Jewelry Collection Stories: Emily of @GemCircus

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We are kicking off July with an incredible jewelry collection story from Emily, also known as @GemCircus. If you’re a part of the jewelry Instagram community, you’ll easily recognize some of the jaw-dropping pieces in Emily’s personal collection. From the way she styles her necklace layers, to ring stacks, arm parties, and everything in between, we love her taste and enthusiasm for antique jewelry. I’m so excited she has agreed to share her story with us, so let’s sit back and enjoy:

My love for vintage and antique collecting started when I was a teenager, after my family moved to Vancouver, Canada, from Hong Kong in the early 1990s. I remember it was July when we arrived and I would walk to the nearby library every other day to borrow books to read (our container didn’t arrive almost a month later so all I have in my room were merely a bed, a built-in closet and my backpack). I started to notice our neighbours’ garage sales in my walks and I was amused at the things people were selling – from snow cone machines to music records, jewelry to stuff toys. That summer of looking through other people’s belongings and engaging in rapports gave me a sense of belonging and connection to the community. Ever since then I have become a frequent visitor to community flea markets, thrift shops and antique shows.

My jewelry obsession started around early twenties with vintage jewelry, in particular charms and silver filigree bracelets. I love to style them on mixed metal chains and I still love styling them now.

Gem Circus | Gem Gossip

I wasn’t picky and didn’t have a favourite period at that time so I usually picked up quirky little things like brooches, pins, jewel “plaques” (which I found out they were called “clasps” later) etc. Even though my collecting seemed to be random at that time, I was already drawn to jewelry that have motifs, like this brass crescent with hand and arrow and the clasped hand ring that I found in a thrift store. Looking back, I believe my love for antique sentimental jewelry originates from this pair!

Gem Circus | Gem Gossip

A lot of my Instagram followers already knew that I adore Georgian and Victorian sentimental and mourning jewelry, as well as portrait jewelry. This probably relates to my “innate sensitiveness” (as Carl Jung coined it) and the way I see jewelry as not merely an adornment but also a medium for expression, an art, an identity of who we are.

After I started reading books on lover’s eye, portrait miniature and mourning jewelry, I became obsessed with researching stories behind the jewelry that I collect. I realized that the brass crescent and the hand motif ring are not ‘funky little things’ as I thought in my teenage days, they actually carry specific meanings – love, new relationship and friendship – in the Victorian era. As my jewelry collection matures over time, I began to search for jewelry with motifs or meanings, like the urn, masquerade (masked lady), hand (figa, clasped hand, claddagh), heart (double-heart, flaming heart), star and crescent, buckle, swallow, snake, fern, acoutistic (“REGARD” and “DEAREST”) and Halley’s comet etc.

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I like to think that every piece of antique jewelry carries its own story of those before us, and I’m a custodian carrying on its legacy while creating my story with my collection. I love styling and always try to mix and match, experiment with different stacking and mixed metal, and do simple conversions to make every piece wearable. You can see from my Instagram photos that I’ve worn a big opal crescent brooch with another monkey brooch in the middle, stacked seven Art Deco wedding bands to make a statement ring, wrapped my wrist with antique chains and added a micromosaic brooch on top, stacked an Art Deco paste bracelet with a Hermes red enamel bangle, wore brooches on hats, and layered antique gold chains with watch chains. The fun is endless!

I shop everywhere but recently it’s largely online as there aren’t any antique jewelry shops in Hong Kong. I love the Instagram community as I’ve met so many wonderful souls (many of whom have become friends for life) around the world that share my obsession in antique jewelry. I always visit antique and jewelry shops when I travel too. It has been a tradition to bring back a piece of jewelry from each city that I visit.

Gem Circus | Gem Gossip

One of my obsession is Georgian masquerade jewelry: masked lady ring with ruby bonnet and rose cut diamonds from @karendeakin.antiques ; locket from @abrandtandson and the most recently acquired oval ring from @bijouxvictim

Gem Circus | Gem Gossip

Ring stacking is a daily essential for me: Georgian blue enamel rose cut diamond urn ring from @lenoredailey ; the moonstone on the mourning ring was a gift from my jeweler in Vancouver (he has kept it for 40 years!) and it fits perfectly on the bezel of the once empty mourning ring; flat cut garnet band from @antiqueanimaljewelry

Gem Circus | Gem Gossip

Mourning rings and figas: these enamel mourning rings are too big to wear so I usually wear them on gold chains as pendants. The twin coral figas were acquired from different continents yet they look so much alike. The one with emerald and diamonds was found in a UK auction and the one with seed pearl top was found in an antique show in Vancouver.


WANT MORE? Check out the other Jewelry Collection Stories

You can follow Emily –> @GemCircus


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The Top Jewelry Trends Seen at Couture 2017

Yael Sonia | Gem Gossip

After acclimating to normal life, and when I say normal I mean not having to take 700+ photos per day while meeting one jewelry designer after the other all while trying to look like I haven’t just slept for 4 hours and only eaten a diet that could sustain a person for a brief moment, I am happily enjoying my quiet reflection time from the Couture show. Happy to be tucked away in laid back Nashville, far from the dry air, noisy crowds and thick cigarette smoke of Vegas. But don’t get me wrong, there is a large part of me that absolutely loves everything about Vegas Jewelry Week--including all that is complained about.

One of my most favorite things to do when Couture is over is go through all my photos, take in all that I just saw and narrow down all the goodness into a small list of top jewelry trends. It is no simple task and I like to keep my trend categories somewhat pinpointed, so they are not so broad. Tracking trends and observing how these trends evolve is some science mixed with a heavy dose of anthropology, and no I don’t mean the lifestyle/clothing store.

So here are the five jewelry trend categories I’ve come up with that were the most dominate in the best way possible from Couture 2017. They are in no particular order and are illustrated using just ONE example of designers I had appointments with–there are several other pieces and designers that also captured these top jewelry trends too!

Jane Taylor Jewelry

1. Rainbow Waves:

I was seeing SO MUCH rainbow around Couture; color everywhere! I was totally loving it. This trend was best exhibited by Jane Taylor Jewelry whose designs get more and more colorful every year. Every ROYGBIV fan out there can spot the gemstone that represents each spectral color. Designers are embracing color and incorporating all colors into their designs. Buyer and jewelry lovers are searching for pieces that are vibrant, colorful and play off one another while still displaying a rainbow of hues.

Lydia Courteille | Gem Gossip Lydia Courteille | Gem Gossip Lydia Courteille | Gem Gossip

2. Shoulder-Duster Statement Earrings:

We’ve seen earrings trend all across the board in the past few years–from simple studs, to ear jackets, to ear climbers/crawlers…even ear cuffs. This year was all about the bold, shoulder-dusting statement earrings. Long in length, sleek in style, and statement-making in their own right. Above, I clearly saw some great examples of this trend at Lydia Courteille. These pieces were quite breath-taking and feature her signature black rhodium and rainbow of gems (which ties in with the first trend). I love Lydia’s gem choices and color combinations. We recommend this trend with pulled back hair and no necklaces.

Yael Sonia | Gem Gossip

3. Modern Geometric:

Perhaps one of my favorite trends, the modern, sculptural pieces that have a hint of geometry to them. This trend is easily showcased best by Brazilian designer Yael Sonia. Her designs exude a futuristic feel, very 3017. She uses Brazilian gemstones and each item is handcrafted in Brazil. I love the 3D cubes, spheres and the use of movement that is also incorporated into her pieces.

