Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bead Benefits

Sterling Silver Shark Tooth Brushed Italian Bead

I've always found beads and jewelery making strongly therapeutic. The focus washes away all worries and I come out of each design session feeling strangely more refreshed and lucid. However, it wasn't until recently that I received some confirmation of the benefits of beads and the girls made little bracelets to keep. It was a hit and they had lots of fun. The beads were very inexpensive, and I was almost appalled they used plastic beads and poorly painted wooden beads. The parents thought it was the best and the kids were thrilled. The bead snob in me decided to show them what good beads look like, and I was going to outdo everyone with the best sterling clasps look like, I thought I could teach them how to finish their own pieces properly. So, it wasn't a bead party that would end all bead parties.

There was a brother (age 6) and sister (age 8) who were part of the group that came out. I actually didn't invite the brother even though he was my daughter's best friend. I naturally assumed that he would not be interested because his parents seemed so gender conservative and dressed him mainly in greens and blues. He had also declined attending parties which my daughter didn't go because he didn't want to be the only boy. My daughter is a tom girl, so he feels she doesn't count as a girl. Anyhow, his mother asked if she could bring him. I was embarrassed of my assumption and wholeheartedly welcomed them. But I brought out my daughter's collection of shark's teeth fossils, boxier sterling clasps and thick leather, just in case if the beads don't go over very well. The boy's mother is a neurologist at the Sick Children's Hospital, i.e. a brain specialist. His father is a paediatric heart specialist at the same hospital. So, they're really into the development of children. While the children are engrossed in the platters full of beads, the mother told me why she encourages her son to do beading. In fact, she has beads at home and she had read many studies that point to the benefits of bead counting and sorting for a child's brain development. Not only will it improve their mathematical skills, it helps develop patience. It also has calming effects on hyperactive children. The size of the beads should vary inversely with the children's age for safety, of course. The little boy is brilliant and very patient. However, I don't know if that has got more to do with genetics than just a lot of bead sorting.

The session was a smash and the mothers were intrigued, and rather dazzled by the array of glass beads, crystals, pearls and stone beads. I find that an easy finish for the bracelets were the lobster clasp . Or for slightly older children and limited budget, one might consider the larger spring ring clasp.

You can certainly contribute to the well being of your friends and family. The necklace making party only took about 2 hours, but it was great for them. The moms wanted to offer money so I'd hold it again. The kids didn't want to go. So, it was worthwhile. I'd recommend larger shell beads. Czech crystals are great. Stringing material can simply be elastic for the little ones.

By the way, the pirate's necklace with the shark tooth was amazing. I used 22 ga sterling wire and wrapped around the tooth, ending in a loop for leather to go through. I think he will treasure the necklace forever.

Sterling Silver Components Are Worth the World

I often lament that I am not in the medical field, researching cures for a contagious and deadly disease, or that I am not contributing more to society as Gandhi had. I've only recently realized how much happier I am that I did not become a lawyer, as I had aspired to be, and as most of my friends have become. Nonetheless, there are moments in the quiet hours of my evenings that I feel I have not contributed as much to society as I feel I possibly could. After all, jewellery making , and to a finer point, sterling silver components is often thought of as superfluous. The world of fashion is rather superficial, and I often wonder what evolutionary purpose does adorning oneself really serve? Are we not intelligent enough to see that outer appearance is not necessarily indicative of one's inner qualities? However, I oscillate between loathing all things physically beautiful and embracing them as things that make us feel good, and thus make us human, and therefore, important and necessary, and even desired.

I recently read an article about music and the possible purpose it serves as part of human mating rituals. It takes a great deal of time to master an instrument. So, it must serve an important purpose in our evolutionary selection. The researchers theorized that musical talent indicates vigorousness, coordination and health. I am tone deaf. But my saving grace is that I am artistic , i.e. super visual, great with colour and can remember a picture as clearly as....a picture. So, this is what I tell myself, and it's proven positive that my husband didn't just make a mistake, but rather I was selected by higher order.

I was a guest on the panel of specialists in Style by Jury, where a would-be jewelery designer was going through transformations. There was a therapist on board. He's done many talks and works with a number of Hollywood Stars. He mentioned that things that are commercially successful are things that make us feel good. It is human nature. For some reason what he said that night made a lot of sense, though as simple and commercial as it may seem. In its smallest denominator, I want beautiful and unique sterling silver components that speak to me and make jewelery designing easy and pleasurable. I want jewelery that I design make people feel good about themselves, removing them from the doldrums of the ordinary.

I recently realized that I am but a small cog in a large wheel. However, I do contribute in important ways. Someone at a tradeshow once said "Creativity is cheaper than therapy." This is very true, and we create happiness for many. Our sterling silver components create employment and livelihood for many people and their families. Our happiness as jewellery designers creates joy for those around us. We contribute in many small, and large, ways.

Although I still hope that one of my children end up in the medical field or decide to dedicate their lives to a more visible good of mankind, I'd be very happy if they were happy, doing whatever they can apply themselves doing. I'd be equally happy and proud if they decided to create beautiful jewellery to improve other people's moods and for people to admire as I would be if they became brain surgeons. I think I'd be very especially proud and touched if designed jewellery and when they come upon sterling silver components that I've designed, they think I've done a great job; for this is my life, and jewellery components is my passion. I have decided to contribute to this world the best way I know how, and to make a mark by touching someone's life and jewellery designs . I am living the life exactly how I want to, designing with pride, and enjoying every minute of it. And I am positive I'm contributing more to society than any of my lawyer friends.

Click here to browse through Stones and Findings' sterling silver components!

Chinese Sterling Silver Findings

Sterling silver findings from China vary a great deal in terms of price and quality. You really end up getting what you paid for. In general, quality has improved dramatically in the past 5 years and many sterling silver findings made in China are now world-class.

There are ISO 9000 certified companies, many of which house Italian and German machinery to make their findings. The prices from these companies are not cheap, but they run about 15% less than Italian and Israeli companies for comparable items. The intricacy and precision in many sterling silver pieces will often be higher from these Chinese factories. I have found them willing to make difficult to make sterling silver findings which the Italian, Israeli and Indian factories are not willing or able to make. Many Chinese factories use the latest CAD machinery in their model making. Asians like precision designs, and appreciate machine made perfection, much like the Germans do. However, Asians like either a cutesier or more elegant look, whereas Germans appreciate a more minimalist industrial look. And because of this, Chinese factories have been willing to invest in machinery to achieve this look in their sterling silver components, and they have large talent pool of fine craftsmen, whose art has been passed down from generation to generation from which to draw. You can find some of the sterling silver findings which I've designed and got made in China: Double Hollow Pears, Circle Pendant with Leaf Filigree, Leaf Pedants , Circle Filigree Pedants and more.

I have also dealt with some Chinese factories that just can't make good sterling silver findings, no matter how hard they try. And generally, these are the common characteristics that are visible at tradeshows: their designs are thick and chunky, their samples have visible solder marks, they don't understand North American taste (and thus, generally its quality expectations). You can spot, and should stay miles away from these sterling silver suppliers. These factories tend to be much more labour intensive, and for sterling silver findings, there are some designs which you can't make by hand, let alone cost-effectively. Especially with the labour shortage of late, many factories rely on unskilled labour from northern provinces in order to maintain competitive prices for sterling silver findings. Price of sterling silver has risen, so raw material cost has exacerbated the situation. Always do a small test order, if you must import yourself. Try using a buying agent whenever possible. They have much more business leverage and the factories are much more eager to satisfy their demands than a small independent. The agent will charge you 10 -15% for their services, but it is well worth it. However, wholesale prices for sterling silver components has been driven so low by competition that quite often, the margin is only 3% to 7%. So, it is much better to just order from your local suppliers than to venture and risk getting burned and working extra hard. And we haven't started talking about travel costs.

