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.

For more articles: Click Here!

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.

Future Divorce of a Sterling Silver Findings Designer I

My husband and I have decided that, when this starter marriage ends (I am a sterling silver findings designer, and we're happily married with 2 small and beautiful children, but you never know how it will turn out), we'll keep the lawyers totally out of it. We have seen how legal fees can get out of hand and the children are the ones to suffer, financially and emotionally. We've agreed that if there was to be any disagreements on money, we'd put it in a trust for our daughters.

I know we can plan for all eventualities, but when it comes to matters of the heart and one party becomes embittered, all rules of engagement are thrown out the window. I am quite self-reliant when it comes to happiness, and I am happy designing sterling silver findings forever. And I already know the only way I will become bitter is if he has an affair behind my back. We have discussed this, and like any business negotiations, much better to talk about it before relations sour. I think I can accept an affair if he told me before hand that he was struggling in our marriage. We have promised to do what we can to fix it, if it comes to that point. And if there is no fixing, then we can decide our next steps together. We can even have an open marriage. You can always be attracted to others outside of the marriage. It is human nature. However, in my opinion, how one decides to act on that attraction is fully within one's control. Mind you, that is just us. My husband and I made our wills shortly after we got married in our late 20's, and we got the deluxe package from our lawyer, spelling out all possible scenarios we could think of at the time. I know that this is not for everyone. My artistic outlet is in sterling silver findings and jewellery designing, and everything else, I am morbidly serious.

Our goal as parents is to provide the best upbringing we can for our children. I want to provide them with a safe and happy environment within which they can thrive. I understand there are no guarantees and although many parents try their best, terrible conflict and sadness can exist. At the same time, I have also seen difficult circumstances turn out well, where parents at conflict with one another share the only common interest of doing their best for their children. Divorces are commonplace in current times. We can certainly learn some lessons from our family and friends who have divorced, even breakups in business partnerships, which I had done before I began designing sterling silver findings. I will share these and other stories with you over a few articles.

I have a story of a successful divorce. The ex-husband is in the trade show transport business and had helped me move my jewellery trade show booth from show to show for years before I began designing sterling silver findings. He was a former professional rugby player who went into customer service in the transport business. He had three young daughters and divorced when the eldest was ten years old and the youngest was four. His ex-wife was an English teacher who cheated on him with a fellow teacher. He noticed something strange about their behaviour when they were at a work party. He confronted his wife, who admitted that she had been having an affair for a number of months. He felt partly to blame because he was traveling a lot for work, and thought perhaps he had neglected her. He decided to work on their marriage.

However, when he found out later that the affair was still going on, and she wanted two more months with the other person because he was "leaving anyway" for a new job, my friend decided to end the marriage. He first had a chat with his daughters to explain that he had to move out, but that he loved them and very little would change. Then he had a more in-depth with his older daughter, and made a promise that it would not affect them negatively and asked her to be a support to her younger sisters and be his ears and eyes looking out for them. He moved out and later bought a house down the street. They decided to have joint custody and not to involve any lawyers. Although my friend went through two years of immense pain, he kept the best interest of his daughters at heart. He did not tell them of their mother's affair even though the children were upset he moved out. Instead he encouraged their affection for their mother and remained supportive of her when the girls were upset with her. He did not fight for any of their joint assets because he felt that it was there for his daughters and he could always earn more.

Seven years on, his daughters are happy and healthy, and he still lives within walking distance of his ex-wife, who has since re-married. He still talks to his ex-wife regularly when they have to schedule pick up and drop off duties now that their daughters are busy with full schedule of extracurricular activities. His daughters spend just as much time at his home as they do at their mother's. He made a deal with his employer to work flexible time to spend more time with them. He is about to get remarried, and it was difficult to find this perfect person because he, his daughters, and the joint custody with his ex-wife all come in a complete package. It is a success story and I know it is more of an exception than the norm.