Zoe Chicco | Gem Gossip

4. Gold Wire Necklaces:

Chains took a backseat this time around at Couture–it was all about the solid gold wire. Whether it was plain or decorated in gemstones, the wire collar can exquisitely flatter any neckline, all while making a statement. I think the gold wire has gained popularity lately because it almost resembles a choker, has the same capabilities as a regular chain, yet it is heavy, rigid and substantial. Above, one of my favorite gold wire collar necklaces found at Couture 2017–this one is by Zoe Chicco and features bezel set diamonds of various cuts set throughout the piece. It is elegant and edgy at the same time! So good!!

Sydney Evan | Gem Gossip

5. Charms:

I was not expecting charms to be such a highlight and hit at Couture 2017, but they totally were and as a charm collector, I was loving all the interpretations I was seeing! Each designer had their own take on charms–their own motifs and ideas came to life in colorful and gem-set renditions. The most well-known being the Gemfields x MUSE collaboration charm necklace, as people are STILL talking about it! I loved Sydney Evan‘s charms (shown above) as they were quirky, fun and very colorful. Her signature motifs, like the evil eye, the word “Love,” wishbone, lips, etc. were brought to life as charms. The trend is great for many reasons–low price points, easy to collect, and the wearer can choose to wear them any way they want!

Couture 2017

Want more? See my top picks from last year’s show!

Thanks to Gossip Gem

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Gem Gossip Visits Quadrum Gallery in Boston, MA

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Quadrum Gallery resides inside a mall called The Shops at Chestnut Hill

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

The most mouth-watering stack I’ve ever created, all rings are by Lilly Fitzgerald, shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Mesmerized by Paul Morelli’s designs, love the moonstones! shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Director of Quadrum Gallery, Sia Maravelias, shows me around as I’m entranced by all the gorgeous jewels

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

California-based designer Julez Bryant is one of Quadrum’s newest additions, shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

the work of Lilly Fitzgerald inside one of the cases

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Last year, Quadrum added Spinelli Kilcollin to their repertoire and it has been one of their best sellers, shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

I love when designers’ work complements one another–here I’m wearing Moritz Glik & Sorellina

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Quadrum understands that one can never have too much Gabriella Kiss Jewelry, so they keep a heavy stock! shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

I fell in love with these whimsical gemstone charms handmade by Maria Beaulieu, shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Wearing two gorgeous diamond necklaces by TAP by Todd Pownell, shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Anthony Lent Jewelry is another new addition for Quadrum, shop here

Untitled Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Jewelry by Sorellina both left and right photos, shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Moonstone magic, all jewelry by Paul Morelli, including the engagement ring

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

the unique earring display for the work of Maria Beaulieu

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Spinelli Kilcollin rings piled on…they go perfect with my star boots

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Lilly Fitzgerald jewelry–the necklace is made of apatite, shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Jamie Joseph is always popular and her work is highly collected, shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Quadrum is an ideal place to shop for your engagement ring, look at the variety of styles! Shop more here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

These watermelon tourmaline earrings by Lilly Fitzgerald were a favorite, shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip Quadrum | Gem Gossip

We’ve got a mix of Sorellina, Moritz Glik, and Paul Morelli

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

You can stop by Quadrum Gallery any day of the week! Love that about the store…if I lived closer, I would be there all the time 🙂

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

More Gabriella Kiss, this time on my hands! shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Gabriella Kiss designs lots of unique pieces, all shown here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Wearing Julez Bryant–check out my geometric ear stack! shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Up close shot of the two Moritz Glik rings (“shaker” diamonds) and Sorellina band

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

The outside of Quadrum Gallery, where you can easily spend hours gasping and coveting.

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Another shot of the Spinelli Kilcollin rings, shop here

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

Gabriella Kiss rings lined up all in a row, ready for new homes!

Quadrum | Gem Gossip

For over 39 years Quadrum Gallery has paved its own way, formed its own niche, and outshined ordinary jewelry stores both locally and across the US. There’s something to be said about a store that can march to the beat of its own drum and their success is because of this. Cynthia Kagan – the owner of Quadrum – had the passion and vision of creating this space known for its unique and exciting mix of artisans and jewelry designers. The artists represented can easily wow with a single glance. I was laughing as I was going through the photos taken from my very fun visit to Quadrum early on a Wednesday morning–every photo of myself I have my mouth open in a state of euphoria, most likely verbalizing the words WHOA or WOW, because that’s all I could say. The jewelry is just as special as each designer’s story is–what inspires them to create, where they are based, how they started…Quadrum is full of magic and I’m excited to share my visit with you all!

Sia Maravelias has been director of Quadrum for over 12 years, with 18 years total of working at the store, and has an enormous passion for jewelry. I also met with Amy Renneisen, assistant director who is equally addicted to jewelry as well. Playing with jewelry all day is just a tiny fraction of what these women do on a daily basis. One of their most favorite things is interacting with their dedicated clients who follow profusely on Instagram, print out their own wish lists from scrolling through the website, and are counting down days until their favorite designers host a trunk show at the store. Sia recalls, “Our Gabriella Kiss trunk shows create some large crowds in our store…it is always so much fun!”

Quadrum is exclusively designer-centered, meaning they don’t create their own in-house line of jewelry or have a repair shop on site. With the focus being on the artists, the store has become a destination. The selection is one of the most unique and distinct out there, having formed some of the longest-running relationships with certain designers. A great example of this is they’ve carried Barbara Heinrich for over 32 years, John Iversen, Reinstein/Ross, and Pat Flynn all over 20 years! Every year the Couture show is a tradeshow the team looks forward to and is often when they scout out a select few new additions to their artist lineup. This year they’ve added Anthony Lent, Sorellina, Moritz Glik and Julez Bryant.

Another aspect that I highly admire about Quadrum is something I just learned of when I visited. They do all their own photography, as well as their website and social media. All photography has been self-taught and it is honestly some of the best I’ve seen. Jewelry photography is no easy feat and those in the business know this quite well. I also love how both Sia and Amy have their own Instagram pages aside from the main Quadrum Gallery page. Both of their Instagrams are dripping with inspiration, whether it is how to stack or style some of the pieces from the store or new arrivals headed to the cases. You can follow Sia at @jewelry_maven and Amy at @thegemdiaries

Thanks so much for having me and I will forever be dreaming of all the incredible jewelry I saw while visiting.


The Shops at Chestnut Hills

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Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

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Types of Silver Solder Used in Jewelry

While researching this article on silver jewelry solder, I was surprised by how much I learned. I did not know much about the science behind soldering and it was fascinating to learn about the process in more depth.

Soldering joins two or more metal surfaces by using a compatible alloy that flows at a lower melting point and creates a permanent bond. It is important that the solder flows at a lower temperature so your metal surfaces will remain solid and hold their form. As you heat material, the atoms that form the metal start to separate. This separation allows the solder, when it flows, to enter those spaces and bond to the original material. The solder has now created a tight fit with the material and the pieces are bonded.

Having now learned the science behind soldering and how the metals intermingle, I, of course, had other questions. What are the metal alloys in solder? Why are those metal alloys chosen? What makes the solder flow faster than the material it’s bonding to? So after hours of researching my questions, let’s see if I can answer them here.

