Wednesday, 26 August 2015

An Endlessly Charming Bracelet...

When I started making jewellery, I stopped buying jewellery. It seemed the right thing to do, even if I was turning down something that I couldn't actually make myself. I mean, how much jewellery does one person need that they can afford to be fussy about what type it is? I made jewellery with silver so surely not indulging in a beaded bracelet (that I might learn how to make one day (and I have done so)) wouldn't be denying myself too much. Over time I've relaxed about this a little, letting myself enjoy jewellery that I haven't made, can't make, or probably won't ever learn how to make. This has helped my family at Christmastime no end... And while I have a soft spot for artisan made pieces, I am not beyond seeing the good points in a machine-cut ring from a high street shop, ever so occasionally...

So on receiving an email from Endless Jewelry asking me to review some of their jewellery, I hesitated at first. My blog is about  hand-crafted jewellery, mostly designed by individual makers, often in their spare room. Endless Jewelry is made by a large company, perhaps involving some expensive machinery, most probably not by the designer, and also had a promotional campaign fronted by Jennifer Lopez. Not so much in common really...

Endless Jewelry Bracelet in packaging

But a love of jewellery is a love of jewellery and  curiosity got the better of me, so I said 'yes'. I was told I would be sent a bracelet, and I was asked for the size and colour I would like it in. I chose 36cm (double-length that wraps twice around the wrist) and grey. Well, the grey looked like silver so what else could I choose really.

Parcelled up, all the way from Germany, came a nicely designed box finished with coloured elastic ribbons. Inside was a jewellery stand and the bracelet itself. The first thing I noticed was that the attention to detail in the packaging was carried through into the jewellery also. The bracelet consists of a piece of leather, sewed to make a tube, and finished at both ends with a magnetic clasp. Threaded onto the leather tube was a small silver charm, in the shape of a four-leaved clover. The leather bracelet itself is well made, carefully finished with no loose threads, and the clasp is strong and seems reliable. The Stirling silver four-leaf clover is small, sweet and charming and  while most likely made by casting is, again, nicely finished.

The only issue I found with the bracelet is that it's a little too snug fitting - despite having skinny wrists my feeling is that this size is either suitable for models or children. One of the downsides of ordering online, affecting any jewellery who sells in that space, is that people don't have an opportunity to try things on. Less of an issue with necklaces and earrings, but quite awkward with bracelets (as in this case) and rings especially.

Endless Jewelry Bracelet in packaging

Sizing issues aside the bracelet is very wearable, casual enough for any time, and dressy enough for an evening out. The selling point of this jewellery is a little along the Pandora charm idea, where you can add silver charms, or gemstone or enamel beads to your collection (and store them on your stand) to personalise your leather bracelet, and even make it different every time you wear it, should you wish (and have time!).  It's a nice touch that would allow people to buy charms for you in the way they can with Pandora charms, and also with the charms you add to a simple chain bracelet.

I can imagine this bracelet being very popular, especially around Christmas and Valentine's Day. It's simple but has style and its flexibility of design means it can literally suit anyone. The quality and detail of the jewellery, the packaging and the idea behind it all are all sound. Yes, it's not hand-made but should you wish to indulge in something a little more 'off-the-peg', but with the opportunity for an individual streak, then I can recommend this style of bracelet and charms. All I would say is, especially if you're buying for someone else, be careful with the sizes.


Please note, the jewellery in this post has been provided to me for free from Endless Jewelry in return for a review. My views are always my own and my reviews are always honest.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Jewelled Web - July 2015 - Link Love

Summer is here...and it really has arrived for the end of June and the start of July. The sky may be overcast at times, a decent breeze may be pushing my hair around but still, all the same, the heat is nearly overwhelming. It's tiring and heavy but also so wonderful to be really warm in the UK.

Despite the warmth I've been hurtling around the net and here are a few things I've read and liked this past month, and a few I've bookmarked to keep me busy should the sun fail this coming month.

~jewellery links~

Ever fancied learning how to crochet a bracelet? I've seen silver crocheted to beautiful effect so this is something I'd like to try myself.

Interviews with jewellers Charlotte De Syllas, by the V&A... and Milena Kovanovic.

I adore these little hand-crafted horse beads!

Also on an animal theme, I think these personalised dog charms are very sweet - I'm hoping to invest in some letter stamps myself soon...

