Friday, December 29, 2017

Finding the Parts of the Whole

I'd like to talk with you a little bit about findings - parts of the whole. Have you ever wondered why the jewelry-making hardware that connect elements together is bunched into a group called 'findings'?

In the days when people who made jewelry had to rely on their own ingenuity to make all the components for each of their creations, a project required its maker to hammer out pieces of precious metal or draw out twisted stretches for wire. Being unsure of themselves, as well as inexperienced in their art, they would often use more metal than actually needed. These leftovers were saved to become part of another piece. The next time the artist designed a piece that needed a closing or a connection, he would rummage through his collection of scraps to find exactly what he needed. These collections of scraps and pieces eventually came to be known as findings.

Today, pre-made findings are a huge part of the jewelry making supply business. Lobster claws, magnetic clasps, toggles and s-hooks are the clasps and fasteners that hold your pieces together and make them easier to take on and off.

  • Eye pins - great for making custom links to form chains: Thread beads and a charm on an eye pin, leaving about a quarter inch to form a loop at the open end with round nose pliers. Repeat the process until you have enough to link together and form a necklace the length you want.

  • Head pins - great for forming charms or pendants: Thread beads, leaving about a quarter inch to form a loop at the open end, again using round nose pliers. Add your charm to a chain as a pendant or to an eye pin link, like the one described in the previous paragraph, or, duplicate your pendant for earring embellishments.

  • Jump Rings - the basic connectors in jewelry making. Use them to link eye and head pin loops to each other or to chain, join different styles of chain and add extenders, endings and clasps.

NOTE when using jump rings: They connect and hold everything together, right? So you want them to remain strong. Do not pull a ring apart from side to side, causing a weak and distorted, sometimes cracked portion of the ring. Instead, grasp each side and gently pull one side toward you and push the other away from you and open it just enough to add it to your project. Then reverse that motion to close it.

  • Endings - the finishing touches to your project. Crimp beads and tubes close a strand of beads. Cones are used for multi-strand projects and hide the knots. End crimps and crimp coils are used with a dot of glue for the ends of leather or ribbon cording for a place to add a closure.

This list, of course, does not cover all findings available, by any means. For more information about all kinds of findings available, go to  and browse our pages. Don't forget to familiarize yourself with the many types of findings and the correct tools to use with them and, as you get more sure of your efforts and more creative with your designs, the findings will themselves add to the beauty of your creations. Maybe you'll even create some of your own.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Jewelry in a Man's World

Many of the traditional lines between men’s and women’s fashion are becoming blurred, and it is no surprise that the same holds true for jewelry. "Jewelers’ Keystone Circular" proposes that this is true  especially for younger people, for whom some of the basic gender constructs no longer apply.

Many of today's men would agree that they want to avoid being over adorned. Jewelry for men, as with women, should be an extension of a man’s style and self-image, likely worn on a daily basis. That having been said, men can readily stack and pair necklaces and bracelets, combining chain, leather, and beaded designs in a variety of combinations of simple to bold or colors and textures.

And yet there still seems to be some basic criteria for successful men’s jewelry designs:

Simple Designs – Just a strand of leather, possibly textured, with an interesting clasp may be the perfect combination for a winning bracelet design. The Plain and Simple Bracelet  is a perfect sample of this concept. However, there are several different ways to branch out from this point:

  • This Bolted Anchor Flat Leather Bracelet employs a double wrap, or strand design. It  is still quite simple but the double strand adds a bit more interest. 

  • Add a focal component. The Gray Granite Bracelet uses very simple PVC cord with sophisticated ceramic accents.

  • Add one or more coordinating strands of leather for a bit more interest. Use several different types and colors of flat and round leather in a basic cuff design, such as with the Montana Code Bracelet . Or, use a mix of leathers for a more dimensional look as with the Cayden’s Cog Bracelet

  • Beaded bracelets are also on trend for men. The use of natural materials, such as wood, are a great starting point for designing men’s bracelets. The Eye of the Leopard Bracelet,  uses Robles wood and beautifully crafted ceramic beads for a winning combination. Just remember to keep it simple!

Bold and Substantial Designs - For a more venturous look, select larger leather sizes and clasps. The Regaliz leather cords are perfect in this regard, used alone or with simple embellishments, such as with the Black Elegance Bracelet

 Leathers can also be combined to create a substantial look as with the Greek Tryst Bracelet. Our Rustic Cuff Bracelet makes use of a larger focal to achieve a bold look.

Color - Although there are exceptions, most men’s jewelry is created using neutrals or subtle and muted colors and basic metal components. Designs can be a single color like our Lacuna Jet Bracelet or a blend of colors and textures as in the Brass Wrap Bracelet.

Necklaces - We've basically been talking about bracelets regarding men's accessories, but many men like to wear something around their neck as well. Whether to make a statement, show an affiliation or accessorize a personal style, necklace designs can be as simple as a strand of substantial chain, using, as an example, our Oval Link Chain, which comes in black and gunmetal as well as more traditional finishes; or a strand of leather or suede with a simple focal, such as in the very attractively designed Palmwood Necklace. There are as many possibilities as there are personalities. Experiment with more intricate or flamboyant designs, depending on the guy who will wear it.

Unisex Jewelry - Undoubtedly, many men’s jewelry designs will appeal to both sexes. This is not surprising, since men’s designs are based on some pretty basic, universal principles. This is also a result of some “blurring” of the lines between genders, as we discussed above. Of course, some designs can be modified with respect to size and color to create both men’s and women’s versions of the same design. The Missing Pieces Bracelets  and the Chic and Sleek Bracelets are great examples of this concept.

If you are a man who makes his own, or someone who creates jewelry for a man, don't be afraid to try new and different techniques and ways to wear your finished pieces. We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this subject.