Chinese factories in the past, in keeping with common Asian custom, will never embarrass a customer by saying no to an order. However, they just don't deliver or respond when you enquire. This is no different for sterling silver findings factories, which predominantly serve the western market (Asians still prefer gold, or if costume jewellery, they like base metal). However, this annoying custom is changing as the markets have opened up more. Nonetheless, it is up to the customer to push for things, be it better quality, or more timely delivery.

I've become increasingly happy with Chinese sterling silver findings suppliers. Some of the best quality sterling silver findings I've had made come from the 3 factories I work with. They've bettered some of the best Italian and Israeli sterling silver findings companies we work with.

To see some of the sterling silver components that Stones and Findings carries (that we import from all over the world), click here!

Vancouver Bead Stores

There are a number of Vancouver Bead Stores. They are also all of fairly high calibre, compared to the bead stores of other major Canadian cities. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that Vancouverites are willing to spend more money on handmade goods. There are more small jewellery artisans per capita in Vancouver than any other major metropolis.

One of my favourites is Country Beads, owned by my friend Susan Gill. It is managed by Danika, a super talented and wonderful gal, and helped run by an army of fantastic and bubbly jewellery designers. Sue is the creative business woman behind the scene all these years. She has a gift for colour and likes warm and inviting interiors. I like her display ideas. She's people oriented, well traveled, open minded, and the ideal person to own a Vancouver Bead Store. Sue has a great eye for trends and quality. She hand picks all of her stones and Country Beads has the best selection of Indian cut stones in Vancouver. They provide steep volume discounts to wholesale jewellery designers. The store is definitely worth a visit and they're working on an online store.

Kimdoly specializes in inexpensive Chinese stone beads. They have 2 locations, and exhibit at all the major bead shows in Vancouver. Their prices are competitive and they have a large selection of stone beads. The variety is not different from regular Chinese stone beads. They believe their customer base is more price conscious, and their selection of sterling silver components is almost non-existent. If you like their selection of stone beads, but you don't want to go elsewhere to buy your sterling silver, you need to speak to the owners to get them to bring it in.

Capilano Rock And Gem is located on the north shore. It is a direct competitor to Country Beads, but without the meticulous selection. They have a large selection of sterling wire, sheets and casting grains. They also have a good selection of gold filled wires. They have a fair amount of pearls, but not a lot of stone beads.

There are a couple of Beadworks locations. One of them is located in Granville Island. It is very pretty and a relaxed location to shop in. However, like all Beadworks locations, the selection is limited and the prices are strictly retail.

Beadsmart is located in Richmond, but since they draw many Vancouver clients, I consider them as one of the Vancouver Bead Stores. The owner Cindy is very generous and their prices are great. They have purportedly the lowest prices and largest colour selection of Swarovski crystals. Cindy's partner, Kareen, is a retired banker who is very talented and has a great eye for colour co-ordination. She holds beading and wire wrapping classes. They have some fine chains a small selection of good clasps. They carry a good selection of sterling and gold-filled wire in different gauges. You can negotiate for volume discount and many regular customers get little gifts without having to ask.

Many retail customers go to Fire Mountain Gems across the border to do their shopping. However, it has been said that the stone beads from Fire Mountain Gems is poor and they've had to switch back to buying locally. The minimums at Fire Mountain Gems is low, but again, unless you buy a significant amount, the duties and shipping will not make it cost effective.

Vancouver Bead Stores are sophisticated and prices are as price competitive as that of many major cities. Because there are many professional jewellery designers in the city, Vancouver Bead Stores are prompted to carry better selection and enable themselves to sell wholesale in order to compete.

To take a look at what Stones and Findings, a Canadian sterling silver wholesaler, can provide, click here!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Remembrance Day Sale!

In SF’s Field, the stones hang low
Cut and faceted, row on row
To mark their price (and we don’t lie)
20 Percent Off! all our supplies
Pearls, crystals, and stones — woah.

Come now, come all. Few days to go!
They come, they shine, they say hello!
Loved and were loved…
In SF’s Fields.

Click here for more!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jewellery Trunk Show 4 -- Other Trunk Show Practices

Some other jewellery trunk show practices

A number of my friends in the industry have done jewellery trunk shows and practices vary. Here are some of their experiences with jewellery tunk show:

- Many stores don't give discounts off the top

- Some give discounts for items that need to be ordered "delayed gratification discount" of 5% only

- Some jewellery boutiques don't advertise, but most do. Sometimes the jewellery designer pays for part of the advertisement, but this is extremely rare.

- Some jewellery boutiques send out postcards to their mailing list, but some just leave them at the store level if their mailing list is too. large, or the traffic is more transient at the store (e.g. if the boutique is situated in a tourist mall).

- Some jewellery designers have had $15000 (retail) sales for a one-day jewellery trunk show. Some have sold no new jewellery at a show, but have helped sell many pieces of jewellery that the boutique already owned from the jewellery designer. The whole idea of a jewellery trunk show is to create more traffic and a bigger following for the jewellery designer's line of jewellery, and more traffic and sales for the boutique.

- Almost all jewellery designers & stores alike have said that it gets better with time & trial and error

It is important to keep the goals for the jewellery trunk show in mind while planning for and executing it. It is not easy work and takes a great deal of planning. However, a jewellery trunk show is almost always a rewarding experience, and one in which both the jewellery designer and the boutique operators will benefit from.

To read about What are Trunk Shows and Their Benefits click here .

To read more about the Do's and Don'ts of Trunk Shows click here .

To read more about the Experience of an Actual Trunk Show click here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Wholesale prices just got better!
10% off for 2 of a kind!
30% off for 3!

From October 13-26th!
For more information, click here!

Communicating the Right Message


I wanted to buy a safe to house our sterling silver chains. We have a lot of finished chains that we keep in 16" and 18" lengths [link for figure 8 or satellite]. And we wanted to move the chains away and create more room for our sterling silver findings. On the recommendation of the building management, I drove out to see a company selling and delivering large safes. I want to share this story with you because it punctuates my thoughts on proper marketing message.

I spoke to a man named Gabe. He gave me the directions and I was to drive 40 minutes to Scarborough to see a man named Phil. I know lot about sterling silver chains, nothing about safes, and even less about Scarborough. I wasn't impressed driving past a temporary garbage transfer dumpsite they've put on a beautiful park. So, this wasn't starting off very well. I get to the bottom of the bridge over railroad tracks and turn off to a seedy industrial road. It's been raining and the potholes are shiny with muddy water. I take note of the peeling paint on all of the little squat cement and sheet metal buildings and I'm rethinking why I need a discount on the safe. I'm looking for number 61 and I can't find it. I see 57 and 63, with a building in between. There is a truck that reads Scarborough Waste Disposal. The windows of the building are all boarded up. I hear a guard dog barking and I wonder if it is a German shepherd or a Doberman. I can't outrun either one and I still can't find any sign of the company name anywhere. I call the owner again. He insists that I am at the right place and I need to walk down a lane and find the side door. Remembering that I am a mother of 2 and all of the lessons I've learned from the CSI television show, I call my own office to leave a message of my whereabouts, and to leave a trail of evidence wherever I can. I walk down the lane, under barbed wire, and approach a pile of old lumber and broken locks. A man with tattoos up to his ears opens the door. I ask for Phil, and without a word, he thumbs the door behind him. I pass the rusty door and enter a room full of debris and old lumber. There was not a safe in sight. I am as far away from my world of sterling silver chains as possible at this moment. A very large man with a buzz cut approaches. He looks more like a Bud than a Phil, but I'm too nervous to think about it quickly utter my name and who sent me, all the while trying not to stutter or seem nervous. The Doberman is in the back of my mind, or is it a German shepherd. "What size are you looking for?" He asked as he walked past me without any formalities. I reply "Big, my height." He turned around and, with a straight face, said "you're not very big." I laughed and admitted out loud that he was the wrong person to say that to. At that time, another tattooed and baldly shaven man walks by. I see more broken lumber on the floor and not a decent safe in sight. I am now seriously wondering if I've made a horrible mistake that will cost me more than just lost time. It felt like a room from Silence of the Lambs, only with more hardware, and all I wanted was a cheap safe for our sterling silver chains.

