Create a Journal Necklace with Piddix Images

July 24th, 2014
Flora & Fauna Journal Style Necklace made with Rings & Things brass "fairy door" blanks and Piddix Collage Sheets.

Flora & Fauna Journal Style Necklace made with Rings & Things brass “fairy door” blanks and Piddix Collage Sheets.


Creating a journal necklace is fun and easy using Rings & Things precut brass “fairy door” blanks and Piddix collage sheets.  Just follow these steps:


A list of supplies for making a metalworked journal style necklace.

Step 1: Gather the tools and supplies necessary to make a journal necklace. Select your favorites from the many styles of “fairy-door” blanks and Piddix collage sheets


You will need the following supplies:

1 set  Brass Sandwich Blanks (Fairy Doors)  (I used #44-721-11: square-with-circle window brass blank)

1 each  Metal-mesh choker  (I used #52-293-16-6: antiqued-brass-plated metal-mesh choker)

5-10 images  Piddix collage sheet  (I used #83-231-01-006: square flora & fauna)

6 each  Crystal Jams™ Assortment  (I used #05-328-04-916: Somebody’s Heartbreak)

1 each  ball-end head pin  (I used #37-091-15-6: 1.5″antiqued-brass-plated ball-end head pin)

2 each  5mm round jump rings  (I used #37-136-6: 5mm round antiqued brass jump rings)

2 each  8mm round jump rings  (I used #37-167-6: 8mm round antiqued brass jump rings)

Oxidizer & Antiquing Solution  ( I used Novacan black patina)


And the following tools:

800-1000 grit sanding sponges

polishing cloth

Extra Fine Point Sharpie®

1.25mm round hole punch pliers

Four-piece glitter tool set

Two-hole metal punch

Fine-tip craft scissors

cotton swab


How to punch holes in metal with a metal hole punch.

Step 2: Measure and mark the hole position on the brass blanks. The apex of the hole should be positioned 1/8″  from the sides on the top two corners. Punch holes at the marked positions with the two-hole metal punch. Make sure the hole placement on the front and back blanks line up.


How to patina a brass jewelry blank with Novacan Black Patina.

Step 3: Prepare the brass blanks for patina by gently sanding with a 3M ultra-fine polishing sponge. Use a cotton swab to apply Novacan black patina to the front and back side of both blanks. Polish the brass blanks to attain the desired shade of patina.


How to make a journal necklace with Piddix image sheets.

Step 4: Use fine-point craft scissors to cut out image “pages”. The pages should measure slightly smaller than the size of the brass cover blanks. Five to ten pages per journal works best.


How to make a journal necklace with Piddix image sheets, punching holes.

Step 5: Mark and punch holes in the paper image pages. Use the metal blanks as a guide to mark hole position on the upper two corners of each page. Punch holes with a 1.25mm hole punch.


How to wire wrap the loop of a Swarovski crystal bicone dangle charm.

Step 6. Make six crystal dangle charms, follow the instructions for making wire-wrapped loops in the Rings & Things Jewelry Basics 101.


How to assemble a journal necklace.

Step 7: Assemble the journal pendant by stringing the brass blank back, image pages, and brass blank front onto jump rings. Add three crystal dangle charms on each jump ring and then close the jump rings. String the pendant onto a metal mesh choker. Your necklace is ready to wear.


If you enjoy making the “Flora & Fauna” journal-style necklace, try these variations:






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Vintaj® & Leather Go So Well Together!

July 16th, 2014

Vintaj Natural Brass findings and leather bracelets go together like butter on bread! You can unite them with rivets, thread, jump rings and more.  Here are two examples highlighting how to combine Vintaj jewelry supplies with leather bracelets.

Leather cuff bracelets together with Vintaj® components.

Leather cuff bracelets together with Vintaj supplies.

With just a few supplies, you can create stylish and unique cuff bracelets, incorporating popular and trendsetting Vintaj Natural Brass findings. For this riveted version, all you need is:

The supplies needed for this easy project are minimal.

