Design

Custom Inspirations - Earrings

Custom Inspirations - Earrings

Do you realize that, as a retail business, I am already getting holiday advice emails from our industry?  Etsy, Manta, and even FedEx are sending around fact sheets on how to prepare for holiday business, or how to boost it.  For my own part I’ve never had a ton of it, probably because most of you are shopping for yourselves.  So maybe then I need to think differently – i.e. propose some ways in which you can get others to find you the perfect gift from my shop, either with a gift card or with starting early by planning a custom project to wear on Christmas or New Year's.

When I think of treating myself with jewelry, my own first thought is not a ring or a pendant but earrings.  I have more earrings than anything else in my personal collection.  I wear a Diamond pendant all the time, and rotate between 4 or 5 rings, the rest are earrings.  Dangly earrings mostly, though I occasionally wear a kite with a Diamond in my second hole.  I should probably branch out to a single Hauyne or a small square Burma Spinel!

Custom earrings can be an expensive item in my shop since you are making two of everything.  On the other hand, there are some fun ways of reducing cost:

  1. Use interchangeable leverbacks, which come in silver, white gold and yellow gold.
  2. Use Diamond huggies or plain gold hoops instead of leverbacks.
  3. Dangle a gem from a short chain behind a post.
  4. Make one component at a time, i.e. a pear gemstone dangle first, then have another component lazered on top at a different point. In fact I often change my earrings around by adding another part or switching from leverbacks to posts.

Here are some ways in which I have made my own earring collection more varied:

In these Red Mahenge Spinel, Burma Spinel and Diamond Earrings I used the leverback itself as part of the design and added the Victorian flower component as part of the mechanism.

In these Purple Garnet, Color Change Garnet and Zircon earrings I used my favorite oval leverbacks, my trillium connector part but no channel wire.  Rather, I used a five prong pear setting which provides a lot of light for the center gem.The basket is really low set on these and it's strongly tapered so there's no interference in the back.  These come in oval also and in emerald cut.

These 6mm Tanzanite cushions are set with tips up and down as danglies, and I soldered a tiny round Diamond on the bottom for extra interest.  These are among my every day favorites.  My four prong floral settings are perfect for this design.

In These Vietnamese Spinel and Paraiba Drops I used Purple Tanzanites in Pearl Cups as the top post instead of leverbacks.

I rarely use yellow gold but these colors called for it.  Peachy Mahenge Spinel and Chrysoberyl in channel wire - for the Mahenge Spinel I used an 8 prong pearl setting which is fairly low set.  It comes in round only, 14 kt yellow and white gold.

Here's another variation on the dangly - Seafoam Green Tourmaline baguettes with handmade prong settings that run almost no interference with the gem.  Directly soldered on top are Purple Garnets in low set bezels, and dangling above my prize: two 4x3mm oval Paraiba Tourmalines.  I made a matching necklace for this.

And finally, my most prized set, Red Mahenge Spinel, Pink Burmese Spinel, and oodles of Diamonds set in my Penelope style.  With Diamond leverbacks (available upon request).  Who could resist?

And here, finally, are some inspirations for custom creations for some of you:

Red Garnet, Mahenge Spinel and Mandarin Garnet:

Burma Spinel and Paraiba with a Chain Component

Aquamarine and Yellow Sapphire, the Aqua setting is hand fabricated

Mahenge Spinel and Diamond

Tanzanite Cabochons, Tanzanite Faceted, Paraiba, Diamond 

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How to Get Inspired

How to Get Inspired

With spring just around the corner and winter being ridiculously mild this year, it's time to think about some inspiration for jewelry and wedding season. Here are some tricks and tips of how I come up with new ideas.

To me, there are two main inspirations for jewelry: shapes and colors. That's all there is to it, really. I occasionally look at other jewelry, but it's less often than you might think. The only kind of jewelry I really look at is antique stuff, mainly art deco, but again it's about how they work with shapes. So for instance, the hexagon shape is often seen in art deco center stone settings. A related pattern one often sees is the honeycomb pattern. Buccellati uses that very often.

Once you have the basic shape, you can come up with endless variations and iterations, which you can apply to other ideas: hexagon eternity, hexagon bar pendant, hexagon V-shape, hexagon dangly or stud earrings.

hexagon

You can do the same with the fan and kite shape, which again was a basic shape I saw in antique jewelry, largely used in much bigger pieces than mine. The petal shape I have was originally part of a Victorian flower earring, which I expanded into first the sunflower ring, then the Camellia, and after that the Lily concepts. I did this simply by changing the center stone and by layering the petals.

sunflower

The Gatsby design also uses 3 petals, just more drawn out ones.

 gatsby

This gives the trillion shape, which is not that pleasing to the eye in my view, a more rounded look. And finally, adding petals to the marquis shape can make it look less elongated.To play with these shapes yourself to make more elaborate earrings or necklaces, just take a piece of paper and start drawing. For earrings, most of these styles can be posts from which something can be dangled, or they can be incorporated into a leverback. They can be right side up, or upside down. Necklaces and bracelets can be done eternity style, necklaces can look like lariats with various pieces dropping down from the chain. Rings are a bit more difficult but if you consider that your finger is only so wide, that rings can only be so thick and that height also matters, you are half way there.

For color, I barely even look at other jewelry at all. Oddly, I find that most jewelry doesn't use color in a very inspiring way. Art deco doesn't use color at all - or hardly any. A much better place to get inspired with colors is by looking at fabrics: shirts, scarves, but also socks, pillows and carpets, table cloths and even napkins often have really fun color combinations. All of these are far more inspiring to me than jewelry.The hard part is to come up with gems that match those colors. There are far more shades of colors out there than gems, but some gems, i.e. sapphire and spinel, also offer oodles of shades to play with. So much so that matching two can drive you to madness.
In fact, so many gemstones come in various shades: tourmaline covers almost the entire green spectrum for instance, and Mexican fire opal offers a lot of warm reds and oranges. The dichroism of certain gems, notably unheated tanzanite, kornerupine and sphene, can also lend itself to tie other colors together. Sphene often goes well with green and orange for that reason, or even with red and sometimes pink.

There are some colors, the neon turquoise of paraiba for example, that can live next to just about any other color and be happy, while there are others, notably hauyne and Russian demantoid, that like all the attention and refuse to share. Sometimes this is surprising - I wasn't expecting it with either of these gems. But therein also lies the fun, because just with these two simple concepts, color and shape, you can open up just about the entire world of design.
Below are some more inspiration photos. A gallery with past designs is coming to this website soon!


Meanwhile, you can also check out our boards on Pinterest.

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Custom Orders Revisited

Last year my gemstone category outsold every other category I have on Etsy. So I have upped my gem offerings, as you no doubt have noticed. As a result, I have gotten a lot more custom order requests. This is loads of fun, but way more time consuming - plus many quotes don't go anywhere. This is because on the customer's part, there is the experience of sticker shock. What makes custom work so...
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