Archive for the ‘Rings & Things Products’ Category

Vintaj® & Leather Go So Well Together!

Wednesday, 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!

leather-vintaj_lilac-bracelet

Lilac Locks Leather Bracelet

 

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

~Val

How to make chain maille (from a kit)

Wednesday, 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 ~

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

Monday, 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.

Hello,

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 mindat.org.)

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 Beadcollector.net 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: http://www.pinterest.com/russnobbs/turquoise-imitations/

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
http://www.rings-things.com – 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!

Lariat Round Up

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

I have been more and more drawn to Lariat style necklaces lately, and seeing lots of them pinned on pinterest.  This inspired me to create several lariat necklace tutorials for the Rings & Things gallery and to look to our other designer’s past contributions to this jewelry style.

What is a lariat necklace? It is an open-ended necklace with no clasp. It is fastened by threading one end of the necklace through the other. Lariat necklaces frequently have beads or tassels at the end, and are typically worn with the ends in front.

The Plumage lariat necklace design is made with Nina Designs peacock feather charms on chain, and accented with  SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS xilion crystal bicones from the Under the Boardwalk crystal jam. It is designed with the chain going through the larger feather charm, and locking the smaller charm through the end, allowing the wearer to adjust the final length.

 

The assymetrical Foliage necklace design is similar.  Clusters of SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS xilion crystal bicones are spaced along the chain, and again the chain goes through one of the charms to lock the second charm in place, however, the spacing of the bead clusters limits the adjustment to the final length that can be done by the wearer.

Tour de Belgium lariat

Tour de Belgium lariat

 The Tour de Belgium long lariat design is designed to be worn doubled.  A large fluted bead locks the charm dangles in place.  Some adjustment to the final length can be made by varying the length of the doubled section of chain.

 

The Giddyup lariat is made on suede lace with SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS.  The ring is tied just off center of the length of leather, and the crystal briolette dangles slip through the ring.  The metal components of this true lariat style necklace are plated, to economize.

 

The Ladylike lariat design is also made with suede lace.  This luxe necklace pairs sterling findings with freshwater pearls and sparkly glass.  While the components are minimal, the design has impact.

 

The Corralled Pearls necklace has no findings, and no metal.  Thin leather cord, usually not strong enough for stringing, can transform into a bold design when many strands are gathered together.  The use of a battery operated bead reamer allows the hole on these freshwater pearls to be made larger for stringing.  Simple overhand knots create the loop (clasp) and also hold the pearls in place.

I hope you like this roundup of lariat designs.  All of the components to make each of these designs are available right here at Rings and Things.  Remember to check our design gallery for a variety of jewelry styles.

~  Rita

Create a Charm Bracelet

Monday, January 13th, 2014

 Charm Bracelet

Moondance, a free DIY bracelet project, using sterling silver, keishi pearls and faceted Swarovski crystal beads was designed by Sondra Barrington of Rings & Things.  This handmade jewelry design features flower, petal and leaf bead caps made of sterling silver as well as center drilled keishi pearls in a beautiful shimmering silvery gray/light blue color. Free instructions for creating this handmade, heirloom quality charm bracelet at www.rings-things.com.

Create a beautiful, heirloom-quality charm bracelet using freshwater keishi pearls, Swarovski faceted crystal beads, and unique sterling silver bead caps,  charms, and findings.

A four-piece jewelry making tool set and basic assembly techniques are all you need to create this stunning bracelet. I recommend using the Chain Stā tool which suspends the bracelet horizontally making it easier to see where you are placing charms.

Create Eight Styles of Charms

For this design, charms were arranged in the following pattern:

  1. Place an Ethereal Pearl Charm every 5 links.
  2. On the 3rd link after Ethereal Pearl, attach  Oopsy Daisy Charm.
  3. On the 4th link after Ethereal Pearl, alternate Falling Leaf & Delicate Sprout Charms.
  4. On the 1st link after Ethereal Pearl, alternate Tender Bloom & Budding Flower Charms.
  5. On the 2nd link after Ethereal Pearl, alternate Cherry Blossom & Fresh Shoot Charms.

Ethereal Pearl Charm

The ethereal pearl charm features  freshwater center-drilled keishi pearl and a sterling silver ball-end head pin (available at www.rings-things.com.)

Create 7 Ethereal Pearl Charms using:
Center-Drilled Freshwater Keishi Pearl
2″ Ball End Head Pins
4mm Round Jump Rings

Oopsy Daisy Charm

The oopsy daisy charm features a Swarovski faceted crystal bead, a sterling silver four leaf bead cap, and a sterling silver ball-end head pin (available at www.rings-things.com.)

Create 6 Oopsy Daisy Charms using:

Falling Leaf Charm

The falling leaf charm features a Swarovski pearl, a sterling silver leaf charm, and a sterling silver ball-end head pin (available at www.rings-things.com.)
Create 3 Falling Leaf Charms using:

Delicate Sprout Charm

 The delicate sprout charm features a Swarovski pearl, a sterling silver flower charm, a sterling silver flower bead cap, and a sterling silver ball-end head pin (available at www.rings-things.com.)