The supplies needed for this easy bracelet project are minimal.

1. Colorize the soaring sparrow connector with Patina™ ink. For step-by-step instructions, see our blog post : “Customizing Tim Holtz idea-ology® Word Bands for a Handmade Look”  where Rings & Things Jewelry Designer Mollie Valente shows us how to apply Patina ink.

Colorize the metal with VIntaj® patina

Colorize the metal with VIntaj® patina

2. The ready made loops on the connector are a little small for the 3/16″ rivet. Using the riveting system, pierce the existing loops in the connector so the rivets will fit through.

Use the piercing end of the riveting system to enlarge the holes to 3/16".

Use the piercing end of the riveting system to enlarge the holes to 3/16″.

3. Place the focal piece where you want to rivet it on the leather bracelet, and mark where to make the holes in the leather.

Use an ultra fine tip marker to mark the hole placement.

Use an ultra fine tip marker to mark the hole placement.

4. Use bracelet bending pliers to curve the focal for a better fitting bracelet.

Curve the metal with bending pliers.

Curve the metal with bending pliers.

5. Use the piercing side of the Crafted Findings tool to make holes in the leather, then use the setting side of the same tool to rivet the focal piece to the leather bracelet.

TIP: Include a washer or riveting accent on the back side to keep the rivet secure in the leather.

If you haven’t yet used a Crafted Findings riveting system, check out the video!  

Name of the bracelet.

Soar With Me Cuff Bracelet

Our second example begins with a leather cuff bracelet that I have already added eyelets too. To see how this is done, check out our blog post: “How-to-set-eyelets-in-leather” where I show step-by-step photographs and instructions on this very bracelet.

Start with adding eyelets to a leather bracelet, then add the fun!

Start with adding eyelets to a leather bracelet, then add the fun!

Add some Vintaj Natural Brass charms to the eyelets with brass jump rings.

When you open and close jump rings, twist sideways instead of “ovalling” them. This keeps their shape better, which makes them easier to close all the way. To prevent marks on the ring, use non-serrated flat-nose pliers.

How to open jump rings

Twist ends away from each other. Don’t pull apart sideways.

After adding some Vintaj natural brass bling, you now have a fun and trendy leather cuff bracelet!


Lilac Locks Leather Bracelet


Hopefully this has inspired you to have your own fun combining beautiful Vintaj findings and leather cuff bracelets!


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How to Make an Expandable Wire Bangle Bracelet

July 9th, 2014

I love the charm-adorned “Alex & Ani” style adjustable wire bracelets that have been gaining popularity, and of course wanted to make my own version.  For ease, I chose to fabricate my bracelet from Memory Wire.  Memory Wire is made of durable stainless steel, and comes in the perfect round bracelet shape and the additional wire forming can be easily made with Memory Wire bending pliers.  An added benefit to using Memory Wire is it can be adorned with colorful beads from Toho Seed Bead Cocktail Mixes.  Here are the step-by-step instructions to make my “Happy Octopus” Expandable Wire Bangle Bracelet:



Jewelry making supplies you will need to make an adjustable bangle bracelet.

Step 1: Gather together the supplies you will need to make the “Happy Octopus” Alex and Ani Style Expandable Bangle Bracelet.


You will need these supplies:


And you will need these tools:



How to make an expandable bangle bracelet:  Use the memory-wire bending pliers to form an outward facing loop on one end.

Step 2: Use the memory-wire bending pliers to form an outward-facing loop on one end.


How to make an expandable bangle bracelet with wire and beads.

Step 3: Grasp the loop with flat-nose pliers and make a 90-degree bend.


How to make an expandable bangle bracelet from memory wire and TOHO seed beads

Step 4: String one 3mm round corrugated metal bead on the wire; this bead is sized larger than the end loop and will hold the beads in place. String the TOHO beads randomly or in your desired pattern (approximately 6 inches). End with a second 3mm corrugated metal bead.


