A Little Sapphire for September

Can you believe we are almost to the end of September? I hear people asking where the summer went and I’m just wondering where the past month went! If the next three months go as quickly as the previous three, I better get some shopping done now or I’ll miss Christmas!
Before the month escapes us, let’s look at September’s birthstone.

Beautiful dark blue sapphires are the birthstone for the month of September. However, did you know sapphires naturally appear in colors other than blue? Let’s explore sapphires for a little bit and see what else we can learn.

Sapphires come from the mineral corundum, which is the same mineral rubies come from. The primary difference between two is their color. Rubies are red corundum while sapphires come in just about every other color in the rainbow. Sapphires can even be shades of gray or black and they can also be colorless.

As with rubies, sapphires are considered both hard and tough; however, it’s still good to be careful with them in case they have small fractures which could break under pressure. Heat can also affect the color and/or clarity of the stone.

Sapphires are considered one of the more rare stones; however, they can be found in several places throughout the world. The most region most famous for sapphires is the Kashmir region, which is located between Pakistan and India. The sapphires which come from here are sometimes called “Kashmir sapphires.” They are known for their vivid blue color. Very few sapphires come from this region today; most of them were mined out about 100 years ago. Sapphires are also found in Burma/Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Africa, Australia, Cambodia, and the United States.

The deep blue color of sapphires has been associated with royalty and romance for centuries. In the Middle Ages it was used by the clergy because they believed the blue color symbolized heaven. It is also known as a stone of love and commitment and it has been claimed that sapphires encourage faithfulness and loyalty.

In ancient times, people consumed sapphires because they believed the stones were a remedy for poison and poisonous bites. It was also thought to cure fevers, colds, and ulcers.

Currently, I do not have any pieces made with sapphires, but I would like to show you two of the different colors of sapphires. The first image is what is traditionally thought of as a sapphire with its deep blue color. The second image is a pink sapphire. This has more of the elements that are found in rubies, but it is not the correct hue to be considered a ruby, so it is still a sapphire.

Both of these images are from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), which is considered the authority when it comes to gemology.
I hope this has been educational for you. It’s fun to see how many people are surprised by the fact that sapphires come in colors other than blue, and they are even more surprised to learn the connection between sapphires and rubies.

Thanks for stopping by!

To Be or Not To Be…Real

Last week I received an e-mail newsletter about the differences between natural, synthetic, and imitation gemstones. I thought this might be an interesting topic to cover, so I decided to do a little more research on it.

Of the three descriptive words above, natural is probably the most easily understood. They come from nature. Easy, right?

Natural gemstones are formed in nature without the aid of humans. They form over long periods of time using a vast array of minerals, elements, and effects from the Earth and their surrounding environments. They can be found miles under ground, in the most remote areas of the world, and even along muddy riverbeds. Often when we find gemstones in nature, we don’t even realize they are what they are immediately. Most gemstones look like your average rock when they are in their rough form. They are dirty, dull, and have rough, uneven edges.

These stones have to be polished and often they are treated before they are used in your jewelry. Many of the stones are stabilized with resin, bleached, dyed, or heated. You can find a list of different types of treatments in a previous blog entry here: Gemstone Treatment Definitions

The other two terms, synthetic and imitation, may sound as if they are the same concept, but they are actually different.

Both terms mean “fake”, but synthetic gemstones are more similar to natural gemstones than imitation gemstones. Synthetic gemstones are created in a laboratory using modern technology to replicate the conditions and elements in the earth which create various gemstones naturally. These stones also take a much shorter time to be created than the natural versions.

Synthetic stones can be cut, colored, and polished to look just like their natural counterparts. The technology has gotten so good, that some experts even have trouble telling the difference without analyzing them under a microscope. One of the biggest differences between natural and synthetic gemstones is the lack of inclusions in the synthetic gemstones. Inclusions are small flaws or imperfections that are found in natural gemstones due to their creation processes. It is like a stone’s fingerprint. If a person is looking for a truly flawless stone, this might be the way to go, but if the difference between “real” verses “fake” is important, this needs to be considered.

