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.
Heather B. Moore’s story starts with love, laughter and family…and fittingly, just as her jewelry often depicts those words both literally and figuratively, she has brought personalization of jewelry to the highest level. After viewing the video displayed below, you see just how hands-on and multi-faceted her business has become. This interview also touches upon how it all came to be, in the most innocent of ideas and forms. Sometimes we are destined for a certain path and it seems as though Heather was meant to bring memories, quotes and cherished words to life through her jewelry designs. Each piece is heavily sentimental and often instant tear-jerkers. As jewelry enthusiasts, we know how special a personalized piece can be–but how about one that is in the exact handwriting of a loved one? Or an exact doodle from your once 5-year-old son or daughter? I know if and when I start a family, Heather B. Moore‘s designs will be first on my list for a little keepsake!
We are currently developing an exciting new series based on personal empowerment called the Sculptural Series. Its foundation stems from personalized themes people were requesting for their designs, which usually fell into four common categories: strength, growth, wisdom, and healing. With that as our guide, we started the Sculptural Series to capture moments that feel personal while complementing our other designs.
While we are only launching with a limited selection, this is just the beginning. The world is full of wonderful symbols that have meaningful messages, and Heather B. Moore jewelry is excited to add more sculptural jewelry to the collection in the future.
I only took one jewelry class in college. At the time my focus was cast glass, Venetian glass blowing, and steel work. My sister Wendy was an anthropology major and had moved to Kathmandu, Nepal where she lived with a jeweler’s family. That’s where I started getting interested in what she was doing! After college, I was working for an artist welding large-scale art installations across the country for Judy Pfaff. On the weekends, my sister Wendy used to ask me to make jewelry for fashion shows and low-budget movies in Los Angeles.
I started off doing chain work and handmade chain, which we still do today. I also integrated glass beads and stones within the chain, and while we still integrate stones into our chain, we moved away from glass beads to focus on precious stones.
In 2004, I started offering personalization on a number of pieces and everything grew from there. Our personalized collection was created on the foundation that timeless designs start with a blank canvas for our customers, then we collaborate to create the perfect piece. We have the capacity to create the steel stamps of people’s handwriting and children’s drawings as well as a wide variety of fonts and layouts.
I started collecting tools when I was 13. I grew up in the steel industry of Cleveland and loved going to my dad’s factories, so craftsmanship was something that I related to.
The first steel tooling stamps that I purchased were from a garage sale at an old machinist’s house. I carried those stamps around with me for 15 years before knew what to do with them! In 1991, I pulled out those stamps and decided to integrate quotes from my friends and family. I stamped them out onto the silver plaques and then framed it with a handmade cast glass frame.
In 1997, my sister Wendy was in a skiing accident and passed away. Before she passed I stamped a quote she gave me into a piece of metal: “I said to my sister and she said to me, come let’s play laughter together.” I remember loving the quote so much that I took the plaque with her quote off the wall, and I put it in my wallet. To this day I look at it and it makes me smile.
After moving back to Cleveland and receiving the Rising Star Award from the JCK trade show, I had an interview with Real Simple Magazine about why a designer from NYC would move to Cleveland.
During the interview the writer asked a series of silly questions like, “what kind of hair care products do I use?” and, “what is in your purse?” At first I was a little confused, but I pulled out my wallet and got the plaque of my sister’s quote, and they loved it. They photographed it and used it as the focal point of the article.
At the time, I was designing for bigger companies like Banana Republic and I was getting tired of doing trendy jewelry that was “in” one season and “out” the next. I thought it was interesting that they loved the little plaque so much, and that made me think about the unique stamps that I had in the basement, and I knew I wanted to make something for myself. So, I stamped my kids names on some silver discs, framed them in gold, and I created my first personalized necklace.
I fell in love with it because my kids would sit on my lap and flip through the charms and look for their names. That is when it hit me: personalization has more value than the material that it’s on, because personalization is forever. Telling your story is not a trend; it’s a keepsake, an heirloom, and one-of-a-kind… just like the person wearing it.