To continue reading part two of this article please click here

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Art of Creative Jewellery Designing

The title of this article seems grammatically incorrect. However, there is no mistake. There is the science and discipline of jewellery making, even jewellery designing. Then there is the art of it. And to top it off, there is certainly the art of creative jewellery designing. Empirical method and precise routine is import in any business, even if it is jewellery making, because it helps ensure repeatability, accountability, and viability, if combined with many other factors. However, there is the art of designing. It is essentially random creativity. There are talented writers who work nine hours solidly every day, 6 days a week. Then there are those whose genius shows through throwing together thoughts and ideas that, independently, make no sense but, together, seem inseparable. I want to talk about that kind of creativity in jewellery designing.

There are some jewellery designers who work at designs over and over again, virtually splitting hairs. Sometimes it is beautiful, but often the rigidity with which they had made the piece shows through. The jewellery components seem to go together, but they don’t gel and become something greater than the combination of themselves. It is almost like the Pointilism art movement of pictures created by the tiniest of dots. There is something desirable about the obvious painstaking work involved, but it lacks flow, drama or gusto. Designers who mull over jewellery components and rework them for too long are usually obsessed with symmetry. I go through phases of designing and am sometimes guilty of doing the same. This is usually following a bad season, but not bad enough for me to become infuriated and rejecting of all convention and advice. When I am in this phase, I am hesitant and think that if I worked hard enough at something, then the work will come through and people will want to buy the jewellery. Inevitably, I become somewhat correct. I avoid a disastrous selling season, but I don’t have boundary shattering masterpieces and phenomenal sales.

I find I am most creative, and where the collection provides the best sales results, when I am in a true bind with time. When that happens, I don’t have enough time to over-think my jewellery components. I simply throw them together, sometimes quite literally, and usually they land in some unconventional position or manner. Some of my best collections were all designed within less than 14 hours. The handwork and additional colour combinations of those designs might take a little longer, but no more than another rush of creativity when I’m rushed. Who says gold, silver and rhodium chains cannot be fashioned together with pearls of opposing colours? Or that fine filigree will be outweighed by heavy chunks of stone? Or oxidized chains combined with high shine silver? I've taken a number of our textured findings and oxidized them, and put them together with gold vermeil and roman coins . It created an old world charm with the rich sheen of gold. I could have gone further to throw in red jade and some matte lava rock. Unique.

I didn't do very well in fine arts. Although I had what I will admit as talent in portraiture, I lacked confidence and fluidity in all other areas of studio art. The same can be said about me personally. But when you don't have time to worry about perfection, you become less rigid. The very fact that you don't have time, or you don't have all of the normal ingredients you'd like, gives you an excuse to liberate yourself from one's shackles of limitation most people put on themselves. Then, it becomes okay to throw jewellery components together. And it’s perfectly acceptable that things aren't perfect because....

The art of creative jewellery designing is then the removal of the effort, science and logic of piecing jewellery components together. Let the components fall where they may (but edit a little).

Designing with Rhodium

Discovered in 1803 by English chemist William Hyde Wollaston, Rhodium was named by its finder after the Greek word rhodon, meaning 'rose.' It is mainly found in South Africa and the Ural mountain range. Rhodium is the world's de facto #1 most expensive precious metal, and discovered in such scarce quantity that the planet sees only 3 tonnes of annual production. Amidst market fluctuations Rhodium steadily maintains a price roughly 500 times that of silver and 5 times that of platinum. In 1979, Paul McCartney's success as the best-selling songwriter of all time was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records with the presentation of none other than a rhodium-plated record, thus demonstrating the great cultural superiority of rhodium to all other precious metals up to and including platinum.

With an unmatchable character, it's easy to see why it's so sought after: rhodium will not tarnish or oxidize when exposed to normal levels of heat and light, and it is even immune to common corrosive substances like chlorine and fluorine that threaten other precious metals. It is also wonderfully reflective, and is frequently used as a component in optical instruments in the medical field. For all of these reasons, on top of its amazing structural rigidity, Rhodium is truly the 'rose' of the precious metal family. In the jewelry world it is commonly electroplated onto gold, copper, or silver objects to imbue them with some of its fantastic properties. The result of rhodium plated copper, for example, is a piece that combines all the durability and brilliance of pure rhodium with the common availability and low price of copper. This kind of electroplating in chains and findings puts the world's most expensive precious metal in the hands of up-and-coming designers, and around the necks and wrists of all. As an added bonus, Rhodium is hypoallergenic, and as plating it provides a protective layer for anyone sensitive to gold, nickel, or silver.

