Monday, 5 January 2015

What Makes Handmade Jewelry Handmade?
Men and women have adorned themselves with handmade jewelry since long before the age of reason. Garlands of flowers, bracelets of woven grass, shells, and stone; such were the first decorations to beautify the human body. We may have been wearing jewelry as far back as 75,000 years ago -- 30,000 years earlier than previously believed -- according to a recent report by National Geographic News.

Over the millennia, jewelry styles and materials have evolved in step with the advances of civilization. From the Stone Age to the Bronze Age, from the Iron Age to the Industrial Revolution (and seemingly back again!), styles have transformed, modernized, and then often returned to their most basic forms and essential elements.

Today, jewelry is primarily machine made, allowing manufacturers to produce uniform jewelry designs much more economically than traditional handcrafting and hand-casting techniques allow. Casting machines now quickly process into uniform molds such components as metals, plastics, and resins, allowing even complex jewelry designs to be produced with speed and uniformity. Mechanical punch presses and forges, likewise, are also commonly employed in the jewelry manufacturing industry today, to help ensure the production of a consistent, highly profitable product.

In the past decade, however, the modern marketplace has experienced a resurgence of interest in handmade jewelry, and a greater value is again being placed on unique and limited edition jewelry designs, made by hand with ancient crafting processes.

With this renewed demand, jewelry artisans the world over are enjoying improved sales and recognition for their talents and skills. Many specialty galleries -- and even major department stores -- now feature an increasing array of handmade jewelry. With the advent and spread of the Internet as a sales tool worldwide, many international jewelry artisans, even located in remote regions, are also enjoying the benefits of direct sales to distant customers.

Novica hosts the largest handmade jewelry marketplace on the Internet, featuring some 15,000 unique designs, direct from master artisans in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Regina Bimadona, director of Novica's regional office in Bali, herself a jewelry artist, works closely with master jewelers in Bali and Java, helping them bring their collections, and the unique stories behind those collections, to appreciative customers worldwide. Bimadona specializes in assisting jewelers who still create limited-edition collections with traditional, handmade techniques.

In the following interview, Bimadona outlines the basic differences between handmade and mass-produced jewelry, and the benefits of and drawbacks to both handmade and machine-made techniques.

CG: What makes handmade jewelry truly handmade?

RB: Handmade jewelry is crafted by hands, instead of mechanically made with machines. Handmade jewelers use old metal-smith skills, simple tools, and a broad variety of techniques to create their desired forms and shapes. In handmade jewelry you can often observe each item's uniqueness, its dissimilarity from similar pieces. You can also usually sense the cultural individuality, meaning, and even history behind many such designs, even if such information is not provided along with the jewelry. Handmade jewelry techniques require considerable concentration, time, skill, creativity, and dedication. This is often clearly recognizable in the finished piece, making fine handmade jewelry stand out from mass-manufactured, uniform items.

CG: Are there other ways buyers can tell the difference between truly handmade jewelry, and mass-produced jewelry that might at first glance appear handmade? For example, some of the jewelry that we find in large department stores today may appear "rustic," but that does not necessarily mean it is actually made by hand.

RB: You will find that true handmade jewelry is typically not identical to other pieces of the same design. It is often easiest to examine jewelry that has considerable decoration -- many aspects. Examine each individual component; you can often clearly see how they are attached and constructed. Mass-produced or machine-made jewelry typically looks more rigid and uniform. Some handmade, traditional-style jewelry appears less perfect than machine-made jewelry, although high quality handmade jewelry should nonetheless be made to last, and this should be apparent in the details. Perhaps surprisingly, I have found that machine-made jewelry often breaks more easily than well-made handmade jewelry. Much of the mass-produced jewelry sold today as "handmade" may indeed be handmade, for example in department stores, but that does not necessarily mean it is of the highest quality. Mass-production facilities typically require artisans to meet efficiency quotas that result in poorly made jewelry, made with cheaper materials -- even if it is technically made by hand. I recommend looking for handmade jewelry that is not mass-produced -- not available in large quantities. High quality handmade jewelry often has an artisan's name and reputation proudly attached to the finished product. Fortunately, quality and uniqueness are typically apparent to the careful observer.

CG: What are the benefits of purchasing handmade jewelry, rather than mass-produced jewelry?

RB: Handmade jewelry offers the pleasure of unique, often rare designs, that are not-identical, typically made by a true artist -- with great love and passion. Jewelry is an art form. I truly believe this strength of feeling comes across in the design process, and in the finished jewelry itself. Mass-produced items simply have less soul. I believe that handmade jewelry also better reflects the wearer's personal touch and style, expressing individuality and interest. To wear mass-produced jewelry, of a common style, to my mind lends the wearer the appearance of being somewhat mass-produced. Mass-produced jewelry can indeed be less expensive to purchase, because it is certainly less expensive to make, but it is not necessarily less expensive to purchase. Regardless, mass-produced jewelry usually brings with it no special meaning or history -- no story, no life. When you wear beautiful handmade jewelry, it is a pleasure to be able to explain to admirers the actual story or history behind what you are wearing, or information about the artist, which is often possible with handmade jewelry bought from individual artisans or their representative galleries. Above all, it is simply a joy to wear jewelry that someone has personally and lovingly created by hand.

CG: Who are some of your favorite handmade jewelry artisans, in your region of the world, and why?

RB: Wayan Sarjana is one of my favorite jewelry artisans in Bali. He has a wonderful personality, in addition to his high quality handmade jewelry. His designs are lovely, his prices are affordable, and his creativity is endless. Locally, Mariella, Priyo Salim, Agung Pribadi, Janice Ripley, and Zayd are a few other personal favorites. Fortunately, they have all agreed to participate on the Novica Web site, along with many of our other finest artisans here, so I have the honor to assist and represent them now. Each of their biographies, and collections, are included in the Novica Handmade Jewelry department, where you will find detailed explanations as to why I admire and recommend these jewelers so highly, as well as other favorite jewelers and artisans.