Understand your Material

Jewelry Mill Products - Metals
Copper, Brass & Sterling Silver Sheet

Know the ins-and-outs of the material you’re working with. It’s important when applying solder, that the melting point of the solder is lower than the metal you are working with. If you were applying solder to a metal in your piece that melted quickly, your piece would become ruined before the solder had a chance to flow. For instance, pewter melts at about 500° F, but easy silver solder doesn’t melt until it reaches 1145° F. So if you wanted to solder two pieces of pewter together and used easy silver solder, the pewter would be a melted mess but the silver solder wouldn’t be even close to flowing yet. A list of melting points for common jewelry materials is included below in this section.

Note: It’s always important to check the melt and flow points between your material and the solder; it could vary between vendors and solders. The words Easy, Medium and Hard are not standardized to fixed temperatures.

Silver Solder Alloys

Silver solder has other metals, besides silver, alloyed into it. The alloy is primarily silver but the additional metals provide sought-after characteristics for the purpose of bonding. Copper (Cu) is soft and a great heat conductor plus it’s resistant to corrosion. Zinc (Zn) and tin (Sn) have really low melting points, which lowers the overall melting point of the solder. All the silver solders sold at Halstead are lead and cadmium-free. You can find out more of the specifics by reading the SDS sheets on item detail pages on our website, however, the majority of silver solders have a combination of silver, copper, and zinc and the percentage of each metal varies depending on the solder flow point. The solder metal alloys and general percentages are listed in the chart below.

Silver Solder Melt & Flow Points

In the chart below, you will find the melt and flow points. As I stated earlier in understanding your materials, you must always be sure that the solder you are using flows at a lower temperature than the materials you are joining. When working with silver, the melting point for .999 fine silver is 1761° F and with sterling silver, it is 1640° F. With solder, there are multiple flow points available because of the complexity of multi-step soldering.

A multi-step soldering piece requires you to solder different joins without having previous solders re-flow. So, your first solder join would be done using hard solder with the highest melting point, the next join would be completed using medium with a slightly lower flow point so the first join does not come apart and so on. It is important to carefully think through your fabrication plan.

Copper Lidded Vessel Assignment
Lidded Vessel Fabricated Using Multi-step Soldering Techniques

While I was in school, one of our assignments was to create a lidded vessel. The lidded vessel below had 13 solder joins! Tackle a multi-step soldering piece like a puzzle, you have to have a well-thought-out design in advance. Then, figure out all of the individual solder joins, decide when and how to use each solder without reflowing a previous join.

Since there are not 13 different flow points available, I had to problem solve to join several seams at the same melting temp with each heat application. The first solder must be hard with a high flow point, that way when you use medium solder next, it will flow at a lower temperature than the hard solder leaving those joins intact. What about soft and easy solders? Figuring it out was a challenge as a beginner, but worth it to learn this important lesson.

Brazing vs. Soldering

Technically, anything flowing under 800Âş F is called soldering, anything over 800 degrees F is called brazing. Yep, we’re technically brazing and not soldering, folks. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve ever “soldered” in my life. However, the lingo in the field is “soldering,” so we will stick with that convention.

Forms of Silver Solder

Solder comes in 5 basic forms: pallion chips, paste, wire, sheet, and powder. I’ve tried four of these, unfortunately, the opportunity to try the powder form hasn’t come up yet because it is fairly uncommon in jewelry applications. But here’s information about each option and their best applications.

Silver Solder Pallion Chips
Pallion Chips

Pallion chips: Pallion chips are tiny clipped pieces of solder alloy that can be easily moved with a solder pick. Exact size varies but these are often just 1×1 millimeters or even smaller! I was disappointed when I first tried pallion chips because I used them on a piece that needed more solder than the chips provided. My first reaction was wrong; now, I wouldn’t use anything else on chain links, jump rings or small soldering ornaments. I quickly learned with experience that the trick is to add more chips along a join if you need more solder. The small size of chips means you can easily scale the amount of solder you need in very small increments. When working on smaller joins, Pallion chips are a must!

Silver Solder Paste
Paste Solder

Paste: This comes in a syringe and is a mixture of flux, binder, and powdered solder. The shelf life on paste is about one year. My experience with paste is that it bubbles, pops and is porous after it flows, plus I’m not crazy about the limited shelf life. The part that I can see as an appeal to others would be that the flux is mixed in so that’s one less step. It is also clean and portable if you are creating work outside of your studio on a regular basis. Also, if you use it for closing jump rings and links it can really speed up production work. What about using it with a filigree piece? I personally have never done a filigree piece but a peer in the Orchid Community swears by it.

While paste solder may not be the best type of solder to use when sizing rings or fabricating from sheet, it is excellent for hand fabricating filigree jewelry. My primary focus is filigree and I use a lot of paste solder. I also use it to attach findings ie. ear posts, jump rings etc to my filigree pieces. The joints are strong and do not fail.

~ Milt Fischbein

Silver Solder Wire
Wire Solder

Wire: My go-to solder form. I love using wire solder the most. It can stay in wire form or be clipped and flattened with a hammer, or it can be short or long depending on the work you’re doing. It has more versatility than the others so this form is my favorite. A short segment of wire solder goes a long way. It’s also easy to pigtail wire solder with different loops to signify the flow temperature points. That way you never have to worry about mixing up your solders!

Silver Solder Sheet
Sheet Solder

Sheet: Sheet solder is ideal for large-scale projects where you need a large area joined, such as sculptural pieces or vessels. It’s versatile just like wire solder and is easy to use, especially when sweat soldering two flat pieces together. It’s easy to use too much when you are trimming from sheet solder, so remember that less is usually better so you don’t have too much clean up work.

Powdered: Powdered solder is created by filing solder ingots. You can use it either with a liquid flux or borax and I’ve heard that it works well for intricate joins.

Soldering Techniques

As you progress in soldering, you’ll learn different techniques. Each one has its usefulness, depending on the job at hand. Below are the four common techniques used while soldering:

Standard soldering – This is the most common method of soldering. You lay your solder (chip, wire, sheet or paste form) over the join and heat with a torch either from the top or underneath.

Pick soldering – This keeps a lot of heat off of your piece until the end. I like this method when doing fragile work such as chain links, pattern wire and hard to reach areas. Lay a piece of solder on your soldering board, heat it until it rolls into a ball and then pick it up with your soldering pick. Keeping your heat on the ball of solder, move it to the join and then hold it there at the end of the pick until it flows right where you need it to go.

Sweat Soldering
Sweat Soldering

Sweat soldering – If you’re soldering two pieces together, this is a great way to control your solder flow. Place one piece upside down on your soldering board. Lay solder down on it, then heat it until the solder melts, then remove the heat immediately (you want to find that spot where the solder melts but has not reached the point of flowing). Flip the piece over onto the other one, solder side between the two. Heat from the top or underneath until the solder flows, making sure to heat the entire piece you want it soldered to.

Stick soldering – Keeping your wire solder uncut, heat the end of the wire and let the solder flow while moving the wire stick around to the areas that need soldering.  This soldering technique requires a precise flame, otherwise, you will end up using far more solder than needed.

Tips for Choosing the Right Solder for the Job


Anytime you fix a visible repair seam try to use the harder solder because the higher silver content can make all the difference between an invisible seam or a tarnished one.