Another tutorial, this time for making a neckwire for pendants.

Resin jewellery is something else I've been meaning to try making for a while now, so I've bookmarked this tutorial to come back to.

~non-jewellery links~

Going away by plane this summer? Then these packing posts may be worth a read. This one is about taking carry-on bags only, and this one is about just making everything really tiny.

Staying at home and working out a marketing strategy? I'll be reading part two as well, even if I never do anything suggested...

And I'll also read this about blog design...

I wouldn't mind living here, but ideally it would be here...

The days are long but the decades are short - worth reading, whatever your age.

Hope your July is good, even if the fall of rain outweighs the shining of the sun.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Book Review - Compendium of jewellery Making Techniques by Xuella Arnold and Sara Withers

Compendium of Jewellery Making Techniques - 350 tips, techniques and trade secrets
by Xuella Arnold and Sara Withers

Search Press 2013

I found this book in the library. Jewellery-making books seem quite copious in quantity at the moment (yay), but given the breadth of the topic and the myriad of techniques within it at its widest compass, not all books with ‘jewellery’ in the title are suitable for every kind of jewellery maker. I’ve found it pretty handy to be able to check books out before committing to buying them and, as great as flicking through a few pages on Amazon is (via their Look Inside feature), sometimes you just need a little more information, and time, to work out if a book fits what you need.

Search Press are reliable when it comes to jewellery books, so I was attracted to this edition on the shelves, hidden away in the crafting section, down one of the back aisles in the library. Not that I’m complaining at the placement; an excuse to browse amongst hundreds of books, any of which you can borrow, is quite a treat in anyone’s book. Get the pun…?

As shown in the photo here, the cover itself is enticing, showcasing a variety of different styles of jewellery – including images of metal-work -  and the sub-heading of “tips” and “trade secrets” really spoke to me – I have another book promising tips and I think these are really handy if you know a little bit about the subject in question and want to find ways to expand your skills and further your knowledge.

The book is ideal for leafing through, and would work well as a reference guide, meaning it's a good one to have on your book shelf for helping you along in certain projects, if you get stuck or need some inspiration. But it's also good to just read, taking you through projects and techniques, with hints and explanations, and those wonderful tips dotted liberally around, courtesy of two jewellers who really know their stuff, and who share the writing of the book by covering different chapters dependent on their own fields of expertise.

In terms of contents, this book covers everything from working with beads and wire, to metalwork basics and techniques, how to design, and even has a chapter covering less traditional forms of jewellery such as polymer clay, resin, plastics, and found items. Each different idea is numbered, so you know the book fills its quota as shown in the title, of 350 pieces of information.

The focus displayed is interesting – that the book covered both simply stringing beads, and then later the complexity of setting up a workshop for working with metals (and rather handily, included details about permanent workshops for those with the space, and temporary ones for those who have to fit their jewellery making, however complex, into the limitations of their home without recourse to a spare room). Sometimes books about jewellery try and cover too wide a field – the basics of creating a simple loop in wire are a long way from casting silver, after all. But I think this book manages to pull it off, to make it seem either like potentially a natural progression for the jeweller, or to make it feel that whatever your interest in jewellery making, this book has enough detail to make it worth your while reading, even if you have little or no interest in other areas.

The book is perhaps most successful as a detailed and helpful introduction to various ways of making jewellery, without dumbing down, and with enough information that you can expand on the basics, using it as your guide. So if you have worked only with beads and wire before and fancy a move into metal working, then this book should see you through that, with ample information on both subjects. And if you wish to go the other way, from working with metal to learning how to crochet with wire, then the book covers that also.

Although this book is a library book, and so must be returned, it's one that may well appear on my (mostly) annual Christmas jewellery book wish list a little later this year, as it's a book I could see myself happily using as one of my favoured reference books for jewellery, the ones you just go back to time and time again. I think it's that good.

(Please note, this post contains affiliate links, which cost you nothing if you click through but may make me a few coppers if the stars are right for me that day... For more info check out my about page.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Jewelled Web - June 2015 - Link Love

Jewelled Web Link Love June 2015 - Silver Moss

June... month of sunshine... it's often the real month of summer, where the days are the longest and the hayfever is at its worst... oh well...

Hope you enjoy the links...

~jewellery links~

What does it mean to be a jeweller?