I am writing this in the safety of home, so the story ends nicely. The guys turn out to be very nice, though I must have been as foreign to them as they were to me. However, the situation did not leave me feeling confident, even though we will likely buy a safe from him since he furnishes most of the safes of high security neighbours of our building. I am certain that I would have a lot more after sale satisfaction and confidence, and was willing to pay a lot more, if they had made a bigger effort on the marketing message. A proper showroom, fewer tattoos, more working models, proper lighting, and less refuse would have gone a long way. However, the guys are good people and this was perhaps totally oblivious to them.

You should always know who your customers are, what they want to know about the product and service you provide, what is of value to them, and what would signal to them that you're going to stand behind your product. From that, you can create the proper marketing message.

All of this said, I am sure I am not communicating the high quality and great designs of our sterling silver chains properly. Perhaps we are as incongruent to you as the tattooed big boys selling safes were to me. I'm thinking I should tell them what I think. You should certainly tell me what you think.

To Look through some of our great selection on Sterling silver chains, click here!

Jewelry Parent Concerned about Sexual Predators 2

Parents should teach their children to be alert of dangers without robbing them of their childhood and happiness. Aside from letting my kids sketch alongside me when I am designing sterling silver components, I make an effort to engage them in conversations about being careful when I am not there with them.

Continued from Jewelry Parent Concerned about Sexual Predators 1 here are some more tips and advice from a parenting coach:

Help define who is a stranger, who is family, who is within the circle of friends. Parents should spell out who is included in the circle of family, and then who is considered a family friend, and so on. Rules of engagement should be clearly defined, age appropriately, for the child. This way, the child will easily be able to identify who is a stranger, and know not to accept candies or go home with them. I have no problems telling our children if a sterling silver component is a clasp or a piece of chain. My four year old knows what to do when she sees something that looks like a clasp. Teaching them how to classify is important in everything we do. It is a basic tool, and in this case, an important one for survival.

Don't force your children to be affectionate to everyone. We all want our children to be polite to strangers and, especially, our friends. We want them to show affection to, even asking them to kiss, our friends and acquaintances, many of whom our children have just met. There are sometimes social expectations that polite children should do this. Parents sometimes get upset when they child is too shy to show such social graces. However, this tells a child that being affectionate to strangers is politeness and expected of them. Parents certainly don't want their child to be affectionate to strangers in the park. So, it is much better not to force a child to kiss, and instead to teach them how to say hello politely, or not say anything at all to a stranger in the park.

I have a few other personal beliefs along the same line:

Live in the safest neighbourhood you can possibly afford. My husband wanted to live in a more socio-economically mixed neighbourhood. He felt that our children should not be sheltered in a safe and affluent neighbourhood, not appreciating how other less fortunate people live. There have been many cases of abductions and murders by transient and criminal neighbours. My husband is an ideologue, but naive. I vetoed it reflexively. He has since changed his mind also. Designing sterling silver components is not financially very rewarding. If I have to, I'd make more jewellery and sales to live in a safer environment for my children. You can't control your neighbours, but you can choose where you live, and by doing so, you have already reduced the risks significantly.

Monitor play date environments. Play dates are great, but only if the environment is safe. Take it slow, have a few meals or outings with the other parents. Try to covertly find out what kind of environment they will provide your child, and what could happen when you are not present, and whether or not it is acceptable to you. Don't make it like a job interview or interrogation, but close. I know many parents raise an eyebrow when they hear that I design sterling silver components for a living. Stability is on their minds, too.

Put contact information with your child when the child is going out. I usually write a note "If I am separated from my parents, please call: ...." with all of the contact information. I do this even if I am going out with them, in case we become separated in a crowd. I also made a necklace with sterling silver components that could encase a little note in the locket. I made it unique and a bit interesting figuring that if a policeman found her, they were certain to ask her about the necklace or check it out.

Teach your child her full name and the parents' names as early as possible. At age two we taught our child to recite and spell out her full name and our first names, with the hope that in case she gets lost, and does not have our contact information on her, she could tell the authorities who she is and our names for easy contact. My older daughter liked pretty jewellery from an early age. I taught her to say Stones and Findings. It was not necessary, and a bit silly, but anything helps.

Be present. One of my friends was molested repeatedly by a sport instructor after sessions. You also hear about horrors of hockey coaches. If it is a private session, be present, or in the next room, and preferably with access to video monitoring. Be present, bring your sterling silver components and work on some designs to past the time, and insist on no alone time after sessions. If you cannot pick them up, ask a parent you can trust to help drop your child off. It is sick, but you do hear often paedophiles drawn to working with children for easier access. Minimize this access. Let the instructors know that you are involved and take an active interest in your child's safety.

To go back and read the first half of this article, Jewelry Parent Concerned about Sexual Predators 1 you can click here.

Toronto Bead Stores

Toronto bead stores are many. They are dotted throughout Toronto and the surrounding suburbs. However, I actually think there is room for a few more bead stores that are specialized, catering to better quality and unique findings. The population of this city is sophisticated, well read and up to date with fashion. We have some very creative and talented citizens. And in many artistic industries, Toronto has produced some world class artists, from fashion to film, to fine arts. Although Toronto bead stores are numerous, and they're doing a good job, I've seen much better stores in other parts, where the population is smaller, and in my view, the where people are not necessarily more artistic. Toronto offers great opportunities for a brave and creative would be bead store owner.

There is a famous enclave of bead stores along Queen Street, west of Spadina. Arton Beads Craft is wonderful, packed full, price competitive and have been there for as long as Torontonians can remember. They're the first to be there and Alice, the owner, is very kind, highly educated, artistic and passionate about her work and her low prices, of course. Arton Beads Craft waited a few years for her neighbour's lease to expire and took over next door to open a new concept store. It carries semi-precious stones, sterling silver and cubic zirconia. Arton Beads Craft started out carrying inexpensive basemetal findings and buttons, with occasional crystals.

Across the street from her is the nemesis store, Bling Bling. It is a very spacious place by comparison, and they're rapidly moving up the competition by directly importing their own pearls and stones. Prices for these are low. There are a few more bead stores in that area with similar merchandise, with focus on lower prices. The Crystal Bead Shop, like it's name suggests, focuses on crystals. Fancy Gems and Accessories has some finished jewellery as well as components. They are situated along Queen Street within 2 blocks of one another.

The only downtown Toronto Bead Store in that enclave that is catering to a different market is The Beadery. I really like the decor of that store. It is packed with merchandise, much of which is imported from the Philippines and China. The presentation is different and a lot of thought has gone into merchandising it. The prices are a lot higher than the other stores, though I believe they offer 30% wholesale discount if you purchase over $500.

It is rumoured that The Sassy Bead Co has recently closed their Toronto store. The head office is in Ottawa and there are a few locations there. They focus on cheap and cheerful. They like to buy end lots from the basements of novelty and bead wholesalers in New York, things which have not seen the light of day for many years. Those beads are cheap, bought by the pound, but unique and no longer in production. They had done well for themselves for a long time on high margins. However, I think it takes more to be a successful when there is so much competition amongst Toronto Bead Stores.

The staff at Bead FX is wonderful. Their store front, located in Scarborough, is smaller than most of their competitors. However, they do most of their business online. They have a strong presence in Czech beads and seed beads. Their staff are artistic, with great colour sense, and all make jewellery. They have many classes and a special equipment for glass bead making classes.

The Bead Junction is located in the Junction part of Toronto, around Queen and Roncesvalles area. It is nicely kept and the ladies at the store hold many classes. They're very strong in seed beads. There are a few more Toronto Bead Stores that do largely online sales. They also exhibit at the Toronto Bead Oasis Show. It's a worthwhile venue to visit, however, to get a more complete flavour of what they offer, it is always best to visit the stores. If you don't see something you are looking for, it is very important to ask. They may not have thought about bringing it in because they believe they do not have a market for it. But if you ask, you might just get. Beading is a very interesting and flexible business. I have a strong feeling that we're just at the cusp of a great leap for Toronto Bead Stores.