CG: What inspired you, personally, to learn to make jewelry by hand? When did you begin? What style do you prefer, and what materials?

RB: My background is in art and design. It has always fascinated me to work with my hands -- to let my soul, my mind, and my body link together in the process of making something new and exciting. I enjoy having private conversations with the materials I work with -- to play with these materials within my imaginary space, and to see the evolution and transformation of various components into a new form of existence. It is exciting. Many new ideas and silent conversations begin flowing during the making of any sort of art, including jewelry. I began creating jewelry in 1988, while studying at the Indonesia Art Institute. Then, I often visited a friend's jewelry studio nearby, and that is where I began to learn this art form. A few years later, when one of our big Indonesian magazines held jewelry design competitions, I entered, and twice was a finalist in their competitions, in 1990 and 1991. I enjoy creating both contemporary and traditional styles. I enjoy working with many materials, including sterling silver, gold, copper, wood, leather, bone, amber, and especially natural gemstones and pearls.

CG: Do you still have time to make handmade jewelry these days, or are you too busy with your managerial work?
RB: I wish I had more time to make handmade jewelry today! I am so busy with Novica. Fortunately my Novica work revolves around what I love most. I spend my days meeting with our region's most exciting master artisans and jewelers. Also, because of my personal expertise with art, including handmade jewelry, I can frequently offer helpful business suggestions to the artisans with whom I work, which brings me great personal satisfaction. I do also continue to make a few jewelry designs of my own, and I continue collecting materials, especially gemstones and pearls, for some new jewelry collections I have in mind. Jewelry is such a passionate aspect of life. I enjoy every minute of my work, whether working as a designer myself, or helping others who are dedicated to this beautiful and artistic way of life.

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Thursday, 1 January 2015

How to Clean and Polish Your Jewelry

Cleaning any Jewelry - How to Clean and Polish Your Jewelry
The most effective way to clean your jewelry is to bring it to your local jeweler. That may not always be possible. It always seems that on a Saturday night, before going to dinner or while getting dressed for a wedding, you realize that your jewelry is lacking a bit of its glisten and luster.

Jewelry Maintenance Schedule
Since most people keep their jewelry in a central location, such as a jewelry box or safe, it is easy to keep a basic checklist along with it. It is commonplace for one to let time pass before noticing one day when examining their jewelry that a diamond is missing from their ring or bracelet. Keeping a simple checklist in your jewelry box can act as a reminder. All fine jewelry that is worn regularly and is mounted with gemstones should be brought to a jeweler to be inspected for wear on prongs and closures on a routine basis. Over time, frequently worn jewelry often comes in contact with coarse surfaces during everyday wear, making it prone to erosion and metal fatigue.

Jewelry Erosion
"Erosion" takes place when gold or a precious metal rubs against itself or other surfaces. As precious metals rub against counter tops, stone, or mineral surfaces the soft precious metal slowly erodes. Your jeweler can advise you of needed repair before an item becomes broken and is lost. This recommended preventive measure can prolong the life of your precious jewelry.

Jewelry Metal Fatigue
"Metal fatigue" takes place when metal is stressed by constant knocking or bending. The easiest way to understand this is to envision a coat hanger being bent back and forth several times until it breaks. The impact of hitting a ring or bracelet on a doorknob or the constant depression of a spring clasp on your jewelry latches slowly contributes to its "metal fatigue".

Professional Jewelry Maintenance
We recommend that everyday items such as engagement rings and tennis bracelets be viewed by a professional jeweler every 6 months, and annually for jewelry that is worn less frequently. A trained jewelry professional will inspect prongs and clasps for wear and tear. The jeweler will detect loose stones and arrange to tighten your prongs and repair or replace worn areas.

Professional Jewelry Cleaning
Most jewelers will clean and polish your jewelry while you wait and the more advanced jewelers will be able to machine polish your jewelry with several stages of compounds to restore its original luster. They may also be able to restore a rhodium finish on your white gold. The more highly qualified jewelers will also be able to steam clean and ultrasonically clean your jewelry. Your jewelry professional should understand the nature of delicate materials, gemstones, and patinas in order to avoid damaging your precious items while working on them.

Home Jewelry Cleaning
In order to properly clean your jewelry at home you should first have an understanding of what your jewelry is made of.

Jewelry Cleaning No No's
Many materials should not be cleaned at home. Below are a few examples of jewelry that should be handled cautiously.

1. Organic stones or materials such as pearl, ivory, bone, coral, wood, leather, cord, or string should not be exposed to harsh detergents or soaked in liquids or ultrasonically cleaned. These commonly used jewelry materials may absorb the fluids and be damaged or stained permanently.

2. Antique or rare artist jewelry should not be tampered with at home. Polishing and cleaning can destroy the patina and integrity of some rare jewelry.

3. Coins should never be polished and cleaned by a non-professional.

4. Some gemstones are treated with or have natural oils that can be disturbed by detergents. Some stones are porous and can absorb detergents or moisture. Here are a few gems that caution should be used with: Emerald, Opal, Turquoise, Lapis Lazuli, and all of the organic stones and materials listed above.

5. Chemical exposure can lead to disaster. Soaking jewelry in chlorine-based cleaners can completely dissolve a piece of jewelry, leaving behind only the stones. Likewise, constant exposure to pool chlorine can decay the solders used to make jewelry. A small bead of mercury from a broken thermometer can attract to gold and contaminate all other jewelry that it comes in contact with, turning the gold white. This has been known to render entire jewelry boxes of valuable jewelry useless. As a rule, any corrosive product in household use containing acids, lye, or chemicals that you yourself should not be exposed to is probably not good for your jewelry.

6. Polishing plated metals with abrasive compounds can wear through the plating. The micron plating solution used on many pieces of costume jewelry is thin and abrasive compounds can wear through to the underlying metals. Once the base metals are exposed, they may vary in color or tarnish with time.

