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 www.rings-things.com 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 www.rings-things.com 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 www.rings-things.com 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 www.rings-things.com 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 www.rings-things.com 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

 

3-into-the-forest-earrings1

Into the Forest Earrings Tutorial

 

1-fern-dangle-earrings

Fern Dangle Earrings Tutorial

 

 

Make things!

Mollie

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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.

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!

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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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How To Make Tassel Earrings

March 23rd, 2014

Tassel earrings can be made so many different ways:  The tassel itself can be chain, plain or fancy head pins, beading cable with sparkling crystal beads, Wire Lace, almost any type of thread … even spikes!

And then, how to top off the tassel? Bead caps, cone ends and bullet ends are classic tassel tops, but other options are crystal dome beads, fold-over clamps, and simple jump rings.

Here are 12 of my favorite tassel earring tutorials from 9 designers, with tips for each pair, and links to each designer’s complete supply list and tutorial.

Fuchsia Daydream Tassel Earrings

The fuchsia flowers that bloom on countless front porches during warm weather inspired these crystal earrings. Pre-made chain tassels and two layers of crystal dome beads from Swarovski give depth and movement. To create the flower’s top, add crystal beads to a 2″ eye pin in this order: light pink bicone, dark pink bicone, 8mm fuchsia dome bead, 15mm amethyst dome bead, and top with a green bicone. Create a simple loop above the beads.

There is some debate about the best way to create a simple wire loop. For step-by-step illustrations of 3 popular methods, see page 1 of Rings & Things Jewelry Basics 101 PDF.

Add a pre-made chain tassel to the bottom loop, then make tiny dangles to hang from the chain, using ball-end head pins, 4mm crystal bicone beads and simple wire loops.

Tip for working with wire, jump rings, eye pins and head pins: Use non-serrated pliers to avoid marring your wire, and/or add Tool Magic™ to the tips of your pliers.

See: Complete parts and tutorial for Fuchsia Daydream


Shores of Curacao

When is the last time you saw a tutorial for clip-on tassel earrings … with spikes!?!

This spiky pair of earrings uses the same pre-made 8-strand chain tassels as above, with lightweight metallized plastic spikes, and a great clip-on earring finding from TierraCast.

Cut the tassel chains to different (somewhat random) lengths for a feathery look, and use jump rings to attach spikes to the chain ends. This is a great design for clip-on earrings, because the metallic plastic spikes are hollow, making the whole design very lightweight.

How to open and close jump rings

Jump Ring Tip: To 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.

For more jump ring tricks, see page 3 of the Rings & Things basic jewelry-making PDF.

See: Complete parts and tutorial for Shores of Curacao


Bright Particles Tassel Earrings

Cut 10 pieces of chain. 2 each: 2″, 1.75″, 1.25″, 1″ and 0.5″. Add pairs of the molecule crystals back-to-back to 8mm round jump rings, and attach a set to the bottom of each chain. Attach one chain of each length to an 8mm jump ring. Add another jump ring to the top of this. Add a final pair of molecule crystals to the top jump ring.

Tip for cutting equal lengths of chain: Cut one piece of chain to the required length, and run a head pin through an end link. Slide the end link of the spooled chain onto this head pin next to the original chain.
Hold the head pin up horizontally (parallel to the floor) with the two chains dangling straight down. Cut the chain from the spool, the same length as the piece already cut. Repeat for the total number of pieces you need.

How to Cut Equal Chain Lengths

Hold up the pin, and it’s easy to see where to cut!

See: Complete parts and tutorial for Bright Particles


Lilac Tassel Earrings — fit for a Queen!

How to Make Lilac Bliss Tassel Earrings

Lilac Bliss Tassel Earrings
by Mollie Valente

Cut 14 pieces of chain, each 1.5″ long (7 pieces per earring). See tip above, for cutting equal lengths of chain.

