Archive for October, 2011

Copper Washers: A beautiful addition to your Jewelry Designs

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Earrings made with copper washers and copper wire!

Copper washers may seem overly industrial for jewelry, but with a little manipulation, they work great. Ever since we started carrying them a couple of weeks ago, I have been experimenting and the results have been fabulous! And I have only scratched the surfaced. These washers would be great linked as bracelets, soldered together for fabulous bib necklaces or dapped into pretty dome shapes!

Everything you need to create hammered copper links! Washers, steel block, and hammers. Oh and some copper wire can add a nice touch!

I chose to distress the washers in using a steel block and multiple hammers. Then I used a little liver of sulfur and blacken the washers and some steel wool to buff them up. The result is the antiqued hammered links that can be used anywhere you would use any other link.

Cool lines created by a texturizing hammer!

Hammered look created using a ball pen hammer

Look at all the pretty washers! The assortment pack is great because there are several sizes.

In the center are the earrings seen above before being antiqued!

A little liver of sulfur will easily blacken your washers since they are solid copper. These are all the same washers as above!

Earrings made with copper washers and cubic zirconia briolettes! I love the new cubic zirconia briolettes that we are carrying!

Hammered copper washers with a little chain :)

Two sizes of hammered washers, slightly sanded to show off the deep hammering

Well I hope you have enjoyed my washer blog! Please feel free to ask me any questions about the washers, tools or beads that I used. :0



Suggested supplies for the designs in this blog:

Solid copper jump rings are nice, because it’s great to say that nothing in your design is plated. But they are only available in a few sizes, so I love to have the assorted copper jump rings on hand too, because then I always have the right size.


Boo-tiful Halloween Costumes

Monday, October 31st, 2011

I must admit, I’m a tiny bit disappointed – while many of our employees dressed up in great costumes for Halloween, none of them used beads! But still, the winning costumes are worth sharing. There was a three-way tie for 2nd place:

Polly took her inspiration from Dia de los Muertos

Terri is the grandma no one wants to mess with: Grambo!

Melissa just had a rough time getting to work today ... wait, that's her costume! Fortunately she wasn't actually hit by a car!

Gretchen was the craziest cat woman ever! Bags full of kitties and leopard spot eye makeup really put her costume over the top.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Make Your Own Designer Jewelry: Multi-Chain Necklace!

Monday, October 24th, 2011

As a jewelry maker, I am constantly checking out the jewelry at department stores and boutiques for inspiration and current trends. When winter and fall comes, so does big statement jewelry. The kind of pieces that you wear to Christmas parties with your favorite black cocktail dress. This year, I have noticed that there are a lot of multiple chain necklaces and necklaces that end with ribbons and I just couldn’t resist the urge to create one myself. If you have a lot of leftover chain pieces this is a great way to use them up.

Items needed for this project:

  • Chain, lots of chain. You can use all the same color and style or mix and match. I have seen ones that are in all antique brass, but with several different styles. I have also seen ones with all one style, but all different platings. For my necklace I used a variety of gunmetal and silver-plated chains, plus one strand of rhinestone chain for a little extra “wow” factor. Get creative with it!
  • Large connector rings. I used 32mm gunmetal rings.
  • Satin Ribbon. Get this at the craft store. I like the nicer ribbon that you buy by the yard.
  • Hypo Fabric Cement or fabric glue, to keep the ends of the ribbon from fraying.
  • Jump rings, for the chain that has links which too small to open and close around the connector ring.
  • Chain nose pliers, flat nose pliers, semi-flush cutter and scissors.


How to create it:

Step 1: Select your chain


Step 2: Pick out coordinating connector rings and ribbon

Step 3: Attach your first piece of chain to one of the connector rings. This will be the shortest length of chain. I found that 6 inches, give or take a little, was a good starting length.

If using rhinestone chain, pinch on an end piece to the rhinestone using your chain nose pliers.

Use a jump ring if using rhinestone chain.