7. Caution should be taken when using ultrasonic cleaners. Ultrasonic cleaners use high frequency waves to release makeup grime and dirt from your jewelry. The process involves vibration.

    * Vibration causes erosion when two items are rubbing against one another or the side of an ultrasonic tank.
    * Vibration can also loosen stones and epoxy or glue.
    * Vibration can also shatter fragile materials such as amber and enamel.
    * Vibration can change the color or remove the surface enhancement on many of the novelty gems in the market place today.
    * Vibration can dislodge fills from stones that have additives.

Once you have determined that your jewelry can be cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner, the tips below can help you with your safe cleaning.

    * Use only recommended ultrasonic cleaning solutions.
    * Be sure that your items are positioned so that they do not rub on one another or the bottom and side of the ultrasonic tank.
    * Do not leave jewelry unattended in an ultrasonic cleaner for extended periods of time.

Proper Jewelry Cleaning at Home
Now that you have an understanding of what you need to be careful with, let's review the many things you can do to take care of your jewelry and make it look great. The easiest way to keep your jewelry looking terrific is by cleaning it regularly. It is much easier to remove a thin layer of hairspray, lotion, or makeup than a long-term build up. The more often you clean your jewelry the easier the process.

Polishing Precious Metals
You can brighten your jewelry by obtaining a jewelers rouge cloth or a velvet cloth from your local jeweler. These are soft cloths charged with mild polishing compounds used to brighten jewelry. The polishing materials on the cloths are not abrasive enough to damage your stones or metal, but when rubbed vigorously against gold or silver will provide a nice luster. When you are finished polishing your jewelry, you can clean it to remove any of the compounds left behind. Be sure to put your jeweler's cloth in a dust free container such as a poly bag when you are finished. This will prevent the cloth from picking up grit and foreign matter that may scratch your items on it next use.

Cleaning Diamonds Gold and Platinum
Gold, diamonds, platinum, sapphire, ruby, and most durable stones not listed above in the "Don'ts" section can be easily cleaned. Simply mix a solution of 1/2 Windex and 1/2 warm water. It is not necessary to create a large batch; a half cup is usually sufficient. Make sure the room is ventilated. Soak the items for as long as it takes to loosen the buildup. Remove the items and simply scrub them with a soft toothbrush. Be sure to press the bristles gently between the prongs and in all of the creases of the jewelry. If the residue is stubborn repeat the process. Be sure to rinse your jewelry thoroughly and dry to avoid irritation of the skin. Some people like to dry the stones on the underside with canned air, in order to avoid water spots. Once again, the more frequently you clean your jewelry, the easier the process.

Jewelry Ultrasonic Cleaners
It is very important to read the above warnings about the use of ultrasonic cleaners, as they are very aggressive. That being said, aggressive can be good if you follow the rules. Use only ultrasonic cleaning devices that are designed for home use and read the instructions thoroughly. It is wise to use the solutions that are sold to be used for ultrasonic jewelry cleaning, however, small units can be used with 1/2 Windex and 1/2 warm water. Make sure the room is ventilated.

Cleaning Pearls and Other Organic Jewelry

Pearls, coral, ivory, bone, and other organics can absorb moisture and chemicals. It is for this reason that all make up and hairspray should be applied before putting on your pearls. It is also wise to wipe them down with a soft clean moist cloth when you remove them. In the case of pearls and beads, try not to get the cord and knots wet to avoid staining and rotting of the string. * Never use chemicals or detergents to clean your pearls

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Monday, 29 December 2014

The Gold Guide to Pretty Heart Jewelry
Long before the invention of the American Dollar, the Indian Rupee, or the British Pound, another form of currency was used by people around the world. Do you know what it was? It was gold, and it was a timeless way to denote how rich and powerful a person was. It is both heavy and rare, and it has been used as a status symbol throughout the years. This is our free gold guide to beautiful heart jewelry. We hope that you enjoy this journey into the incorporation of gold into our beautiful jewelry items.

Gold is one of our most valuable and precious metals. It is also very malleable and soft. Did you happen to know that? A mere ounce of the stuff can be stretched into a fine wire about 5 miles long. If you were to pound that same ounce of gold, it would form a thin sheet that could cover 100 square feet. It won't corrode or rust, so it will last almost indefinitely. It is also all around us. It is in our seas and rivers and bodies of water. It is in the crust of the earth that is beneath our feet. It is also in our plant life. Unfortunately, it is very hard to locate and extract, so it is very expensive as well. It takes about 2.5 to 3 tons of gold ore in order to make 1oz of pure gold.

Jewelry's Most Popular Metal

The most popular metal in the modern jewelry of today is gold. More specifically, You can find many different forms of heart jewelry that use gold. In terms of one single jewelry item, it is without a doubt the "simple gold wedding band" (since weddings are so popular). As we mentioned, gold is malleable and soft, it can't really be utilized in its pure form. It must be mixed with other metals in order to make it more strong and durable. Do you know what combining two or more metals is called? The resulting metal is called an alloy, and most of the gold that we use in our jewelry today is found in the form of an alloy. What types of gold jewelry are there you ask? Consider:
(1) 18k gold jewelry,
(2) 14k gold jewelry,
(3) Indian gold jewelry,
(4) White gold jewelry,
(5) Gold jewelry,
(6) 24k gold jewelry,
(7) Rose gold jewelry,
(8) Gold body jewelry,
(9) Wholesale gold jewelry,
(10) Gold charm jewelry,
(11) 22k gold jewelry,
(12) Gold horse jewelry,
(13) Gold plated jewelry,
(14) Other cool gold jewelry items.

Do you know where the word karat comes from? It is derived from the word for the fruit of the carob tree. Here are some derivations: in Arabic we have qirat, in Greek we have keration, and in Italian the word carato. You see, the seeds of the carob tree's fruit were used in ancient times for measuring precious gems. Since the pure gold Byzantine coin (called the solidus by the way) weighed 24 karats, the 24 karat mark (24 KT or 24K) became the symbol used to indicate that an item was pure gold.