Silver Soldering a Ring
Visible Seam on Finger Ring

You have two choices to make:

  1. Flow temperature
  2. Solder form: chips, paste, wire or sheet
Silver Soldering with Correction Fluid
Protecting with Correction Fluid

First, when choosing flow temperature, don’t automatically choose the easy and soft flow temperature solders, those actually may be worse in the long run. If you have a visible seam the more silver content in the solder the better. So choose the hard solder (75% silver content) rather than a softer solder with lower silver content. This will slow down the tarnishing on that seam. This tip is more crucial on visible seams.

Having said that, if you have multiple seams on a piece, to prevent the previous joins from re-flowing, use correction fluid or another means of blocking the solder. Yes, there are clean-up steps that you need to take, but I would rather have a longer lasting seam, and less tarnish, than the few extra minutes it takes to wipe on and clean off a little white-out.

Note: When using liquid correction fluid, be sure that you have proper ventilation and that you wear a mask. The fumes can be toxic.

Soldering an Earring Post
Soldering an Earring Post

When doing tiny findings, such as finer gauge jump rings, chain links or earring posts, use soft solder. Otherwise, its easy to melt your material right along with the solder. The seams on objects this size are barely noticeable and the findings themselves can’t take a lot of heat, so get in and out as quickly as possible.

Second, choose the right solder type for the job. Don’t use a long piece of solder wire on a jump ring when you can use one tiny pallion chip. As a beginner, I know because I did this, you tend to use far too much solder. I used to flood pieces and then work twice as hard cleaning and finishing than I ever needed to.

Many jewelers stick mostly to one form as their “go-to,” but it can be useful to have different options available in the studio.

Federal Trade Commission Rules

Legally, in the United States, in order to call a piece sterling silver, the alloy has to meet the specifications below:

  • Sterling Silver = .925 (92.5% silver)

Time and time again, I see inquiries about sterling silver soldered items. Jewelers new to the field worry about the purity of the silver after soldering. The FTC established rules regarding minor variances between batches of manufactured materials. Here are the tolerances for sterling silver based on the National Stamping Act:

Sterling Silver

  • .921 = Unsoldered Items
  • .915 = Soldered items

As you can see in the solder alloy chart above, silver solder has quite a bit of silver in it. It is unlikely to lower the silver content of an entire jewelry piece enough to fall below the legal requirements because of the alloyed metals in a small solder join. The only time I would worry about it is if I did a fine silver filigree piece with many joins or an intensely granulated design with solder over an entire surface. Here is what Milt Fischbein said about filigree work and soldering:

“My filigree wire is always fine silver and my filigree frames are always sterling silver. Paste solder that I use is about 65% silver. I use as little paste as possible, so it doesn’t depress the silver content much. A typical pendant might be about half sterling and half fine silver, although this varies quite a bit depending on the design. Taking it a bit further, if a final piece contained as much as 5% solder, and 45% fine and 50% sterling, it would assay at 94.5% silver. So I always mark my filigree 925. as it should always assay higher and is very unlikely to assay lower.”

If you are concerned about a piece, you can always send it off to a lab for testing, that way you can be certain of the results. However, lab tests are destructive so you would need to sacrifice a sample. This is only practical if you are designing a production piece that you intend to produce in quantities.

Halstead is one of North America’s leading distributors of jewelry supplies. The firm is celebrating their 46th anniversary this year. Halstead specializes in wholesale findings, chain, tools and metals for jewelry artists.


Milt Fischbein has been creating jewelry for about 25 years now. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from McGill University, but 6 years ago he began to focus on fabricating filigree jewelry. You can read his full bio and CV on his website: mfmetalarts, where you can also find his filigree jewelry, tiaras, and crowns. He has taken dozens of courses with teachers such as Alan Revere, Michael David Sturlin, Gerry Lewy and Charles Lewton Brain.


Get Inspired! 

Article: Tips for chain End Finishing

Article: 6 Steps to Soldering Earring Posts

YouTube Video: Sweat Soldering 14kt Gold to Sterling Silver (sweat soldering video demo)

Article: Fancy Jewelry Wires: Shaping & Soldering Wire Links (includes a pick soldering video demo)


McCreight, T. (2004). Complete Metalsmith. Brunswick, Maine: Brynmorgen Press, Inc.

Revere, A. (2011). Professional Jewelry Making. Brunswick, Maine: Brynmorgen Press


Solder – Wikipedia

IGS International Gem Society

The post Types of Silver Solder Used in Jewelry appeared first on Halstead Jewelry Blog.

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How To Tell if Gold Is Real?

How to tell if gold is real | Gem Gossip How to tell if gold is real | Gem Gossip How to tell if gold is real | Gem Gossip

Fake gold comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s easy to spot and other times, fake gold deceives even the best of us. There are even times when jewelry has all the proper gold hallmarks, but it turns out to be a cheap (and illegal) form of costume jewelry.

Whether you’re sorting through your grandmother’s old jewelry or you found a ring on the street, you might be wondering what that jewelry is worth. The first step to doing that is figuring out whether the jewelry is made from real gold or any other precious metal.

Before you run to the jewelers, there are some things you can do at home to tell if gold is real. You’ll need a few things to get started: a magnifying glass, a magnet, and a little bit of patience.

Step 1: Look for Hallmarks

The first thing you should do when accessing a piece of jewelry is look for hallmarks. All modern fine jewelry is required to have hallmarks that indicate the gold content. There are various types of hallmarks depending on the age and country of origin.

If there are no hallmarks anywhere, don’t immediately discount the item. Most solid gold antique jewelry doesn’t have gold markings because it wasn’t always a requirement.

If there is a hallmark like 14K, don’t immediately assume the item is pure gold. For instance, 14KGF is a hallmark that indicates the item is gold filled and not solid gold. Also, some scammers have intentionally marked heavy items like gold plated chains with purity markings in order to try to sell for a higher cost. Always know who you’re buying from!

Step 2: Examine for Wear & Discoloration

The next thing you should do is take a jeweler’s loupe or magnifying glass to the item in question. You’re going to be looking for areas of discoloration or wear. Gold should age very evenly and you shouldn’t see any areas of extreme darkness unless it’s a joint where a different metal solder may have been used. Of course you will see some darkness in 10k gold pieces in antique jewelry due to the higher copper content, but this patina will be mostly even throughout.

Antique gold filled items have a relatively thick layer of solid gold on the outside. These pieces can be hard to test because for acid tests, you literally have to cut deep into the item to see if there is a base metal beneath it. If you do an acid test on or just below the surface, the item will read as pure gold.

There are ways, though, to immediately tell if an item is gold filled. If there is wear and tear on the item, search for a base metal. With a loupe, examine portions where gold would naturally rub off (like the edges) to see if there are dark areas of base metal peaking through. This will be an indication that the item is gold filled or gold plated.

Step 3: Eliminate Imposters with a Magnet

This step works well if you’re sifting through a lot of miscellaneous gold pieces. Take a strong magnet and run it across the pile. Anything that is attracted to the magnet can immediately be eliminated as not pure gold. Solid gold is not magnetic, regardless of the color or purity.

Remember, if the jewelry is not attracted to the magnet, this doesn’t mean that the item is real gold. There are other imposter metals that are also not magnetic. This test just helps rule out items.