Expandable bangle bracelet tutorial made from wire and beads

Step 5: Make a wire-wrapped crystal-pearl charm. Follow the instructions for making wire-wrapped loops in Rings & Things “Jewelry Basics 101″.


How to add charms to a wire bangle bracelet.

Step 6: Add jump rings to each of the charm adornments: use a 6mm jump ring for the crystal heart and 5mm jump rings for the octopus charm and crystal pearl charm. Follow the instructions for opening and closing jump rings in Rings & Things “Jewelry Basics 101″.


How to make an expandable bangle bracelet with charms.

Step 7: Use the heavy-duty cutters to cut the memory wire so it is half-an-inch longer than the beaded portion of the bracelet. String the cut end through the first Memory-wire loop. String the three charms onto the open wire end. Use the memory-wire bending pliers to form an inward-facing loop on the unfinished end, leaving the loop slightly open.


How to make an expandable wire bangle bracelet.

Step 8: Grasp the loop with flat-nose pliers and make a 90-degree bend that faces the opposite direction of the first loop. Link the loop over the bracelet wire and close the loop.


How to open and close an expandable wire bracelet.

Step 9: To open the bracelet, grasp the two 3mm corrugated metal beads and pull the wire to expand the opening. To close the bracelet, gently squeeze the sides.


Expandable Bangle Bracelet Concluding Image

Your finished “Happy Octopus” Alex and Ani Style Expandable Wire Bracelet is ready to enjoy!


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How to make chain maille (from a kit)

May 14th, 2014

Rings & Things has added a whole new line of enameled copper jump rings and clasps from Weave Got Maille, and a handful of Byzantine kits and box chain kits to go with them.

Weave got Maille Bracelet Kits and Jump Rings

Weave got Maille Bracelet Kits and Jump Rings

Melissa and I tested the kits, to produce some quick example pieces for our website, and I have to say, I think the kits are a great way to go for anyone who is new to chain maille, or to a specific weave of maille.


Weave Got Maille kit Chain Maille Bracelets

Weave Got Maille kit Chain Maille Bracelets

I chose to use the Morgana kit, which produces a 3-color byzantine chain maille bracelet. There are enough rings in the kit to make a bracelet up to 8 1/2″ long, but the final length can be shortened easily by stopping at the end of any completed unit.

Morgana Bracelet Kit

Morgana Bracelet Kit

The instructions are the property of the kit maker, so I won’t be listing the step by step instructions here, but the step-by-step sheet included has great close-up pictures and is easy to follow (and once you have made up the kit project, you have the instructions to make as many more as you like, by just purchasing additional jump rings and clasps).

Jump rings from Weave Got Maille kit

Jump rings from Weave Got Maille kit

Here are my thought and hints for weaving chain maille painlessly.

  • Yes, you do need two pair of chain nose pliers. Do not try using a pair of flat nose or a pair of round nose as a substitute. They can both be regular, or bent, or a combination of styles, but you want smooth pliers, because serrated nose pliers will mar the finish on the rings. The smaller the rings that you are using, the more important it is to have pliers with a narrow tip, and ones that are comfortable to hold. My personal choice for comfort and pricing are the full size wubbers pliers. The longer cushioned handle helps prevent hand fatigue and the tips are reasonably narrow. For extremely narrow tips, lindstrom pliers can’t be beat, but they are a definite investment.
Wubbers Chain Nose Pliers

Wubbers Chain Nose Pliers

  • To weave the maille quickly, you will need to pre-open some rings, and pre-close others. Only open the rings as wide as you need to slip them over the appropriate quantity of other rings. If you open the rings too wide, it is harder to close them neatly and tightly. For the pre-closed rings, make the closure as seamless as possible. It is much easier to close the rings neatly at this stage than it is when weaving. An illustration of the correct way to open and close rings is included in the instructions.
Opened and Closed rings from Weave Got Maille Kit

Opened and Closed rings from Weave Got Maille Kit

  • Use a soft surface to work on. The bead mats are ideal, since they allow you to “scoop” up the closed rings without catching on the material, and the rings that you drop (and you will) don’t go very far.
  • When weaving, rest your hands on the surface, or as close as you can comfortably be to the surface. The extra support will help prevent the project from slipping and rings from escaping.