Which is Which: Karats or Carats?

When we talk about gold we often hear the term carat (or karat). Bugs bunny preferred to be paid in carrots, but that is another item all together. When you are paid in carats, well, then you are really talking about some major money. In jewelry terms, the carat has a double meaning. It is used as a measurement of weight for gemstones (one carat is usually equivalent to 1/5 gram), but in some countries it can also be used to denote the amount of pure gold in a piece of gold jewelry. In the United States, when we want to indicate the gold content rather than the weight, we use a "k", such as "karat", to avoid any confusion that may arise.

24K gold (at least in most instances) is too soft to be used in jewelry. In some regions of the world they prefer to use 18K or 20K because (A) of its brighter yellow color and (B) for the simple fact that it is closer to being pure 24K gold. In the United States 14K or 18K is preferred above the others because it is more durable.

Gold 990

There is a new alloy on the way that we should mention. Gold 990 is an alloy of pure gold and only a small amount of titanium. This means you have almost pure gold, with greatly increased durability. This alloy is of "straw color", and is similar to the look of 14K gold, so those looking for that 24K gold look should look further. Still, if you are looking for a way to have "almost pure" gold and better durability, this alloy may suit you great.

This brings us to the question "In order for something to be called gold, how many carats must the item be?" The rules for this vary, depending upon the country. In the United States, in order for an item to be called "gold" it has to be at least 10K. In France and Italy it must be 18K, while in Canada and England the number is 9K.

Is All Gold Yellow?

Gold is mostly associated with the color yellow, but not all gold is yellow. Why is this? For starters, pure 24K gold is always yellow in color. As mentioned earlier, since pure gold is too soft and malleable for jewelry use, and since countries have different standards for what "gold" means, you can change the color of "gold" by exchanging the alloys that you happen to add to it. Here's the formula: Yellow gold is made up of gold, copper and silver. Green gold is made up of gold, silver, copper, and zinc. White gold is comprised of gold, nickel, silver, zinc, palladium and platinum. Pink (or red) gold is composed of gold, copper, and sometimes a tiny amount of silver.

Ever Heard of Underkarating?

There is one more thing that we should talk about before we leave this subject of carats and karats. When you are purchasing a piece of jewelry you should be concerned about underkarating. This is a serious problem in many areas around the world, so be sure to purchase your jewelry from a reliable jewelry store or reliable jewelry outlet. Underkarating means that although the jewelry item is marked to indicate a certain amount of jewelry content it can contain less than the amount indicated. Jewelers who sell underkarated jewelry will sometimes boast about the fact that you are "getting a bargain" In actuality you are not getting anything of the sort. Since the jewelry item they are selling you contains less gold and more alloy than what is indicated, what kind of a bargain is that? As always, the buyer must beware. Only purchase jewelry items from reliable sources.

What is the Manufacturer's Registered Trademark?

You should always look for a manufacturer's registered trademark on any gold jewelry item you purchase. It is located near the karat mark, and manufacturers take this trademark very seriously. In addition, as more and more jewelers get concerned about being held liable, they are willing to only purchase jewelry items from manufacturers who are willing to stand by what they sell. This trademark can be traced back to the very people who made this jewelry, and their reputation is on the line. They won't dare mess up in this particular area.

How To Resolve Skin Discoloration

Have you noticed that sometimes you have skin discoloration when you wear jewelry? Why is that? It is not the pure gold that is causing this. Pure gold does not tarnish, and as a result will not discolor the skin. It is the alloys that are added to the pure gold that are causing this discoloration effect. This happens mostly under moist or damp conditions. These alloys mix with the fatty acids that are present in your perspiration, and this can set up a corrosive reaction. This problem can be even worse in those areas where there is salt in the air, so if you plan a trip to the beach with your gold jewelry...beware.

Oh and one more thing we should talk about. Metallic abrasion that is caused by some makeup is another common cause of discoloration. Some makeup contains compounds that are actually harder than the jewelry in which they are coming into contact with? Did you know that? As these compounds rub and grind against the jewelry you are wearing they can cause some of the gold to flake off. The result is a dark looking "dust". When this "dust" makes contact with your sweaty skin, a black smudge is what is left over.

And The Solution Is?

Now that we have identified the problem, what is the solution to discoloration resulting from jewelry? You need to get into the habit of removing the jewelry often and washing the skin that it is coming into contact with. Plain soap and water is the preferred solution. Oh and remember to keep your jewelry clean as well. You should wipe the jewelry periodically with a nice soft cloth to remove any tarnish that may "build up". It might also be a good idea to use a body powder that is free of abrasions on all areas of your skin that will be in contact with the jewelry you wish to wear.

Why not check and see if a similar piece of jewelry is available from another manufacturer? You may find that one jewelry item causes discoloration while a similar looking one does not. This doesn't necessarily mean that one piece is inferior to another mind you. Jewelry manufacturers often use different alloys (or different combinations of alloys) in jewelry development. Although the pieces may look the same, one piece of jewelry may cause discoloration while another may not.

You know, you can always switch to a more pure form of gold jewelry. This could resolve the problem. After all, it is these alloys that are causing the problem, and if you move more in the direction of pure gold...problem solved.

In Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed our Free Gold Guide Tour into the World of Gold Jewelry and Skin Discoloration. If you would like to learn a bit more, please visit our blog. We do focus on heart jewelry primarily, but we also provide general information regarding the history of jewelry, and where you can purchase other great jewelry items.

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Monday, 22 December 2014

Jewelry Making Metals - Information and Techniques
Jewelry making metals are an important part of the jewelry artist studio. The most commonly used metals are probably silver and gold, however there is a variety of jewelry making metals that give the jewelry artist flexibility when they are designing and creating their pieces.