Step 4: Try the Float Test

Gold is a very dense metal and in theory, it should never float. If you drop your jewelry into a cup of water and it floats, more often than not, the item is costume jewelry. However, a solid gold piece that is hollow and very thin may float, so don’t use this test as your only method.

Step 5: Seek out a Professional

Unless you’re in the jewelry business, we don’t recommend using the nitric acid to test for gold on your own. They sell many home testing kits online, but there is significant room for error here.

In order for this test to be effective, you need to scratch your jewelry. A professional can do much more to accurately tell you what an item is made out of before having to damage the piece. If an acid test is required, they’ll be able to inflict the least amount of damage to the item as possible.

There’s no sense scratching your jewelry only to need a professional to verify what you did anyway.

As always, good luck and happy hunting!

This post was contributed by:

Ageless Heirlooms Lauren Thomann | I: @agelessheirlooms | W:


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10 Cash Flow Culprits in your Jewelry Business

Learn how to identify the 10 Cash Flow Culprits lurking in your jewelry business and how to improve or eliminate them.

  1. Debt
  2. Inventory Turnover
  3. Impulse Spending
  4. No Budget
  5. No Operation Savings
  6. Timing between Receivables and Payables
  7. Lag Time between Order Fulfillment and Payment Receipt
  8. Poor Bookkeeping
  9. Low Sales
  10. Unworthy Expenses

1: Debt

The Worst of the Four-Letter Words

Debt is a thief because it fools you into thinking you have more than you do. This masked caper attacks when you don’t pay off purchases in full as they are made. Once a couple cycles occur of not paying off a credit card in full or purchasing more than you can afford, you become a cat chasing its tail.

If you are using the credit to purchase regularly occurring expenses, then those costs snowball into more debt. If you weren’t able to pay them last month, then you’re likely not going to pay last month and this month together. Before you know it, you’re paying for expenses you purchased 18 months ago, burdened by interest and the continuance of new expenses.

Create a snowball to your advantage by following the Debt Snowball Method from Dave Ramsey. This helps you have a small victory to help motivate you from the start.

“The debt snowball method is a debt reduction strategy where you pay off debts in order of smallest to largest, gaining momentum as each balance is paid off. When the smallest debt is paid in full, you roll the money you were paying on that debt into the next smallest balance.”

– Dave Ramsey, author of 7 national best sellers and host of the Ramsey Show

2: Inventory Turnover

If you don’t operate with just-in-time inventory, then you may find your Inventory Turnover is sucking your cash. Just-in-time Inventory is where you have just enough on hand to meet demand and order more as orders are placed, but you aren’t keeping a stockpile.

To see how much cash you have in inventory, look at your Balance Sheet for Inventory Asset if your books are kept to date with Inventory and Cost of Goods Sold adjustments. (BenchWorks does this automagically for you in Xero!)

If you can’t look at your Balance Sheet, look at your most recent tax return, find page 2 of Schedule C Form 1040. What is your Ending Inventory? That will give you a close idea, plus purchases, minus sales since then.

If you have items you may have an idea for one day… or the time to create something with it one day…, then consider Inventory Turnover as one of your Cash Flow Culprits!

Embrace what you already have to create income. Sell what you’ve got!

Treasure chest with jewellery on wooden background

Remember those emotions that got you to buy it in the first place? Channel that into creating something new and saleable now, or convey those emotions to a buyer.

Keeping track of what you have on hand and available for production or sale means that you have assets that can easily convert to cash. Analyze how fast you are selling your inventory by dividing your Sales Income for a given period by the average Inventory Cost on hand for the same period.

Once you know where you sit with your Inventory Turnover ratio (anything higher than 1 is great in the jewelry industry), then you can consider ways to improve. A real motivator is to calculate how much income you can create from what inventory you have.

  • Will you sell it wholesale?
  • Will you sell it retail?
  • How much can you bring in?

Do it now! You’ve already got the goods willing and waiting to generate an inflow of cash to your business.

3: Impulse Spending

The best way to make an investment is by planning out your purchases and saving up for them. Yes, the old-fashioned way, before the I want it and I want it now era.

Impulse spending is the death of a budget. If you don’t know where your money is going, before it’s gone, then it’s gone, and you don’t know where it went.

As jewelers, you’re already prone to be attracted to pretty things, so when it’s thoughtful and creative, it can be difficult to hold you back. Retain yourself! I demand you! Do not lose your sanity in exchange for things.

Own your business, don’t let it own you!

A good rule of thumb: If you don’t have a buyer, don’t buy it.

“Saving money isn’t about depriving yourself. It’s about deciding you love Future You as much as you love Today You.”

– Chelsea Fagan, The Financial Diet

4: Not Operating on a Budget

When you want to be in control of your money, use a budget. I can’t imagine you don’t want to be in control of your money, right? Right. So, it’s as simple as that. Always, every day, use a budget.

The method behind a budget is assigning every dollar of income to a job. You have to create a starting point, but then navigate and adjust each day with what is actually happening.

  • Not creating as many sales as you anticipated?
    • What are you going to cut or how will you pump up the sales before the month is over?
  • Something cost more than you budgeted for?
    • Play see saw from other expenses by cancelling other costs to pay for it, or else you can’t buy it.

Budgets are discipline and discipline is freedom.

The harder you are on your finances, the better off you will be. Let go of the idea that a budget is restrictive. Budgets are liberating! As soon as you can sort all of your income into buckets to cover all of your expenses, savings, and investments, the better.

5: Not having Operational Savings

If you don’t have savings of 3-6 months of expenses and a buffer on your Checking account, it’s time for a change.

Piggy moneybox with dollar cash and sand clock closeup

An important component of a budget is not expenses, but savings. Savings are always for a purpose or else they’ll get used up for an expense that wasn’t as important. Think of the end result of your savings, your why, and you’ll always be able to add a little more and take a little less.

A buffer is a cushion on your checking account, so that when life –as it may be– has a few unexpected expenses pop up, you aren’t dipping into your savings or scrambling for money.

A buffer protects against minor cash-flow fluctuations and should be at least 25% of your monthly income or up to 8 weeks of expenses. Anything over that should go to a higher interest savings account.

6: Timing between Income Received and Payments Due

Timing is a leech on Cash Flow. It can be very difficult, if not impossible at times, to ride the wave between having to make a payment owed and receiving income owed to you. A horrible risk is to depend on a Line of Credit rather than dip into Savings. Both can be put back, but Credit comes with interest. Is it worth paying more for something out of desperation and poor planning?

Eliminate your risk of timing issues on your cash flow by using a budget and forecast all upcoming expenses. This way you will know exactly how much you’ll need each week and day in the bank to cover all recurring expenses and one-time payables.

7: Lag Time is Slash Time

A business owner can be led into desperation between production time, shipping, receiving a payment, and the merchant and bank’s processing times. Slash the lag time between each of these by studying your procedures.

Like other timing issues, lag time between payment processing and when you have to deliver the goods can make a huge impact on Wholesalers and Custom Jewelers.

Guardians against the lag-time culprit include:

  • down payments
  • payment terms for when the balance is due and how quickly you get paid
  • how the payment is processed, such as cash, check or credit card

8: Poor Bookkeeping: Not up to date; not reliable.