One of the tools in the kit is a large paperclip. Attaching this to the beginning of the project accomplishes two things, it gives you a “handle” to work on the chain while it is short, and it reminds you which end you are working on.

Byzantine Chain first unit

Byzantine Chain first unit

Here is my finished project. You may notice that the design doesn’t quite match the design on the box. This is because I made a mistake on the second unit of the chain, by reversing my “b” and “c” colors. Rather than take it apart and re-do the section, I chose to work with this as a new pattern, and alternated each correct unit with an incorrect one. I kind of like the variation in the design. Sometimes errors allow for new ideas.

Melissa made a box chain bracelet, and then, having learned the pattern, designed this pair of Night in Emerald City box chain earrings, which also use Rings & Thing exclusive Swarovski ELEMENTS Karma Chameleon Crystal Jam and
Cubic Zirconia pendants

Night in Emerald City earrings

Night in Emerald City earrings

Are you a chain maille maker? Let me know if you have any great hints to share.


~ Rita ~

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Weave Got Maille Rings & Things Postcard Contest

May 12th, 2014

Just send a postcard to

Attn: Nate

Rings & Things

304 E 2nd Ave

Spokane, WA 99202-1402

and you will be entered to win one of two prize packs which includes a Weave Got Maille bracelet making kit and two pairs of EURO TOOL pliers. Two random cards will be drawn. Make sure that your return address is the one you want your prize shipped to. Postcards must be postmarked by June 16th, 2014 to win. I will be posting some of the postcards I receive on our Facebook Page. ~Nate

Click Image to Enlarge

Weave Got Maille Postcard Contest

Weave Got Maille Postcard Contest

This is one of the bracelet design kits you could win by Weave Got Maille.


Frolic Bracelet by Weave Got Maille.





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How to make Embossed Arrow Earrings with the Vintaj BIGkick

May 7th, 2014
Easy to make Embossed Brass Earrings tutorial

“Artemis and Apollo” embossed-brass earrings made with the Vintaj BIGkick machine and Vintaj patina.


The Vintaj BIGkick embossing machine makes it easy and affordable to add detailed patterns to metal.  With dozens of DECOemboss and DECOetch dies to choose from the pattern possibilities seem endless, plus you can finish the embossed blanks with color using Vintaj patina kits.   Follow this free step-by-step jewelry-making tutorial to learn more.


Supplies necessary to make embossed brass arrow earrings with your BIGkick machine.

Step 1: Gather together the supplies you will need to make Vintaj brass arrow earrings.


You will need the following supplies:


Free jewelry-making tutorial from To emboss the Vintaj arrow blanks, place them in the DECOembossing die.

Step 2: Place the Vintaj arrow blank in the embossing die; carefully position the blank to create your patterned design of choice. Close the DecoEmboss folder, being careful to hold the blank in its preferred position.


A free jewelry-making tutorial from on making jewelry using the Vintaj BIGkick DECOembossing machine.

Step 3: Layer the DecoEmboss folder in the BIGkick tool in this order: platform, clear acrylic sheet, folder (this side down), and clear acrylic sheet. Turn the handle to feed the layers through the BIGkick tool.


Jewelry making tutorial: How to emboss a metal blank with the Vintaj BIGkick tool.

Step 4: Once the DecoEmboss die has run though the BIGkick tool, remove the top acrylic sheet and folder. To remove the embossed blank, open the folder and flex it gently.
Emboss the second arrow blank by repeating steps 2, 3, and 4.


Free jewelry-making tutorial from how to colorize metal with patina.

Step 5: Use a paint brush to apply Vintaj patina to the arrow blanks, mixing colors to obtain desired appearance. Set blanks aside and allow patina to dry.


Free jewelry-making tutorial from how to colorize metal with Vintaj patina.