For each earring, string the end link of seven chain pieces onto a 5mm jump ring, and connect the jump ring to a 2″ eye pin loop. String the eye pin up through a bullet end (hiding the jump ring), then add a 7mm rhinestone wheel and 8mm crystal briolette bead to the top. Finish by wire-wrapping a loop, adding the chain tassel to the post earring before finishing the loop. Mechanical-grip nuts are long-lasting, secure earring backs.

For step-by-step instructions on making wire-wrapped loops, see page 2 of Rings & Things Jewelry Basics 101 PDF.

See: Complete parts and tutorial for Lilac Bliss


Capped Sea Jellies

Use round-nose pliers to carefully uncurl and slightly straighten the loop on two tassels. Slide the C-Koop flower bead caps over the straightened loops, and reform the simple loops.  Attach a French clip ear wire to each loop.

See: Complete parts and tutorial for Capped Sea Jellies


Nature Flows – Sparkling Crystal Tassel Earrings

To make these sparkling earrings, cut 4 pieces of beading cable, and fold them in half. Hold all 4 strands together and run a large (size 3) crimp bead over the folded strands, creating a loop at the top. Flatten the crimp. String 4mm faceted crystal rondelle beads on each strand, add a small (size 1) crimp to the bottom, and crimp. Slide a floral bullet end over the top, and attach an ear wire to the loop.

Crimp Bead Tip: You can simply flatten crimp beads with a pair of flat-nose pliers, or use a pair of crimping pliers to create a smaller, neatly rounded crimp. 

See: Complete parts and tutorial for Nature Flows


Crystal Bronze Persuasion

Add approximately 9 antiqued Indian brass beads to each 7/8″ head pin. Make a simple loop at the top of each head pin.

Trim the head off a head pin, and make a large loop on one end, to make the beaded head pin dangles easier to attach. Attach 5 beaded head pins to this large loop. Run this pin up through a 15mm Swarovski Crystal Bronze Shade dome bead, and carefully make a simple loop at the top. Attach a Bronze Niobium French hook ear wire to the top loop.

Tip for turning head pins into eye pins:  If you run out of eye pins or wire the right size, you can convert head pins into eye pins. Simply snip the head off, and make loops as needed.

See: more colors and sizes of Swarovski’s crystal dome bead

See: Complete parts for Crystal Bronze Persuasion


Disco Wizard Tassel Earrings

Use rhinestone chain and long “wizard hat” cone ends to create this fun pair of sparkling earrings.

For each earring, cut 3 pieces of rhinestone chain (2 to 2.5″ long), and add a chain end to each piece. Use chain-nose pliers to gently fold the prongs of the chain tab over the edges of the rhinestone.

Add a 4.5mm jump ring to the chain tab of the longest chain, then attach this jump ring and the other 2 pieces of chain to a 3″ eye pin. If the loop on the eye pin is not large enough for the two chain tabs and jump ring, cut off the eye and make a larger loop.

Slide a long cone over the eye pin to cover the chain tabs. Make sure each piece of rhinestone chain faces out. If not, rearrange them on the eye pin.

Make a wrapped loop (page 2 of Jewelry Basics 101) at the top of the cone, and attach a leverback ear wire.

See: Complete parts and tutorial for Disco Wizard


Lilac Crawley Tassel Earrings

Randomly string approximately 1″ of tiny pearl beads, 3mm Crystal Lilac Shadow bicone beads, and size 15 Miyuki seed beads onto 9 1.5″ sterling head pins.  Make a simple loop at the top of each head pin.

Separate these into a group of 4 and a group of 5. Connect the group of 4 with a 4mm jump ring, and connect the group of 5 with a 5mm jump ring.

Trim the head off a head pin. Make a loop at one end, and attach the 2 jump rings to the loop, then string this through a sterling silver Santa Me’ cone, add a crystal bead to the top and make a wrapped loop directly to a textured Marquise ear wire (ear wire loop doesn’t open).

Repeat for other earring.