A Jewellery Component Designer's Parenting Concerns - Sexual Predators 1

When I am not sketching out sterling silver component designs, I read newspapers and parenting magazines. The news of Jaycee Dugard, who was abducted and kept in captivity for the last 19 years, is all over the news. As a mother of two young girls, I cannot help but to be deeply affected by this news. It is every parent's nightmare. And my immediate instinct is to think about how I can safeguard my own children from those exact circumstances, and then some.

It is often said that we cannot live our lives in fear, and that fear and panic can instil unhealthy insecurities in our children. I've been fighting fears of sexual predators, road safety, gang crimes, abductions for ransom or revenge (even though my husband and I have neither significant wealth nor enemies to think of - I design sterling silver components and my husband is a computer programming nerd) even before my children were born. After the birth of my first child, I noticed that I was constantly agitated and distracted. I was obsessively worried about hot stoves, suffocation and my daughter falling from heights. I found out that this condition was totally natural and a part of our evolutionary programming as parents to ensure the safeguard and survival of our children. Although this was comforting that I was not losing my mind, it did not diminish my compulsion to search for ways to maximize child safety at every turn. I try to keep panic from my voice when I speak to my husband about new plans and safeguards that I've just lost the previous night's sleep over. I certainly try to stay calm when explaining the new plans to my kids, editing my words very carefully.

Four of my friends were sexually molested at a young age, two by their teacher/instructor, one by a fellow student at a prestigious boarding school, and one by an older boy who lived in the neighbourhood. That is a significant percentage considering how small my circle of friends is, and it also goes to show you that it can happen anywhere. I don't want to send you into a panic, but outside the world of sterling silver components horrible things do happen. Thankfully, there are some things that we can do about it. I was lucky, and I want to ensure that my children have the same luck. I've heard there are books out there geared towards young readers as young as 5 years old about safety precautions and how to report any incidents of abusive to an adult. I have yet to get my hands on any of these books, but I've been in dialogue with my parenting coach about conversations I should have with my children and some things that I can do about it.

Parents should teach their children to be alert of dangers without robbing them of their childhood and happiness. Aside from letting my kids sketch alongside me when I am designing sterling silver components, I make an effort to engage them in conversations about being careful when I am not there with them.

Here is my parenting coach's advice:

Teach your children the difference between private parts and public parts. Teach your child which parts are not okay for others to touch and which are okay. You can use a doll to illustrate. I told my daughter that people, other than mom and dad, grandma and grandpa and her nanny, should not touch her private parts. And she should not touch other people's parts, either, even as a joke. And when our family members touch there, it is only when we are helping her bathe. And since she's now potty trained, we don't need to help her wipe there anymore. Later on, I gently reinforced it and told her that she should tell my husband and I, and her teacher, if anyone tried to touch her there. And we talked about respecting other people's privacy.

Help children develop their gut instinct for danger signs. Everyone is born with natural instincts. Over the years, my instincts for which sterling silver components will be popular have become sharpened. Children's instinct for danger need to be further developed and it helps to articulate the feelings for a small child. My parenting coach suggested that when my daughter and I are out shopping or watching a movie, we should bring up the topic. For example, if we were in a grocery store and there was a stranger standing uncomfortably close, or an unkempt person walking by, we should discuss it immediately afterwards. You could say something like "Ooh, that stranger made me feel uncomfortable (or weird). I didn't like it. It felt strange (or I was a little scared). Let's go away from here quickly. I don't like being here." By saying something like this, you are saying that it is okay to feel uncomfortable and not know what it was exactly, but that it was best to leave. As the child grows older, the language and description can be a bit more detailed and analysis more in depth.

Help children understand that not all adults are right or good. It is bad advice to say "you should always listen to adults" or "do as you're told" or "do what your teacher says" (mind you, I'd like to make clear now that I believe 99.9% of teachers are good and they chose their profession for noble reasons and I support teachers and appreciate their hard work). When I teach my children's friends how to make jewellery with sterling silver components, I often test them to with silly things that don't work, or pieces missing. And I show them that I'm sometimes wrong. Many parents, for good intentions, tell their children to do as adults tell them. But not all adults are good and it is difficult for a young child to take this advice and be able to avoid instances of abuse when they encounter the bad ones. You should tell your children "Not all adults are good. Most of them are, but sometimes there are ones that are not. They are not always right. We should listen to our inner voice and decide for ourselves if they are right or not. If we don't think they are, we should tell them. If they are strangers, you should leave right away and tell mom and dad." Being an artist has helped me in this department. I'm sometimes wrong about certain sterling silver components or bead colours. The world is subjective. I don't need to be perfect and my children are fairly quick to point out where some things don't work and I encourage them to go with their gut.

To read part two of A Jewellery Component Designer's Parenting Concerns Sexual Predators II click here.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Jewellery Trunk Show 3 -- An Actual Trunk Show

An example of an actual jewellery trunk show

I've just returned from the jewellery trunk show hosted by a long time customer of mine (over 10 years). They are the most successful and discipline outfit in their city and surrounding area. They have 2 locations ( 1 in a mall, and a street boutique in a nice residential shopping district). They carry designer brands from all over Canada and USA, and some Scandinavian countries. They specialize in sterling silver and focus on higher quality jewellery designs.

It was successful & they were very happy. I helped sell a lot of my jewellery pieces they already had in their store (although I don't have the total amounts for those). Of the new jewellery designs that I had brought to the jewellery trunk show, we sold (retail, net of 10% discount for the event) just over $4000. I had a lot of fun and spent some time to train each of the staff. This particular store does this often, with different designers & has jewellery trunk shows at least every 4 wks. They have created a large following over the years, and use the jewellery trunk shows events to increase store traffic.

This is what happened at the jewellery trunk show:

- The date for the jewellery trunk show was set over 8 wks prior to the event (Friday for Mall, and Saturday for street boutique location)

- The jewellery boutique operators placed a 3"x5" picture ad in local newspaper, printed small flyers & placed them in front the case where my designs are showcased (4 wks before the event), emailed notice to their customer list

- The jewellery boutique told customers about the upcoming event & introduce the flyer as customers are cashing out or leaving the store, so to bring them back again soon

- The jewellery boutique had printed large signs for the event and put it on a large easel for the mall location, and in the window of the street boutique location. They also had the ad on a large flat screen television in the store. The presentation was very impressive, and did draw a great deal of foot traffic attention for the jewellery trunk show.

- I provided the photography of my jewellery designs and the company logo

- I brought new & different jewellery deisgns, some very expensive show pieces, some 14kt gold, but also some others I've designed only for the show

- I ticketed all of the jewellery with retail prices and item codes.

- I worked selling from the cases, and also of regular merchandise, full day from opening, and at the mall location, only until 6pm.

- The boutique supplied extra staff for cashing out and to handle extra traffic created by the jewellery trunk show.

- The boutique emptied some showcases, right at the entrance to the store, for me to put merchandise for the jewellery trunk show.

- I also brought some jewellery displayers, and these were fully utilized because I had brought more jewellery than they had room to contain.

- When new merchandise ("show merchandise") was sold, they kept the tickets and totalled at the end of the day & I invoice later for it at wholesale(in one location, they preferred to enter everything into the computer properly & printed out extra copy of receipts for me for each sale that was for show merchandise).

- During the jewellery trunk show, when someone wants to special order something, they pay 50% down payment & I deliver it later, with contact name stapled to each item (I made notes & contact info, though they input customer info into their system & generated an order that they later faxed to our office - this is their procedure, but not necessary since I took very good notes)

- During the jewellery trunk show, I tried to encourage special orders and ad-ons, as a perk for them to attend "meet the designer" type of events. I'm willing to make things so that no one else will have it.

