just got in a HUGE order of rolling mill patterns including several new ones- so excited about all the new possibilities! If you have questions about using these patterns, we have several classes coming up where you will get to try them out- Pendants II (wonky prong), Rings II (wonky prong or fidget), Pendants I (bails), Earrings I (soldering posts), Pendants III (3D rivet), Box Clasp, Keum Bo, Woven and Riveted cuff… it just goes on and on…
Fretz Hammer shipment
Have you been waiting for us to get your favorite Fretz hammer back in stock? Well, we are all stocked back up!

CABOCHON OF THE WEEK!!!
Tiffany Stone is an amazing material. The colors and variation in the matrix make it one of those stones that causes that pattern recognition center in your brain to start spinning for joy. There’s some discussion in the shop about this one in particular, because we all seem to see something different…Jessica and Shari, a couple of lovely regulars for open studio time, both see a ship at sunset….Brad sees a landscape, as does Tai; although hers is a little more descriptive, being a post-apocalyptic mutant badger on a irridium-saturated shoreline….which makes my ballerina dancer on the shore at sunset seem downright BORING!
But this stone is ANYTHING but boring, I really hope someone can save me from buying it for myself because I kinda LOOOOOOVE doing pendants that look like landscapes. Ideally someone who wanted to also take Gem In Stone would buy it, and put the most perfect little round “sun” in there to complete the illusion….. roughly 60x90mm and $125, but remember, if it’s purchased during class its 20% off!

THERE IS STILL ROOM…
(click on the link to find information about the class and PICTURES!!! of the project)
Metal Clay II, Wednesdays, April 11&18, 5:30-8:30 (I) $95
skills: build on skills learned in Metal Clay I, learn to set stones and which stones can be fired, create most complex designs including bails…
Brass/Copper Etching, Thursday, April 12th, 5:30-8:30 (B) $85
skills: different ways to transfer designs to metal, including PNP paper, how to prepare the metal, ideas of how to use etched pieces and etch 2-5 pieces in class
Silversmithing II, Saturday, April 14th, 10-5 (I) $105
Cold Connections I, Monday, April 16th, 5:30-8:30 (B) $50
Pendants II/Wonky Prong, Tuesdays, April 17&24, 5:30-8:30 (I) $95
Rings II/Wonky or Fidget, Tuesdays, April 17&24, 5:30-8:30 (I) $95
 
UPCOMING OPEN STUDIO TIMES
Wednesday, April 11th, 10-5
Thursday, April 12th, 10-5
Friday, April 13th, 10-2
Monday, April 16th, 10-5
Tuesday, April 17th, 10-5
Wednesday, April 18th, 10-5
Thursday, April 19th- no avail
As always, call ahead and if class ISN’T in session, chances are excellent you can come in and work.
CLICK HERE to see our online class list!

Tip of the Week!

So I’m kinda curious how many people know about our Shopify site, and that not only can you register for classes online, but there’s also an ENTIRE COURSE CATALOG for you to peruse? Just in case you’re curious about some of those classes that only come up once or twice a year….or you’re looking for the next challenge and are wondering what else would be fun (silly question, its ALL fun!), you can find inspiration and information all by clicking the link.

And if you’d rather, come in the store and outside the classroom are printed descriptions for all classes…..now with an index page!

New Class Information March 21, 2018

WHAT’S NEW!?
IT’S SPRING!!!!!!!!!
I’m so excited about the longer days I can hardly stand it! What does this have to do with learning to make jewelry, you ask? Not much, but it does make it easier to drive to classes in the evenings, AND it makes me happy, so… that is enough, right?
Silversmithing I, II and III on three days in a row!
April is the month where you get a chance to get your silversmithing on all at once!!! This class is great for people that have to travel, or just want to get a leg up in a short amount of time. It is a super fun format where you get to know your classmates a little better and actually end up with more time to work because we only have to go through the formalities once. Plus… we might cook for you. It could happen…
Primitive Casting, anyone?
Fourth of July comes with very ackward timing this year, landing on a Wednesday. Now, I have lived in Minnesota long enough to know that this is one of your most important holidays of the year and NOBODY messes with your 4th plans. But… I (Tai) still have to plan a class schedule and my boss won’t let us close the store for the whole week, so… I have to ask.
Would any of you be interested in taking the Primitive Casting class on July 7th at my house? Think of it as a party with lots of fire and molten metal. We would do a potluck lunch, possibly with a grill involved, and you could meet my crazy dogs (but they would not be around the fire and you could opt to not be around them. Not, this will not hurt my feelings), and it is just crazy amounts of fun. Your family could even drop in for lunch and to see what it is we are doing.
To re-cap, this is the class where we melt your scrap silver (or you might even want to buy more) and pour it, molten, into water or wet broom straw or ice cream salt or a sand mold. I might have said this before, but it is SO. MUCH. FUN.
Just reply to this email to tell me if you are interested and think you might be around.