See: Complete parts and tutorial for Lilac Crawley


Petra Chain Tassel Earrings

Cut 14 pieces of chain in varying lengths from 2″ to 1.25″. Make sure you have two sets of each length. Keep the sets of seven separated.  (See: tip for cutting equal chain lengths.)

Using 1″ ball-end head pins, create wrapped-loop gemstone dangles connected to one end of each chain. For step-by-step instructions on making wire-wrapped loops, see page 2 of Rings & Things Jewelry Basics 101.

Attach the other end of a seven-chain set to the loop of a 1.5″ eye pin.  Pull this eye pin through a bullet end and add a gemstone bead to the top. Make a simple wire loop, and attach to an ear wire.

 See: Complete parts and tutorial for Petra


Modern Tassel Earrings

This great pair of unique tassel earrings from Tiffany uses some non-standard materials and techniques:  beading chain… but no beads. And she topped off the chain with ribbon crimp ends (and a dab of glue).

See the full tutorial, with step-by-step photos.


Swarovski Crystal Tassel Earrings

This lovely pair of tassel earrings is made with Vintaj bead caps, Vintaj bird charms, 16mm shell pearls, a crystal bicone mix in shades of brown, and 1mm chocolate WireLace.

Check out this nifty template Tiffany created, to get just the right look:

I’ll let her explain in the proces in her own words and step-by-step photos.


I hope you enjoyed these designs, and learned useful new jewelry-making techniques!

If you have any questions, please ask.

Rings & Things ships jewelry-making supplies all over the world, and we love to teach you how to make jewelry, whether you make jewelry for sale, or just for fun.

~Polly

 

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How To Make A Wire Bird Nest

February 10th, 2014

It’s February, and snow and ice are covering every surface… which means I’d really like to fly away to someplace warm for the winter.

Wire wrapped bird nest bracelet with freshwater pearl beads and Vintaj bird charms.

Wire wrapped bird nest bracelet with freshwater pearl beads and Vintaj bird charms.

But I don’t have wings, so the next best thing is having Kayla explain how she makes these adorable wire bird’s nests.  She made this sweet bracelet by creating 3 wrapped nests with different shades of freshwater pearls, then added swooping Vintaj bird charms.  (The chain is one of our favorites: antiqued brass ring & connector chain.)

Gather supplies for wire bird nest tutorial.

Gather supplies for the wire bird nests.

These wire nests use only a few supplies:

And a single tool:

Warning: Pearls often have tiny holes, so if you’re following this design using different pearls than the ones we’ve linked, you may need to use 26-gauge wire instead.

Wire Bird Nest Instructions:

Step 1. Feed 3 beads onto the wire. Leave about 3/4" tail.

Step 1.
Feed 3 beads onto the wire. Leave about 3/4″ tail.

Step 2. Begin curving the egg beads into a circle.

Step 2. Begin curving the egg beads into a circle.

Step 3. Take the wire tail and wrap it around the longer end a few times.

Step 3. Take the wire tail and wrap it around the longer end a few times. Use your fingers, not pliers, so you don’t mar the wire or scratch the pearls.

Step 4. Trim excess wire.

Step 4. Trim excess wire. (Remove the short tail.)

Step 5. Wrap the wire 5-6 times around the pearl beads.  (Add more wraps for a thicker nest.) Don't try to be too neat! This style of wire wrapping is supposed to be a bit messy.

Step 5. Wrap the wire 5-6 times around the pearl beads. Don’t try to be too perfect — this style of wire wrapping is supposed to be a bit messy.

For a thicker nest, just wrap a few more times around the beads.

Step 6. Feed the wire all the way down through the nest.

Step 6. Feed the wire all the way down through the nest.

Step 7. Wrap two times around one side of the nest, then go about 1/3 of the way around the nest, feed wire through, wrap two times, go 1/3 of the way around and feed the wire through a final spot.

Step 7. Wrap two times around one side of the nest, then go about 1/3 of the way around the nest, feed wire through, wrap two times, go 1/3 of the way around and feed the wire through a final spot.

