Handmade Jewelry by Jennifer Garrison

Useful information, tips, and practical stuff relating to my jewelry designs. Plus a few random thoughts.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Fonts for personalization of my handmade fine silver charms

I have several font choices for personalization of my handmade fine silver charms. Here are some examples of the fonts possible.

To see examples of my handmade charms, click here:
Handmade fine silver charms

The following fonts (pictured below) come in three sizes, so its easy to find the right size for the charm to be personalized...

I also have these fonts available, in a size that will work on most charms:

I have these whimsical letters, usually used in the case when only a single letter is needed:

I also have these "Tiny Carnival Letters" by Hero Arts, for when one or two initials is desired in a whimsical font:

Finally I have these straight forward letters, often used when longer words or phrases are needed:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Swarovski Crystal and Pearl Colors for items in my shops

Sometimes there just aren't enough photo spots available in my Etsy shops to add in the crystal and pearl color options. So I'm putting them here. I have all colors that are not crossed out.  You can click on the pictures to enlarge them so you can read the names. Using the proper name will help ensure you get the color you want.

These apply to all my shops:
Winterberry Jewelry
Cute and Fun
Rowan Olivia Jewelry
Night Owl Jewelry

Crystal Colors

Birthstone colors

Pearl Colors

and finally...

Glass Heart Colors

You can click on any of the pictures to make them bigger.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Runes and Their Meanings

This week I'm going to share two different forms of Runes, and their meanings, to help in the selection of runes for the rune stone necklaces and rings I make and sell. This posting shows both Anglo Saxon Runes and the Elder Futhark runes - I have both sets available to make my hand stamped runic jewelry, some examples of which are shown below.

To purchase my rune jewelry, visit my shop here: Rowan Olivia Jewelry

The first photo below shows Anglo Sazon Runes and their meanings. The second photo shows the English alphabet equivalents of Elder Futhark runes, and the third photo shows the meanings of the Elder Futhark Runes. The Anglo and Elder runes are pretty similar, but the stamps I have are slightly different in their styles - with Anglo being more rounded and Elder being more sharp. I hope these charts help you decide which rune will be best for you.

You can click on the photos to make them larger.

You can find my handmade rune stone necklaces and rings here:
Rune Jewelry by Jennifer Garrison


Elder Futhark Alphabet

Elder Futhark Meanings

Monday, September 26, 2011

How to Care for Your Jewelry

I found this very useful information at Nina Designs, a supplier of beautiful charms and jewelry findings. Its very useful so I thought I would re-post it here.

How should I care for my Sterling Silver jewelry?