With today's scientific and technological advances you can integrate many other alloys into your work.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Metals You Want to Work With

Cost is probably the number one factor.
    What style of jewelry you design. If you are mostly attracted to silver, you will gravitate towards incorporating silver in your work. There is also the possibility of mixing metals to give definition and texture to a piece of jewelry. Using bi-metals were a layer of gold is fused into sterling silver, can also save money and accomplish the quality you are looking for.

    Different metals required the use of alternative equipment. You will need to factor in the amount of money you have to invest in tools and equipments to accomplish the type of jewelry designs you want to create

Metals have a variety of alloys that when added together provide the unique properties of each one.

Silver Alloys: Silver, has the highest thermal conductivity.
• Fine-Silver is about 99.9% pure. In this form it is a lustrous and soft.
• Sterling-Silver is an alloy containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other components, usually copper.
• Argentium Silver is a tarnish resistant silver and firescale free. It is perfectly malleable once annealed, and is almost twice as hard as traditional sterling silver.

Most high quality silver items are stamped with a "fineness" or "quality" mark. This mark designates the content of the jewelry, and under federal law, must be accompanied by a maker's mark or registered trademark. The most important thing is that silver is more affordable than gold and makes wonderful jewelry!

Pure Gold: is 24 Karats, which is the reason for the high price on jewelry made with 24K.
The solution to making gold consumer-friendly is to mix it with another material, creating an alloy that results in a stronger and frequently less-expensive piece.

Carats (also written as karats and abbreviated as kt) are the measure of the ratio of gold to other metals contained within the alloy. The more gold an alloy contains, the higher the caratage is.

Gold alloys typically span a range from 8 to 18 carats. An 8 carat alloy means that the gold content is 1/3 and an 18 carat piece is 75% gold. Other common caratages of gold jewelry alloys are 10 kt and 14 kt.

• Gold Overlay or Bi-Metal: Gold overlay is an application of gold on a base metal piece. This technique gives an item the expensive look of gold for a fraction of the price. A piece of gold overlay jewelry is always stamped indicating the process and the gold's karat quality.

• Gold Plate: This technique chemically bonds a layer of gold to a base metal using electrolysis. It is created when the base metal is coated with layer of gold with at least 10 karats.

• Gold Filled: This is the process in which a metal is layered with at least 10-karat gold by using heat and pressure. In order for jewelry to be "gold filled," the gold content must compose at least 1/20th of the item's total weight.

• Gold over Silver: This is a gold overlay using a silver base metal. Jewelry made with Silver covered with a layer of yellow gold is considered to be the most luxurious of the bi-metals. You can use this metal with confidence because it is durable and to gives jewelry a more expensive rich look.

Copper: is a great alternative to the skyrocketing prices in the precious metal market. Many jewelry artists and designers have discovered Copper as exciting alternative. Copper jewelry making can be very versatile, not only because of the cost, but also because Copper is one of the easiest metal to work with. Copper is also very pliable and thus easy to cut, form and fold. Copper jewelry making is easier than ever because of the accessibility of the metal. Copper can be found at jewelry supply and metal supply stores. Like many of the other metals, Copper can be purchased in many forms: Wire, sheet, tube, chain, beads and jewelry components.

Platifina: Introduced in 2005, platifina is a new sterling silver alloy comprised of 92.5 percent silver, 1 percent platinum and 6.5 percent other metals (that's a trade secret). This new alloy creates a metal that is brighter in color than either silver or pure platinum and is guaranteed tarnish-resistant, yet platifina jewelry is much more affordable than platinum jewelry.

Karatium: Alloys are a new family of alloys containing a percentage of gold and have been formulated in response to industry demand for less expensive metals. They are available in Yellow which contains 20% gold, Pink and White options which contain 10% gold as well as a sterling silver alloy which contains 2.5% gold. Although Karatium alloys polish to a high luster much like traditional karat gold alloys, they can be priced considerably less than 10kt gold and are an attractive alternative to gold filled products since they are a true "Alloy" and not a clad product with a base metal layer making up the majority of your jewelry. Karatium alloys also have the advantage over gold filled that the gold layer will never wear off. Karatium alloys are formulated to work well for all jewelry applications and can be cast, formed and fabricated just like karat gold alloys. All Karatium metal jewelry supplies have been formulated for optimum tarnish resistance. These qualities make Karatium a jewelry making material to investigate and experiment with.

Stainless Steel: Has recently gained in popularity as a jewelry making material, Stainless steel was developed in the 19th Century and is a combination of iron-carbon alloy. It has been used in tools, structures and manufacturing. Jewelry artists have recently started using it because its resistance to Its attractive grey color, strength and low cost, has made stainless steel a good alternative metal for making jewelry.

Titanium: Titanium is probably the strongest available. It is an industrial metal that has been recently introduce into the jewelry industry. Titanium has an attractive gray tone and gives jewelry a modern look. It is corrosion, tarnish and discoloration resistant. Titanium can be fabricated into different designs and has become a great alternative for wedding and engagement rings.

Tungsten: Also called wolfram, is formed from super dense alloys and is used in products ranging from golf club heads to weapons. This metal is as strong as steel and about twice the weight, making this metal almost wear proof and a perfect alternative for jewelry making.

Palladium: Is a lustrous silvery white jewelry making material used in electronics, jewelry, and certain other industries. Palladium is considered to be a precious metal. With its bright color and durable nature is the perfect metal to use for wedding jewelry which is expected to keep its appearance for decades.

Bronze: An early copper alloy; so early, in fact, that an entire era - the Bronze Age - was named for it. Bronze was used for making bracelets, ankles, and earrings, and beaded necklaces. Bronze is gaining in popularity because of its color and the easiness to create interesting textures.