- The boutique's policy on jewellery trunk shows is to give 10% off of that jewellery designer's merchandise for that day only, and they absorb this fully. So, I invoiced the boutique at regular wholesale, 50% of the retail price before the 10% jewellery trunk show discount.

For more information on What are Trunk Shows and Their Benefits click here.

For more about the Do's and Don'ts of Trunk Shows click here .

For more about Trunk Show Practices click here .

Jewellery Trunk Show 2 -- Dos and Don'ts

Do's and Don'ts of a Jewellery Trunk Show

There are many secrets to success to a jewellery trunk show. Although they do not guarantee success or failure, some of them are very important to keep in mind when planning a jewellery trunk show.

If you are the Jewellery Designer:

- Do your homework: find out as much about the event and agenda as you can. As the jewellery designer, you have the right and responsibility to know what is going to happen & what you can do to help prepare for the event. Be prepared with questions about how to handle special orders, how invoicing works for pieces that the jewellery designer brings, any discounts given & if they are shared by the boutique and jewellery designer... The fewer unknowns, the less the stress on the day, and the better your performance as the jewellery designer will be. You'll always have unknown variables at jewellery trunk shows, however, the fewer the better.

- Do more homework: as the jewellery designer, it is your duty to ask the boutique what looks you should bring. Be time/season sensitive about the collection. Consider what day your show is: if it is the office crowd & your jewellery trunk show is a weekday, bring jewellery that is appropriate for them. If it is close to Christmas time, bring jewellery in sets, they would become an easier sell. Bring a range, especially if it is your first time there. You need to test the waters & not let any opportunity go by.

- The jewellery designer should always be in control of how his/her jewellery is presented. Find out how much real estate is going to be allocated to the jewellery trunk show and if the designer needs to bring any displays. Always bring some, if you have them. You never know if it will be needed. The boutique management may not always understand how the jewellery designer wants their presentation to be.

- Ask what the retail boutique is doing to spread the word about your jewellery trunk show. Promotion is vital to the success to any business. Make sure they have proper artwork and excellent photographs of your jewellery. Take the initiative to find out what local newspapers in the boutique's area and their contact information for community event coverage. Send them little written press releases, or direct them to the retail boutique.

- Bring extra invoices/note paper to jot down special orders. Bring lots of business cards. You'll be surprised at how many people want a business card with the set they're giving away. Bring extra things that retail stores normally give away because you don't know how prepared the store might be. As the jewellery designer, it is ultimately your responsibility how the jewellery is perceived, from display to the moment the gift is unwrapped by a recipient.

- Wear appropriate attire & bring an extra change, just in case (I've learned this the hard way by spilling coffee on a white blouse within 20 minutes of the show). As the jewellery designer, everything about you that day speaks about your line of jewellery. Bring extra jewellery for the staff to wear for the jewellery trunk show, if you'd like. This is always good, but be prepared to give them away, unless they are too expensive for anyone to make the mistake of thinking it is a gift. Embarrassment & poor handling of them can cause lasting damage. Having everyone wear your merchandise is great and nothing promotes the jewellery than modelling it.

- Remember the names of all of the staff that you work with on the day of the jewellery trunk show. Aside from the politeness of addressing each person by their name, it builds loyalty. You should follow up with a proper thank you note after your jewellery trunk show. A gift of your jewellery, if it is not too expensive, is always appreciated and will help promote your jewellery line for a long time to come.

- As a jewellery designer you should offer to buy the staff coffee if you're going to go out for one yourself. Aside from that being proper etiquette, it shows how much you appreciate their work. You should offer to take them to lunch, if there is time, but be mindful of company policies on that.

- As a smart and respectable jewellery designer you should never do a jewellery trunk show at a boutique that does not regularly carry your jewellery designs. The reasons are:

1. The jewellery trunk show would not be properly advertised & turnout will be likely poor, since the boutique will not even invest in the jewellery, chances are, they will not invest in advertisement.

2. It will be embarrassing at the jewellery trunk show when customers ask what are the designs the boutique normally carries of the jewellery designer, and the answer is that they don't carry the line. Interested customers will almost awalys ask what new designs the jewellery designer is bringing, and why this event would be different from the regular offerings.

3. It is also awkward for the boutique staff, knowing that the buyer/owner isn't impressed enough with the jewellery designer's designs to invest in merchandise. Also, it looks desperate on the part of the jewellery designer. This is never a good situation.

- Lastly, the jewellery designer should bring at least a couple of changes of shoes, and consider flats. Most jewellery designers spend a great deal of time at the studio or office, often time in chairs, and do not know how difficult it is to stand all day (and tradeshows don't count because booths are carpeted). Quite often, the boutique floors are hard surfaces, such as stone or tile. The hardship is usually underestimated!
If you are the Boutique Operator:

- As a boutique operator and host of the jewellery trunk show, it is ultimately your responsibility to spread the word of the show. Here are some (if not all) of the things you should do: get free publicity by contacting the community events columnist in your local newspapers and radio stations, do advertisement in the local papers, call/email/snail mail your regular customers, print cards for walk in customers to pick up (these could be placed right under the designer's show case and at the cash and given to each customer who visits the store, at least 4 wks prior to the jewellery trunk show). The more advertisement you do, the better the turnout and sales result of the event. The results are proportional to the effort!

- As a boutique operator and host of the jewellery trunk show, it is your responsibility to organize and set the agenda for the day. Do let the designer know what to expect, so they can plan accordingly and bring proper jewellery, bring the proper displays and other presentation factors. The jewellery designer wants to help and you should give them as much information as possible for success.

- As the host of the jewellery trunk show, like any good host, it is your responsibility, aside from proper etiquette, to do everything possible to make the guest, the jewellery designer, feel comfortable and appreciated. This would include: training your staff and getting them excited about the jewellery trunk show, they should offer (and company pay for) coffee or any refreshments & lunch.

- For the jewellery trunk show, boutique staff should be properly trained to introduce the jewellery trunk show to every customer who walks into the boutique, as often many jewellery designers are shy and are inexperienced.

- To build loyalty and a better relationship between the boutique and the jewellery designer, the boutique manager should take the jewellery designer out to lunch and get a chance to talk either about business, or just to get to know the jewellery designer better on a personal level, and vice versa. This goes a long ways to help build rapport and motivate staff as well.

- As the host of the jewellery trunk show, it is very important to figure out the logistics, such as payment and ticketing, well in advance. It takes time to train staff, so be prepared on how you want it done. One option is to keep price tags of the designer's jewellery separate, but it is much better to note this on each sales receipt, to avoid any confusion. All staff should be properly trained. Less confusion on the day the better, focus should be on sales!

- Although no discount needs to be given, some boutiques do offer a 5% or 10% discount for the jewellery trunk show (not shared by the jewellery designer). Some boutiques offer a 5% "delayed gratification" discount to special orders, or orders to be picked up later.

To read about What are Trunk shows and their Benefits click here.

To read about Trunk Show Experience click here.

To read about Other Trunk Show Practices click here.

Jewellery Trunk Show - Benefits

What is a jewellery trunk show:

A trunk show is a retail event at which the jewellery designer and or jewellery manufacturer brings in designs that are new or not otherwise available at the boutique. A jewellery trunk show can take place not only in a jewellery specialty boutique, but also in a clothing boutique, gift store, or even gallery. It is an exciting opportunity for the jewellery designer as well as the boutique owners.