Step 8. At the final spot, wrap three times, and trim excess wire.  This is where narrow-tipped flush cutters are nice, because it's best if you can trim the wire toward the inside of the nest so it won't snag.

Step 8. At the final spot, wrap three times, and trim excess wire. This is where narrow-tipped flush cutters are nice, because it’s best if you can trim the wire inside of the nest so it won’t snag.

Finished: perfectly messy springtime wire-wrapped bird's nests!

Finished: Perfectly messy & sweet Springtime wire-wrapped bird’s nests!

The beads in the image above are (clockwise from top):

The wire is 22-gauge gunmetal Artistic Wire.

Want more options? Try these egg-shaped gemstone beads, or other colors of oval freshwater pearl beads. And once you make a few of these in colorful Artistic wire, you might want to branch out into sterling silver wire or gold-filled wire!

Flying the Nest - Bracelet Tutorial (with full parts list for bracelet)

Flying the Nest – Bracelet Tutorial (with full parts list for bracelet)

~ Polly & Kayla

Note: This style of wire-wrapped birds nest “baskets” work great for bracelets, earrings and pendants, because they don’t have a closed-off back — you can see the pretty egg-shaped pearl or gemstone beads from both sides of the charm.

 

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How To Make Personalized Stamped Charms

February 5th, 2014

Hand metal stamping is a quick and easy way to customize and personalize jewelry, cell phones, purse clips, pet tags and more. You can express yourself with a phrase or word, or personalize something with a simple initial. Monogram stamps are ideal for this, though Rings & Things carries a variety of fun font stamps that also work well.

Turn a plain metal blank into something personalized and special.

A simple initial turns a plain metal blank into something personalized and special.

Two sets of initials plus a design stamp can be inspired by lovers or best friends.

Two sets of initials plus a design stamp can be inspired by lovers or best friends.

One way to tell someone they are special is with a custom stamped charm with their astrology sign and birth date.

Let’s make one featuring the new zodiac sign Ophiuchus now available with our new line of zodiac metal stampsWith a little online research, I found that some main stream astrologers have now accepted the new sign of Ophiuchus (the serpent bearer), which has moved the other dates around a bit, but I understand that the new schedule only applies if you were born after 2011. People born on November 29, 2011 would be the very first to have the zodiac sign Ophiuchus.

The required tools can be minimal, but there are many optional supplies for the precision-planners and tool junkies.

Collect your supplies & tools for stamping a custom charm: A metal blank, metal file, tape, metal stamps, a steel block and a brass hammer.

Collect your supplies & tools:  A metal blank, metal file, tape, metal stamps, a steel block and a brass hammer.

Supplies Needed

Basic minimum tools needed

#69-298 Rings & Things Exclusive Metal Stamping tool kit for beginners.

#69-298 Rings & Things Exclusive Metal Stamping tool kit for beginners

1. File any sharp or rough edges on your stamping blank. Even pre-cut blanks can be a little sharp around the edges. When working with softer metals like sterling silver, I like to use a fine grit (320-400) sanding sponge to smooth the edges. The sanding sponge will also be useful later in the patina process.

File any sharp edges.

File any sharp edges.

2. Figure out your spacing and stamp placement. To get a nice curve with the date, I used a Sharpie® pen to make a guideline. Then I drew an approx 6mm box to indicate where the zodiac sign will go. Sharpie comes off easily with a little fingernail polish remover.

Figure out your spacing and stamp placement.

Figure out your spacing and stamp placement.

3. Tape the metal blank to your steel block to keep it from slipping or moving while you stamp.

Tape the metal blank to the steel block.

Tape the metal blank to the steel block.

4. Start stamping. Position the stamp straight up and down making sure it is perfectly level. Using a brass head hammer, strike the stamp with one firm blow. Repeat with each impression you make. To make the date symmetrical, I stamped the middle part (day of the month) first, then the year on the right, and then the month on the left.

Position the stamp straight up and down making sure it is perfectly level.