To go even further from natural gemstones than synthetic stones, we have imitation gemstones. Imitation gemstones are also referred to as simulated gemstones. They do not have any of the same chemical properties as their natural counterparts like the synthetic stones have. Made of glass, plastic, ceramic or other materials, imitation gemstones are designed to look like natural stones and sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two.

To the untrained eye, it can be very difficult to tell the difference between natural, synthetic, and imitation gemstones. For this reason, it is important to always work with a reputable jeweler when purchasing gemstone jewelry, especially if you are looking for natural gemstones. Do not be afraid to ask if a stone is natural if that is what you are shopping for and the jeweler does not disclose that information or is not clear about it.

I hope this brief summary of the differences between natural, synthetic, and imitation gemstones has been helpful for you. If you have any questions, please let me know!

Thanks for stopping by!

American Silver Origins

Now that I have discovered I can get silver which has been manufactured in the United States, I am curious about where it is mined and the history of silver mining in the U.S.

 

Silver was first discovered in America in 1858 under the area now known as Virginia City, Nevada. This discovery became known as the Comstock Lode, named after Henry Comstock who claimed the mine was on/under his land. After the public learned of the discovery in 1859, prospectors rushed to the area to claim what they could find. As the area was mined, gold was also found, which drew even more people to the area. It is estimated that by 1882, over $300 million worth of metal was mined from this area.

 

In 1873, the United States government demonetized silver, meaning they took away its status as currency/money. By the late 1870s, silver mining in Nevada had greatly decreased. Silver mining did continue, but not at the rate it had been going.

 

Today, Nevada comes in second in silver production after Alaska. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), domestic silver was produced in 35 mines as of 2011 1. This is down one mine from 36 mines in 2006 2. The USGS states, “In 2011, the United Sates produced approximately 1,160 tons of silver with an estimated value at $1.27 billion.” In 2006, the U.S. produced approximately 1,100 tons of silver. In spite of this which appears to be an increase in silver production over the course of five years, I am finding reports that the overall production of U.S. silver production is actually decreasing.

 

There are several other silver producing states besides Alaska and Nevada. Idaho, Montana, and Utah also all produce large amounts of silver. Some other states where silver has been found are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. Please note, silver is no longer mined in some of these locations.

 

Silver demand has increased over the past several years and now it is not only used in jewelry, coins, and silverware, but also in electronics, mirrors, solar cells, and many other applications. This increasing demand, in combination with some other factors, has sent the prices on a rapid incline. In 2001, silver prices were in the range of $4.00 (US) per ounce. Today they are almost $40.00 (US) per ounce.  Luckily, silver recycling is quickly gaining popularity. As a jewelry designer, I am able to save my silver scrap and send it to one of my suppliers who will recycle it. This keeps the material costs down for me and ultimately for you.

 

As a side note, on a global level, Mexico is the world’s largest silver producing country. China and Australia have recently seen an increase in silver production.

 

Hopefully, this has been interesting for you. I definitely learned a few things. There is so much more I could write, but I don’t want to bore you, so I will leave you with photos of my latest creations.

These can be found on my Etsy site here:

 Hammered Diamond-Shaped Necklace

Hammered Diamond-Shaped Earrings

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and I thank you for stopping by!

 

References:

1: U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries, January 2012 (PDF)

2: U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries, January 2007 (PDF)

Certification and Creations

I can’t believe it’s been almost a week since I last wrote! With three upcoming shows, I have been busy making jewelry and trying to get myself prepared for the holiday shopping season! Yes, I know it’s only September, but when you craft you have to give yourself plenty of time to get things made.

 

I have two big items to cover in this note. The first is I have finally completed the Associate Jewelry Professional (AJP) certification I have been working on through the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The GIA is considered to be the authority when it comes to jewelry, gemstones, and precious metals, so having training through them can be quite valuable to someone who is trying to get into the industry.  The certification gives an overall understanding of precious metals, gemstones, diamonds, and the jewelry industry as a whole. It has been a great experience for me and I feel I have learned a lot through these courses. I hope it will continue to pay off as I build my own business.

 

The second item of note is I received some American-made metals last Friday and have put together a few pieces with it. I don’t know if I can express in writing how excited I am about the idea of creating jewelry with all American-made components.

