How Jewelry became my career

Over the years I have tried my hand at many crafts such as; knitting, crocheting, embroidery   and sewing to name a few.  I would give handmade gifts for Christmas.  My first year as a teacher I finally had the money to purchase gifts.  My family and friends told me they preferred my handcrafted gifts.  It was then I decided to try my hand at handcrafting jewelry.  I started purchasing beads at a small shop and made necklaces and bracelets by stringing beads.  After that I tried making earrings using purchased ear wires, head pins (round wire usually 21 gauge with a flat base) and beads.  Even the simple wire wrap technique of creating a closed loop was difficult.  I continued to practice determined to give jewelry as Christmas gifts.  Well everyone loved their gifts and jewelry became my new craft.  I enjoyed handcrafted jewelry so much and my friends and family all enjoyed their gifts I decided to try selling some pieces.  The search for a place to buy supplies at wholesale prices began.  Luckily I found a warehouse in Providence, Rhode Island that had all the supplies I needed.  From there I started selling my handcrafted pieces to Bridal shops.  I then expanded my business to include gift shops.  One summer day I sold jewelry to a shop in Providence Town, Massachusetts.  The owner gave me a pair of feather earrings I admired.  Then as I walked down the street I saw the same pair of earrings in almost every shop.  My feather earrings lost their appeal.  I knew then I wanted to handcraft unique pieces.  It was shortly after that I found an old pamphlet that described the wire wrap technique of framing. (Please read my blog on wire wrapping for more information.) In continuing my quest for unique jewelry I decided I must handcraft as many components as possible.   I first designed my curved ear wires.  I stopped buying ear wires and headpins and I also use more cabochons then beads.

Vacation Treasure

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Turn a vacation “treasure” into a piece of jewelry.  Want a reminder of a special holiday?  A coin is a nice choice it can be; wire wrapped, glued on to a stone or foreign coins can be drilled. The photo shows a coin from Malawi glued onto a 30mm piece of Amazonite and then handcrafted into a pendant using Sterling Silver wire.   Your coins can become a pendant, earrings, bracelet or ankle bracelet.  Please check out the coin section of my web page.

Other treasures you may use would be a shell or piece of beach coral, please check out the shell section of my web page.  One photo shows small found shells glued on to my mussel shells to create a beautiful pair of earrings.  The ring photo is a found piece of beach coral; I added the pearl and the ring shank made of light weight non-reactive aluminum.

Although I do not tumble rocks there are many stones you find that could be transform into a lovely piece of handmade jewelry.

If you have a “treasure” be sure to contact me so I create a one of kind handcrafted piece of jewelry just for you.  Every time you look it you will remember that special vacation.

Jeanne Smith         305 304 0379             jeanne1158@att.net

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Wire Wrapped Jewelry

DSCF1964I bend wire for a living.  Wire wrapping is one of the oldest techniques for making jewelry.  Examples of wire wrapping techniques date back to thousands of years BC.  The British Museum has pieces of jewelry from the Sumerian Dynasty, found in the cemetery of Ur that contains spiraled wire components.  This jewelry is dated at approximately 2000 BC.  Ancient Roman jewelry, dated approximately 2000 years ago show examples of wire wrapped jewelry.  Wire wrapping techniques are not frequently used for mass produced jewelry because machines can mold jewelry components faster and more cheaply.  Wire wrapping is still in the hands of select craftspeople.  Wire wrapped jewelry can be as simple as a bead threaded on a wire or as complex as wire bailed together to form a setting.  There are pre-made components a craftsperson can purchase such as: ear wires, headpins, jump rings and clasps.  I designed what I believe was the first curved ear wire in 1990 and continue to craft most of my ear wires.  I purchase lobster claw clasps, just think they are the best, but I try to craft everything else.  I feel hand crafted components enhance the design and the uniqueness of my jewelry.  Wire is measured by diameter, which is indicated by gauge numbers; the lower the gauge, the thicker the wire.  I use 26 gauge (almost as thin as hair) to wrap on embellishments and use 21 gauge to form bails.  Wire is available in various shapes such as round, square and patterns.  It is also available in a variety of materials.  I use precious metal wire; Argentium Sterling Silver and 14k gold-filled.  Argentium Sterling Silver is a modern sterling silver alloy which replaces some of the copper with metalloid germanium, which makes it highly tarnish resistant.  Precious metal wire also comes in three hardness’s; dead soft, half-hard and full hard.   I use all three types.