Why put on a jewellery trunk show

Jewellery Trunk Shows are great for the jewellery designer because:

- The jewellery designer gets to meet customers and increase brand recognition and customer loyalty - increase demand for her brand of jewellery designs

- The jewellery designer gets to build boutique staff loyalty for her brand of jewellery designs - staff always promote those people they like

- The jewellery designer gets to train store staff about her jewellery designs (how to sell her jewellery, unique selling features, what is the designer's capabilities and possible special orders, answer any burning questions about her jewellery)

- The jewellery designer can display and sell showpieces - test the water for a different look, show off jewellery designing talent, show the retailer she can sell at a higher price point & help persuade the boutique owner and or buyer to expand purchasing. Often retailers don't want to invest in higher ticket items or they started buying from you a certain look of jewellery and don't want to venture out because of risk. A jewellery trunk show is a risk-free way for them to see what other jewellery designs you can make & what other jewellery can sell in their store

- The jewellery designer can get a good view of the jewellery design competition out there [note: don't copy, it won't do the jewellery designer any good because those designs are already in the store. As a designer, you don't want to be considered a follower.] It is one thing to see other jewellery designer's booths at a tradeshow or craft market, it is quite another to see how much retail store real estate is given to the competition. Sometimes it is humbling to see all the jewellery design talent out there, but almost always you get a sense of what is selling. The jewellery boutique staff always knows which look or silhouettes sell best and what jewellery customers are asking for. This feedback is invaluable and it will help the jewellery designer edit her designs and help guide for future jewellery collections.

- The jewellery designer can sell off samples or unsold jewellery. Chances are, it is a new set of customers, and they're seeing these jewellery designs for the first time. A jewellery trunk show is a great event that brings a large concentration of new customers - retail opportunity not otherwise accessible for the jewellery designer, for those designs.

- Jewellery trunk shows are fun! It is a great reason to go out of the studio. Almost always, the customers will have great praise for the jewellery designer's talents. It's wonderful validation.

- The jewellery designer can learn some invaluable lessons about people management, and that's what retail really is: people management. If the jewellery designer pays attention, she/he can learn what makes the store work, and what pitfalls to avoid. The jewellery designer can spend the time to speak to the boutique managers and individual staff. You can learn something new at every store, every time.

Jewellery Trunk Shows are great for the boutiques because:

- A jewellery trunk show is a risk-free trial of new jewellery price points, new looks. They can see what sells and what doesn't, and this would be great before a new jewellery buying season.

- A jewellery trunk show brings in extra foot traffic to the store that would otherwise not be there. It keeps store visits interesting for regular customers, thereby increasing their occurrence. It is also great customer service to bring in the latest goods and allow the customer to interact with the jewellery designer.

- A jewellery trunk show, if well planned, can generate a great deal of press for the store, as well as for the event. This will help the boutique become recognized as a boutique offering designer jewellery, and help enhance its reputation as the place to be.

- Hosting a jewellery trunk show builds loyalty from the jewellery designer. If the boutique brings retail customers and promote the jewellery designer's line, they are less likely to sell to the boutique's competitors. Also, when the jewellery designers form relationships with the store staff, the designer is less likely to say no to the store's requests (such as custom orders for customers, rushed delivery).

Hosting a jewellery trunk show helps boutique managers to train and motivate the store's staff. No one knows more about the jewellery than the jewellery designer. Who best to train the staff than the expert? Some jewellery boutique chains are known to pay a great deal of money to bring in industry professionals to help coach their staff on selling, product knowledge and trends. A jewellery trunk show offers much of this for free. Also, the boutique's staff knows the jewellery designer will be there the entire day and would notice any flaws in the jewellery displays, the staff's product knowledge and their sales approach. Most boutique staff would work hard to brush up and make a good impression on the jewellery designer. An appreciative jewellery designer would also be generous with praise, if not with complimentary jewellery pieces outright. These are great pride builders and motivators which the boutique managers would not be able to easily match, but even if he/she does, it will not be the same.

To read about the Do's and Don'ts of Trunk Shows click here .

To read about what happens during a Trunk Show, click here.

To read about Other Trunk Show Practices click here .

Designing with Gold Filled Components

Gold-filled jewellery differs from gold vermeil in both the quantity of gold involved and the process which bonds it to the base metal. Where gold vermeil is achieved by an electrochemical process known as electroplating, gold-filled jewellery is made using a mechanical process that uses intense heat and pressure to attach the gold surface layer to the base metal.

For a piece of jewelry to be legally stamped with the telltale 'GF' marking, its weight must be at least 1/20th gold. This explains the typical stamp you'd expect to see on gold filled articles: "1/20 12 kt GF", which means that 5 percent of the piece is 12 karat gold. Because the surface layer of gold-filled jewelry is about 100 times thicker than that of gold vermeil jewelry, gold-filled pieces tend to last much longer, and are considered 'lifetime jewelry.'

Naturally, they are also more expensive than gold vermeil as they simply contain more gold. The price still represents a significant break when compared with solid gold, however, and since gold-filled jewelry is virtually indistinguishable from pure gold in terms of appearance, feel, and wear, it is thought to be a great balance of cost and quality.

Click here to browse Gold Filled Chains at Stones and Findings

Click here to browse Gold Filled Findings at Stones and Findings

Friday, October 2, 2009

Designing with Aquamarine

Beryl, the family of minerals to which both aquamarine beads and its upscale cousin emerald belong, is naturally colourless in its pure form. However, the presence of various inclusions generates a rich proliferation of highly diverse colour profiles. For example, trace amounts of chromium cause deep green hues to emerge in the bead (resulting in emerald), while aquamarine's blue-green character is the product of iron inclusions in the bead.

While it has long been popular to subject raw aquamarine to extreme heat and irradiation which increase transparency and rid the stone of any greens or yellows, there has recently been resurgence in popularity of the natural milky variety. If the stone hasn't been heated it will also be more durable, and with a hardness of 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale that means quite durable indeed.

Aquamarine (from the Latin aqua marina- 'water of the sea') has been thought to aid one's communication skills, and assist in laying the emotional foundations for a happy and healthy marriage.

Click here to browse Aquamarine at Stones and Findings

Designing with Onyx

Legend has it that as Aphrodite, goddess of love, lay in majestic slumber on the bank of the Indus River, a playful Eros (Cupid) decided to give her an impromptu manicure with one of his trademark arrowheads. Cast asunder, the freshly clipped fingernails rolled down the bank and sank to the bottom of the river, where they were magically transformed by Zeus' three daughters, The Fates, into splendid black quartz. Thus, 'onyx' (a word roughly translated as 'nail' or 'claw') was born.

The onyx bead gemstone, a banded strain of chalcedony, is actually available in a multitude of different colours- green, grey, white, and brown- but is most well known for, and indeed synonymous with, a deep velvety black. Its metaphysical powers include destruction of negative emotions, deflection of acute negative energy, and defence against evil forces.

Click here to browse Onyx at Stones and Findings

Designing with Prehnite

Prehnite takes its name from Colonel Hendrik Von Prehn, who discovered it in 1774 and shortly thereafter began importing it from Africa to Holland. Given the wonderful grape green colour and the unique waxy glass-like lustre, it is unsurprising that he took notice!

Because of Prehnite's colour, and the natural clusters that it occurs in naturally, it is actually known as Grape Jade in China (putao yu). Much like Jade, Prehnite beads are rather soft- 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness- and is also therefore a favourite among gemstone artisans. One can find exquisite Prehnite carvings of miniatures, figurines and pendants. These often highlight the stone's sensational surface texture and visual feel, and make it even more desirable to wear than it is in its natural state. In whatever form it arrives, worn Prehnite jewellery beads promotes endurance, prophetic intuition, and clarity of meditation.

Prehnite is the first gemstone in world history to take its name from a person, and since then hundreds have followed suit. For a fairly thorough list, click here.

Click here to browse Prehnite at Stones and Findings

Sterling Silver Chains - how to oxidize and relieve

Sterling silver chains are quite versatile, and unlike plated brass chains, they can be oxidized and brushed without worry about the plating coming off. Oxidized chains, once relieved through brushing, can provide a rich feel, with depth.

The easiest way to oxidize, or blacken, sterling silver chain is by using a silver blackener. Jax makes one for about $20. Some of the tools you'll need are: 2 plastic dishes, plastic fork or disposable chopsticks or brush, some rubber gloves, plenty of paper towel.