That is when I knew I was on the right track. I was putting something into the marketplace that I had actually created in 1992… it’s like it all became a full circle.
It’s amazing to think I was so young, but I’m also very proud to say that now we create our own stamps in our steel shop. It’s fun to have the opportunity to create special tooling for each individual customer.
Left: the plaque Heather made, with her sister’s special quote Right: a necklace Heather wears almost everyday–it features her new Buddha charm
I think my proudest moment was winning the Town & Country International Gold Award at the Couture Jewelry Show in Las Vegas.
This is a show where all designers get together and showcase their pieces to stores across the country. Town & Country magazine had sponsored the event, so it was super fancy that year. Most people were in black tie… but I didn’t know that! I showed up late to the party in flip-flops, jeans, a t-shirt and messy hair!
When I thought about designing something for the Gold category, I wanted something no one had yet documented. One topic that came up was that we had never documented someone’s letter, and I had the perfect one. It was a whimsical thank you note from my sister Wendy. She had sent it just days after Christmas and she spoke of the importance of family and new traditions. This was the first year I didn’t spend Christmas with my family because I was with my husband’s family in Canada, so it really hit home for me. It was the last letter I ever got from her. She passed away shortly after Christmas.
We stamped this whole letter on a big yellow gold cuff, with a rose gold frame on the outside and a green gold frame on the inside, then we covered the frame in diamonds.
We arrived late to the awards show party and had already begun to announce the winners, so we quickly grabbed a glass of wine and snuck into some seats just as the announcer said, “And the Gold Award goes to a designer from the city of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame…”
…I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh, there’s another designer here from Cleveland,” but then they called my name!
In a broad sense, my hopes, dreams, and goals are to make sure I can continue to create beautiful pieces for people and documenting their stories. I love that we have the opportunity to work with customers hand-in-hand.
And with the sculptural collection, there are so many amazing symbols that empower people. I just love the direction we are going with that!
I have so many pieces I love and adore! We have a wide variety of designs within the collection, and I truly love all of them. I have many iterations with my children’s names (Henry, Leo, Oliver and Coral). They are my proudest creation!
I have a yellow gold bangle with their names on it, a leather bracelet with with their names on it, and a necklace where they each have their own charm! I actually named the frames after them. The Henry frame is a braid like the Nantucket braided bracelets. The Leo frame has a granulation frame for him because he really loves the arts. Then there’s the Oliver frame. He’s really an organized child so I did a spiral frame for him. Coral’s got a bubbly personality, so her frame kind of looks like bubbles!
I like to wear my cuff bracelet that has my sister’s letter with jeans and a t-shirt, but I also wore it to the Beastie Boys black tie Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction.
My sister Halley and I both have a charm with Wendy’s phone number on it. She never had business cards, which we always thought was hilarious! We made it in green gold because her birthday was on Saint Patrick’s Day.
My new favorite necklace has a bunch of charms on it, and it’s a story about my boyfriend Jason and me. We went to high school together so I have one charm that says “You were worth the wait,” and another charm that says “Home is when I’m with you.” And I have a little single initial J charm for his name… and a diamond, of course!
I have a 4mm square cuff bracelet that grounds me–it says “When you look at life through the right lens, everything comes into focus.” Life certainly does throw you some curveballs sometimes… so that helps me through those challenges. The fact that I’m a photographer kind of makes it perfect! My dad gave me my first camera when I was 14 and then shipped me off to Africa with 13 rolls of film. I have been an avid photographer ever since.
I will end with this one:
I have this fantastic ring that has been dubbed “the hockey ring.” It’s my good luck ring for my boys’ games. If it’s not on my finger it’s in my wallet waiting for the next game. I did not put any personalization on it with words… and it’s really quite thick. We call it The Pope Ring at the studio! So when I’m photographing the hockey games (because all three boys are in hockey) if something happens like a goal or a good defensive play, I can bang on the glass with my ring, and I wont hurt my hand! Because of all the banging, overtime it has collected quite a few, great dents! It is essentially personalized from all the dents!