Click here to browse Rodium Plated Silver Chains at Stones and Findings

Click here to browse Rodium Plated Silver Findings at Stones and Findings

Designing with Agate

Despite its fairly common availability and affordable market value, agate beads hold a fascinating place in human history. Used for its hardness to make tools by man's forerunners in Ethiopia's Omo valley as far back as 2.5 million years ago, placed in talismans, rings, and amulets by Persian magi for its magical properties over 1500 years ago, and worn by millions of people across the globe for aesthetic and healing value today, agate has always held high esteem in the world of gemstones. The wonderful metaphysical benefits of agate beads have been thought to include everything from improvement of memory, concentration, and analysis, as well as curing of insomnia, poor circulation, and pancreatic dysfunction, to the generation of honesty and goodwill, and perhaps more fantastically, the ability to control weather patterns. A rich mythos has developed around agate beads, indeed!

The agate gemstone forms in cracks, fissures, and cavities in rock formations, typically volcanic in origin. Where various levels of rainwater, silica, manganese, iron, and other mineral oxides combine slowly, layer after layer of the developing agate gemstone form in the 'host' rock's recesses. Because of the variety in minerals that eventually comprise the agate's makeup, the agate gemstone resulting from this extensive and time-consuming process often has a stratified appearance when cut open, much like rings of tree bark or the concentric layers of an onion, but with a great deal more visual complexity. This is explained by layers of clear, glassy quartz that alternate with waxy, translucent chalcedony.

Porous surface layers give the agate bead a very absorbent quality with regards to dyes. This property, on top of agate gemstone's widespread availability in most continents and the presence of modern cutting workshops, has lead to a huge proliferation of agate colours and styles in the world of gemstone jewelry. Furthermore, many still hold value in agate gemstone's deep history and alleged healing capabilities, and the agate stone has witnessed recent rejuvenation in growing 'New Age' industries. Others simply love its timeless look!

The name 'agate' derives from the Achates River in southwest Sicily, where it was initially discovered.

Click here to browse Agate at Stones and Findings

Designing with Tourmaline

Tourmaline is one of the most chemically complicated gemstones around, and it shows in the unmatched variety of available colour schemes. Several colours may even be present in the same piece, and will appear differently when viewed in different kinds of light and from different angles. A truly dynamic stone, indeed!

To add to the intrigue of this bizarre and beautiful mineral species, Tourmaline is naturally pyroelectric: when heated or compressed, it takes on a positive electric charge at one end and a negative electric charge at the other. This interesting quality was known by British importers in the 18th century, who made use of the charge to pull ash out of their pipes.

At that time the Dutch East India Company was importing vast quantities of Tourmaline from Sri Lanka to insatiable audiences in Europe. Almost two centuries later, Empress Dowager Cixi- the last Empress of China- also entered the Tourmaline trade, regularly shipping tonnes of it from Californian mines. Her appetite for beautiful pink tourmaline was apparently so voracious that it single-handedly created a prosperous mining industry in San Diego County.

Associated with amorous emotional energy, Tourmaline is seen as the gem of lasting love and friendship.

Click here to browse Tourmaline at Stones and Findings

Sterling Silver Informational Organization

Organizing Sterling Silver Findings

I really can't say enough about the importance of organizing one's supplies, like sterling silver findings. There are two different categories of organization: physical organization, and informational organization. And I'd like to touch on both and tell you a bit from personal experience, and invite you to send me your thoughts, personal solutions that you'd like to share with others, and tips on how to improve our system at Stones And Findings. In this article, I will talk about the informational organization of sterling silver components and jewellery.

Informational Organization

Informational organization is different from physical organization , and it's an area that many creative people tend to neglect. As the jewellery business grows, this part becomes more important and can be one of the biggest bottlenecks for growth. Supplier and cost information must be kept in a complete and easy to find manner. Without knowing the cost, you run the risk of pricing too low, especially if you are dealing with larger quantity orders or more reorders. Without knowing who the supplier is, it becomes time consuming to trace back and approach all of the likely sources if you need to reorder. You'd be surprised at how many customers email us to find out if we were the ones who sold them certain sterling silver findings , and usually they’re in a desperate hurry to know. Sometimes people call in to reorder some sterling silver findings that are "roundish and kind of shiny" . Well, that doesn't help much. Thankfully, we have all of their past orders, with pictures, on our computer screen. However, we'd still have to go over 10 or 15 things that fit the description before ascertaining the desired roundish shiny thing.