Pour water into one of the dishes, and set aside in the sink. Have this dish of water ready for rinsing. If you are blackening more than 1 sterling silver chain, tie them together by looping a wire through the locks. Put the sterling silver chains into the other plastic dish. Pour silver blackener into dish with the sterling silver chains slowly to avoid splashing. Pour just enough to cover the metal entirely. Swish around until the silver becomes entirely black. Use the plastic utensil to scoop the sterling silver chain and drop into the dish of water. Turn on the tap and let water run through for a while, rinsing out the chains. Use rubber gloves at all times. Drain and pat dry with paper towel.

To brush the oxidized sterling silver chain, put the bundle on the side of a board, and use long strokes to brush using steel wool. Flip over and brush the other side, until the lightness is even.

For a great selection of Sterling Silver Chains available at Stones and Findings please click here.


Stones and Findings is celebrating Halloween this October with a special just for you! 30% off of all BROWN BLACK AND ORANGE semi-precious stones, freshwater pearls and crystal!

Click here to shop!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Jewellery Moms and Parenting Coach

I work full time in designing sterling silver jewellery components, and making jewellery. I also have 2 small children. Although I have a nanny to help care for my sometimes sweet, but often challenging, children, I know I need more reinforcement. I use a Parenting Coach and I highly recommend this support service to every parent, working or staying at home. Unlike a life coach or therapist, a Parenting Coach specializes in giving advice to parents on parenting and helping parents understand the family dynamics that are taking place around them.

Before my first child was born, I read What To Expect When You Are Expecting. And after she was born, and I had a glimpse of her strong characteristics, I read Raise Your Kids Without Raising Your Voice by Sarah Radcliffe, and Giving Your Child The Gift Of Inner Discipline by Barbara Coloroso, and many other books on child rearing that I could find at the local and airport bookstores. They are all very good books, with a few novel tips from each, particularly Parent Talk by Shapiro and Skinulis. However, neither books nor parenting magazine articles were able to address some of the more specific obstacles that I had with my child's behaviour. This is inherently true of all such media, they must be fairly general and cannot take into consideration of one's specific circumstances. I have yet to read any article about a mom who has to put sterling silver jewellery components way up high, after she's finished designing late at night so that her 2 year old won't eat it for breakfast, at their condo that is not much bigger than a walk-in closet, and the mom has to travel to jewellery trade shows. If you have read such an article, please send it to me so that I can compare notes.

By fate, I bumped into a long time customer of my jewellery business, Patricia Lee. I've been raising money for charity for many years and twice a year we're open to the public for a few days where the proceeds of the sale are donated. At each event Patricia and I would chat about children, and it all started with my comment that her children are unusually well behaved and polite. We see many at our events and often I think mothers shouldn't bring their children. They are bored and displays get knocked. Sometimes they'd pull things apart because they like the shiny sterling silver jewellery components . It's just not fun for them, or at least it shouldn't be. I was not yet pregnant with my first child but I was curious about hers and they inspired me to think that it is possible to have wonderful and well behaved children of my own one day. She would always have great advice and clear insight. I never asked her what she did for a living and just assumed she was an accountant because of her thick glasses and tidy appearance. I assumed she was just a skilled mom , and there are many far better than me at the job. Last year by a chance meeting, I found out that she is a professional life and Parenting Coach and happened to be meeting a client in my area.

The time was ripe and our meeting was serendipitous. My husband and I were struggling with a bunch of behavioural problems with my older child and more disturbingly, a serious problem with one of her friends for which we were at a loss for a solution. I'll tell you about the problems and her advice another time. I became a client of hers. I already knew that her advice and views would resonate with me. I also like the fact that we could choose to work over the phone, and this convenience factor is very important to me. Parenting Coach fees are similar to those of any therapist, but she does give preferred rates based on what the parents can afford, and she often works pro bono and has volunteered working with native families on reserves. I received a preferred rate of $85 per 45 minute session. She said it's because we're friends, but I think secretly she knows I don't make much money from selling sterling silver jewellery components because the margins on silver is so low.

Our Parenting Coach session began with a series of broad ranging questions, including what do I hope to gain from our sessions, and what do I hope to see in my children. This was followed with more specific questions to help her fill the picture. And very quickly I was able to start addressing some concerns I had. Her advice have always been very specific and practical, and thus far has really helped us improve our communication with our daughters, helped give them age appropriate tools with which to express and channel their emotions. It has also given us insight into our own expectations as parents and has allowed us to adjust them appropriately. More importantly for me, her advice has helped me better cope with busy parenting and allow time for designing sterling silver jewellery components, and be a cheerleader for my husband.

I have since shared the lessons learned from my sessions with our child's kindergarten teacher, whose teaching skills and passion for teaching I also greatly respect. She is very keen on other parents also receiving this service and has expressed this to the school's principal. We plan on creating group sessions for parents who cannot afford the time or expense of private sessions or who just want to sample some of the advice.

I greatly advise Parenting Coach services to all parents. Like athletes, many parents can be great and naturally talented, but a coach can help take you to a higher level and allow you to perform far better than you would otherwise with just effort and practice. I am a talented jewellery components designer, as are many of our Stones And Findings customers are talented jewellery designers, but parenting requires much more time, effort and clarity for a great job to be done. Unlike a gold medal, the reward of well adjusted children who go on to be productive members of society keeps giving back. It is worth so much more and is never ending.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sterling Silver Earring Components

There are limitless possible earring designs. However, popular Earrings have certain Jewellery Components in common. These Jewellery Components fall under the general categories of: Earring Hook component, and Findings, and sometimes Chains for longer earrings.
Earring Hook Component

This is the Earring Component that attaches the earring to the ear. It can be in the form of a Earring Hook, Earring Stud, Clip-On Backing. Stones And Findings carry a number of Silver Earring Hooks, Silver Leverbacks, and Silver Earring Studs Sterling Silver Earring Findings, as well as Gold-Filled Earring Hooks and Gold-filled Leverbacks, and Gold Filled Earring Studs Gold Filled Findings.
Open ended Silver Earring Componentsallow for Semi-precious stone beads crystals to be inserted, and then a loop to be made for additional Earring Drops to be added. This allows for rather unusual accents for your Earring Designs.
Leverback Earring Components

Leverback Earring Components are wonderful and preferred by many Jewellery Designers because they don't fall off the ear no matter how active the wearer is, and no matter how much their ear piercing has been stretched. The best Silver Leverback Earring Components come from Italian and Chinese factories, using Italian machines. Stay away from Silver Leverback Earring Components made in India, Thailand, and Bali. The spring mechanisms are not as strong, and don't spring back the way Italian machine made ones do. The price difference for Silver Leverback Earring Components is negligible, but the quality is highly noticeable.
Earring Studs

Earrings Studs are sometimes preferred to Earring Hooks, especially for those whose ear piercings have been stretched. The Earring Stud hides the stretched holes, which Earring Hooks do not. Silver Earring Studs and Gold-Filled Earring Studs are better than base metal because they come into contact with the skin. Some people are allergic to base metals, and even if there is a protective plating, the inside metal will leech out, sometimes changing the colour of a person's skin. Earring Studs have more contact area with the skin.

Canadian Jewellery Component Suppliers

There are many Canadian Jewellery Component Suppliers. All major Canadian cities have a large supplier of jewellery components. Many of them are located in Toronto. Most of these are bead stores that also wholesale. There are only a few, like Stones And Findings, that is not open to the public unless at tradeshows, or have minimums for wholesale pricing.

