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I strive to always use the best quality materials available. Since some of the terms I use to describe my work may be unfamiliar, I thought you might like an explanation of what goes into my jewelry. (Possibly more than you ever wanted to know!).
Bracelet sizes: The usual size for a link or bead bracelet for a woman's wrist is about 7 inches long. A small woman or a young lady might need a 6 inch bracelet, and a man or a larger woman might be more comfortable with an 8 inch bracelet. I can make bracelets in any size you need. Measure around the wrist and allow 1/2 inch to operate the clasp.
Necklace sizes: The usual size for a woman's choker is about 16 inches or for a man's choker is about 18 inches. A young lady or someone with a very slender neck, who wants the choker to ride a bit higher up, might want a 14 or 15 inch choker. A 20 inch necklace will usually hit about the top of the breast bone, 22 inches falls about the top of the breast, and 24 to 26 inches will usually hang between the breasts. A 30 inch necklace hangs below the breasts and 36 inch necklaces can be doubled and worn as a choker. Just let me know what length you need, and I can accommodate you.
I primarily work with sterling silver. This is the standard silver alloy, consisting of 92.5 % silver and 7.5 % copper (to add strength). It is often stamped "sterling", "stg", "ster", or "925". Sterling silver has no nickel.
I also like to work in copper, because I like the warm rosy color. Most of my designs can be made in either copper or sterling. The copper will often be slightly less expensive. Copper will oxidize to a warm brown over time. If you prefer your piece not to change, I recommend coating it with clear nail polish. If you have a copper piece that needs brightening up, apply a bit of vinegar with a pinch of salt. Copper has no nickle.
I sometimes use gold-filled components. This is a very heavy layer of 12 or 14 karat gold over a base metal. The gold accounts for 5% of the weight of the piece. Gold-filled beads and clasps wear very well for most people, and are resistant to tarnish. They are also sturdier than many light-weight 14K gold beads (which often bend easily). Gold-filled pieces are often stamped "14/20 gf", or "1/20 12K gf".
I also use gold vermeil components. These are gold-plated sterling silver pieces. If the gold plating eventually wears away, you still have a sterling silver piece.
Karat is a quality mark indicating the weight of gold in an alloy. 24K gold is pure gold; it is also very soft and bends out of shape easily. 18K gold is 18/24 or 75% gold. This is widely used overseas, and may be stamped "18K" or "750". 14K gold is 14/24 or 58% gold. This is the most common alloy used in the US, and is usually stamped "14K" or sometimes "583". 12K gold is 12/24 or 50% gold. 10K gold is 10/24 or about 42% gold. 10K is the lowest quality gold that can be stamped and sold in the US. The other metals in the alloy affect the color (white, green, pink gold) and working characteristics of the alloy.
CLASPS AND EAR WIRES
All my ear wires are sterling silver or gold-filled. I can also provide niobium or titanium French hooks, if desired. "French hooks" are a longer, almost P shaped hook with no catch on the back. Sometimes I have sterling silver lever-back ear wires. A few earrings have sterling posts or wires made as part of the earring. I can sometimes attach base metal clip backs to earrings.
I offer the following clasps on necklaces and bracelets, in either sterling or gold-filled.
Many of my jewelry pieces use semi-precious stones. There are a lot of different stones available today, and I like to work with unusual stones when I find them. However, these are some of the stones I am likely to have available to use.
Amber is not actually a stone, but fossilized tree resin, so it is warm and light-weight to wear. It is soft, and should be stored separately from harder stones and metals. Besides the usual honey gold color, amber ranges in color from milk white, through butter yellow, to honey gold to deep red to cherry amber so dark it almost looks black. Amber floats in seawater and sinks in fresh water, which is one way to tell it from plastic imitations, which either float in both or sink in both. Most of the amber currently available is Baltic, from eastern Europe, although there are also deposits around the Caribbean, including Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. I like amber a lot, and usually have a good selection.