Preventing Tarnish on Sterling Silver:
  1. The best way to prevent tarnishing is to store clean, dry sterling silver in a dry airtight container, like a ziplock bag.
  2. An anti-tarnish strip with the silver jewelry in a ziplock bag will help fight against tarnish.
  3. Don’t leave silver jewelry in the bathroom. Humidity can speed up the oxidation process that produces tarnish.
  4. Minimize sterling silver’s contact to chemicals (hairspray, perfume, body lotion, bleach, etc.) and do not wear it the shower, swimming pool or hot tub.
  5. After taking off silver jewelry, clean it with a dry soft cloth before putting it back into an airtight container.
  6. A general rule of thumb for silver jewelry: it should be the last thing put on before leaving the house, and the first thing removed when returning home. This will help minimize your jewelry’s contact with perfumes, lotions, and other chemicals.
Cleaning Tarnished Sterling Silver:
  1. Always remove jewelry before showering or cleaning. A film can form if soap or cleaning agents are not washed off completely. This film will become a magnet for dirt, dust and other contaminants.
  2. Use a silver polishing cloth such as Sunshine Cloth to remove oxidation from silver. Tissues and paper towels can cause scratches. Be sure to use fresh cloths since the dirt and grit left on the cloth from a previous use can leave scrapes and pits. Use light pressure and allow the cloth to do the work for you. If your arm starts to ache, you’re probably pressing too hard.
  3. Commercial cleaners can be purchased at jewelry stores. Always remember to read the instructions on the commercial cleaners first before you attempt cleaning. Most commercial cleaners are very strong and will remove all oxidation! Many silver jewelry designs are purposely oxidized then polished, so that crevices are darkened to bring out the depth and beauty of a piece. Take care not to remove this design element. Do not go overboard!
  4. If you’d like to avoid harsh commercial cleaners and the polishing cloth doesn’t work, wash silver jewelry (without gemstones or pearls) in warm water containing a few drops of mild dish-washing liquid. Immerse the sterling silver in the water and gently hand wash. Use a cotton swab for tight corners. A soft baby toothbrush can be used for more abrasive cleaning when needed. Thoroughly rinse and completely dry the sterling silver before storing, as moisture is one of the factors that contribute to tarnishing!
  5. Never clean your jewelry in bleach! Doing this will literally breakdown your jewelry. Bleach is an oxidizing agent that will react to the metal, causing it to become very brittle. Remember to remove your jewelry before swimming or soaking in a hot tub too!
  6. If the jewelry contains gemstones or pearls, do not submerge the entire piece into water. Instead, use a cotton swab with mild dish-washing liquid to wash only the silver. Again, thoroughly rinse and completely dry the sterling silver before storing, as moisture is one of the factors that contribute to tarnishing! Chlorine bleach, denatured alcohol, turpentine, acetone, and ammonia are all harmful to gemstones and pearls. These chemicals can dull or even pit the surface on softer gemstones, like amber, turquoise, lapis, and more.
  7. Never use toothpaste or other abrasives to clean metal or stones. Some websites recommend toothpaste as a cleaner, but this is not an accepted practice by fine jewelers. The abrasives in toothpaste can damage the surface of the metal. Toothpaste will also abrade the surface on amber, lapis, turquoise and other soft stones.
  8. If this steps do not remove the tarnish on the sterling silver, it may require a visit to a professional jeweler who will either clean the sterling silver with an ultrasonic cleaner, or buff it with stages of abrasive paper.

How should I care for my Gold Plated jewelry?

Metal is particularly reactive in moist or wet conditions. Regions with humid weather like the seacoast and tropical areas are especially challenging for metals as chlorides combine with moisture and perspiration to form a corrosive element.
The best way to maintain the beauty of your gold plate is to take proper care of it from the beginning. Below are some tips on caring for and cleaning your gold plated jewelry.
  1.  Store your gold-plated jewelry in velvet, satin or any soft fabric-lined jewelry box. You can also wrap it in a soft material or place in a re-sealable plastic bag to prevent scratches. Keep all your pieces separate from each other to prevent scratching.
  2. Remove all gold-plated jewelry before showering, applying lotion, make-up, hairspray and perfume. Soap and lotion usually won’t harm gold, but it can cause a film residue to form, making it appear dull and dingy.
  3. Remove all gold-plated jewelry before cleaning. Household cleaners and other harsh chemicals will reduce the luster and can permanently damage your gold-plated jewelry over time.
  4. Remove all gold-plated jewelry before entering swimming pools, hot tubs and before using chlorine bleach or any chlorine-based cleaning solutions. Chlorine can react with metals, particularly at high temperatures. Exposure to chlorine can erode, discolor and permanently damage your gold-plated jewelry.
  5. To clean your gold-plated jewelry at home, you’ll find many commercial cleaners available. Choose a non-abrasive cleaning material as abrasives can remove the layer of gold-plating. Please take care in making sure the product is safe to use on GOLD.
  6. Buffing your gold-plated jewelry with a soft cloth is an effective and inexpensive way to keep your pieces lustrous. If you use a jewelry polishing cloth, make sure the cloth is meant for polishing GOLD. For example, do not use a Sunshine Polishing cloth, which is formulated for silver and contains micro-abrasives, on gold plate. Using a polishing cloth that is meant for another metal besides gold could permanently damage your gold-plated items.
  7. Gold plated jewelry may also get dirty, making it appear dull and dingy. You can remove the dull film with a jewelry cleanser, soap and water, rubbing alcohol, or commercial window cleaner (like Windex), which contains ammonia. Use a soft cloth to carefully clean the item. After cleaning, rinse with lukewarm water and allow it to dry completely.
  8. If the gold has developed spots, a stronger jewelry cleaner can do the job. Be sure that the cleaning product is designed for cleaning gold and follow the manufactures’ instructions. We use Tarn-X to remove reddish brown spots that may develop. If a cleaning substance is too strong it can remove the gold.