Step 6: Place the embossed blanks on a rubber block with the patina side up. Use the coarser side of the Vintaj reliefing block to remove patina from the high points of the embossed blank.


A free jewelry-making tutorial from on colorizing metal with patina.

Step 7: Once the patina is removed from the high points, use the finer sides of the reliefing block to polish the brass to a high shine.


How to make Vintaj embossed arrow earrings.

Step 8: Turn the ear wire loop 90 degrees, open the loop and add the arrow blank. Cut the chain into two pieces staggering the length slightly. Add each piece to the ear wire loop and close the loop. Use jump rings to attach a bead to the end of each chain length. Repeat with the second ear wire.


Try making a variety of earrings; just follow these steps using the many shapes of blanks, styles of embossing folders, and colors of patina.   And don’t forget to visit the Rings & Things Design Gallery for further inspiration:


How to make emossed umbrella earrings with the Vintaj BIGkick.

Under my Umbrella Earring Tutorial



Into the Forest Earrings Tutorial



Fern Dangle Earrings Tutorial



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How can you tell if gemstone beads are genuine or imitation?

April 28th, 2014

We recently received this email asking whether gemstone beads (especially from China) are fake, and it’s a great opportunity to address not only her question, but related questions that we frequently get over the phone, in our Showroom, and at our traveling Bead Shows.


I recently visited my first bead show with you and it was great! I found a lot that I was looking for. I look forward to the next one.

I have recently come across some articles that say gemstones exported from China are fakes or contaminated. As a large distributor, do you test the products or suppliers before you re sell the items? If so, what are your findings? In general, do you think there is much truth to the speculation about gemstones and semi precious stones exported from China being fake or contaminated? Thank you for your help.  -Lauren


Russ’ reply:

This is a great question. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to describe how we deal with misinformation and misleading names in the bead industry. We’ve struggled with this for years ever since I learned from a rockhound that most black onyx started out as chalcedony treated with sugar water and then heated.

The simple answer is yes, there is a lot of misrepresentation and misleading information about beads from China and elsewhere.
No, it’s not just beads from China that are enhanced or misrepresented. It’s not that simple. Enhancing or misrepresenting gemstones is not limited to Chinese suppliers.

Most buyers do not realize that gem enhancement is ancient, easily 2500 years old. Black onyx enhancement is reported in the notebooks of Pliny the Elder.

Some examples of treated or commonly misrepresented stones:

Black onyx is treated with sugar and "carmelized" with heat.

Black onyx is treated with sugar and “carmelized” with heat.

Red carnelian is treated with acid in which iron has been dissolved and then heated.

Red carnelian is treated with acid in which iron has been dissolved and then heated.

Most blue sapphires are heat-treated yellow sapphires, often by the miners.

Manmade Hematite Beads and Pendants

Most hematite beads are a manmade sintered iron oxide product, leading to names like Hematine, Hemalyke and hemalike.

All the "fruity quartz" names from a few years back are merely pretty glass.

All the “fruity quartz” names from a few years back are merely pretty glass.

"Opalite" is not a laser treated quartz. It's a pretty glass with an opalescent quality.

Opalite” is not a laser treated quartz. It’s a pretty glass with an opalescent quality, similar to milky opal glass crystal beads.

Turquoise dyed magnesite beads

Magnesite is a neutral stone that takes dyes and treatments very well.

Most beads sold as “Chalk turquoise”, and too many beads on the market as “turquoise” or “stabilized turquoise” are really dyed magnesite.

Broken (and cut) magnesite nuggets showing both natural and dyed versions.

Broken/cut magnesite nuggets showing natural and dyed versions. (Click image for close-up.)

Turquoise Beads

Most turquoise beads on the market are stabilized turquoise, hardened with resins. (This enhancement is usually revealed, but confusion exists between stabilized turquoise and dyed magnesite.)