The most inexcusable disorganized people are the suppliers. When I bought from local sources for my jewellery making business quite often they would ask me to send the actual sample because they had no codes to begin with. And even if I give them codes that we agreed on before, they've forgotten. I resorted to creating a file in their office, and with each item I bought, I made sure they kept the sample in that file, with a code we agree on. I was buying large quantities, so I could do this and they wanted to make the effort. Even still, I'd they would prefer I bring a sample in because they couldn't figure things out and was not confident in their file. Well, by the time I send them the sample, and they receive it, it could be several days. It's just so unproductive. And I vowed that we would not be like that at Stones and Findings.

There are some very simple things that you can do to help yourselves keep organized:

  • keep set of actual sample of sterling silver findings in Ziploc bag with code info

  • Photocopy the component if can’t or don’t want do above

  • Use a binder and some slide holder sheets to keep samples and pictures of sterling silver components organized

  • Create folders in your email Outlook for suppliers, different folders for each supplier. Ditto with document, hard or soft copy

  • Ask suppliers to email you copy of your invoice, in Excel format. Use this to cut and paste into a Master order form for the supplier. Enter reorder quantity and save as another PO. While you are doing this, you can also look through to see what else you've bought from them on that list that might be running low.

  • Create a shopping list of staples that you use regularly. Keep it in a place that you'll look at as you create orders. The staples list is a reminder so you don't have to pay extra shipping just because you forgot some sterling silver findings that you use all the time.

  • Stones and Findings will be switching to our alphanumeric codes, which will be only 5 digits/letters long. This is will be more efficient. However, it will not affect your records or reorders as both codes can be used. We're always trying to be more organized, and with ever an increasing selection of sterling silver findings, it will be necessary.

    If you have any tips or ideas, please email them to us at

    If you would like to read about Physical Organization of Sterling Silver Findings and Jewellery Components please click here .

    Wednesday, September 2, 2009

    A 15 Point Guide for the Independent Jewellery Art

    by Damien Zielinski

    Materials and Accounting

    1. Keep your overhead low. You don't need a studio and can't afford to pay for one when you're just starting out your jewellery business. If your apartment has a spare room, or even a big dining room table, it should be enough to get you started.

    2. Buy jewellery supplies from local wholesalers. Do not travel further than a bus token's distance for jewellery components. Time and cost are both important to consider.

    3. Keep your jewellery inventory as low as possible. Jewellery stock is expensive; do not order too many jewellery components at first. Buy very low volumes while you test the market power of your jewellery designs. When you become more confident about demand for your accessories, order more, but remember to always keep as little inventory as you can. Try not to ever order more than you're sure you can sell.

    4. Buy parts from a jewellery wholesaler who offers low minimums, and start with the lowest. If you buy quantities any smaller, you will have to get middle-manned by stores or jewellery businesses that cater to hobbyists. If you go bigger, you risk unsold stock, and may not break even with sales.


    5. Find out what retail stores are looking for, what they sell a lot of, and who's buying it. It is very important that you spend a lot of time on groundwork and preliminary research. The more you know about your intended market, the more informed your jewellery designs will be. Talk to people and develop a thorough understanding of what your design strong points are, how to build on them, and how to tailor them to the demands of your target customer base.

    6. Keep up with the changing world of accessory fashion and be flexible. Staying informed about what people are wearing on the streets and the runways will inform and inspire your work. Quickly adapt to new trends and styles-- being able to do this is a major part of your advantage as a small scale jewellery manufacturer. Avoid ordering parts from far away or keeping old stock.

    7. Think about the role of each jewellery design in your portfolio of accessory lines. If all of your jewellery is generic in style, then it will only be a matter of price for your potential customers, and as an independent you don't have a prayer competing with big companies who import cheap Asian materials. On the other hand, if all of your designs are show-stopping runway pieces, they will garner attention but not profits. Stores like to put showpieces in windows to attract curious shoppers, but the jewelry they actually sell a lot of is going to be the kind that people can wear in a variety of social situations with a variety of outfits. Try to incorporate a handful of distinctive showpieces, but make sure your lines have something for everyone, and aren't too fashion-forward that they scare off the majority of your would-be customers.