A couple of simple and handy earring tutorials - how to make ear wires from head pins; and how to make hoop earrings.

I've never used shrink plastic but am intrigued by it, and the kinds of effects you can get from it, as with these earrings.

A simple DIY idea for jewellery display that would also look great at craft fairs...

A wonderfully detailed tutorial on making lockets.

I must get some letter stamps...

How to make a beautiful eclipse jump link chain.

From the same site as the above tutorial - sometimes it's good to go back to basics and revise how to solder.

~non-jewellery links~

I've only skim-read this post so far but it looks fascinating - 29 top Altucher truisms to help us be better free agents.

Should we smile more, marry outside our wealth, and get tired to get creative? Reading to expand the mind.

How to talk nicer to yourself.

Free education from around the world. Online. Yes, free.

Photo editing apps for apple and android.

Every Shakespearean insult you could ever need, all in a handy infographic.

How to lego your laptop.

A great post to read (and reread) when you're feeling a bit down/blue/bleurgh.

Have yourself a sunny June :)

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Holiday by Bracelet - 'Jewellery Maker' Kit

You know the saying, a change is as good as a holiday? That was part of my reason for deciding to try a jewellery making kit. I‘d not used one before, so the idea of indulging in some pre-prepared creativity was appealing. When I began making jewellery it was as part of a silver-smithing course, where the emphasis was on using the metal in ways that didn’t necessarily mean crafting jewellery. In essence, I began making jewellery as a side effect of working with silver. And every now and then, something simpler, not involving hammers and a soldering torch, makes a nice change...

Also, by way of a coincidence, a friend of mine has recently asked me for some advice on jewellery kits as she wants to start creating but is bewildered by the choices available. A lot of people seem to start making jewellery through kits, little collections of (nearly) everything you need that result in a finished piece of gorgeousness that you can also wear. It’s a good place to start and ideal if you want to experiment before committing to buying packets of beads, rolls of wire, and heaps of tools.

Bracelet Kit

So with the idea of a 'holiday' for me, and a bit of research for a good friend, I took up a kind offer by Jewellery Maker to try one of their kits.

The jewellery kit arrived swiftly in the post, well packaged in a jiffy bag and bubble wrap, around a strong cardboard box that contained instructions and ever component of the bracelet I was going to make, carefully separated into tiny plastic pouches. A simple instruction leaflet was included. The bracelet itself, made from silver plated copper, was sturdy and easy to put on and remove, and had an intriguing one-and-a-half wrap design, separated with jump rings - see photos to understand exactly what I mean here. While I used the image on the box as inspiration, it would have been possible to use any of the different parts of the bracelet, or all of them, to fix the gemstones onto; this is a nice touch, the ability to customise and personalise a kit.

Along with the bracelet came a bag of silver plated jump rings, which were used to attach the gemstones, all carefully separated into different bags for the different gems; moonstone, peridot, amethyst and iolite - a great selection of colours that complemented each other beautifully. Every bead was already on a head pin, looped at the top so it could be fixed to the bracelet itself with a jump ring.

Bracelet Kit

Please note that if you are a beginner then this kit, and I suspect many (if not all) others, assume that you have some basic tools like snips and pliers. This particular kit needs a couple of pairs of pliers to open and close the jump rings, and I found a small round-nosed pair handy for straightening some of the loops on the head pins as well. The only downside of the kit was here - a few of the headpin loops were a little too small to fit a jump ring through, and while most of them were easy enough to adjust with the round nose pliers and then use, a couple remained just that bit too small - these were on the smallest beads as well, so I guess that was why. It certainly didn’t detract from the overall effect of the bracelet when finished though, and only added a fine layer of frustration when constructing it - and I could have removed the supplied head pins and added my own to make the beads work.

I found the kit fun to make; mixing the different colours of the beads to suit myself, and slowly attaching them to the bangle was a fun way to spend an afternoon on a rainy weekend. The end result is pretty, full of colour and sparkle, and fun to wear.

If you’re an advanced jewellery maker, then you may find this kit a little too simple - although it is very effective. If you’re only just starting out then the kit couldn’t fail to inspire you when you see what you can make, and how easily. It should encourage you to carry on creating.


Please note - I was given the jewellery kit in return for a blog post about it, but my views are my own and have been given honestly.