Step 4: Add each additional chain and attach, one at a time to the first connector link. Cut each additional chain between 1/2 inch and an inch longer than the previous chain.


This is how the necklace will look after the chain is attached on both sides.

Step 6: Tie a peice of ribbon onto each connector link. Use about 16 inches on each side. Trim the short ends of the ribbon close with scissors.


Step 7: All you have to do to finish the necklace is finish the edges of the ribbon with a little anti-fray fabric glue or hypo fabric cement. I also added a few large hole metal beads for some extra pizzazze!

Showing off my new necklace in the Rings & Things Showroom :)

Well there you have it! If I had to rate this project on a scales of difficulty I would give it intermediate. It was a little tricky to keep my chains straight. If you do re-create a necklace like this with lots o’ chain, remember to be careful when storing it. I recommend hanging it so as to not get all the chain tangled.

~~ Tiffany

Check out these other great tutorials on our blog:

Fall color trends: new crystal color combinations for jewelry designers

Friday, October 14th, 2011

The fashion world is always on fast forward. While we are living in fall 2011 (at least last time I checked!), designers are already planning for fall 2012. Hence the debut of SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS fall/winter 2012/13 crystal colors – *antique pink and denim blue – in fall 2011!

love, love, love

I am actually pretty fond of the 2011 fall Pantone color scheme and its nature-driven hues. “Designers take a painterly approach to fall 2011 by artfully combining bright colors with staple neutrals, reminiscent of how an artist would construct a stunning work of art,” states Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute.

So, although *antique pink and denim blue were designed with next year’s trends in mind, I’m happy to see they coordinate beautifully with the current fashion color trends. Because, really, who can wait until next year to start making jewelry with pretty new crystal colors?

Both *antique pink (a clear crystal with colored coating) and denim blue have a pleasing depth and smokiness that allows them to either blend or pop with a huge variety of color palettes. They also work with both warm and cool hues. And, both look amazing with Vintaj natural brass and antiqued brass plate filigrees!

Behold the rainbow:

*Antique pink with warm browns

Denim blue with more warm browns

Yummy warm browns (Pantone calls them “Nougat” and “Coffee Liqeur”) are big this fall. Both of the above pictures include crystal/golden shadow, light colorado topaz, light topaz and sand opal. The denim blue crystal mix also has light smoked topaz, mocca and smokey quartz.

Red, red and denim blue

Berry-licious antique pink and with reds

Garnet and siam crystals are featured in both pictures. The denim mix also features dark red coral, light siam and padparadscha (aka Pantone’s “Honeysuckle”). The berry mix uses burgundy and ruby crystals with dusky *antique pink.

A spectrum of pinks and purples

I lined up the “tone on tone” color blend option from SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS to help show where *antique pink falls in their color palette. From left to right, we’ve got rose, light rose, vintage rose, *antique pink, cyclamen opal and light amethyst crystal beads. As you can see, *antique pink has a hint of purple and a smidge of grey to tone down its rosiness.

Denim blue with purple crystals

Denim blue with purple crystals

Denim blue looks great with purple crystals, such as violet, light violet, cyclamen opal, Provence lavender and tanzanite. It’s more vivid, but still pairs nicely with Pantone’s “Quarry” blue and purple-y gray “Orchid Hush.”

Pink pops next to denim blue crystals

Pink pops next to denim blue crystals

Or, go for more contrast by pairing denim blue with light rose, rose, vintage rose, light amethyst, Indian pink and fuchsia.

Sunshine-y bright mix of crystals

Sunshine-y bright mix of crystals

Denim blue with jonquil, light topaz, lime and sunflower (or in Pantone terms, “Bamboo”) crystals is like a burst of sunshine – especially in comparison with the dreary gray sky outside my window!

cool grey and denim blue crystal beads

Cool grays with denim blue

Yet even gray looks less dreary with a shot of blue. Above is a neutral mix of *moonlight, *silver shade, light grey opal, greige and *satin beads.

antique pink crystal beads with gray

Antique pink crystal heart with cool grays

Meanwhile, *antique pink with those same grays and pure jet black makes a decidedly romantic and elegant statement. When the greige crystal color debuted a few seasons ago, I honestly thought Swarovski made up the word by combining “grey” and beige” (hey, they have a lot of power!). I’ve since learned greige is an actual word that describes raw, undyed fabric. I was perhaps a bit underwhelmed by greige (and sand opal and light grey opal, to be honest) when they were unveiled, but I’ve since come to appreciate how well they compliment other more vibrant colors.