The only way to anticipate cash flow is to have all of your inflows and outflows categorized by date. Accounting software, like QuickBooks and Xero, allows you to do this quickly and in real-time. This way you can run reports at a click of a button.

One of our favorite reports in Xero is to see Expenses by Contact by Month for the last 12 months.

For example, if we are in January 2019, a 12-month side-by-side comparison of expenses will show you Jan – Dec 2018. This allows you to review what happened in the past to see what expenses are may be expected in the future.

When your bookkeeping is up to date and complete, you can rely on the information the reports are telling you. Without reliable reports, there is no reason to run them.

9: Not Enough Sales

If you aren’t meeting your sales goals, or worse yet, haven’t established sales goals to chase, then it’s time for a check-in. You’ll need to review where you’ve been and plan where you want to go. To get to where you want to go, and more immediately, to fund outflows of current cash, you’ll need to figure out what you can do to make those sales.

  • How many pieces do you need to sell to generate the amount you need?
  • Who can you contact to help you, or to sell to?
  • What events or promotions can you do?

Because you’re a business owner or a member of a business that relies on sales for income that is not a predictable pay check, motivating sales every day has to be part of your agenda.

Cash flow can’t flow out, without an inflow. You just have to go out there and ask for the sales. Accept that it is your right and purpose of the business to have sales.

10: Expenses Without a Return

It’s great to make investments in your business with the hopes of generating a return, but are you getting the return you hoped? You’ve probably heard the saying, “cut the fat.” There are really only two ways to improve cash flow: increase income and reduce expenses. While there are many ways to do both of those, keeping your costs in check is the one that makes your business endure the test of time. You can quickly create income to boost your profits, but expenses are the culprit that deplete profits on an ongoing basis.

Cancel any recurring charges you don’t need. Keep a running roster of your recurring annual and monthly charges with their renewal dates, so you know at-a-glance if you need to cancel something before it renews.

Get rid of any expenses that you no longer feel are worth it.

Take time each month to comb through your expenses and ask:

The only way to have cash is to not spend it. Be frugal and discerning with every dollar.

The best warrior against Cash Flow Culprits is a budget. We highly recommend using YNAB on a daily basis. You can use the Budgeting feature in QuickBooks or Xero if you stick to it. To do so, you have to meet your sales goals and not exceed budgeted expense amounts. Sometimes, it’s not that easy, so that’s why we depend on YNAB.

Accounting for Jewelers is not affiliated with YNAB, we just believe in it. Our employees use it and many of our clients do too. Click here for my referral link to YNAB, so we can both get one month free and nerd out together.

Further reading for jewelry business tips:

How to Start a Jewelry Business the Right Way

How to Manage Your Time Better Using 7 Simple Steps

Pricing Strategy Tips for Jewelry Business Profitability

Mariel Diaz is the Founder and Managing Director of Accounting for Jewelers, where she develops courses and applications, oversees service operations and advises clients to improve the financials of their businesses. Her goal in life is to make a massive impact on the quality of life of jewelry business owners. Check out these great resources for jewelers:

  • BenchWorks Inventory, integrates with Xero, Shopify, & Etsy
  • Impact, Accounting Made Easy Masterclass for Xero.

The post 10 Cash Flow Culprits in your Jewelry Business appeared first on Halstead Jewelry Blog.

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Leslie Hindman Auction: September Sale is INCREDIBLE

Leslie Hindman: Lot 87

You’ll be enchanted forever by this ring, up for bid at Leslie Hindman Auction in Chicago, IL — this is lot 87 in the three-day bidding extravaganza.

Leslie Hindman: Lot 377 Leslie Hindman: Lot 378 Leslie Hindman: Lot 379 Leslie Hindman: Lot 380

Four mesmerizing opals are on the block at Leslie Hindman, day one, and they come back-to-back in lots 377-380. Get your bidding paddles up!

Earlier this year, I got the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the Leslie Hindman Auctioneers jewelry headquarters in Chicago, IL. To say I’ve got some perspective on how an auction house runs is far from the truth, but I came away being able to put faces with names, insight into a typical day, and a brief intake of the enormous amount of sparkle the jewelry department works with. It was one of my most favorite experiences of this year! Now when I hear that Leslie Hindman has an upcoming auction this September (the 10th-12th to be exact) I have more context of the event, as they are excited to bring a three-day extravaganza with some heavy and hard-hitting bidding in the future. This three-day auction will feature over 1500 items of all price points and eras. If you like big and bold, Victorian or Modern, opals or rubies, they’ve got something for everyone.

Let’s take a look at some of my top picks:

Leslie Hindman: Lot 6 Leslie Hindman: Lot 55

Lot 6: Nothing beats an Etruscan Revival basketweave wrap bracelet! This is such a fine example and I love the gemstones used on it–sapphire and diamonds! It gives it a cool look against the warm yellow gold. I also love the granulation work, in both excellent and ready-to-wear condition. This piece may date back to 1870, but never looked more trendy than on an elegant wrist in 2017. Estimate: $3,000-5,000

Lot 55: Lately I’ve written several articles on engagement rings and I’ve been finding that women are wanting something traditional but with a twist! This ring speaks volumes with just the small accent sapphires, as it makes the ring totally unique. The piece is Art Deco and set with a 3.24 carat Old European cut diamond in the center. Love the style and think it should belong to someone who will treasure it as an engagement ring. Estimate: $10,000-15,000

Leslie Hindman: Lot 68 Leslie Hindman: Lot 86

Lot 68: I’ve seen the benefits of purchasing pieces that are convertible and this is a fine example of a two-in-one! Meet the silver-topped diamond pendant/brooch of your dreams. This piece totals over five carats of old cut diamonds and radiates from every angle. I could picture it being worn on a chain or worn pinned to a collar. The possibilities are really endless. Estimate: $4,000-6,000

Lot 86: The only kind of bugs I like are jewelled insects! This guy is one for the books–look how cute he is. Set with rose cut diamonds all-original to the piece and a jaw-dropping opal back. I love the detail on the textured gold legs and the ruby eyes. It’s all in the details. Estimate: $2,000-3,000

Leslie Hindman: Lot 111A Leslie Hindman: Lot 118

Lot 111A: Plique a jour is jewelry’s version of stained glass and I must say, I don’t own a single piece of this beautiful artform. These earrings though, should and would be the best first piece of plique a jour to add to my collection. I love the colors and I love the design. They are 18k yellow gold and feature 12 brilliant cut diamonds. Estimate: $500-700

Lot 118: This diamond and ruby ring stopped me in my tracks. Wow. It is done in platinum and set with a marquise cut in the center, with calibre French cut rubies and round diamond accents. It is pristinely made and you can see the remarkable craftsmanship even in the photo alone–now I want to see it in person! It could be yours on September 10th. Estimate: $4,500-6,500

Leslie Hindman: Lot 124 Leslie Hindman: Lot 300

Lot 124: This ring is so cool for so many reasons! Let’s start with the fact that it has contrasting metals–rose gold and platinum. The design is also pretty amazing, and the different metals really play off this element. The rubies are actually different, if you already couldn’t tell–one is synthetic and the other is genuine. Such a stunning ring. Estimate: $4,500-6,500

Lot 300: The coolest earrings I ever did see. These are actually diamond studs with detachable jackets that easily slip on/off the earring posts. There are four jackets total, so lots of possibilities here! And the style of these has never been more on-trend. Geometric and angular, love them. The diamond studs total 2.26 carats. Estimate: 3,000-5,000

Leslie Hindman: Lot 487 Leslie Hindman: Lot 509

Lot 487: I had to include this insane emerald ring because of its colossal size–then I read further and realized it is a piece by Judy Geib. A true artist who hand makes everything herself–fun fact: did you know she taught herself how to make jewelry? No formal training. Her pieces are known for their juxtapositions–like beauty and rawness, fine gold mixed with silver. Estimate: $4,500-6,500

Lot 509: Iconic and chic, I had to include this cuff bracelet from Verdura into my favorites list! It is easily recognizable as a Verdura statement piece. Done in 18k yellow gold, set with peridot, amethyst, and diamond and complete with the Maltese cross enameled in black. What a special bracelet. Estimate: 28,000-38,000

This sponsored blog post was brought to you in collaboration with Leslie Hindman.

