Confession: I don't make New Year's resolutions.
This comes from the hard learned lesson that I will never keep them and nothing, absolutely nothing, interferes with creativity like being disappointed in yourself.
So instead, I have intentions. One of my intentions for 2016 was to learn new skills. Like this Dragonscale chain maille bracelet.
Making chains isn't a new skill for me, but learning new patterns counts. I have long been fascinated by this pattern, its density, flexibility and sheer beauty. So, after Christmas, I sat down to try it out.
I hunted around the internet and found a great tutorial .here. But I had trouble finding information on what ring sizes would work best for the gauge wire I was using, 18g. So I tried 6mm and 4mm inner diameter rings. Got about half an inch done and realized I could go no further. Cutting some new rings in 6.5mm did the trick for me.
This bracelet used some place between 24 and 30 feet of 18g sterling wire, cut into hundreds of rings. Over 2 troy ounces of sterling silver, not counting the handmade toggle clasp.
But oh the results! Heavy, dense, flexible and almost silky. You have to feel it to believe it -- a great idea for a special gift.
_While some of us prefer to ignore Valentine's day altogether, many search tirelessly for the most romantic gift for their sweetheart. And many sweethearts search tirelessly for the best way to drop a major hint about what romantic gift they'd most like!
Check out the bracelet at the top of my blog page -- it is part of my pearl and crystal birthstone jewelry line. Let me make a case for how romantic a gift this jewelry can be.
It's timeless. Pearls and sparkling crystal never go out of style.
It can be dressed up or down. It can be worn as effortlessly with jeans and a sweater as with the classic LBD (little black dress.)
There are numerous possiblilites. Have it made with her birthstone alone. Have it made with yours and hers, celebrate your coupledom! Have it made with hers, yours and the kids, too. Mom jewelry (or grandmom jewelry, if you're looking for something for grandmother) is always welcome.
It comes in a variety of types. Have this birthstone jewelry made into necklace, bracelet or earrings. Have a whole set made!
It's made to order from quality materials. These pieces are made at your request, which means you can put your stamp on them and that makes them doubly cherished. They are made with Swarovski crystal pearls and birthstone colored crystal beads, accented with Bali style sterling silver spacers. They have sterling clasps. Earrings are on sterling wires.
When is the best time to order your custom Valentine's jewelry?
We're coming up on that time that some of us love and some of us hate. And some of us love to hate -- Valentine's Day.
No matter how you feel about it, it is a holiday that is surrounded by much lore. I spent some time hunting around that treasure trove that is the Internet, searching for interesting nuggets to share. Here are 5 I particularly liked:
Starting out with what's really important -- thank you, Richard Cadbury! He introduced the first Valentine chocolates in the late 1800s. Of course, if you're like me, why wait until Valentine's Day?
Who gets Valentine's Day cards? Moms, spouses, teachers, sweethearts and ... pets! Is your pet your Valentine?
The expression "to wear your heart on your sleeve" comes from the Middle Ages. Young men would draw the names of young women to learn who would be their Valentine. They would wear that name pinned to their sleeve for a week.
A kiss on Valentine's Day is thought to bring good luck all year. Yes, I'm positive that includes smooching your pets.
I save this for last because I found it so fascinating: tradition says that the first bird a woman sees on Valentine's Day will tell her the kind of man she is to marry. A blackbird means a clergyman, a robin a sailor. A goldfinch means you will marry a rich man and a sparrow means you will marry a farmer. A bluebird means a happy man will be your husband and a dove means a good man. If you see a woodpecker, that means you will not marry.
No word on my fave bird, the Barn Swallow.
May your Valentine's Day include lots of love, chocolate, kisses and flocks of birds!
In spite of your best efforts your jewelry has tarnished anyway.
Well, don't despair. Tarnishing is a natural reaction and pretty much impossible to stop altogether, so it's a good thing there are a number of ways to remove it. One important thing to keep in mind is to work on getting rid of it ASAP, before it gets too hard to remove, or even causes pitting and damage to the surface of the jewelry.