Create 3 Delicate Sprout Charms using:
Sterling Silver Flower Bead Cap
3mm Swarovski Round Crystal Pearl Beads
2″ Sterling Silver Ball End Head Pins
4mm Round Sterling Silver Jump Rings
Sterling Silver Pansy Charms

Create a Custom Personalized Necklace

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Personalized jewelry is very popular, and quite simple to create!   A four-piece jewelry making tool set and basic assembly techniques are all you need to create custom necklaces.

Earth Mother, a custom mother's necklace includes birthstone charms, a butterfly charm and three flowers on a silver charm.  This free DIY custom memory necklace project by Sondra Barrington of www.rings-things.com features sterling silver, swarovski crystal, gemstones and personalized charms.This free DIY custom memory necklace project by Sondra Barrington of www.rings-things.com features sterling silver, swarovski crystal, gemstones and personalized charms.

(Click for larger image)

It is easy to personalize jewelry using birthstone-color gemstones and Swarovski crystal, along with a sterling silver charm or two. Rings & Things sells a huge selection of lightweight budget-friendly sterling charms and necklace chains.

Add-a-dangle using faceted, round, cube and other shaped gemstones!  This free DIY custom memory necklace project by Sondra Barrington of www.rings-things.com features sterling silver, swarovski crystal, gemstones and personalized charms.

Chains are easily adorned with add-a-dangle, or add-a-gemstone charms.  To create these assorted dangles, you just need a selection of small beads from your stash and some sterling ball-end head pins.

Blessed Mother Necklace features gemstone beads and a cube bead as the birthstone charms and a sterling silver fish faith charm. This free DIY custom memory necklace project by Sondra Barrington of www.rings-things.com features sterling silver, swarovski crystal, gemstones and personalized charms.

(Click for larger image)

These colorful  dangles allow you to add several birthstones to a custom piece, or accessorize it according the whimsy of the wearer.  A mixture of natural stones, freshwater pearls and Swarovski crystals is very popular.  Making oversized loops on the dangles makes it easy to slide them onto nearly any chain without adding a jump ring.

Add-a-dangle birthstone charms of Swarovski round crystals! This free DIY custom memory necklace project by Sondra Barrington of www.rings-things.com features sterling silver, swarovski crystal, gemstones and personalized charms.

If you sell custom necklaces, consider displaying the basics in a fun display (along with a few completed samples):

  • A tray of sterling silver charms
  • An assortment of pre-made add-a-gemstone dangles
  • A variety of pre-made add-a-birthstone crystal dangles
  • A few styles of sterling silver necklace chains.
This necklace, Adorable Auntie, includes charms representing each niece and nephew! This free DIY custom memory necklace project by Sondra Barrington of www.rings-things.com features sterling silver, swarovski crystal, gemstones and personalized charms.

(Click for larger image)

This jewelry also makes great gifts and mementos for friends, family and other loved ones.  Have fun making these darling necklaces!

Get Your Margaritas Here

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013
Margarita for drinking

rings-things.com Margarita for drinking

No, not that kind of margarita…

These crystal charm designs are so easy to make!

Grab a tasty beverage and a friend or two and have a good time making margarita trees all evening.

Margarita Tree Variety

A variety of tree styles you can make with SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS from Rings & Things

So… why am I calling them margarita trees?

The “branches” of these sweet tree designs are made with the Swarovski sew-on stone Article 3700, known as the Margarita (or Marguerite).

margarita variety

The margarita crystal is available at Rings & Things in up to 5 sizes, and various tree related colors

The colors in the above picture, clockwise from the top, are emerald, crystal AB, fern green, dark moss green, and Crystal VM.  These tend to be the most popular tree colors, but you can also make trees in Crystal, Peridot, and a variety of non-traditional colors.

So… what do you need to make your own Margarita Trees?

Headpins

Earwires

Margarita crystals in at least 3 sizes (6, 8, and 10mm are the minimum for the “tree” look)

Small beads for the “star”

Round Nose Pliers

Cutters

minimum tree components

Purchase margaritas, “star” beads, headpins, earwires, and tools at rings-things.com

This is the basic tree with the minimum components as shown above.

simple tree earrings from Rings & Things

These trees are made with just the minimum components and are cute and unobtrusive.

If you want a fancier tree, add a few more layers:

cube beads for tree trunks

even bigger sizes of margarita to make a grander tree

chain nose pliers

tasty beverage  :)

larger margarita tree components

These parts from Rings & Things will make a more lush margarita tree design.

To construct your margarita trees, first decide if you want to have a tree trunk.

If so string a 4mm crystal cube #5601 onto your headpin.  I tend to gravitate toward using mocca, light colorado topaz, or crystal bronze shade for the look of wood.

Next decide on the number of layers for your tree.