How should I care for my Bronze jewelry?

Natural Bronze
Natural Bronze will oxidize over time, turning a darker, more muted color. Some prefer this darker, aged color as it adds character to the metal. To maintain a shiny bright finish for as long a possible, store your bronze away from the air in a ziplock plastic bag, and keep it as dry as possible. Do not wear in the shower or store in a humid environment.
All metals, including bronze, silver and gold, can react to beauty and cleaning products. Avoid contact as much as possible with perfumes, hairsprays, lotions and household cleaners.
To return bronze to its original shine, a paste made of baking soda and lemon can be applied to the item with a soft cloth. Rub until the item is clean. Wash the mixture off using running water, then dry and buff with a clean cloth.
If you like a high shine, you may prefer using a commercial metal cleaner specifically formulated for bronze or brass. Follow the instructions on the cleaning product.
Silver Plated Bronze
Some Silver Plated Bronze has an Anti-Tarnish finish added to it. This will delay the oxidation process. We do not recommend using any kind of polishing compound on the Silver Plated Bronze because the polishing abrasives will remove a layer of silver, which can expose the bronze underneath. Avoid using a Sunshine Polishing Cloth with micro-abrasives that will strip away a layer of sterling silver.
Gold Plated Bronze
Gold Plated Bronze is quite stable.The  plating process uses 98.5% or more of pure 24K gold. Very occasionally, the small percentage of other metals may react to factors in the environment like beauty products (perfume, hairspray), exceptionally humid climates and even medications that are released through the skin.

Gold Plated bronze may also get dirty and look dull or dingy. You can remove the dull film with a jewelry cleanser, soap and water, rubbing alcohol, or commercial window cleaner (like Windex), which contains ammonia. Use a soft cloth to gently rub the item with the cleaning agent. After cleaning, rinse with lukewarm water and allow it to dry completely.

Do not use cleaning abrasives on gold plate as they can remove layers of gold, exposing the bronze underneath. This includes Sunshine Cloth, which is embedded with micro-abrasives.
Gold plated bronze can also be cleaned with a chemical commercial jewelry cleaner specially formulated for gold, such as Tarn-X. Follow manufactures directions.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Jewelry Terminology: Gold, Gold and More Gold

Before I started making jewelry I didn’t know that sterling silver is not the purest type of silver. Nor did I know what the heck 14K vs. 22K gold meant, and why it only went up to 24K. Never even heard of the term vermeil. Knowing these things can help you make better choices about the jewelry (and other items made with precious materials) you buy. So, here is a basic review of things about jewelry that you may or may not know… In this article I’m going to concentrate on gold. Later I’ll cover terminology to do with silver, other metals, and gemstones…

Here are the things you need to know when you buy an item described as gold: 1) What is the karat? 2) Is it solid gold, gold-filled, vermeil, or gold plated? 3) What other metals are mixed with the gold (in case of allergy sufferers this can be important).

1) What is the karat?

You are probably familiar with the terms 14K, 18K, 22K, and 24K, but do you know what they mean? The k stands for karats. A karat is a measurement of the amount of gold found in something. (Don’t confuse karat with carat. The term carat, in the US & Canada, refers to the weight of a gemstone. I’ll get into that in another article).

Anyway, for obscure reasons I won’t delve into, one karat is 1/24th of the total material present. So, 24K gold is PURE gold (well, not entirely pure, but I’m not going to nitpick here). Although it looks great, pure gold is not very good to make jewelry with – it really isn’t very strong and if you had a pure gold ring it would soon bend out of shape and not look very nice. That is why you don’t see much made with solid 24K gold.

In other examples, 18K gold contains 18 parts gold and 6 parts another metal or metals, making it 75% gold, while 14K gold is 14 parts gold and 10 parts other metals, making it 58.3% gold. As a side note, 10K gold is the lowest you can go and still legally call it gold in the United States. In my opinion the karat system is kind of dumb, but its ingrained in the jewelry culture and isn’t going anywhere. Wouldn’t it be easier if someone just said “This item is 75% gold”?