There is still room…
(click on the link to find information about the class and PICTURES!!! of the project)
Earrings 1 – Posts, Wednesdays, March 21&28, 5:30 – 8:30pm, (I) $95
skills: making posts for earrings, the primary skill being how to solder something really small to something bigger without burning up the smaller piece. Yes you need to take a class for that. Or figure it out yourself, but spend just as much burning up silver just trying to figure that out. Seriously the class would be cheaper.
Pendants 1 – Bails, Wednesdays, March 21&28, 5:30 – 8:30pm, (I) $95
skills: Bails and also embellishments on pendants, including using a rolling mill pattern. Did you know there’s like eight different ways to make a bail? Oh really? Can you name them? AND each of their unique advantages? Then you better come to class.

Fused and Woven Chain, Saturday, March 24th, 10-5, (I) $105

skills: fusing fine silver, weaving intricate pattern, using draw plate to smooth chain. Result is an amazingly beautiful chain!
Stackable Soldered Rings/Rings I, Saturday, March 24th, 10-5 (I) $105
skills: more pick soldering!! making rings, planning complex project, bezel setting stones
Silversmithing III, Saturday, March 31st, 10-5, (I) $105
skills: soldering, fabricating custom bezels, bezel setting, can make ring or pendant
 
UPCOMING OPEN STUDIO TIMES
Wednesday, March 21st, 10-8:30
Thursday, March 22nd, 10-8:30
Monday, March 26th, 10-5
Tuesday, March 28th, 10-5
Wednesday, March 29th, 10-8:30
Thursday, March 30th, 10-8:30
As always, call ahead and if class ISN’T in session, chances are excellent you can come in and work.
CLICK HERE to see our online class list!

Tip of the Week!
I’ve always believed passionately in the power of magnification, but as you might imagine, the topic gets nearer and dearer to my heart the older I get.
There are many styles of wearable magnification out there, but the most ubiquitous might always be the good ole Optivisor. This is my go-to, as it is many other jewelers.
But did you know you can get LIGHTS for them!?!? It is yet another game changer. At first, I didn’t see how it could really make that much difference, but it completely eradicates shadows from your perspective. This makes a HUGE difference!!
Anyway, in case you couldn’t tell, I’m a fan, and they are only $25-ish… totally worth it!

New Class Information March 14, 2018

WHAT’S NEW!?

Unique classes

We have a couple classes coming up this week that you won’t want to miss because they won’t be offered again for quite a while.

LOST WAX CASTING is the process of making a model in wax (in this case you will be carving this by hand) and then using that to make an exact replica in silver (or gold!). One of the most alluring things about casting is that carving the wax models can easily be done at home, on the road, in front of a TV, where ever you may be. I will always be in love with fabricating (soldering, sawing, etc) jewelry, but I’m really learning to love what I can do with wax too. Class starts Thursday and runs for 3 weeks and includes casting your piece in silver or gold (metal not included) and I will not offer this class again until fall.

 

TUBE SET RIVETED EARRINGS is an earring version of our popular pendants III class where we learn how to use cold connections to created depth and offer more acreage for texture and piercing. I probably will NOT offer this class again in 2018. Earrings offer fun design possibilities not available in single pendant pieces, so join us in making showy and personalized pieces. also… will learn how to tube set a round faceted gem!

CLEARANCE TABLE

You should stop by and check out the  75% off  pearls- pretty good buy! They are all actually pretty darned decent freshwater pearls, we just have more than we need. Come stock up because they make really great “filler” in oh-so-many projects, or they are perfect for making earrings to donate to your favorite charity.

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Cabochon of the week!!!!

Every once in a while something comes along that REALLY makes me wish I was a better photographer. Well ok, honestly that happens about once a week. THIS week, it was this in-matrix Mexican Fire Opal.

Who wouldn’t want to get lost in a little universe hanging from a chain around your neck? Because that’s what I couldn’t photograph nearly as well as it deserved, but I guess that means you’ll just have to come in and see for yourself! The most famous source of these opals is the state of Querétaro in Mexico. This particular cab is known as a Cantera opal, meaning the cabochon has been cut to include the rhyolitic host material (“in the matrix)”.

