My Etsy site is up and running

It’s a big news day…my Etsy “shop” is up and running! Now you can add Gretchen Smith Jewelry to your collection no matter where you are!

Go check it out… http://www.etsy.com/shop/GretchenSmithJewelry

What is Etsy you ask? Etsy is an online marketplace for handcrafted and vintage items. In addition to handcrafted jewelers like me, there are sewers, knitters, painters, and a wide variety of vintage items ranging from decorative items to clothing and shoes. You purchase the items through the sellers “shops.” My Etsy “shop” is set up to accept PayPal as the only form of payment and this is for your financial security as well as my own. You will need to sign up for an Etsy account and a PayPal account to purchase from my Etsy store. If you have any questions about either of these, please ask me!

While you’re on Etsy, don’t forget to check out all of the other talented artisans!

If you are more comfortable seeing the items in person, I will continue to be at local (local to South Central Pennsylvania) craft shows. Also, if you live in the Hershey, Lebanon, or Lancaster areas, we might be able to arrange a home show/party in your home and you can purchase jewelry there.

While I’m posting about my other sites…please join me on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/GretchenSmithJewelry .

Thanks for checking out my other sites and thank you for reading here today!

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Aquamarine – The Birthstone of March

March-born ladies, it’s your turn! It’s March so let’s explore this month’s birthstone, aquamarine.

Aquamarine is a light blue gemstone whose name originates from the Italian word for seawater, “acqua di mare.” It is a member of the beryl family of gemstones, which also gives us emeralds.

Aquamarine can range in color from pale blue to aqua green and in its natural state can have some yellowish tones to it. For jewelry use, aquamarine is often heated to remove the yellow tones and enhance the blue color. If it is overheated, it can lose all of its color.  Because of this, care should be taken with jewelry made using aquamarine, especially when the piece is being cleaned or repaired. Aquamarine is a hard stone, but it often has inclusions (other minerals inside the stone) which make it weaker and more vulnerable to cracking if exposed to sunlight or sharp blows. Higher quality aquamarine has fewer inclusions than that of lesser quality.

As with many gemstones, there is a good bit of folklore surrounding aquamarine. Greek and Roman sailors carried aquamarine with them because it was believed to ensure safe and prosperous journeys at sea. Even today, aquamarine is often a popular gift for people traveling across the ocean due to the idea that it will keep them safe. On land, it is thought to have a soothing effect on people and will help them through challenges. It is also thought to bring courage and is used as a “good luck” stone.

Today, aquamarine is found in Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Pakistan and Mozambique, and Brazil. The most brilliant blue varieties of the gemstone come from Brazil.

Below you will see photos of two aquamarine pieces I have created and currently have for sale. They are simple pieces, but the color is beautiful and I think the color makes the pieces. They are great for wearing with jeans or dressing up for work or a night on the town.

What are your thoughts on aquamarine? Do you own any aquamarine pieces? Do you own them because they are your birthstone or because you like the color or the piece of jewelry itself?

Thanks for reading!

Baltimore Beads Result #1

Just a quick post to show what I created this weekend with some of the beads I purchased last weekend in Baltimore. As you can see, I’m liking the wire-wrapped beads on chain look right now. I’ve wanted to do this style for awhile and now that I’ve figured it out, I’m hooked! Time to try something new…

First Soldering Experience

I accomplished my first silver soldering projects last night! Perhaps I’m more excited about this than I should be, but this is something I have wanted to do for a long time. My hope is to do more metalworking (silver) and move a little away from the beads and especially the chunky jewelry. Don’t worry…I will still throw in some funky, chunky pieces once in awhile for those who love them. I mean nothing against those styles, but I really love simple elegance.

So, back to soldering. Here is what I started with:

A 12” piece of sterling silver wire (I only have a small piece of it left here), a few jump-rings (the little circles) and some solder, which looks like wire but it’s much softer and melts more quickly and easily than wire.

This is what I ended up with:

They are supposed to be figure-8’s but I have to work on getting the wire to line up exactly. Practice makes perfect, right? The jump-rings are attached to the tops of the smaller figure-8’s to prepare them for earrings.

The interesting thing with soldering silver is it’s done with a torch, not a soldering iron. Silver needs to be heated to a higher temperature than your standard solder (like what you would use for electronics) to get it to melt and a soldering iron doesn’t get hot enough. Needless to say, I was a little afraid of the blue flame on the torch at first.