 

Handcrafted, wire wrapped jewelry for the holidays

Good grief I hate thinking of Christmas before Thanksgiving never mind Halloween, but for those of you who want to have a jewelry piece designed and handcrafted now is the time to start thinking.  Custom Jewelry by Jeanne shows you 105 different handcrafted pieces.  You may want a simple design change such as changing the wire from 14k gold filled to Argentium Sterling Silver or the reverse.  I can change all my earrings from pierced to clip-on; I have several different non-pierced earring findings.  On my web page I show the following Swarovski crystals: Alexandrite, Amethyst, Aquamarine, Bermuda Blue, Blue Zircon, Crystal, Emerald, Heliotrope, Sapphire, Vitrail Light and Vitrail Medium, I also have the following Swarovski crystal available: Colorado Topaz, Jet, Peridot, Rose, Ruby and Volcano.  I have not shown all the different shapes of crystals I can design with.  For example I also have pear shape Amethyst to craft both earrings and pendants, round Blue Zircon and Sapphire to create earrings and pendants.  In the gemstone category some stones vary greatly such as Fancy Jaspers and Druzys, while Unakite, Fluorite, Lapis Nevada, Rhodochrosite, Ruby Fuchsite and Wooden Opal have less variation no two stones are the same.  I would be happy to send youimagines of any stone you would like to see.  There are only 5 earhugger and earhugger with drop shown on Custom Jewelry by Jeanne.   I can handcraft the earhugger in the following Swarovski crystals: Amethyst, Aquamarine, Blue Zircon, Crystal, Emerald, Fuchsia, Light Amethyst, Light Rose, Rose, Ruby and Sapphire. The gemstones that I create earhuggers with are as follows:  Azurite-Malachite, Black Onyx, Coral, Fancy Jasper, Fluorite, Fresh Water Pearl, Garnet, Goldstone, Hematite, Lapis Nevada, Leopard Skin Jasper, Malachite, Mother of Pearl, Rose Quartz and Unakite.  On Custom Jewelry by Jeanne you can view some different styles of earrings I handcraft; all these styles can be created with many different stones.  I hope this gives you something to think about.

Something about my handcrafted Swarovski Crystal Jewelry

I thought I would share some info about Swarovski crystals.  Swarovski crystals are the only crystals I have used since I started handcrafting jewelry in 1990, yes they are more expensive but they are worth it.  The name Swarovski has been linked to precision cut crystals for more than 113 years. Daniel Swarovski (October 24, 1862 – January 23, 1956) was born Daniel Swartz in northern Bohemia (now the Czech Republic).   Swarovski father owned a small glass factory during his apprenticeship Swarovski became a skilled glass cutter.  In 1862 he patented an electric cutting machine, teamed with two financier (Armand Kosman and Franz Weis) and established a crystal cutting factory in Wattens, Tyrol, Austria to take advantage of local hydroelectricity.  Today a crystal themed Museum, “Swarovski Kristallwelten” (Crystal Worlds) sits on the original Wattens factory site.  Crystal World does not explain how Swarovski crystals are cut ,colored or designed , but has exhibits related to or inspired by crystals.  The entrance to the beautiful Crystal World Centre is a glass covered head with the mouth as a fountain.

The current Swarovski logo is the swan, the logo may have changed but quality has not.  Since I started my wire work jewelry I have been purchasing most of my Swarovski crystals from a shop in Providence, Rhode Island.  When I find a particular color or cut of Swarovski crystal I want to use in my unique designs I usually purchase the entire lot, so I have packages of crystals with the old logo D.S. & Co. trademark. My style of wire wrapped jewelry, called framing is very time consuming, so I want to use quality stones.  These beautiful crystals have inspired several of my creations such as:  Alexandrite Swarovski Crystal Earrings, Emerald Swarovski Crystal Pendant with Twist Bail, Amethyst Swarovski Crystal and CZ Pendant to name a few.

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Regards from Key West, Florida

Jeanne Smith

The Best Thing I Learned This Month (Sept 2013)

My joy of learning came at an early age (kindergarten with Sister Theresa).  As a teacher for twenty years I have tormented nieces, nephews and children of friends with “What did you learn day?” So I decided I should blog the best thing I learned this month.

The iconic buoy on Key West( N 24o 32’ 47”  W 81o 47’ 51”) is not the southernmost point in the continental USA; in fact the southernmost point is not located in Key West, but 9 miles west on Ballast Key (N 24o 31’ 26”   W 81o 57 ‘51 ”).  The island is owned by David W. Wolkowsky and is for sale for $15,800,000.

 

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