 

These pieces really encompass two concepts that excite me. The first I just mentioned is the concept of creating truly American-made jewelry. The second is my desire to create more all metal, or mostly metal, jewelry. I think these pieces can be stunning and also very practical because they can match almost any outfit. I focus on the simple elegance concept that I love so the pieces can work on just about any woman for any occasion.

 

Have I kept you waiting long enough? I suppose you want to see what all of my excitement is about?  Here they are….

This is a necklace and earring set I created first. I crafted the squares from a larger sheet of sterling silver. The little rings (called jumprings) connecting the squares as well as the earring hooks (called earwires) were created from a larger piece of sterling silver wire. The earwires and jumprings were an interesting learning experience. I always bought my earwires and jumprings, but I found it would be much more cost-effective if I could learn how to make them myself.

This is a pair of earrings I created on a whim. They didn’t turn out quite as I had planned, but I really like the way the turned out. The edges are a little crooked, but that actually gives them a rustic feel instead of looking like they were not made correctly. I think they are perfect for fall outfits of corduroys and long-sleeved t-shirts.

 

If you are interested in any of these items, you can check them out at my Etsy shop here:

 Sterling Silver Hammered Link Earrings

Sterling Silver Hammered Link Necklace

Sterling Silver Hammered Rectangle Earrings

 

I have also listed a few other new items that really encompass the eleganct simplicity concept, so please take some time and look around while you are in the shop.

Also, I noted my upcoming shows at the start of this note. Here’s what is coming up (mark your calendar now!):

Friday & Saturday, October 12 & 13, 2012 – Lititz Artisans’ Porchwalk. 10AM until 5PM. I will be at 26 East Lemon Street, Lititz, PA 17543.

Sunday, October 28, 2012 – Artists’ Alley at the Manheim Railroad Station. 12PM until 5PM. 210 S Charlotte Street, Manheim, PA 17545.

Saturday November 17, 2012 – Holiday Craft Show at Winters Heritage House Museum. 9AM until 4PM. 41-47 E. High St., Elizabethtown PA 17022

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Lititz Artisans’ Porchwalk Show

If you are in the South Central Pennsylvania area, this post is for you!

 

In a little over a month, I will be participating in the craft show I look forward to all year. This show includes some of the best artisans in the Lititz area and is a lot of fun, too.

 

The name of the show is the Lititz Artisans’ Porchwalk. It features juried artisans and craftsmen on display at homes throughout the town of Lititz, PA. This show is not your average craft show because the artisans are spread out all over town. There are about six or seven artisans per location and there are six locations total. I suppose you could walk from one location to the next if you felt up to it, but I would suggest driving to a few of them so you don’t wear yourself out.

 

I wish I could walk around and explore the other properties because it’s fun to see the mix of styles and creativity. There is folk art, pottery, paintings, wood carvings, textiles, hand-blown glass, jewelry and much more. Many of them are not what you typically see at the regular craft shows.

 

Bonus: It’s free! No tickets are required for this craft show.

 

If you have never been to Lititz, I recommend taking a trip the weekend of October 12 and 13. It’s a beautiful town with locally owned shops lining the streets. If you come during this weekend, the weather is usually perfect, not too hot and hot too cold. Just right for exploring town by foot.

 

Here are the details:
What: Lititz Artisans’ Porchwalk

When: Friday and Saturday, October 12 & 13, 2012

Time: 10 AM – 5 PM both days

Where: Throughout the town of Lititz, PA

Website: http://www.moravianmanor.org/artisan.htm

 

Please check the website for exact location addresses.

 

It might seem early, but this show is a great opportunity to find one-of-a-kind holiday gifts and avoid the shopping crowds later.

 

Mark your calendar now! I’m looking forward to seeing you!

 

Dreaming…

I hope you all had a relaxing holiday! I can’t believe we have now passed Labor Day…

 

As I look back over this past summer, I am trying to focus on the things I accomplished and not worry about the things I did not accomplished. That can be a challenge. For those of you who follow me regularly, you know I’m a big fan of learning from events in life. It’s basically the concept of finding something positive in every situation.