First things first -- sometimes silver jewelry is tarnished on purpose -- chemically oxidized -- to bring out pattern. Be sure, if this is the case with your jewelry, that you remove any tarnish carefully enough that you leave the oxidation on. Try going a very conservative route and wash the jewelry with warm water and a bit of dishwashing soap.
One popular way to remove tarnish is to use a silver dip. These can be found in most drug stores, usually near the nail polish. They are simple to use and very effective. You just dip the jewelry, usually for only a matter of seconds, then rinse and you're good to go. I do keep this in my studio, but it isn't my preferred method to remove tarnish. I have found that jewelry treated in this fashion tends to tarnish again much more rapidly. So, be sparing with these. They are quite useful though, if the piece is intricate and there are lots of hidey holes for the tarnish. This is not a recommended method if your jewelry has been chemically oxidized.Also best avoided if your jewelry has stones in place.
Another method is the tried and true silver polishing cloth. There are a number of these available and you can probably pick one up at your friendly neighborhood jeweler's. I use Sunshine cloths. They would fall under "abrasive" methods if we had to categorize them, but they are very mildly abrasive. These are good to use if you have jewelry that has been oxidized to bring out the pattern, as you can use the cloth carefully just to hit the silver highlights and not to get into the recesses of the pattern. Also, you can obviously work around any stones that are in place.
If you don't have any silver dip or Sunshine cloths, I bet you have the ingredients for an effective tarnish remover right in your pantry -- aluminum foil, baking soda and water. Use a disposable aluminum pan or line a baking dish with aluminum foil. Add baking soda and then boiling, or at least very hot, water. Dip your pieces in this and watch as the aluminum foil attracts the tarnish away. You may have to dip a piece more than once, or leave it in for a bit, but this method works .Again, not best to use with stones in place.
If you are a person who makes your own jewelry and are fortunate enough to own a tumbler, this is a great way to remove tarnish. I often just toss my dirty jewelry into my tumbler for a half hour or so, and it comes out clean and incredibly shiny. Some stones can even go into a tumbler, depending on their Mohs hardness value, but that's for another time.
Don't use toothpaste or dry baking soda as a scrub, as they are too abrasive for most jewelry. If you have jewelry with a matte finish, you might try a softened piece of 600 grit Scotchbrite pad, which can be found in the furniture finishing section of your local hardware store.
If all else fails, you may have to take the piece to a professional jeweler for cleaning.
Welcome to my blog! In this space, I hope to keep you up on what's happening at KDD and also to give you information that might be helpful to you -- in caring for your own jewelry, vintage jewelry, maybe even making your own jewelry. If you'd like to see specific topics, let me know in comments, and I'll do my best to follow through.
Today, I wanted to talk a little about a question I am often asked: how do I keep my silver jewelry from tarnishing?
So, sterling jewelry is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper (that's why there is that little tiny .925 stamped on your jewelry.) It's the copper that causes the tarnish and it is simply a chemical reaction to the air and to moisture. You can't stop it altogether, but you can do a lot to protect your jewelry just the same.
Think of your silver jewelry in much the same way we are told to treat pearls: avoid moisture, chemicals from perfumes, body lotions and hairsprays. Make your silver jewelry the last thing you put on, after using all of these, and the first thing you take off.
When you take the jewelry off, wipe it with a soft cloth before putting it away. Store it in a sealed bag with an anti-tarnish strip or tab from 3M -- you can get these from your jeweler. You can also use chalk in the drawer or box where you keep your jewelry, or even those little "do not eat" silica gel pouches you find in your shoeboxes or vitamin bottles! The idea is, use something that will absorb the humidity before it gets to the surface of your silver.
Feeling fancy? You can buy jewelry boxes or pouches made with anti-tarnish fabric, also great storage options to avoid tarnishing silver.
Also, don't leave your jewelry lying around in humid places, like on the edge of the bathroom sink. Don't wear it in the shower, and try to avoid chlorine which will instantly blacken silver, so hot tubs and swimming pools are out, too. If your home has sulphur water, your challenge is that much more intense.
Of course, the very best way to keep your jewelry from tarnishing? Wear it!
If all your efforts fail, how to clean? That's for next time.