LHA Logotype_2016_Web

SEPTEMBER SALE: September 10th-12th

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High Jewelry Made a Big Impact at Paris Couture Week

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Haute couture is one-of-a-kind creations crafted from the finest materials by skilled artisans using century-old techniques. Haute couture had humble beginnings. In 1858, an English couturier, Charles Frederick Worth, established the first haute couture house in Paris championing exclusive luxury fashion for the upper-class woman and coining the term “fashion designer” in lieu of the basic dressmaker. Today, haute couture is still synonymous with high-quality materials and workmanship. And when haute couture meets haute joaillerie (high jewelry), the result is transformative! The jewelry becomes an extension of the designer’s vision for his or her collection creating a complete story – one that is truly a work of art!

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Giambattista Valli accessorized his haute couture collection, comprising of ethereal tulle gowns, draped silk chiffon dresses and embellished minis with exquisite vintage jewels from Eleuteri. The jewels focused mainly on bracelets featuring a glorious 1950s French amethyst and turquoise piece as well as a intricate jade and gold design from David Webb and several Tubogas wristwatches from Bulgari.


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The Chinese designer made a name for herself when she dressed singer Rihanna in yellow couture for the MET’s “China through the Looking Glass” gala and red carpet. For her haute couture collection, she collaborated with Chopard paying homage to the golden era of haute couture and Hollywood icons of the 50s. The results were a perfect fusion of Chinese and Western cultures, high fashion and exquisite jewels.

The deep jewel toned hues of Pei’s dresses paired effortlessly with Chopard’s the Silk Road collection, which featured an emerald bib necklace, diamond and pearl drop earrings and an amethyst pendant necklace. The Chopard jewels complemented the opulence and extravagance of Pei’s couture collection perfectly.


This post was contributed by:

wwwdaily Laura Lee Fulham | T: @WhoWoreWhatDly | W:

Thanks to Gossip Gem

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Why Are Crystals & Healing Crystals So Popular Right Now?

So much can be said about crystals and their role in the millennial mind. The mainstream’s relatively recent fascination with crystals is far-reaching and undeniably polarizing. There are those that think a crystal’s ability to heal is hogwash. Others go so far as to dedicate their lives to healing crystal’s seemingly magical powers.

Then there are people like me who fall somewhere in the middle. Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely fascinated by crystals, and my collection is vast enough to need its own cabinet or two. I use crystals while meditating, and I even playfully ponder over the unseen “energies” different crystals emit.

But I’m still skeptical. Do I think holding a piece of rose quartz over your heart is going to heal a cardiac arrhythmia? No. Do I think every crystal sends off a different vibration? Not really. What I do know is that each type of crystal has a different composition and absorbs and refracts light (and radiation) in different ways — to put it simply.

Regardless of where you stand, the age of buying druzy crystals in mass numbers is upon us. Crystal healing has been around for centuries, but why all of a sudden are these specimens so in-demand? Skepticism aside, here are some reasons why crystals are so popular:

1. Crystals Are Helpful Meditative Aids:

A crystal doesn’t need to be unearthly magical to help with a simple meditation practice. If the crystal just so happens to emit an energy that helps you channel a goal, great. But that isn’t the point. So much of our own energy is channeled through our thoughts.

If we think a particular stone will enhance our intuition, chances are we’ll be seeing things more clearly. Whether it’s the stone’s work or just our mind, having a token to focus our attention on while meditating can help with the process of destressing.

2. Healing Crystals Lend to Personalized Spiritual Practices:

I’m not a New Age expert, but I do know that the culture developed as a means to explore spirituality for those that don’t fit into the confines of standardized religion. In a New Age practice, no one model that fits all. An individual explores varying belief systems and ideologies, then they practice a mixture based on works for them. One potential area of study is crystal healing, which is an ancient practice that has been around for thousands of years.

Many millennials that don’t easily fit into another religion are adopting this New Age model to help them through difficult times. Whereas some might find their solace in Catholicism, Hinduism or Islam, New Agers might find that same comfort through astrology or paganism.

A recent cultural shift to more New Age type thinking among millennials explains in part why crystal sales have been seeing a resurgence. Before you’re quick to agree or disagree, remember that with belief systems, you don’t necessarily see what you’re believing. If crystals bring someone closer to their spirituality and the universe and if crystals somehow make them a better person because of it, all the power to them. So long as someone’s beliefs are ethically okay and don’t infringe upon someone else’s beliefs, no judgements here.

3. Crystals are Absolutely Fascinating to Look At and Study:

Alright, so let’s get down to the reason why most of my jewelry friends and I are obsessed with crystals. They’re gorgeous! Most of the time they’re completely untainted. And they can grow under the most extreme yet specific conditions. They’re colorful, optically fierce, and exceptional little snowflakes. Okay, I’m going a little overboard, but you get the idea.

Crystals and gemstones that haven’t been dyed or altered in any way are such a profound testament to the beauty of earth and nature. Something as seemingly simple as rain pushing sediment into a mountain crevice can transform into an unworldly treasure millions of years later. Hello, opal! And that’s just one example.

The science behind crystals is vast, complex, and undeniably intriguing. And even when you fully understand the how, you still can’t help but be mystified when you come across an even more radiant and unusual specimen.

Whatever marketing or New Age trend that pushed the mainstream population onto crystals has only promoted what we gemology and geology fanatics have known all along. There’s nothing quite like a perfectly imperfect crystal.

Five Crystal Items You Can Shop:

Crystal Gifts | Gem Gossip

Crystals – Paperback by Jennie Harding

Agate Bookends

Crystal Cluster Amethyst Art

Wellness Gem-Water Bottle by VitaJuwel

Green and Blue Mineral Art Print

This post was contributed by:

Ageless Heirlooms Lauren Thomann | I: @agelessheirlooms | W:

Thanks to Gossip Gem

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5 Ways to Use a Rolling Mill in your Jewelry Studio and Maintenance Primer

The price of a rolling mill can be staggering, they vary anywhere from $150-$3500 for large, electric rolling mills. This is no small investment, especially if you are an artist just starting out with your first one. With larger machines, rollers are purchased separately, which can be a costly expense. Try a less expensive rolling mill to start, which will give you insight into how you’ll use it. The rolling mill we carry at Halstead, comes with 5 rollers, covering everything you need to get started. Later, if you choose to upgrade,  you’ll know what rollers you use and it can better suit your needs. Here are 5 ways to use a rolling mill, caring tips, and a maintenance/breakdown video to help get you started.