 

Something I learned this summer is if you want something badly enough, you can usually accomplish it as long as you are physically able and willing to put a little time, effort, and (possibly) money into it. Oh…and patience. Patience is important.

 

In my business, I have decided to move forward with some things that once seemed like dreams. I was concerned about spending the money, but I believe it will pay off in the long run. I will never know if they will work or not unless I try.

 

I have wanted a white canopy (EZ-UP) for some time now. This is considered a standard for craft shows and is often required for higher-end juried shows. I finally went out and purchased one yesterday. I was going to put it off until this winter or next spring, but my husband reminded me about end-of-season sales and the fact that it will be harder to find a canopy after cookout season is over.

 

Yesterday I also decided to purchase some silver to make the all-silver jewelry I’ve been dreaming about for months. Again, I was concerned about spending the money, but I think the timing was best. I have been watching silver prices very closely for the past few months and I think I’d be investing more money into it if I waited much longer. In July, silver was around $26 per ounce. Last week, it was around $30 per ounce. Yesterday, it was around $32 per ounce. Awhile back it was $40 per ounce and it did come back down, but they don’t think that will happen again for a long time, if ever.

 

Please note, this silver isn’t just any silver. It’s USA-made silver, which goes with another one of my dreams. As I have previously written, I love the idea of USA-made items created with USA-made components. It’s going to be awhile until I get my entire jewelry line to that point, but I have to start somewhere, so why not now?

 

The other dream I started to aim for is the completion of a certification I’m working on. I have been working on achieving my Accredited Jewelry Professional (AJP) certification through the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) for a little over a year now. It’s a 3-course certification and I finally started the third and final course yesterday. While this certification might not pay off for me right away, I think it will pay off in the long run. If nothing else, it is building my understanding of metals, gemstones, and the jewelry industry.

 

Speaking of my jewelry-making dreams, I felt inspired by an image I saw yesterday and I decided to make a pair of earrings based on that inspiration. I can’t remember what the design I saw was, but I made some changes and this is what I ended up with:

What do you think? I love them! These are created with sterling silver and cultured freshwater pearls. They are not listed on Etsy yet, but they should be up soon. I will let you know when I post them!

 

So with a little bit of patience, a little bit of determination, and a little bit of money I have accomplished one of my business dreams and started on two more. As hard as it is for me to remember, if I get knocked down when I’m in the heat of the fight, I must get up, brush off the dirt, and move forward.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Latest and Greatest in Wire

If you follow my blog regularly, you know I’m aiming toward creating more solid metal jewelry for my collection. Part of this incorporates the use of sterling silver wire. I have felt inspired to play with some wire lately and came up with a few pairs of simply elegant earrings. Please excuse me while I show them off…

 

This pair was created after I created a pair just like them on a whim as a gift. After I gave the first pair away, I realized I had not taken a photo of them! I had to make another pair just so I could get a photo…and also because I think they are really pretty! The thin lines lengthen the face and the delicate design goes perfectly with anything and on anyone!

 

If you are interested in this pair of earrings, they can be found here: Sterling Silver Curved Wire Earrings

 

The next pair I created by accident. I was hoping for a completely different design than what I ended up with and I’m glad they worked out the way they did. The initial creation left me with two earrings that did not look similar enough for my liking, so I cut parts off, hammered other parts for texture, bent and curled and the result is as follows:

I wish I could show these in motion. They move with such grace!  Again, the solid silver design allows these earrings to go anywhere.

 

If you are interested in this pair of earrings, they can be found here: Sterling Silver Semi-Circle Earrings

 

This last pair was just for fun. I had an idea and ran with it; luckily, it turned out nicely. At first glance, these earrings are a bit funky, but I think you could really dress them up or wear them for a day at the mall. The sleek silver lines give them a simple elegance with a modern twist.

If you are interested in this pair of earrings, they can be found here: Sterling Silver Zigzag Earrings

It’s funny how you can take something as simple as a single strand of wire and come up with something that has such a “wow” effect. I really enjoyed making these, and I think I’m on the right track as I am moving forward with doing more solid metal designs.
Have you let your imagination run wild lately? Go ahead, release your creativity. It might give you a boost of confidence or least give you a few moments of fun. Just try something new!

Thanks for stopping by!