After adding some parts and pieces, this is what I now have:

The necklace is a leather cord with glass  beads. It’s the simple everyday elegance I am striving for.  Even with the figure-8’s not quite lining up, I really love the style of these pieces and I’m looking forward to doing more soldering. What are your thoughts on primarily metal jewelry? I think it’s really pretty, especially for an everyday look, but it might not be for everyone. Thanks for reading!

Beads + Baltimore = Happy Me

My husband and I traveled to Baltimore yesterday to get away from the normal surroundings and give ourselves a “day-cation.” When we go to the Baltimore area, we look for places off the beaten path, not just Inner Harbor. For today’s trip, I asked my husband to find a bead shop that we could easily get to in Baltimore. It’s not that I couldn’t search for a shop myself, it’s that I would have ended up finding one in a location that was difficult to get to or out of the way (I’m not the best with maps). He came up with a shop called “Beadazzled” (http://www.beadazzled.com) and the photos of the shop looked pretty interesting on their website, so we decided to add it to our list of stops. Luckily, it was worth stopping in! They had an interesting variety of beads and a lot of beads I had never seen before.

I was disappointed by the lack of sterling silver, but their selection of other unique beads made up for it. I am wondering if their lack of silver is a reflection on the differences in style and interest between Baltimore (and possibly cities in general) and little old Lancaster County. They had a lot of natural (wood, bone, horn) beads and glass beads. Around my area, most of the beads are gemstones or if they are glass, they are sparkly crystal types of beads. They also had a lot of brass and copper for their metal selection and around Lancaster County, you see more silver and gold. That’s the fun with bead shops verses ordering on line. You can see the differences in the beads much better in the shops.

I’m starting to find myself appreciating small bead shops more and more because many of them have materials that cannot be found through the online bead retailers. (It also supports local business, which we know I love!) I’ve been doing this long enough that I am starting to see similarities between jewelry makers’ products at craft shows, and I need to do something to stand out. I think the beads I purchased today will definitely stand out (in a positive way!).

Here are the beads I purchased in Baltimore yesterday:

At first I was a little hesitant to purchase these beads because they are glass and I prefer using gemstones. However, my husband encouraged me to get them because they are very eye-catching and different. Every time he gives me an idea for a jewelry piece, it always gets a lot of compliments, so if he thinks these beads look good, I’m going with them! Now, the trick will be to figure out how to make them into something! I love what I do!

Thanks for reading!

I need help!

Did I get your attention? That’s good because I have a problem. I actually come across this problem pretty frequently, but I think this is the worst case so far. Here’s the issue, the longer I am in business making jewelry, the better I get. “Practice makes perfect.” You are wondering how this is a problem, aren’t you? This idea in itself isn’t a problem, but the fact that I am now making pieces I used to dream of making and I’m falling in love with them is a problem. Follow?

Generally, I can make another one for myself if I really want to. Then I can sell one and keep one. It might pose a problem if the piece is made from materials which I might not be able to purchase again. These are true one-of-a-kind pieces, also referred to as “OOAK” on some online sites.

Okay, it’s story time…

Last weekend my husband and I went to York, PA to explore a few stores. Of course we had to stop at my newest favorite bead shop ArtFX and Beadz (http://www.artfxandbeads.com) . I had some sterling silver chain I wanted to use with a few stones spaced out on it like large links, but I needed to find stones. I also wanted something colorful for spring. Thankfully, I had my resident color expert (a.k.a. my husband) with me and he picked out some pretty aqua colored stones. He also thought the cut of the stones would make the piece really stand out. They are “faceted nuggets”, which means they are irregularly shaped, but they have smooth cut sides on them. So I combined these stones and the chain, and this is the result:

 

I think he made a great choice! I love the color and the cut of these stones. I love it so much I don’t want to give it up. I can always buy more wire and chain, but I can only hope they have more of these stones at the store. Now that I think about it, I think they had some short strands of them (I bought these individually). Hmmm… I might need to go back to ArtFX and Beadz soon. I think these would look really pretty in a bracelet, too.

Do you create things? Have you ever wanted to keep something you made for someone else, if so, what was it? Did you make another one for yourself?

Thanks for reading!