We are not gemologists at Rings & Things. We don’t have lab facilities or an X Ray Def machine to test everything, but we do use tried-and-true simple tests when we’re unsure about a batch of beads. When we receive unusually bright beads, or lovely even-colored beads strung on cord the exact same color, we put them in a bin of water for a few hours (or even weeks) to test if they are colorfast. We break occasional beads to see what color and/or texture is inside. We send out samples from metal suppliers for destructive assay to verify silver content and lack of lead or cadmium content. There is no equivalent testing facility for most gemstones sold as beads. The GIA (Gemological Institute of America) does a great job testing precious stones but they are not much help for inexpensive stone beads.

We break occasional beads to see what color and/or texture is inside.

We break occasional beads to see what color and/or texture is inside. (Click image for close-up.)

We ask a lot of questions from our suppliers. We research on the internet and ask others in the gem and bead industry. We track new stones names on the gem forums (particularly

We make mistakes, but when we discover we’ve used the wrong description or name we quickly change to the correct one and admit our error.

Editor’s note: One example is Thunder Agate:

Thunder Agate beads, mined near Thunder Bay, Ontario, and cut in China.

Thunder Agate beads, mined near Thunder Bay, Ontario, and cut in China.

Our first batch of Thunder Agate was sold to us as Lake Superior Agate (the official gemstone of the state of Minnesota), but a customer in Minnesota told us “…it would be very hard to get any large Lake Superiors and the colors are not those of our area”. So we looked closer, and questioned the vendor, who said the rough is from the Thunder Bay area of Ontario (which is close, but not quite the same as the official stone). So we immediately re-tagged our beads, and sent a corrected email.

Part of the problem with beads from China is language and culture. Chinese names are often descriptive rather than technically mineralogical. The characters for turquoise in Chinese mean “Green tree stone.” Anything that looks like “Green tree stone” might be called turquoise.

chinese characters for turquoise stone

The characters for turquoise in Chinese mean “Green tree stone.” 

Jade is very important in China but the word “Yu” for jade is used for many different stones that are used the way jade is used in China. Here is a quote that Barbara in wrote during her visit to Beijing Geological Museum:

 ‘Jade’ in China describes all polycrystalline and cryptocrystalline mineral aggregates and a few non-crystalline materials that are suitable for carving and making into jewellery. The characteristics are beauty, colour, moderate hardness, tough and fine texture, and as well as nephrite and jadeite includes opal, serpentine, quartz, turquoise, lapis lazuli, malachite, dushun yu, marble, natural glass, rhodocrosite, sodalite, and rhodonite.

You see the problem this causes? In the West, only jadeite and nephrite are really jade.

I agree that many stone beads coming from China are sold with inaccurate names or descriptions.

  • Some misrepresentation is intentional because the fake will sell better if the buyer thinks is is a more expensive stone.
  • Some is misunderstanding the level of mineralogical detail or accuracy we in the West want.
  • Some is that the importer does not ask enough questions of the cutter or Chinese exporter and passes on inaccurate names.
  • Some is mislabeling by the Chinese exporter because they do not understand the English words.
  • Some is simply lack of knowledge about stones and not caring to find out what they are selling.

For example, a Chinese seller understands that dyed magnesite is not real turquoise and that “stabilized” means the stone is enhanced. This leads to a dealer with 2 piles of blue beads, one labeled “Stabilized Turquoise” and the other called “Natural Turquoise.” The stabilized pile was really blue dyed magnesite. The “natural” was real turquoise hardened with clear resin. Natural to us means that nothing has been done to enhance the stone. “Natural” to that dealer meant that it started out as real turquoise.

On Etsy and on Chinese sites I see blue dyed magnesite sold as dyed howlite. They tried to be accurate (and knew it wasn’t turquoise) but are using the wrong stone name.

Examples of Natural and Dyed Howlite

Examples of Natural and Dyed Howlite.  Shown: Untreated white howlite donut, surface-dyed howlite donut, and strand of dyed howlite beads represented by the seller as “natural turquoise.” (I paid $75 for this strand in the 70′s. It’s part of Rings & Things’ collection of fake turquoise. We learn from mistakes. ~Russ)

A lot of stones can be dyed or enhanced with stronger colors. Lately we’ve seen many common stones with intense colors added to them. Stones this intense should almost always be labeled as “dyed” or “enhanced”.