In general, opals have an amorphous crystal structure, meaning it does not share the same crystalline lattice structure as most gemstones. At a microscopic level, opal is composed of tightly packed, well ordered spheres of silica. As light passes through the silica it is diffracted, or broken up into the rainbow of colors we all know and love to stare at. If there’s any downside to these beautiful gems, its that with a Mohs hardness of 5.5-6, which is essentially the same as window pane glass….. it’s not the most practical thing to put in a ring. They do much, MUCH better in a pendant or earring set, and at $100, that would make the prettiest little birthday present I’ve ever seen (no, it’s not MY birthday coming up, I promise!)

There is still room…

(click on the link to find information about the class and PICTURES!!! of the project)

Lost Wax Casting, Thursdays, March 15, 22, 29, 5:30-8:30pm, (B) $185

skills: wax carving, wax carving tools, casting process, how to design for successful cast, casting up to 2 items you carved in one flask, will not be offered again until fall

Chasing and Repousse, Fridays, March 16 & 23, 2-5pm (I) $95
skills: learn about creating 3-dimensional forms in sheet metal. Skills include annealing, working with pitch, proper hammer form, lines vs. fill and ways to incorporate chasing and repousse into your work.

 

Foldforming, Fridays, March 16 & 23, 2-5pm (I) $95
skills: includes folding and hammering metal to create organic forms and texture, learning what effect different hammers have, annealing metal and PLAY!

Rings 3, Split Shank Ring, Saturday, March 17, 10-5pm (A) $105
skills: making heavy bezels out sterling silver sheet, hammer setting, split shank

Tube Set Riveted Earrings, Saturday, March 17, 10-5pm (A) $105
skills: roller mill texturing, 3D riviting, tube setting round faceted gem

Half-Persian 4-in-1, Mondays, March 19&26, 5:30 – 8:30pm, (I) $95skills:opening and closing jumprings, organizing a weave, learning distinct pattern. Can be made 2 tone.

Silversmithing 1, Tuesdays, March 20&27, 5:30 – 8:30pm, (B) $95
skills: all the foundational skills like using a jeweler’s saw, hammer texturing, filing THE RIGHT WAY, simple soldering and setting calibrated cabochons and final cleanup of your piece. And BONUS, it’s spread out over two tuesday nights so you’re not trying to cram your brain full all in one day! Tell your friends!

Earrings 1 – Posts, Wednesdays, March 21&28, 5:30 – 8:30pm, (I) $95
skills: making posts for earrings, the primary skill being how to solder something really small to something bigger without burning up the smaller piece. Yes you need to take a class for that. Or figure it out yourself, but spend just as much burning up silver just trying to figure that out. Seriously the class would be cheaper.

Pendants 1 – Bails, Wednesdays, March 21&28, 5:30 – 8:30pm, (I) $95
skills: Bails and also embellishments on pendants, including using a rolling mill pattern. Did you know there’s like eight different ways to make a bail? Oh really? Can you name them? ANd each of their unique advantages? Then you better come to class.

UPCOMING OPEN STUDIO TIMES

Wednesday, March 14, 10-5
Thursday, March 15, 10-5
Monday, March 19, 10-5
Tuesday, March 22, 10-5
Wednesday, March 21, 10-5

As always, call ahead and if class ISN’T in session, chances are excellent you can come in and work.
CLICK HERE to see our online class list!


Tip of the Week!

Sometimes, and it doesn’t happen very often, you actually do want the side of your piece to have a perfectly straight line. But as we all know from class and from life, NOTHING in nature is a straight line. Nothing. Including your arm. Which, hopefully, is the thing attached to the file you’re using, to try to make the jewelry thing perfectly straight. This is not inherently a recipe for success.

So what do we do to compensate for this lack of straightness inherent in our very limbs? We use Sharpies. Yes I’m trying to give you an excuse to go to your favorite office supply store. Yes you need a nice big Sharpie with which to draw on your silver. Because the thing about Sharpie is, there’s no question whether you’ve filed it off or not. Try running a bigger black Sharpie along the piece of silver you want to be perfectly flat, then place your file face-up on a flat surface, and proceed to file tip-to-tang by moving the metal down the length of the file….is it silver-colored where you just filed? Then your file touched the metal and removed…..something. Is your metal still black? Then your file removed nothing! Is there no black at all? Then guess what, your piece is probably flat and straight and you’re done!

Next stop, asking Newell Brand for royalties equal to the number of times I said “Sharpie” in this email. Think it’ll work?! Don’t answer that.

Happy Sharpie-ing!