Beryls include bright green emeralds and pale aqua blue aquamarine, as well as the rare pink morganite and golden heliodor. I prefer aquamarine when I can find it over blue topaz, which often fades. And the emeralds I commonly have available are not the highest quality; they will be opaque, but usually have good color. All the beryls are very hard and make excellent jewelry, though they may be a bit more expensive.
Copper minerals include several very nice stones colored by the copper in them. These are soft stones, and should be stored with care. The most familiar is turquoise, which is often found in silver and copper mines. Turquoise ranges in color from greenish to a beautiful sky blue, and sometimes has veins of the matrix rock running through it. Another familiar stone is the beautiful green malachite. Once the principal ore for mining copper, it is now more valued for its beautiful green banding. Its close relative, azurite, is a beautiful deep blue, similar to lapis, but is relatively rare. Azurite is most often found in combination with malachite, so the stones have the deep blue plus the green and some intermediate turquoise colors. Chrysacholla is another relative that resembles turquoise, but has more lovely color variation and pattern. (I think it is usually prettier.) It is also rather rare.
Fluorite can be a lovely stone. The main colors are transparent purple, similar to amethyst, and transparent light green, though sometimes other colors, such as yellow may be found. It can be quite striking, but the stone is soft and fractures easily, so it should be treated with care.
Garnets are the deep wine red birthstone for January, and have been popular stones since ancient times. Garnets are quite hard and wear well in all kinds of jewelry. Garnet is not totally transparent, so smaller stones tend to have better color. Garnet also comes in purple (rhodolite), orangey brown (hessonite or spessartine), mossy green (grossular), and a very rare bright emerald green transparent (tsavorite and demantoid) or opaque (uvaroite).
Goldstone is a pretty coppery colored "stone" with sparkles in it. It is actually a glass with copper filings in it, first developed in the 1590's. (When used to decorate glass beads, it may be referred to as "aventurine glass"). There is also a blue goldstone (midnight blue, verging on black), and a green goldstone (very rare).
Hematite is a lovely metallic gray. As it is a high-grade iron ore, it is heavy, and sometimes slightly magnetic. The majority of hematite on the market today is synthetic, so it is relatively inexpensive and is available in a variety of shapes (stars, moons, circles).
Howlite is a nice white stone with grey veining. It is inexpensive and rather soft. It is commonly dyed to imitate turquoise or occasionally malachite or lapis. It is sometimes sold as "white turquoise" (which it is not). Another similar stone is magnesite, which is white with brown veining. It is also often similarly dyed, but is a nice stone in its undyed state.
Iolite is a deep blue stone that in the finer grades can resemble sapphire. I usually use the slightly less expensive forms, which are not always transparent. The blue is a dark, denim type blue, sometimes with a hint of gray.
Jade is very popular in the Orient, and good jade is fairly rare in the US. The characteristic color of jade is a medium to dark green, though jadeite also comes in white, lavender (rare), yellow, red-brown, and black. Jade is a very durable stone and wears well.
Jet, another of the organic "stones", is similar to a fossilized coal. It was very popular during Victorian times for mourning jewelry, but is harder to find now. It is a nice lustrous black, light in weight, and somewhat soft. I occasionally find some from Russia.
Lapis Lazuli, the stone of kings, has been popular for its royal blue color since the time of ancient Egypt and Ur. The best lapis still comes from the same mines in Afghanistan that supplied the Egyptian pharaohs. It is a soft stone, and should be treated with care.
Moonstone, a feldspar, has that lovely eye effect that makes it so interesting. The most common color is translucent white, but it also comes in peach and gray. Rainbow moonstone is white with flashes of blue fire. A closely related stone is labradorite (sometimes called spectrolite), which has the blue and green fire of rainbow moonstone in a darker gray translucent background. A peach to orange stone in the same family has more sparkle (called "schiller") and is called sunstone, appropriately enough. And a pale sea-green form of feldspar is known as amazonite. Occasionally it will display the eye-like effect, but that is rare.
Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass. The color ranges from transparent grey-brown Apache tears to dark opaque black with brown mottling.
Onyx comes in several colors. The natural stone ranges from translucent white and grey through yellow and green to tan and brown. But onyx (actually a relative of calcite) is somewhat soft and porous and will take a dye well. So there is also translucent medium blue and dark green onyx, and opaque black onyx. The original term "onyx" was applied to a black and white banded agate, which today is marketed as an agate (see Quartz, below)
Opal is typically precious opal from Australia, which I don't work with. Occasionally I can find some Ethiopian opal, which has a warm golden color with good "fire". There are also lower grades of opal from Mexico and Peru that are sometimes available. These usually have no "fire", and may be translucent to opaque. Colors may include orange (from Mexico), pink and turquoise blue (from Peru).
Pearls and coral are both organic gems from the ocean. Coral comes from coral reefs, especially in the Mediterranean, and is becoming increasingly scarce due to damage from pollution. I work mostly with freshwater pearls, as they are more abundant and less expensive than salt-water cultured pearls, though I occasionally find some vintage salt-water pearls. Natural colors for pearls range from white to cream, peach, pink, and gray to black. Some of the black and bronze freshwater pearls are color enhanced by the addition of chemicals to the water where the mollusks are being raised. Other colors are often dyed. I prefer not to use dyed pearls, unless I can find a very nice strand. I string pearls on silk and knot them for security. Pearls should be stored away from other jewelry and protected from makeup and hair spray.
Peridot is the olive to lime green transparent birth stone for August. It is a good hard stone, but is a bit more expensive than some. It is usually only available in smaller sizes.
Quartz, in one form or another, comprises much of the earth's surface. But some varieties make really nice jewelry, and quartz stones are hard and durable. Transparent quartz includes clear quartz (sometimes known as rock crystal), purple amethyst, yellow citrine, and gray-brown smoky quartz (sometimes erroneously called smoky topaz). Translucent quartz includes orange to brown carnelian, bright green to sea green chrysoprase and pale pink rose quartz, as well as chalcedony in various colors including blue. Quartz with patterned banding is an agate, including pale blue lace agate, black and white agate, and orange and tan crazy lace agate. Opaque quartz in interesting patterns is called jasper, and usually named for the place where it is found or given a fanciful name to encourage sales. Opaque rust red jasper is usually solid colored, and bloodstone is a dark green jasper with "drops" of red jasper, very hard to find any more. Recent additions to the quartz line are strawberry, cherry, raspberry, blueberry, and pineapple quartz, which are synthetics, but have interesting colors. Transparent colored quartz (amethyst, smoky, and citrine) and some color-enhanced chalcedony are subject to fading with prolonged exposure to sunlight (or UV light). (Ugly opaque quartz is called chert and is used for gravel roads.)
Rhodenite and rhodocrosite are similar opaque pink stones. They often have grey, black or white veining in interesting patterns. Both are somewhat soft and should be treated with care. Rhodocrosite comes primarily from Brazil, from stalagtites.
Sodalite is a nice dark blue that resembles lapis but is not as bright a blue. It tends more towards navy, and sometimes has white veining.
Tigereye is the very nice golden brown stone with an eye effect (from fibrous inclusions). It is popular for men's jewelry and is especially nice set with gold. There is also a red tigereye, which is a nice chocolate brown (caused by heating regular tigereye to about 250 degrees F), and rare blue tigereye (sort of a Prussian blue or navy blue), which is formed naturally from iron inclusions in the tigereye.
Tourmaline supposedly derives its name from a Singhalese word meaning "many-colored", since it comes in several colors. Tourmaline is a hard stone and wears well in jewelry, but tends to be expensive. The most common color is a dark olive green, though some pieces are closer to emerald green. Other colors include blue (slightly greenish blue), pink to red (rubellite), and bi-colored stones, like red/green watermelon tourmaline.