Brass: Combine copper with zinc and you see the golden luster of brass. Brass is a malleable, and has a high-luster, that gives it the appearance of gold. Bronze was used primarily to create functional items such as door knobs and picture frames. Brass has now gained in popularity as a metal amongst jewelry designers

Some of the metals, such as, bronze, copper and silver can be etched by using a prepared solution of ferric chloride which also contains hydrochloric acid. This process allows you to create unique textures and designs. Make sure you follow instructions when etching any of these three metals and that you dispose of the solution properly.

Alpaca (Alpacca): Not to be confused with the animal, alpaca is a relatively new metal jewelry making supply, predominantly made of copper alloyed with nickel, zinc, and tin. The reduced expense of alpaca makes it a natural jewelry making material substitute for silver in fashion jewelry.

Pewter: As copper alloyed with tin became bronze, tin alloyed with copper and lead resulted in pewter. Pewter was mostly used in the manufacturing of tableware as well as being a base metal often used for rings and pendants. When polished to a high luster, pewter approaches the elegant sheen of fine silver.

Now that you are familiar with the different types of jewelry making metals, you can begin to enhance you designs.

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Monday, 15 December 2014

How to Choose and Wear The Right Jewelry

Jewelry Stores
With the various trips to different jewelry stores hunting for that perfect piece of jewelry can be taxing. But it doesn't have to be, if you know what you are looking for. Choosing which fine jewelry to wear is no different than choosing an outfit. The key is to trust your taste and stick to your personal fashion style. For example if you're an animal lover you can choose from numerous animal jewelry available in the market, from bird jewelry, cat jewelry, to dog jewelry, dolphin jewelry and even horse jewelry.

Although once in a while, it never hurts to step out of the box and try something unconventional like body jewelry or man jewelry, just to add spice. But what's important is that the jewelry should match with the outfit you are wearing. Jewelry is the finishing touch on your total look that will emphasize your fashion.

The first step is to determine what you want them to do. Would you like it to be the center of attention or just to compliment you? Another factor to consider is the occasion you'll be wearing it to. It's vital to make be sure that it is fitting for the event. For instance a sexy oversized choker might be perfect for a night on the town but not for the boardroom.

Unlike in clothes, there is no need to stick with just one designer even though most people have a favorite designer. In truth there's no need to fill your jewelry box with designer pieces, there are a lot of wonderful pieces that are unsigned but will surely make a fashion statement. Try scrambling through your jewelry box, take out your antique jewelry, estate jewelry, gold jewelry, diamond jewelry as well as your fashion jewelry and body jewelry. Mixing and matching your old pieces will give it character and a little zest.

The prize of the piece should also be considered. Contrary to what most people believe, jewelries do not have to be diamond jewelry, gold jewelry or precious heirlooms like antique jewelry, estate jewelry, Hawaiian jewelry or Italian jewelry in order to be considered fine pieces. Costume Jewelry, both signed and unsigned, is an example of a fine jewelry and yet it is affordable. A lot of jewelry store sells costume jewelry at a low price and some of them go way back to 1920s. What's great about them is that you can use it, get tired of it, put it away and still get your money's worth.

The last and perhaps the most crucial factor to be considered is the piece's size and shape. In this case, bigger doesn't necessarily mean its better. Going for a bigger piece when your face is small may actually detract rather than attract. It would be good to experiment and find out what looks best on you.

Choices in jewelries are endless - woman or man jewelry, Italian jewelry or Hawaiian jewelry, fashion jewelry or designer animal jewelries such as bird jewelry, cat jewelry, dog jewelry, dolphin jewelry, or horse jewelry. No matter what your tastes are, your likes and dislikes, you will be able to enhance your look and make a fashion statement little effort in choosing the perfect piece to complement your outfit.

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Monday, 8 December 2014
Selling Your Jewelry: Triumph or Tragedy?

Which is more fun, getting a root canal, paying your taxes, or selling your jewelry? Not much of a choice, but following is some knowledge that can take the frustration out of selling your jewelry. And answer the hard questions like: Will I receive a fair price for my jewelry? Or did I pay too much?

The two critical areas of knowledge to get the best price for your jewelry are the factors that determine the value of estate jewelry and the options to liquidating it. Does this mean you have to become a gemologist just to sell your jewelry? No. But some homework and note taking can mean a much higher price paid for your jewelry. Let's start with what determines the value of estate jewelry.

Estate is a general term used to describe previously owned. That fact is one of the determining factors. Preowned jewelry by in large is not as valuable as new. Some people will never buy a previous owned engagement set for superstitious reasons. I have had clients who could have saved hundreds of dollars if they would have bought a preowned ring, but refused.

Jewelry is a style driven industry. Some styles are classic and stay around for decades, others last just a few months. Estate jewelry that is out of style can't command premium price. In fact some styles are so out of favor that the jewelry's only value is its intrinsic worth. The other extreme is that the jewelry could be antique. Antique jewelry is highly collectible and may require a specialty option to sell. Knowing if your jewelry is just old and out of style or an antique can mean the difference of hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

Condition is a major determining factor of the price received for your jewelry. Damaged and broken jewelry many times justify the restoration costs but most of the time damaged jewelry is only valued at its intrinsic worth. Jewelry repair in many instances is counter-intuitive. I have seen jewelry that has been mangled in such a way that the cost of restoration is minor and easily justified. On the other hand what appeared to be an insignificant problem rendered the jewelry unrestorable. Jewelry repair is one area you don't want to be a "do it yourselfer". Let the professionals do it, or it could end up costing you a ton of money.

Worn out jewelry impacts the value. It is a difficult repair to bring life back into a piece of jewelry. Most worn out jewelry is valued at its intrinsic worth.

Jewelry looks it's best when cleaned. Properly clean your jewelry before showing it around. If you do not know the 100% correct way to clean your piece of jewelry let a professional jeweler clean it for you. Some jewelry stores may even clean it for free. Warning: the wrong cleaning can damage and even destroy jewelry. If your are unsure of how to clean the jewelry or gem, let the professionals do it.