1. Emboss Patterns on Sheet Metal

The number one reason I used our studio rolling mill was to run brass pattern sheets through it. It was fun to imprint patterns onto the annealed copper sheet. I would quickly have patterns on a copper metal sheet which were ready to go. We also annealed copper and ran found objects through. Leaves, flowers, twigs and soft screening materials can all be used. Always anneal the metal that you want to emboss on. Using a rolling mill in this capacity is lots of fun and quite satisfying; however, there’s so much more it can do.


Steel objects such as mesh, saw blades and other hard objects will permanently damage a roller. Steel is extremely hard on the rollers, it can leave scratches and gouge them. When the rollers are damaged, they need to be shipped out to be resurfaced, which is costly and time-consuming. If running steel through the rolling mill, sandwich the steel between two soft metal sheets. That way the steel never makes contact with the rollers.

2. Melt and Roll Scrap into Usable Sheet

Running metal sheet through a rolling mill

It wasn’t until I attended Michael David Sturlin’s retreat that I realized how important a rolling mill is and I really learned to appreciate it. It was the first time that I ever saw scrap metal melted into an ingot. Next, I watched as Michael ran that ingot through a rolling mill until he had flattened it into the gauge that he needed. This is what he does with his scrap metal. Rather than sending it off for money, if he needs a gauge and he doesn’t have it on hand he just melts and rolls it.


Separate all of your scraps. Dedicate specific jars for copper, brass, and sterling silver scrap.

3. Draw Down Wire Gauges

Rolling mill rollers

This new outlook on rolling mills really changed how I felt about them as tools. One day I put it to the test on a project I was recently working on. I was learning how to wire wrap and we had run short of a gauge that I needed. It occurred to me that our rolling mill came with wire rollers, so I unwrapped them from their boxes and above is what I found. There a total of 5 rollers that came with this rolling mill. The two flat rollers that were always on the machine,  long and short wire rollers and a short textured roller (this textured roller has two mesh patterns on it. What fun that was to discover!).

After switching out the rollers I started with a larger gauged wire and rolled it through the mill. I found myself rolling it down until it was the gauge I needed and the problem was solved. It worked perfectly.


If you want half-round wire just leave the flat roller on the bottom and place a wire roller on the top.

4. Harden your Sheet Metal

Work hardening your metal in a rolling mill

Occasionally you’ll need to harden your metal and a rolling mill works great for hardening sheet and wire. You’ve already learned that if you want to imprint your metal it needs to be annealed, however, every pass you make through the rolling mill is work hardening your metal. It can harden to the point of cracking in just a few passes, so when hardening your metal just pass it through the rollers to get the temper you need, but don’t exceed the passes and damage the metal either.


Tip: Rollers bend your metal. Don’t feel frustrated when it happens because it’s an easy fix. Use a bench block, and a rawhide or nylon hammer to flatten it right back out without damaging or moving the metal.

5. Fold Forming

Yes, you can fold form without a rolling mill, but the creases in your metal will be so much more pronounced if you run it through a rolling mill. Your metal folds will be tighter and look so much sharper that you may use a rolling mill with all of your fold formed jewelry. Give it a try and see what you think!

Caring for your Rolling Mill

Gears & Handle

I’ve spent time with Michael David Sturlin in his studio and in ours. He’s one of my mentors and he passed along some important tips on rolling mills. But first a little about Michael. Michael travels to schools and studios teaching courses and classes. He also runs week-long retreats at his home studio in Scottsdale, AZ. His insight is extremely valuable to me. Second, a rolling mill is not a disposable item. This is an expensive machine for the majority, so caring for your machine can be the difference between a machine that lasts for years and one that breaks early on.

Michael said, when I asked him for tips and suggestions regarding rolling mills, “The issue with breakage is usually with the gears. On smaller or lesser quality mills, if undue force is applied, it’s possible for the gear teeth to break, usually with the gear attached to the handle.”

One tip I suggest is to not attempt too much reduction in one pass if there is too much resistance as you start to roll, open the rollers slightly.

~ Michael David Sturlin

Proper Rolling Mill Height

Another tip from Michael combines ergonomics and posture, efficiency and long-term damage to your body (and we know it’s never too early to do it right the first time). “The proper elevation is placing the mill so that the handle at the top of the rotation is aligned with the outstretched arm, parallel with the floor. Generally, this will place the handle at the bottom of the rotation at the position of the hand hanging at your side, pointing down towards the floor. This varies a little depending on the size of the mill and the length of the handle. If the mill is on a low table it forces the user to bend over as they use it and if the mill is too high it forces the shoulder to extend as the handle is pushed up a the top of the swing. Either of those positions will encourage back and shoulder problems.”

He also added suggestions to raise your rolling mill to the proper height: “For most situations, a 4 x 4 inch or 4 x 6 inch might suffice. I did not have that dimension of wood at hand so I stacked up two sections of 2-inch boards. People can check in the lumber department of their home improvement store, quite often there is a cut-off or scrap bin where they can find an odd or end piece for very little cost.” This discussion made me realize that our studio rolling mill is too short and when attending school and at studios, they have been bolted to average size tables. When I made that observation to him, his reply was: “Quite often in academic teaching environments, they have the rolling mills bolted to a table that is way too low. Commercial rolling mill stands are made with quite a high platform to bolt the mill too, ensuring the mill is at the proper height.”

Water Damage

After annealing your metal, dry it thoroughly before running it through the rolling mill. Water can damage it by causing rust and corrosion over time, so never run anything wet through it.

Clean and dry metal is the heart of the issue.

~ Chris Contos

My jewelry instructor at Yavapai college, Chris Contos, explained to me why the school rolling mill was locked up tight. “The rolling mill was locked to prevent untrained hands from destroying it.  The old roller had scars from unprotected steel and surface etching from the pickle.  Ideally, the rollers should be kept as pristine as possible. Some folks like to wipe a light oil onto roller surfaces after each working session before it sits idle. In a college studio, the ideal is not always practical or possible.”

Storing your Rolling Mill

When you purchase a new rolling mill it will come heavily greased in oil. That’s a good thing! Always keep your rolling mill and rollers greased in a 3-to-1 gear oil which will protect your mill from corrosives. This is especially important during transport via ocean freight, so new mills have a lot of protective grease during transit. To remove it, use rags to wipe away the excess, but don’t use water or liquid cleaners. You want a little bit of grease to remain on the mill to keep it in good working order. When rolling metal through your mill you can wipe the extra oil off of your rollers with a soft cloth or paper towel. When finished, simply re-grease it with the 3-in-1 oil before storing it.

Finally, place a bag or box over your rolling mill to protect it against dust and debris and other harmful things.

Here at Halstead, we sell an economy rolling mill for under $350.00.  We’ve had this same one in the studio for three years now, and it’s perfect for our needs. Below is a video which shows you a breakdown of the rolling mill that we carry here. Remember, a rolling mill will last for years, as long as you care for it.

Recommended Reading:

How to Buy Jewelry Making Metal Sheet
10 Types of Silver Used in Jewelry
Adding Diamonds to your Silver Jewelry Collection

The post 5 Ways to Use a Rolling Mill in your Jewelry Studio and Maintenance Primer appeared first on Halstead Jewelry Blog.

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