Pretty Little Things

In my last post I mentioned feeling inspired to make a handbag. Well, sometimes one should stick to what one knows best. Handbag-1, Gretchen-0. I had an idea, but it didn’t come together as planned, so I moved on to earrings instead. I ended up with three pairs!

 

Besides the fact that the bag didn’t come together as expected, I have a home show coming up and I realized I need more jewelry for it. How quickly I turned frustration into motivation. As a side note, stay tuned later in the month for home show coverage.

 

Back to the earrings…I have been working on a goal of using as many of my existing supplies as possible before purchasing more. These earrings are examples of that. I started by digging through what I had and picking out what I wanted to work with. From there I sketched out ideas and moved into the creation process. These are what I came up with…

 

Sterling Silver and Sodalite:

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Last year I created a pair of earrings with this same wire design. I hung a pearl on each earring and they turned out beautifully. Back in January I started to make another pair, but I never got around to adding the pearl, so this weekend it was time to finish them. I was feeling like using some color, so I opted for the blue sodalite beads instead of the pearls. These beads have swirls of different shades of blue and white through them making them almost look like denim. The combination makes them perfect for your favorite jeans and blouse outfit.

 

Sterling Silver and Sponge Coral:

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I made the circles a few weeks ago with the thought that I would make them first and then add to them. I didn’t like the flat circles so I hammered them into a domed shape. At first I was just going to hang the circles on earwires and call them a simple pair of solid silver earrings, but again I was feeling colorful. Some rummaging through my beads resulted in two coral beads, which added just the kick of color I was looking for. Now I keep finding myself looking at these earrings and not wanting to sell them. I suppose I’ll have to make another pair for myself!

 

Solid Sterling Rectangles:

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This last pair of earrings came from scraps in a way. After I cut out the circles in the other pair of earrings, I was left with a skinny rectangle. I decided to cut it in half, and add beads to it (again with the color kick). After I shaped the rectangles and hung them on the earwires, I liked them so much I decided not to add beads to this pair. The solid silver allows them to be perfect for any occasion.

If you are interested in purchasing any of these pairs of earrings, you can find them in my Etsy shop through this links:

Sterling Silver Sodalite Earrings

Sterling Silver Sponge Coral Earrings

Sterling Silver Rectangle Earrings

Now it’s back to the drawing board to see what else I can come up with. I seem to have more beads than I have metal supplies, so this could get difficult soon, or it could get interesting…

 

For now, thanks for stopping by!

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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)