Whether you are a slave to fashion or completely oblivious to its fickle ways, it is always nice to have more color options to choose from. These are just a few of the many, many color options using SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS. Hope you’ve enjoyed the crystal eye candy – next week I’ll share some color combos featuring the new petrol crystal pearls on our Facebook page! ~ Cindy

Three Great Ways to Incorporate Swirls into your Jewelry

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011


Swirly Curly Jewelry!

For as long as I can remember I have loved making swirly curly-Q designs. In middle school, my favorite pee-chee folders were covered in them. Well I’ve grown out of my doodling habits, mostly, but I still love those swirls! Unwilling to give up on swirls altogether I have found three great ways to incorporate them into your jewelry with the help of a little wire. Adding a simple curly-Q can take any design idea from ordinary to whimsical! You can make your swirls free form using pliers or try this great Spiral Maker to eliminate marks from pliers!

All of these projects can be made using your basic tools and 18, 20 or 22 gauge wire. The tools here are a from a fabulous mini tool set that I keep at my desk. The set is only $12 and includes these three tools plus tweezers and a mini bead board!

1. Swirly Head Pins

The first and easiest way to add some swirl power to your jewelry is to make curly-ended headpins. Making your own headpins out of wire is easy and gives your jewelry an even more hand-crafted look. I recommend using either 18, 20 or 22 gauge wire.  (18 being the thickest, 22 being the thinnest) Keep in mind the size of beads you plan to use. If your beads have smaller holes, you will need thinner wire.

Use your Round Nose Pliers to Start the Loop

Use your chain nose pliers to create the swirl

Make a right angle with your chain nose pliers so that your head pins have nice perpendicular look at the end.

Completed head pins ready for use!

Finished jewelry made using swirly head pins. Both earrings have been antiqued to emphasize the swirl design.

2.  Swirly Post Earrings

Making your own swirly post earring findings is actually quite simple.  I personally like to use 18 gauge for sturdiness, though standard earring wires are not usually that thick.  Most earring findings are no thicker than a 20 gauge. It’s up to you, though know if you do use 18 gauge, you will probably have to use a rubber earring back as most metal nuts won’t fit that thick of wire.

Use a piece of wire about 2 inches long. Make a 90 degree bend in the wire at about 3/4 inch

Make a loop where you bent the wire.

Using your chain nose pliers, build the swirl like you did with the head pins.

You can see the earring being formed. The post that goes into your ear is coming from the center of the loop.

Make a loop to complete your Swirly Earring Post. Also, make sure the ends of the post are smooth. You can do this with either a metal file or a cup bur.


To finish, I used Liver of Sulfer to give the earring wires a patina, then buffed them with steel wool. To prevent your ears from turning green seal the post with a little Renaissance Wax or clear nail polish.


Two completed earring designs using Swirly Earring Post!

3. Egyptian Coils!

Now that you have mastered head pins and earring post, you can move onto the ultimate swirly design, the coveted Egyptian Coil! This design feature multiple swirls and looks so pretty at the top of dangly earrings or as an entire bracelet.

Start by making two-sided swirls. Make sure that they are all the same size.

Bend the wire in the center using your round nose pliers.

Use your chain nose pliers to flatten links like so. Don't be alarmed, it is supposed to look kind of phallic at this point.

Use your round nose pliers to bend the loop back. You now have links!