    8. Be flexible and dynamic. Demonstrate a ready willingness to customize your designs for stores and individual clients. Make use of your advantage as a small manufacturer who can change production and redesign things at the drop of a hat. Cooperating with the customer's desires is important to developing a good working relationship, and leads to sustained repeat business.

    9. Value people who give you constructive input, and learn from it. Treasure those who give you helpful ideas, and learn to take criticism with grace. Remember that you're running a business, and what you think is great might not be exactly what stores or people want. You're not trying to sell jewelry to yourself. Build on strengths, expand on what is well received, and get rid of unpopular or unsuccessful design ideas immediately.

    10. Guard your designs. They are your most precious commodity and there is not much in place to protect them from copycats. Show them only to people you trust, customers, and potential customers.

    Selling your Jewelry

    11. Calculate your cost. It is crucial to figure out how much each jewelry accessory costs you to make, and how much time you spend making it. Your markup should be 2-3 times cost for wholesale or 4-6 times cost for retail.

    12. Be opportunistic about sales prospects, and carefully weigh the pros and cons of each. Selling to people directly is great for profit margins, but is very time consuming and may not worth your while. Jewelry conventions, shows, festivals, and other gatherings might be good times to set up a booth and personally connect with each customer. Just remember that time is one of your most precious resources. If you manage to get your jewelry accessories into boutiques, they will sell your product for you on their time, and provide a venue for showcasing your jewelry on top of any events you may personally go to.

    13. Avoid selling your jewelry on consignment at all costs. Consignment means that a store will not buy jewellery from you outright, but rather keep it at their store on a sort of 'loan.' If items are sold, the store will take a percentage of the sale price, and you will get the remainder. The store has little motivation to push your jewelry, and if they have other accessories bought on wholesale, they will almost definitely try to sell those pieces before yours. With wholesale the jewellery is actually purchased up front by the store, and the onus is on them to either sell the items through or incur losses. For more information on differences between consignment and wholesale, please see our more in-depth exploration of the topic.

    14. Develop positive and lasting relationships with your jewellery customers. Retail stores will want to see that you are reliable, consistent, and responsive. Drop by fairly frequently to see how your jewellery is selling, and talk to the store owners and employees to get feedback on what they like about your jewellery designs, who's buying them, and how they might be improved upon. For the sake of following up easily, you'll want to avoid selling to stores that are inaccessible or far away.

    15. Do not take jewellery orders from stores that are too big for you to handle. Mathematically, one order should never exceed 10% of your yearly sales. Put another way, the outstanding debt of one customer should never exceed an amount you are willing to lose. If you do take big orders then be incredibly careful and make sure you're going to get paid. Even large department stores can be very fickle and prone to changing their minds. If this happens you could be put under by one big order that falls through, leaving you in debt. This tip is part of an important guiding philosophy: build up slowly and don't bite off more than you can chew.


    From earring hooks to charms to rings!
    In gold filled, gold vermeille and sterling!

    Create a Satin Finish on Sterling Silver

    Then there is the satin finish. Simply take your existing component, and then you will be creating a lightly scratched surface. You can do this a couple of ways, very lightly brushed a fine S.O.S. pad – don't press to hard at first, and see the difference between the original finish, and what you have just created. If you prefer a deeper finish then press harder and continue until you like the finish you have created. When you’re satisfied with the new finish you’ve made, then proceed and complete the rest of the piece. If you have small crevices feel free to cut a small piece off and twist it, or wrap it around a cotton swab to get the recessed areas.

    If you're looking to take a brushed finished surface down to high polish finish, you must use a lighter grade of emery paper to achieve a smoother look. You can even go all the way to a high polish finish and then perform your satin finish on the piece for a well finished look.

    If you are going to satin finish from a high polish finish, you can mix up the finish by using some great tricks. This can put together a dynamic look, even if this is your first time trying out this method. By using a piece of masking tape, simply cut out a shape, or tape off an area that you do not want to give a satin finish and you will then create your finish that will have a fantastic contrast with in the metal itself. This method is perfect for mixing up a regular plain component and making it your own.