Bright Dyed / Enhanced Agate beads

Bright Dyed / Enhanced Candy Jade and Agate beads.

We try to accurately label enhanced and dyed stones. From our catalog:

Some stones are simply dyed, which is not always colorfast. One way to avoid getting caught with stones that “run” when they are worn, is to look at the cord or plastic line the beads are strung on. If the cord is stained with blotches the same color as the beads, then beware. We avoid stones that look like they will “run”, so our altered beads are generally enhanced with various trade secrets such as the centuries-old methods for coloring black onyx and carnelian, or dyes that only come off when exposed to acetone or acid.

We label gemstone beads in our catalog, online store, and traveling bead shows with the following symbols and terms:
      + enhanced,
      * manmade, and
      ~ descriptive name.
There isn’t room on the tags for explanatory paragraphs, so our free online Gemstone Beads Index has more information about each stone (where it is mined, and how to care for it, as well as common enhancements or other important information).

+ Enhancements can include:

Dye/stain/acid to change the stone’s color or make natural color more pronounced or uniform.
Heat treatment to produce an effect such as crackling or color change.
Irradiation (harmless to the wearer) to create a new color.
Plastic/resin/wax to harden the exterior, making it more durable.

~ Descriptive Name

The names for these beads are meant to describe what they look like, rather than identify what they are made of. These are generally accepted, common terms including “new jade” (a serpentine) and “African turquoise” (a jasper). They are genuine, natural gemstones that resemble more-expensive stones, and make excellent substitutes.

* Manmade

You’ll find that many online sellers, and nearly all of the “big box” stores don’t clearly label manmade gemstones. Goldstone, for example, has been made in Venice since the 17th century, but few end consumers are made aware this is a fancy glass rather than a gemstone grown by nature.

Stones carved from “block” should be called manmade, but many sellers call them “stabilized” or “reconstituted”, or don’t question them at all. Genuine malachite has become rare, very expensive, and nearly impossible to find as beads. Our manmade malachite is a nice imitation carved from block.

Large pile of manmade imitation turquoise block at a Chinese Materials seller visited by Russ Nobbs in 1996.

Large pile of manmade imitation turquoise block at a Chinese Materials seller visited by Russ Nobbs in 1996. (Click image for close-up.)

I’ve collected many pictures of fake and misrepresented turquoise on my Pinterest page to help educate buyers:

What can you do to avoid buying misnamed and misrepresented beads? Buy from dealers you trust and who can tell you about the material. Ask questions when you shop. Ask detailed questions. If you are uncomfortable with the answers or the prices, don’t buy. Do some of your own research with our free online Gemstone Beads Index or other sites and lapidary books.

I hope this answered most of your questions. I appreciate your business and your questions.

Russ Nobbs, Founder & Director – Spokane, WA – USA



Additional questions can be posted at our Facebook page, or using the “Add a response” link below.

Hand pick favorite strands at our 1-Day Bead Shows

Hand pick gemstone strands
at Rings & Things Bead Shows!

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How to Make a Textured Copper Ear Cuff

April 21st, 2014

Ear cuffs have been all the rage in the fashion world this past year, from free-form wire-wrapped ear vines to ornate over the ear styles.

This tutorial shows you how to make a simple metal ear cuff in copper.  This simple design wraps around the outer cartilage of the ear and is a popular style for men.   It can be textured and colored as desired.

Make your own DIY copper ear cuffs

DIY Copper Ear Cuffs


Choose your Metal

This simple style ear cuff can be made from most any metal.  24-gauge copper or brass strips are easy to cut and manipulate.  This tutorial uses 0.25″ wide strips of copper sheet.  If you choose, you can use wider strips and cut the metal to your desired width. Or if you prefer a bit thicker metal, you can use 20-gauge sheet. Just remember,  this style needs to fit comfortably around the cartilage of one’s ear.