Canadian Jewellery Component Suppliers tend to be smaller than the American ones. This is to be expected as the American population is ten times that of Canada. Also, with the proliferation of online shopping, it is just as easy to buy from the USA. Because they are larger, they might be able to bargain for larger quantity discounts. However, much of the price discounts are cancelled out by the added shipping and duties. When it comes to buying stone beads and pearls, it is rather difficult to buy from across the border because returns, if they are accepted by the harsher trading terms of American jewellery component suppliers, are difficult to get tax refunds for. Stones And Findings makes online shopping easier for stones, pearls and findings. Provided that regularly priced merchandise is not cut or altered, it can be returned within 7 days of purchase, available on the receipt. No other American or Canadian Jewellery Component Suppliers do this. American suppliers are usually more focused with fewer categories of product than Canadian ones. This is largely because there are more competitors, hence, specializing is necessary to remain competitive. However, when they have a large variety, these American outlets are big. That doesn't necessarily translate into better prices are service.

Canadian Jewellery Component Suppliers tend to be closer knit because there are fewer circuits for exhibiting, and everyone knows one another. It is a predominantly friendly and congenial group, though price competition is fierce. Great customer service is fairly standard, as with cost savings in proximity. To survive against large online sellers down south, and tight competition in at home Canadian suppliers have had to adapt and offer things that are different. Some, like Stones And Findings, travel a great deal to hand pick stones and provide assurance of quality and create cuts that no one else has. We also create sterling silver findings and chains of our own. This has allowed us to be able to sell to Americans and others around the world. So, Canadians have had to work harder and be more creative to remain competitive in this market.

Outside of the regular circuits of tradeshows , there are also the Mode Accessories and Gift Shows, such as the Vancouver, Alberta, Toronto, and Montreal Gift Shows. These are wholesale only and generally carry anything from housewares to clothing. There may be one or two jewellery component suppliers. Most of these stores will also have websites you can visit online, however it is not really worth visiting these shows only for jewellery component suppliers.

Bead stores are an important group among Canadian Jewellery Component Suppliers. Usually prices are negotiable if you buy large quantities or are a regular customer. Their prices are higher than wholesalers in part because what you�re paying for is design support and convenience of location and service. If you find components that you like from a distant place, or if you only want a small quantity, you can ask them to bring it in for you. In fact, Stones And Findings sells to a number of bead stores, and we even have customers who have asked their local store to bring in certain jewellery components that they have seen on our website. Canadian Jewellery Component Suppliers are not only amiable and hard working, they are helpful and flexible.

Sterling Silver Components Trunk Show

Recently I've been approached by a bead store to see about doing a trunk show of sterling silver components at her bead store. Stones And Findings has some of, if not outright, the best sterling silver components in Canada. We design many of our own findings and carry unique designs from European jewellery component designers. So, it came as no surprise that she would want us to do this at her store. She's certain of its success and was willing to do all of the preparation and tagging work. My surprise is that we do not do hold more trunk shows, especially given the current economic times and given how prolific our line of designs is. This goes not only for jewellery components, but also for finished jewellery and other design goods.

The model for her "bonanza show" is this: we ship her unusual goods unmarked for retail, and whatever she does not return to us, she pays for. Her show was just 1 day, held at 8pm until mid-night. She had recently completed a similar show for stone beads and it went phenomenally well. She sends out regular newsletters to a large audience of customers.

This trunk show, as with many other forms of trunk shows, provides a unique opportunity for the designer to showcase his or her range of designs, many pieces of which are not carried by the store regularly because of high unit cost and or the uniqueness of certain pieces that will not speak to the mass market. After all, every business survives on turnover, and selling sterling silver jewellery components is no different. The boutique owners, the bead store in this case, wants to test the market for certain price points and looks. And this is the best way to do it. I've already written an article on how jewellery trunk shows How to Put on your First Trunk Show work. It is mutually beneficial to store and the designer.

There are a few things that are vital for a sterling silver jewellery components show, like any trunk show, to be successful. The bead store must already have a large customer list that they can contact about the event. Otherwise, the store must buy a great deal of advertising. Press is usually very difficult to get, even if the event would be of interest to many people. The designer must have a variety of designs from which to choose. Otherwise, you don't get the maximum results out of the captive audience. They don't all want the same thing, and most of them come to shows if they know there will be unique items that would not be available any other time. I think I'm going to being more of items like this large leaf and some of this heavier chain. They are more exclusive and luxury items that speak to more than just the pedestrian consumer. The customer who values quality craftsmanship will understand our jewellery component designs. And I hope the show will give a stronger indication of the bead store's customer tastes. It is best if the show has a theme. If it is jewellery, then it must be designs of a certain designer. If this is a prolific designer, then the lines must be edited for a clearer theme. You may choose to do more than 1 show, each with a different theme. It must be easy for the consumer to understand. Otherwise, they'll be going to a bazaar. We will be focusing the show as a sterling silver jewellery components show.

All this said such shows are a lot of work and perhaps this is why there are so few of them. However, they are a lot of fun and offer unique opportunities for business growth. I will let you know how it goes with our sterling silver jewellery components show.

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Future Divorce of a Sterling Silver Findings Designer II

In my world of sterling silver findings and jewellery designing, I often see troubled relationships. Women speak much more freely about them than their male counterparts. Sometimes separations start off well, but go awry and turn ugly. My dentist has just told me the legal fees for her divorce proceeding have exceeded $100,000. She has a very successful dental practice and her ex-husband has changed his mind and now wants a larger share. He in fact has made it clear he wants to get even, at any cost. He does not care if financially the daughters are to suffer, as long as the mother suffers because word got back to him that she told her friends she sees her initial divorce settlement as expensive sperm service. His feelings of inadequacy, which dogged their marriage, returned in the most destructive way. This battle continues with no end in sight. It is a pity when people become fixated and myopic, doing damage to themselves and their children.

I often feel that while I enjoy creating sterling silver findings, I might I have missed my true calling as a soldier of justice, a.k.a. a lawyer. I often spend chatting with my friends and live the legal vicariously through them. I have a friend who is a divorce lawyer. He was one of the top students in my high school who, we all felt, was destined for more. He has become jaded and bitter about how his own life has turned out even though he has done well financially. He feels no one wins in a nasty, drawn out divorce case, not even the lawyers. Both parties become bitter, and stay bitter, even when they win a better settlement than they had expected. They also hate the lawyers, whom they view as vultures in the carnage. It is a terrible situation for all, even the party looking for revenge. Satisfaction in the courtroom is elusive.

I read in the newspaper recently that the average Canadian divorce costs about $20,000 when lawyers are involved. I am sure this is an underestimated, but even at this amount, as a humble maker of sterling silver findings, I know I best avoid the cost. The average cost for a decent lawyer is $400 per hour, and there is an additional minimum of $10,000 if the battle enters the courtroom. With lawyers, you get what you pay for. And I have important advice: do not cheap out on lawyers if you have to engage in a legal battle. There are many incompetent lawyers and certainly most judges either do not have the wisdom to see past poor legal performance and see fairness, or they do not sympathize. Some judges simply hate incompetent lawyers and will teach them a lesson at their client's expense. I've been in that situation for a different type of legal matter. To put it positively, judges are human and not infallible. So, it is best to hire the best guns to fight on your side, if you cannot avoid the battle altogether. And even if your lawyer seems competent, do not trust him blindly. He works not for you, but for himself, which means not necessarily for your best interest. Also, he might not know best even if he has the best intentions. If you do not like how he is positioning or bargaining, insist on what you want. He is under your employ and do not let him forget that. Lawyers are like sterling silver findings. If it is right and there is a good fit, you will quickly know it. If it is not, do not throw in more components just to try to make it work. It will not, and it will only end up costing you more.

You might have sensed my disdain for lawyers and judges from the above paragraph. I do not hate them; my brother is a lawyer, my grandfather was a judge, and most of my close friends are lawyers. I was studying to become one myself and through fate and good fortune, I got into designing jewellery and sterling silver findings and avoided a life of unhappiness. From the experience of my recent legal battle, I am forever cured of any illusions about the glamour of the profession or that justice can be found in the courtroom. And so, I am highly committed to finding our own solution, if and when the time comes to end this lovely marriage. If I become bitter, I will spend more time making jewellery and I will retain my sanity and happiness.

To go back and read part one of this article please click here.