As far as gold goes, I personally like to work with 22K gold because it has a nice rich yellow color (see picture below under vermeil). But everyone has different tastes, and in fact, you can find gold in all sorts of colors. My wedding bands are white gold, because I tend to favor the silvery colors for every day wear, as it goes with more of my other jewelry. So, what makes white gold white, or rose gold rose? Gold itself is always the same color, so the various “colors” of gold are actually made by mixing in other metals.

White gold used to be made by mixing nickel and silver with gold. These days, white gold is usually gold mixed with palladium and silver, or very occasionally platinum. Palladium is a metal very similar to platinum, although it is more expensive. The expense of palladium is why white gold sometimes costs more then “regular” gold. Now here is the kicker. White gold actually has a slightly grey or grey/white color, so it is commonly plated with Rhodium. The use of rhodium plating for white gold jewelry has been standard practice in the jewelry industry for a long time. Rhodium is a very hard, silver-white metal that is a member of the platinum family. White gold is coated in rhodium by method of electroplating. Confused yet? This is why sometimes you will notice your white gold turning slightly yellow – the rhodium plating is wearing off. (I’ll talk about these other weird sounding metals another day).

Rose gold, which is another common color you see, is a combination of gold and copper. The more copper, the redder the hue. A common mixture for rose gold is 75% gold and 25% copper by mass (in other words, the gold is 18 karat, with the other 6 parts of the total 24 parts being copper). For 18 karat rose gold, often 4% silver is added to the 75% gold and 21% copper to give a rose color. Rose gold is an alloy; there is no such thing as "pure rose gold". The highest karat version of rose gold is 22K, also known as crown gold. 14K red gold is often found in the Middle East and contains 41.67% copper. That is a lot of copper…

2) Is it solid gold, gold-filled, vermeil, or gold plated? Or is it gold at all???

The value of the item depends, in part, on the answer to this. I’ll start with the cheapest (plated), and go to the most expensive (solid gold). And then I'll finish off with a warning about the words gold toned...

When you are told something is gold plated, it means that some cheaper metal has been electroplated with a coating of gold. So, what is this “electroplating” which I speak of? Well, it is a way of putting a VERY thin (a few molecules thick) layer of metal (silver, gold, whatnot) on top of another, cheaper metal. A lot of costume jewelry is gold or silver plated, which means that it is only a thin coating of gold or silver over some other metal. Eventually, if you wore this item every day,  that coating will wear off and you will be left with the other, less desirable metal. That is why gold and silver plated jewelry is so much cheaper than solid gold or silver jewelry. In reality, gold and silver plating is just fine for items you will not wear all the time. If it’s a pair of earrings, necklace, or bracelet that you don’t plan on wearing every day, gold plated is probably just dandy, and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper. But there are ways of getting better quality stuff for not too much more… Read on.

Which brings me to the term vermeil. Vermeil is gold-coated sterling silver. However, the sterling silver is not electroplated – the gold is put on in a much thicker layer, making it more durable. In my opinion, vermeil is very beautiful – the gold is usually not too shiny, and instead has a rich satiny finish (that’s one of its top draws for me). And the fact that its over sterling silver means that you are still getting quality materials in the interior of your piece. However there is one caveat. We all know that silver tarnishes (I’ll get into WHY in the next blog)… Well, vermeil can tarnish too, if it is poorly done, harshly treated, scratched, or if the layer becomes worn down with repeated everyday wear. And unlike sterling or fine silver, it’s not that easy to clean up the tarnish without removing the gold. So, much like gold plated, I don’t recommend you buy vermeil for items you will wear every day, day in and day out, especially things like rings that get banged around a lot. Never try to roughly buff vermeil or plated jewelry. You can get away with that on sterling or fine silver but in my opinion with vermeil you are running the risk of scratching away the layer of gold. That said, vermeil shouldn’t tarnish if you treat it nicely, avoid spraying it with perfumes or other chemicals, and you take good care of the piece. (If you live in a humid or salty climate, store your vermeil and silver pieces in some of that tarnish preventing cloth called Pacific Cloth). I have a lot of vermeil jewelry and I find that it holds up great, even in Hawaii. Some darkening of the color may occur over time, but that is often considered part of the charm. Vermeil is still one of my favorite choices for gold, as it kind of reminds me of the color of ancient golden jewelry. Here is a pair of 22k vermeil earrings with amethysts and crystals that I sell in my shop.