Here are some cleaning tips. Never clean gold and gems in chlorine. Ammonia based cleaning products are used throughout the jewelry industry, but they can damage some gems. Try and avoid them if you can and know for certain if they well not hurt the gems in your jewelry. Use a mild soap with warm water and a soft toothbrush, then rinse thoroughly for most jewelry. A hard toothbrush and toothpaste or toothpowder will scratch gold and hurt some gems. The best cleaning tip is to know for certain the best cleaners to use on your jewelry and do it carefully.

The jewelry industry has been recycling for millennia. In fact some of the gold in your jewelry could have been in use since the time of Jesus. Damaged beyond repair jewelry is bought at its intrinsic worth. The intrinsic value is the metal (gold, platinum, silver) price plus any gems. The refining process used to recover the metal utilizes strong chemicals and has strict environmental regulations which impact the price given for metal brought to be recycled.

If you would like to know how to calculate the metal price and do the math read on, if not skip to next paragraph. The formula used to calculate the price is the metal price(the daily spot price) multiplied by purity(the true noble metal content) times weight(can be in ounces, pennyweights or grams). The purity is the karat of gold or percentage of noble metal (gold, platinum, silver). 24 karat is pure. 10 karat is 10/24 or.410 gold and the balance of weight is the alloys. 14 karat is 14/24 or.583 gold and 18 karat is 18/24 or.750 gold. Platinum most of the time is 90% pure and 10% alloy. Silver jewelry is usually sterling, which is.925 pure. The three units of weight used with precious metals are troy ounces, pennyweights, and grams. The troy ounce is equal to 20 pennyweights (dwt) or 31.15 grams. So here is an example; say the spot price of gold is $300 and a 14K ring weighing 10 grams would work out like this. $300 (spot price) X.583 (the fineness of gold) equals $174.90 per ounce divided by 31.15 (troy ounce to gram) equals $5.63 per gram times our ring of 10 grams equals $56.30. Just remember to subtract some refining cost and profit for the dealer and you can find out the intrinsic metal value for your jewelry.

Gems are an important part of jewelry. The estate jewelry value could be 99% determined by the gem. On the other hand the gem could add zero to the value. The two critical factors are the gem itself and the condition. Some gems have a higher value then others. A natural ruby is worth many times more then a synthetic ruby. Diamonds are generally more valuable then amethysts. Knowing your gem's grade and rarity will help with understanding its value. The condition of the gem is critical to the value. Some chips and abrasions can justify the repolishing cost. But in most cases chips and scratches will render the gem unappealing and valueless. Tip: careful handling of jewelry retains a higher value then carelessness.

The overview of the determining factors of estate jewelry is style, condition, and intrinsic worth. Remember you don't get paid for the jewelry in relation to what you paid but the condition and demand when you sell. Clean jewelry shows the item at its best and helps in evaluating the design and gems.

How to find the best way to get the most return for the jewelry?

Selling estate jewelry is the art of compromise. There is a balance between dollar paid and quickness of payment and ease of transaction. If you want the high price, fast and easy, you are dreaming. The higher the price gained from the sale of estate jewelry, the longer the time and more difficult the transaction..

Finding another consumer to buy your jewelry is the most profitable but the most difficult, time consuming and problematic. Walking into a dealer's shop is the easiest and fastest way to sell but you are selling at wholesale or less. Finding the balance is a personal judgement call.

Each method of selling estate jewelry has it strengths and liabilities. Besides the price received for the jewelry, the time investment you have to make to sell the jewelry enters the equation. What are your time and energy worth? I have known people who have driven around town for two days just to make $20 more. Don't over look the ease of transaction. Not all people decide to buy and pay cash on the spot. Some individuals take two or three visits just to make up their mind to buy. There could also be a measure of trust in shipping the jewelry across the country or even a payment plan could be the only way a person could afford your jewelry. The balance of dollar paid versus method of payment can be very tricky.

This list of ways to sell estate jewelry is not exhaustive. Personal creativity can show you the best way to sell your jewelry or one the more traditional methods may work out just fine. Examine your options and evaluate the benefits and drawbacks to find the very best way to sell your estate jewelry.

Auctions are the prestigious way to sell estate jewelry. There is an air of sophistication in liquidating jewelry through a major auction house. The nationally known auction houses like Christie's, Sotheby's and the like have pricey set up costs and standards. High end jewelry is best suited for these auctions. There are many regional and local auction houses that can sell estate jewelry in the mid range. Auctions can be very risky, because the end price is unknown, but the risk can bring a very positive selling price. The keys to selling your estate jewelry at auctions are finding the right house for your particular jewelry, knowing the best time to sell, and luck.

On-line auctions offer a lot of advantages and some risks. On-line auctions like e-bay are auctions conducted over the internet reaching a world wide audience. The cost of selling an item is modest if the object sells. Sales are not guaranteed. Which on line auction to use is a critical choice. The large auctions have many offerings and sales but it is easy to get lost in all that activity. Selecting the best category is another challenge. If you choose a smaller on line auction company, many potential buyers will not find your offering. The decision is best made with research on how your particular type of jewelry was sold. E-mail and ask other sellers if they got the price they wanted and how the selling experience was for them.

The trickiest part of on-line auctions is the actual transaction. Who will trust whom first. Normally the buyer sends funds, then the seller sends the item. The seller must also give a period of time for the buyer to return the item for a full refund. The transaction can be problematic or smooth. May all your experiences be trouble free, but the transaction problems I have tracked seem to run between 20% and 35% of the attempts have problems.

Jewelry brokers offer a professional service for a fee. Think of a jewelry broker as a hired professional working for you against a very sophisticated market like the jewelry industry. Make sure their allegiance is to you alone. Most jewelry brokers are highly trained in gems and jewelry. Jewelry brokers charge a percentage ranging from 10% to 50% depending on the type of service provided. Brokers can assist with a piece going to a top auction house or find a local dealer willing to pay top dollar fast. Some jewelry brokers also act as a dealer and buy out right for an immediate transaction. Jewelry brokers are usually found in major cities and include a jewelry and diamond finding service.