With a variety of patterns and metals to choose from, artisan patterned wire can also be an option for a DIY (do-it-yourself) ear cuff.  The patterned wire comes in several gauges.  If you use a heavier gauge wire, the ear cuff may not be adjustable.


Ear Cuff made with patterned wire

Patterned Wire Ear Cuff


First, Gather your Supplies

DIY Ear Cuff Supplies

Supplies for Creating Metal Ear Cuffs

Supplies Needed:


Measure and Mark the Cuff Length:

Measure and Mark the Metal Strip

Measure and Mark the Metal Strip

Measure and mark the metal strip.   27.5mm (or roughly 1.25″) is the average length for cuffs that fits on the (normal) middle part of the ear. The length can range from 25mm to 30mm.

Mark with a permanent marking pen on the film which covers the metal strip. You can alternately mark directly on the metal. Just keep some rubbing alcohol handy to wipe away the line if you make a mistake.

Cut the Metal:

Cut the Metal Strip with Shears

Cut the Metal Strip with Shears

Depending on the gauge, hand shears (#69-230 or #69-409) work well for cutting the metal strips.  A bench shear (#69-334) works great if cutting multiple pieces or cutting metal  sheet to a custom width.

 Bench Shear

EURO TOOL® Bench Shear


File the Edges Smooth:

File the Metal Edges Smooth

File the Metal Edges Smooth

Use a flat file (#69-252-01-4) to smooth the edges and slightly round the corners of the cut metal strip.


Texture the Metal:

Texture the Metal Strip with a Hammer

Texture the Metal Strip with a Hammer

Use a texturing hammer or the pein side of a chasing hammer to create a pattern on the metal piece. Hammer around the edges of the metal piece. If needed, file the edges again.


Textured Metal Strips

Textured Metal Strips


Shape the Ear Cuff:

Shape the metal piece around the 10mm barrel of the small Wrap n’ Tap pliers (#69-262-S). The 24-gauge copper bends easily around the barrel.

Use Wrap 'n' Tap pliers to shape the ear cuff

Shape with Wrap ‘n’ Tap Pliers


Form Ear Cuff around the 10mm barrel of the wrap n tap pliers

Forming the Ear Cuff


Color The Ear Cuff:

If desired, patina the copper ear cuff using Liver of Sulfur Gel (#86-322) or Novacan Black Patina (#86-310).


Shiny and Oxidized Ear Cuffs

Shiny and Oxidized Ear Cuffs

Using Vintaj Patinas is another option to add color to these DIY ear cuffs.  Use a paintbrush to apply the Vintaj Patina. Once dry, sand some color off the high points using a Vintaj Metal Reliefing Blockblock (#69-327). Seal with Vintaj Glaze (#86-421-900).


Add color to DIY Ear Cuffs with Vintaj Patinas

DIY Ear Cuffs Colored with Vintaj Patinas

For more DIY ear cuff ideas, see our “Make Fashionable Ear Cuff Jewelry” blog post.


Not into DIY? 

Rings & Things offers a wide variety of plain ear cuffs (including sterling silver, gold and silver plated) ready to embellish.

And if you are looking for ready-to-wear ear cuffs, we now offer six styles in sterling silver.  As a bonus, most of the ready-to-ear ear cuffs have openings or loops in the pattern, so you can easily add dangles or leave them as-is.

Spider Web Sterling Ear Cuff

Sterling Ear Cuff (#30-475-05)


Snake Shaped Sterling Ear Cuff

Sterling Ear Cuff (#30-475-06)


How to Put on an Ear Cuff

If you’ve never worn an ear cuff and don’t know how to wear one, here’s how.

Slide the opening of the ear cuff over the cartilage.

Slide the Ear Cuff Down

The ear cuff sits on the cartilage, and wraps around the edge of the ear.

Have fun creating and wearing these ear accessories!

Amy M



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