Position the stamp straight up and down making sure it is perfectly level.

5. Flip the blank over, and use a nylon hammer to flatten any curviness that happened with the stamping.

A nylon hammer used on the reverse side of a stamped blank will flatten it back out.

A nylon hammer used on the reverse side of a stamped blank will flatten it back out without marring the surface of the charm.

6. Use steel wool or super fine sanding sponge #69-257-0003  to buff out blemishes and scratches, as well as removing the marker guidelines we drew.

Use a sanding sponge to buff out scratches and blemishes.

Use a sanding sponge to buff out scratches and blemishes.

7. Clean with soap and water or rubbing alcohol to prepare for oxidizing. A properly prepared surface will be clean and shiny.

Clean and shiny!

Clean and shiny!

8. Oxidize or patina the metal to darken the stamping impressions. There are many solutions available for this; today we will use Novacan Black Patina #86-310.

Prepare to patina! Novacan, a paper plate and a cotton swab are all you need.

Prepare to patina! Novacan, a paper plate and a cotton swab are all you need.

9. Using a cotton swab, paint the Novacan onto the metal blank until it is covered in black.

Completely coat the metal with the oxidizing agent.

Completely coat the metal with the oxidizing agent.

 

10. Let it dry, then buff again with the sanding sponge to remove the patina from the raised parts, leaving the stamping impressions dark.

Remove the patina from the raised surface with a sanding sponge (or steel wool).

Remove the patina from the raised surface with a sanding sponge (or steel wool).

11. Gently polish with an Ultra-polish pad #63-528 to make it shine!

Ultra-polish pads will make your piece shiny

Ultra-polish pads will make your piece ultra shiny.

 

12. To finish, add some birthstone dangles, a jump ring and chain!

"Ophiuchus the First" Stamped Pendant.

“Ophiuchus the First” Stamped Pendant.

Bridal gifts are another popular way to share the gift of personalized metal stamping!

Be extra careful when stamping sterling silver or gold filled. It’s good to practice on base metal or even better to practice on a scrap of sterling sheet if you have some. Sterling silver is much softer; you won’t need to hit the stamp quite as hard as you would for base metal. Gold fill varies in hardness, so may take a bit of practice.

Pendants for the bride and bridesmaids are elegant jewelry, as well as keepsakes that will last forever.

Pendants for the bride and bridesmaids are elegant jewelry, as well as keepsakes that will last forever.

"Ava's Big Day" hand stamped sterling silver pendant.

“Ava’s Big Day” hand stamped sterling silver pendant (Click image for tutorial).

Ava's Ladies in Waiting Bridesmaid Necklace

Ava’s Ladies in Waiting Bridesmaid Necklace (Click image for tutorial).

More metal stamping inspirations…

 

"A Dog's Night Out"  dog collar/necklace featuring a custom stamped tag. Tutorial.

“A Dog’s Night Out” dog collar/necklace featuring a custom stamped tag. (Click image for tutorial.)

 

"Live with Intention" cuff bracelet - Tutorial

“Live with Intention” cuff bracelet. (Click image for tutorial)

I hope you found this metal stamping tutorial informative and inspirational! Happy stamping!

~Val

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How To Set Eyelets in Leather

January 29th, 2014

Eyelets in leather jewelry can be both decorative and functional. Whether you want to add an industrial punk look to a leather bracelet, explore a new way to finish a choker, or find new alternatives to add embellishments, eyelets offer a clean and finished look to jewelry! With Rings & Things new EXCLUSIVE Leather Embellishing Kit, some leather and a little creativity is all you’ll need!

 

Here are simple step-by-step instructions for setting eyelets in a leather bracelet…

Some things you will need for setting eyelets in leather

Some things you will need for setting eyelets in leather…

Gather your supplies:

Tools:

Rings & Things recently added an EXCLUSIVE Leather Embellishing Tool Kit that includes all of the tools you need, as well as the eyelets!