The next step up in the quality chain is “gold-filled”… You have probably seen this term in some places. Gold filled is different from gold plated. It does NOT mean that the item is filled with gold. In fact, what it means is that there is a thick layer of gold wrapped around another metal. It is sometimes called “rolled gold”...

Gold-filled jewelry is created by applying a sheet of gold to the jewelry surface. You may see items marked with a code describing how much and what type of gold was used in the layer. Example: a marking of 1/20 14K G.F. means that the piece is at least 1/20th 14K gold by weight. Gold filled items are much more durable than gold plated, and it is unlikely that you will wear the layer of gold off to reveal the metal underneath. So, given the choice between gold-filled and gold-plated, you should always take gold-filled, if you can afford it. Unfortunately, you don’t often see gold-filled items that are 18K or 22K. It’s usually 14K. Personally I wouldn’t bother choosing a gold-filled item over gold plated if it’s less than 14K. I like the color of 22K gold, which is why I often choose vermeil over gold filled in my designs. But both are good!

Now we get to our favorite 70s and 80s dance show: Solid Gold! Oh, wait, we were talking about jewelry. Well, of course, solid gold will have the highest quality and value, but it is really expensive. So don’t bother with solid gold unless you 1) want to be able to melt it down or sell it for its gold value some day, 2) you plan to wear it every day for the rest of your life, 3) you just really like high quality stuff, or 4) you are rich (in which case, send me some money!). And like I said earlier, 24K solid gold really isn’t a good choice for jewelry that you want to survive the wear and tear of every day. Its just too soft.  I don't have any solid gold items in my shop because those are the sorts of things you buy at Tiffany's, not online on Etsy or Artfire...

FINALLY... Is it really gold at all??? If you see the term "gold tone" or "gold toned" then it is most likely not gold at all, but maybe nice shiny brass or even some other sort of alloy.  So, buyer beware. If you want something shiny and gold colored and you don't care if its gold, then this is fine. But if you suffer metal allergies you will want to delve deeper into what exactly the metal is that they used.

3) What other metals are mixed with gold?

This can be problematic if you have allergies to certain metals like nickel, or much more rarely, silver. As you saw above, many different kids of metal can be mixed with gold. In cheaper white gold, nickel can be mixed in, causing problems for some people. The most commonly used metals in gold alloys are silver, copper, and zinc. (I'll discuss metal allergies in another blog, check back again soon).  You may find that some of the cheaper gold plated items you have will tarnish.  This is common in humid climates, or if you have acidic skin or use a lot of products and don't clean your jewelry regularly.  And here you thought gold never tarnished!!

Here are some examples of the various mixtures: 22K yellow gold is 91.67% gold, 5% silver, 2% copper, and 1.33% zinc. 18K White Gold can be: 75% Gold, 25% Platinum or Palladium or it can be 75% Gold, 10% Palladium, 10% Nickel and 5% Zinc. So, if you are allergic to nickel, you might want to avoid white gold unless you can with certainty ascertain that it does not contain nickel…

By the way, purple gold is 80% gold and 20% aluminum. (Who knew?) ;-))

So, that’s about it for today -- this blog is getting too long. We still have a lot to cover about the other precious metals. For example, did you know that you have to polish sterling silver more than fine silver? I’ll explain why, and discuss other interesting things about silver next time.

Monday, April 12, 2010

My 1 hour of "fame"

I have been wishing to make the front page on Etsy for a long time, and thought  I never would. Well, it turns out I did make it on, but I missed it and never knew! So I had my 1 hour of fame on Nov 27, 2009 and was totally oblivious.  :-)

Here is a sneak preview of the Front Page -- my item is the chicken necklace, first picture in the 2nd row, from my shop cuteandfun.etsy.com.   

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hello and welcome to my blog! I'll be creating posts about my latest obsessions and cool things I've discovered here and there. I am a jewelry artist and an ecologist - a weird and interesting mix of careers. I divide my time between the two to keep myself sane. Check out my shops at winterberryjewelry.etsy.com and cuteandfun.etsy.com. The first shop features modern wearable jewelry with nature themes, and the second features cute and fun jewelry and accessories for the cute-obsessed.