Add #3700 crystal margaritas in descending size order to your headpin.

And decide how to top your tree.

I usually use a 3mm xilion crystal bicone #5328 in a metallic or bright color.

larger margarita tree stack

This fuller margarita tree style includes two more “branches” and a “trunk”.

Finish this off with a simple or wrapped loop.

larger margarita tree looped

This larger completed margarita tree design is ready to attach to an earwire.

If you are making earrings, repeat the process and then add your earwires.

Margarita trees make fantastic earrings, precious pendants, and adorable additions to a gift wrap.

They can also be constructed for strung jewelry, like the Christmas Tree and Light Necklace.

So,  how do you like your margarita trees?  TraditionalBright and ShinySnow Covered?  or even turned upside down to be an icicle?

finished large margarita tree

Larger Margarita tree earrings with components from rings-things.com

~  Rita

Embellish Jewelry Blanks with Crystal Chatons

Monday, November 11th, 2013

It doesn’t matter if you’re a rhinestone cowgirl or an urban fashionista – dressing up belt buckles and other jewelry blanks with sparkling crystal chatons is just plain fun!

Use the steps below to either recreate the Zen Yin belt buckle by Jan or to embed you own designs in a wide range of jewelry components including bezel cups, bottles caps, and more.

supplies

1. Gather your supplies.

Supplies:

To make the exact belt buckle pictured in this blog, see the “Zen Yin” belt buckle full parts list in our Design Gallery.

tools

A Crystal Katana makes it easy to set chatons in your jewelry clay.

Tip: A jewel setter makes it much easier to set small objects into the clay! While bare fingers can hinder your field of vision and upset other elements of the design, jewel setters provide a wax tip to lightly pick up and place small objects in just the right spot.

plan

2. Plan your layout.

Plan your layout before you unwrap the clay. This allows you to tinker with design options without the clay drying prematurely. This is especially important on large objects like a belt buckle.

Form two equal balls

3. Measure equal amounts of clay.

Wear vinyl or latex gloves to protect your hands.  Measure equal amounts of “A” and “B” types of clay, and form each material into a separate ball. If the clay sticks, apply a thin coat of vegetable oil.

Mix the clay

4. Combine.

Combine the two balls together until they are well blended and uniform in color.

Adding clay to your blank.

5. Press clay into jewelry blank.

Press the clay into your jewelry blank. You can smooth it out by adding a little vegetable oil on top. If it gets too sticky, dust it lightly with baby powder.

Embellishing jewelry clay

6. Place large objects & focals first.

Place larger objects and focal points into your clay first. Tip: To save time, you can leave strung beads on the string, rather than placing them individually in the clay. Trim excess string once the beads are in place.

crystal katana

7. Fill in remaining clay with crystal chatons.

Next, fill in the remaining exposed clay with sparkling crystal chatons. As mentioned above, a jewel setter can make this task quicker and easier. When you are placing your chatons into the clay, be sure not to press or tap them in to deeply. The clay will rise up a little bit around them particularly when it is very wet.

finished_belt_buckle

8. Allow clay to dry and you’re done!

Set aside your design in a safe spot and allow the clay to thoroughly dry, based on the manufacturer’s instructions. EnviroTex Jewelry Clay fully cures in 24 hours to a hard, durable, and shock resistant substance with a smooth, porcelain like surface. It does not shrink as it cures!

Below, check out more fun designs Jan made with EnviroTex Clay and crystal chatons.

donuts

These chunky donut beads are held fast in the crystal clay,
demonstrating how strong EnviroTex clay is!

Homer Simpson wouldn’t be able to resist this whimsical bit of bling! It’s made with donut beads, aurora borealis crystals, and a square bezel-cup pendant blank.

heart key chain

EnviroTex Jewelry Clay is durable enough for heavily-used objects
like key rings. Add heart to designs with heart bezel cups.

Heart-shaped bezel cups add an extra bit of love to jewelry designs. Additional supplies used to make this heart key ring include a beadable key ring blank, a lampwork glass heart bead (reamed to make the hole larger), and a hammered pewter heart charm.

seashore

Go nautical with embedded scallop shell beads and freshwater pearls.

Rectangle bezel-cups provide a great shape for custom pendants with a touch of bling. The design pictured above is adorned with shell beads  and freshwater pearls surrounded by blue zircon and aquamarine crystal chatons.

three-rings

Adorn your hands with bezel cup ring blanks!

Bezel cup ring blanks come in several colors and shapes. Some styles are exclusive to Rings & Things, and all styles are adjustable to fit any ring size. They’re perfect for making blingy costume jewelry.

bear

You don’t have to use crystals.
This polar bear ring has seed beads embedded in the jewelry clay.

Embed seed beads and other objects in the crystal clay to see what other effects you can achieve! This winter-themed ring has a polar bear bead and a “Snow Ball” seed bead mix embedded in the clay. Let your imagination be your guide as you have fun making mosaic jewelry and a whole lot more! :)