Rings & Things' EXCLUSIVE Leather Embellishing Kit (with leather punch, eyelets, leather rivets, snaps, setting tools and a hammer).

Rings & Things’ EXCLUSIVE Leather Embellishing Kit (with leather punch, eyelets, leather rivets, snaps, setting tools and a hammer).

If purchasing the tools and components separately, you will need:

You will also need these readily available items:

  • Ruler
  • Sharpie® or other fine point marker
Measure and mark the holes on the inside of the leather bracelet.

1. Measure and mark the holes on the
inside of the bracelet or un-finished side of the leather.

Punch holes in the leather.

2. Punch holes with a leather punch. Use
the 3/16” punch marked “4” on the
leather rotary punch.

Push an eyelet through the hole. The finished flared end should be on the outside of the bracelet, or the “good” side of the leather.

3. Push an eyelet through the hole. The finished flared end should be on the outside of the bracelet (the finished side of the leather).

Place the leather with the eyelet over the divot in the anvil.

4. Place the leather with the eyelet over the
divot in the anvil.

Position the setting tool over the hole of the eyelet.

5. Position the setting tool over the hole of
the eyelet.

Strike the setting tool with a hammer 4-6 times.

6. Strike the setting tool with a hammer
4-6 times.

The tube of the eyelet will now be set firm against the leather. Repeat the process for the other holes.

7. The tube of the eyelet will now be set firm against the leather. Repeat the process for the other holes.

Behold, the Eye of the Orchid leather bracelet!

Behold, the Eye of the Orchid leather bracelet!

Oh, so that was too easy you say? It really is easy, so I tried to think of something a little more unusual… I asked myself, how can I turn these eyelets from a mere decoration into a functional finding? I found a way! Here’s how…

For this one we will need:

If you don’t have our kit, you will also need the following tools and supplies:

Gather the necessary supplies (leather strip, eyelets, locking jump ring, S clasp, eyelet setter, hammer, leather hole punch).

Gather the goods (leather strip, eyelets, locking jump ring, S clasp, eyelet setter, hammer, leather hole punch).

 

Determine the length you want the choker to be. Lay out your components next to a ruler or measuring tape to make sure they will end up the correct length. This project makes a 13″ choker. For a longer choker, you may need an extra strip of leather, or more jump rings to lengthen.

Cut a 10" leather strip into 3 equal sections.

1. Cut a 10″ leather strip into 3 equal sections.

Punch a 3/16" hole at each end of each strip.

2. Punch a 3/16″ hole at each end of each strip.

Leave about 3/16" of leather between the edge and the hole.

3. Leave about 3/16″ of leather between the edge of the leather and the hole.

Insert the eyelets into the holes.

4. Insert the eyelets into the holes and set as shown above.

Add locking jump rings.

5. Add a locking jump ring to each end. Use non-serrated pliers to help manipulate the jump ring and pinch closed.

Slide hook clasp through jump rings.

6. Slide an “S” hook onto each jump ring, connecting the leather pieces together.

Finished Leather Linked Choker

Leather Linked Choker

 

More inspiration: add an eyelet to a leather cuff bracelet, and use the eyelet to embellish the bracelet with fun dangles!

Green Leather Wrap Bracelet with a SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS crystal rivoli stone in a 1-loop rivoli setting, a TierraCast® ivy leaf charm and a freshwater pearl dangle.

Green Leather Wrap Bracelet with a SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS crystal rivoli stone in a 1-loop rivoli setting, a TierraCast® ivy leaf charm and a freshwater pearl dangle.

 

Blue Leather Cuff Bracelet with a SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS crystal rivoli stone in a 1-loop rivoli setting, a TierraCast® feather charm and a blue pearl dangle.

Blue Leather Cuff Bracelet with a SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS crystal rivoli stone in a 1-loop rivoli setting, a TierraCast® feather charm and a blue pearl dangle.

I hope you’ve found this tutorial helpful and inspiring. Happy jewelry making!

~Val

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Lariat Round Up

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

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