    This finish can be mixed together with pieces that are a high polish and pieces that have a satin finish, and any other finish, like hammered that you've created for your components for your piece will have that extra stunning feature that makes your piece, truly a one of a kind.

    Create Brushed Finish on Sterling Silver

    The third is very similar to the satin finish , however you will use more aggressive means to obtain your new look. To create the brushed look, the finish will have more distinctive lines. You can use many things to create look. By hand you could use, and emery board or a file. Or you can use a course steel wool pad, a ball of aluminum foil or any other course metal or abrasive material.

    With all of the above methods, I suggest either working at your bench, where you can clean up any metal shavings that may come off your piece. Otherwise working on a table with some newspaper down to catch the shavings is perfect. Take each piece you'd like to brush, and be sure to brush all sides, if it tends to slide, feel free to put a small amount of tape on your surface, in a loop, so it will stick to the surface and to the other side of your piece and stay still the entire time you’re brushing your component.

    **Be careful with gold vermeille, as gold vermielle is sterling silver that is been plated with 14kt gold, so be wary of putting any aggressive finishing techniques as the gold may come off.

    When creating your own brushed finish, it can be used in many different ways. If you're looking for a more defined look than satin, but not as rough as a hard brush with an emery board. You can complete a piece in full, and then run it through a steel wool pad, or a 3M pad. This will give it slight more edge than your regular satin finish. Or you can brush each individual piece and then put them all together. But, be sure to think of the small things, which will really bring the whole design together. Pieces that are often forgotten are components like jump rings , the clasp or the bail . These are parts that, if brushed, will complete the look. And remember, mix it up, and have fun with it!

    Create a High Polish Finish on Sterling Silver

    The high polish finish is often a standard finish, the reasoning is, is that this finish can be done a few different ways. A high polish finish can be used using a tumbling machine, be done by hand, or be done by a polishing wheel. A quick way to finish, and this is why it’s often a standard in so many components is that you are able to tumble these piece and in a few short A standard in jewellery components, they have often been tumbled to achieve this finish. You can use a rotary tumbler to polish jewelry and to remove burrs from jump rings or other metal components.

    Materials List

    • Small rotary tumbler and barrel.
    • Soap (not detergent). Ivory soap flakes are recommended.
    • Polished steel shot. You want enough to fill the barrel about halfway.


    • Pour the shot into a clean barrel to about the halfway mark.
    • Add enough water to cover the shot plus about 3/4 inch.
    • Add a tablespoon of soap flakes.
    • Load the jewelry and/or components into the barrel. You want them to be able to tumble, so pack them loosely.
    • Seal the barrel and let the tumbler rotate for 6-8 hours.
    • When the pieces are sufficiently polished, remove them from the tumbler and rinse them well with water.

    Helpful Tips*
  • Keep your steel shot covered with soap and water. All it takes is a few hours exposed to air for the shot to develop rust.
  • Don't polish more than one chain at a time unless you derive pleasure from untangling some serious knots. You can add other jewelry in with a chain (earrings, rings, components), just don't polish chains together.
  • If you use the same barrel for jewelry as you use to polish rocks, make certain that the barrel is absolutely clean. Otherwise, you may find yourself scratching your jewelry rather than polishing it!
  • Remove chemical 'antiquing' before polishing. Otherwise, a chemical reaction can cause green deposits to coat nooks and crannies.
  • Use extreme care if you are polishing plated or filled components (e.g., silver-plated or gold-filled). You run the risk of wearing or chipping the outer layer of metal.
  • Don't tumble components with stones, as they can become scratched or dislodged from their settings.
  • However you can take this to the next level, so it will be free of knick and scratches. If you have three different grades of emery or sand paper, and a rouge cloth you will be able to reach this yourself. A Rouge Polishing Cloth and it will really bring out that shine for your components.

    When deciding on what finish to use, there's no need to only use just one. Be sure to mix up the finishes. Placing a high polish finish next to a brushed finish or even a satin finish can have a very beautiful effect and create a stunning and dynamic one of a kind piece.

    *Credit to for information about tumbling jewellery