Connect links to make a chain

View of links from the back

Finished Earrings using Egyptian Coils

Well I hope you enjoyed my swirly blog post and are now inspired to try out some of these ideas. For all of these earrings I used bare copper wire and then oxidized the wire to antique it. I then buffed the designs with steel wool to expose the bright copper. I highly recommend doing this with your swirl designs because is really makes those curly-Q’s stand out.

~~Tiffany in the Showroom

Feel free to ask me any questions about how I did anything or what materials I used for all the designs.



Beads for a Cause!

Monday, October 10th, 2011
cause ribbon beaded bracelet

Breast Cancer Awareness bracelet by Laurae

It seems like world turns pink during October in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness month: pink lids on yogurt, special cupcakes at bakeries, even pink-ribbon windshield wiper blades! Awareness jewelry has become popular with many causes (autism and diabetes for example) but, probably because it is pink, breast cancer awareness jewelry is by far the most prevalent. Since big-hole Pandora-style beads continue to be extremely popular, Laurae suggested we create a pink-ribbon version and here it is!

During the month of October, Rings & Things is donating $1 from the sale of each pink ribbon Calypso bead to Susan G. Komen for the Cure because awareness is great – but what we really want is a cure for cancer!

Upcycle cans and tins into jewelry!

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Metal shears, a metal tin and the completed metal pin!

We all know recycling is a good thing, but upcycling is even better! Aluminum and tin cans can easily be turned into jewelry, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  1. Metal edges can be wicked sharp. Make clean cuts and file off any jagged points. Quality jewelry metal shears make this much easier! Most tin snips and other shears from hardware stores are difficult to grip.
  2. Aluminum cans and most tins are too thin to be durable enough for jewelry by themselves. We suggest layering the metal you cut from recycled items. Three ways of doing this are riveting, gluing and/or coating the metal pieces.

Here are a few examples of how to turn packaging into lovely adornments:


Polly's tin pins and pendants

Polly sandwiched her recycled metal elements between brass fairy doors, disks and gears. She riveted the pieces together using Crafted Findings’ riveting tool. Learn more about the riveting tool system here.

soda pop can necklace

The holes are lined with large eyelets from a scrapbooking supplier.

For this Soda Pop necklace, we cut disks out of cans and then glued them to brass disks to make them thicker. A circle template makes this task easier. Get more info in our design gallery.

soda can bobby pins

Layers of flowers punched from soda cans form these fun bobby pins.

Instructions for how Toni coated these pins with liquid polymer clay to make them safe to wear are in our design gallery.

Start looking at soda cans and other product packaging in a different way! I for one always check the bottle cap design when deciding on a beverage.

How I wish every city had an Upcycle Exchange Market. It is a brilliant idea for reusing and redistributing crafty supplies and recyclables! Until then, ask your friends and family to help collect interesting materials for you. You might just upcycle something wonderful!

Fun soldered pendant ideas

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Hello bloglandia! Awhile back I posted a mini tutorial on using Simply Swank soldering supplies, and today thought I’d show you some of the new Swank stuff we’ve made.

For this pendant, Mollie soldered two round glass tiles together. The finished piece is nice and thick, which adds a bit of a vintage feel to it.

It is, of course, reversible.

For this necklace Mollie used the more typical
microscope slide glass. I like how she clasps the velvet ribbon in the front.

Inside the bottle is moss from one of my camping trips. A friend of mine filled these bottles with tiny agates from the seashore.

I tried soldering a cap onto a glass bottle. I cut a copper disk with my disk cutter to fit the top, punched a hole for a head pin, then wrapped it with copper foil tape. Next time I will use wider foil, and perhaps add some rhinestone chain. I saw some lovely examples with rhinestone chain in a recent issue of Belle Armoire magazine and have been dying to make some.

Lastly – and sadly since I don’t have photos of it! – Jaci has used the Simply Swank soldering kit to solder “bezels” around large gemstone beads. I’m not even sure what to call this technique. All of my Google image searches are coming up empty, but I bet you have seen what I’m talking about. Have you tried it? Send us a picture! ~Cindy