Pawn shops and secondhand dealers are another type of walk-in and sell option. Most work on a cash evaluation of the jewelry. The cash value on most estate jewelry is a percentage of the intrinsic value. The key to understanding this buying environment is the percentage. Some dealers pay close to 90% of the intrinsic value, while others pay as low as 33%. The only way to find the best price is to physically take the jewelry around to a number of shops. Then sell to the shop that offers the best value.

Consignment offers the incentive of a higher price when sold but the draw back of time. No one knows how long it will take or even if it will sell. The stores that offer consignment range from second hand bargain stores to elite jewelry stores. The type of estate jewelry you have dictates which store will attempt to sell your jewelry. If you have a high end piece in excellent condition the elite location could yield a fine return.

Consignment generally consists of a contract for the amount the jewelry will sell for and the percentage the store will keep. Some contracts have a time limit and who is liable if it is lost or damaged. You must know the details of the contract to understand what will and will not happen. Some stores will pay immediately, others pay after a set time or when you call. Find out what the process is if the store closes or moves. Many people have lost track of their jewelry altogether. Understand what the store's liabilities are and yours. Also, find out how the store is going to sell your jewelry. If they will advertise it or just let it sit in a showcase. Make frequent contacts to keep your jewelry in the mind of the salespeople.

Newspapers offer individuals the best chance to sell to a retail customer. The classified shopping consumer, in all likelihood, comparison shops more then anyone else. They know the prices of your jewelry new and will pay a discount for a used article of jewelry. Also realize that the prices asked for in the paper are rarely achieved and do not reveal the true market value. Some times the jewelry is sold for very much less then advertised or never sold at all. But with some safeguards and timing the classified ad is generally one of the highest prices realized for average estate jewelry.

The retail customer is the highest price you could receive for your estate jewelry. The newspaper is one of many ways to reach the buying public with your message to sell. Public bulletin boards offer a inexpensive way to reach people. Look in your community or work place for bulletin boards. On line bulletin boards could also work out if you find the right one. Net working with friends and family might give a lead to someone willing to buy. Creativity is a powerful tool in reaching the public. Use your imagination and think who would be willing to buy my particular estate jewelry and reach out to them.

Safeguards are critical when selling jewelry to the public. First NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, and NEVER meet an unknown buyer in your house. Personal safety and protection against robbery should be your first priority. If you don't have a way to meet the potential buyer at a public place, then do not sell your jewelry to the general public. Meet the buyer in a public place like a restaurant or shopping mall. I suggest the buyer's bank, because if they wish to buy the jewelry they can go and get the cash now and finish the transaction. In addition the bank should have some security if something goes bad.

Fraud should be next on your mind. Cash is the best transaction, checks of all kinds can be faked. Also be aware of switching of jewelry, con men are on the look out for unsuspecting people.

Some other safeguards are notifying someone of the time and place of your meeting. You can even tell them you will call after the meeting just to check in with someone. It is helpful to have a mobile phone. If you have a pager it is a good idea to give that number in the ad. You get a call back number and they can't find your home address. It is also a good idea to go with someone else. I have met people with another person standing in the background just watching. Sometimes con men work in teams and someone looking at the whole situation can see that it is a bad situation in time to help you not get taken.

I'd like to make one final point: most of the world is filled with wonderful people and everything should go just fine. Trust your instincts. Keep diligent and alert. Don't take risks just to make a little more on the sale of your estate jewelry.

Selling your estate jewelry is not an everyday experience. Enjoy the adventure and learn some new skills. One very positive side effect of selling jewelry is you will learn how to evaluate jewelry. You will become a very wise jewelry buyer. Enjoy the journey.

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Children's Jewelry - Earrings for Sensitive Ears

What metal is best for children's jewelry? What are the best earrings for sensitive ears? First let's start with what to avoid: nickel.

Reactions to earrings are caused by metal allergies, which vary in intensity from mild to severe. If someone has a mild nickel allergy they may be able to wear nickel jewelry for a day, whereas those with severe nickel allergies must not only avoid all nickel jewelry, but also nickel watches and buttons.

When looking for nickel free jewelry, make sure that it meets the European Nickel-Free Standard. Currently the United States does not have a standard, whereas the European standard requires an item contain no more than 0.05% nickel (or no more than 1 part in 2,000). For more information on the European nickel ban, contact the MJSA (Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America) at 1-800-444-6572.

What most people don't realize is that nickel is present in stainless steel (usually about 8% in jewelry), and will cause reactions in many. Metals other than nickel can also cause reactions. One person may not tolerate sterling, but is able to wear 14K gold. Another can't tolerate 14K gold, but can wear niobium (more on niobium later).

14-Karat gold is 14 parts gold out of 24. Pure gold is 24 karats. This is too soft to be functional, so it is alloyed with other meals for durability, cost and color. Depending on the color of gold (which can be yellow, rose, green or white), the other parts may be copper, silver, nickel, zinc, tin, palladium and/or manganese. (White gold contains nickel.) Those with metal allergies will sometimes react to 14K gold, but not to 18K gold with its fewer impurities.

For those with severe metal allergies, niobium is often the metal of choice. Niobium is an inert, precious metal used for surgical implants, and can be found in a variety of colors when used for jewelry. Most people who are sensitive to metals tolerate niobium well.

While there is no one best metal for everyone, the best earrings for sensitive ears are made from the following materials:

    Sterling silver (a silver and copper alloy)
    Niobium (a nickel-free inert metal)
    Nickel free jewerly
    Plastic earwires, posts and post covers (post covers are polyethylene sleeves that go over earring posts so no metal touches the ear)

Any of the above materials are good for children's earrings, with sterling being a good first choice.

Also featured is jewelry care information on both popular and lesser-known gemstones.

You may freely reprint this article as long as nothing is changed and bio is included with all links intact.

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