This sponsored blog post was brought to you in collaboration with Heather B. Moore.
Above features every “logo” aka Banner I’ve had over the past nine years, from first inception until now. The evolution shows the progression and most recently we dropped our tagline which we’ve had since day one.
With each passing July, I sit and ponder the beginnings of my blog Gem Gossip–all that it has done and accomplished, and all the potential that lies ahead. It was nine years ago that I first started this website with the sole purpose of connecting with others that love jewelry as much as I do. I never imagined that I would be doing this full-time nine years later and creating my own path. And I have YOU to thank for all this–those who read my blog daily, follow my social media accounts, “like” my photos and send encouraging emails. Thank you. You truly don’t know what it means to me and I’m forever grateful.
To celebrate this year, I’m reminiscing like crazy and sharing with you some facts you might not have known about Gem Gossip! I thought this would be a fun and personal blog post, and I’d love to hear some interesting tidbits regarding YOU and Gem Gossip. Does a blog post stick out in your memory? How did you find or stumble upon my blog? Did I help you out in a way that I don’t know about? I’d love to know! You can email me, write it in the comments below, or share on Instagram–I’ll be posting this on there as well.
PS: There will also be a giveaway coming up, but I have to hit 160k followers on Instagram first, so stay tuned!
1. I started my blog as a result of moving to Tennessee–after uprooting from the only house I had ever lived in my whole life in Upstate NY to TN, I had a lot of time on my hands. I had no job, no car (I sold my car because I didn’t want to drive it 11 hours by myself lol), and knew no one in my new town. I finally decided to invest my time and energy into learning about my biggest passion I had been carrying around with me my whole life–JEWELRY!
2. I was in a long distance relationship at the time I started Gem Gossip. It was because of my ex-boyfriend who suggested I should start a blog about jewelry after I had constantly filled his inbox daily with long hyperlinks of jewelry that I thought was “really cool.” He told me he didn’t care about the jewelry and that I needed an outlet to share my passion with others who felt the same way!
3. The name “Gem Gossip” was conceived after a brainstorm session with my sisters on what to name my future jewelry blog. I knew I couldn’t have my URL be daniellemiele.com because NO ONE knows how to pronounce my last name. It had to be catchy, simple, relate to jewelry and easy to say. I was looking at my sister’s fashion magazines and saw one of the actresses from Gossip Girl on the front cover (that show was the most popular around that time). I whispered aloud, “Gossip Gem” … and then “Gem Gossip” and it all clicked!
4. One of my first emails I’ve ever received from a jewelry designer was from Carolyn Tyler, after I had featured some of her work on my brand new blog. Her email was so encouraging and the excitement that I felt from receiving positive feedback was worth more than gold to me in that moment. I will never forget that kind exchange.
5. On the flipside of that, I’ve received several negative emails over the past nine years. One that called me Southern white trash (I’m from NY, so nice try) and a few that poked fun of my features that included photos of me modeling jewelry. This is both alarming on many levels but also quite comical, in my opinion.
6. The first seven years of writing Gem Gossip were all done part-time on weekends or after work. I was a nanny for the very first year and a half when I moved to Tennessee, and then eventually worked full-time at an antique jewelry store for five years. I would sit behind a microscope Tuesday through Saturday, with a pile of jewelry in a room without windows and crank out appraisals…and then come home bursting with creative energy, not wanting to do anything else except work on my blog.
7. One of my first big writing gigs was for LoveGold–I had no idea at the time how much I would learn in such a positive way from the 2 1/2 years of working with them. I produced exactly 100 pieces of exclusive content for LoveGold and traveled thousands of miles. And I still can’t get enough of yellow gold.
8. I once had a meeting with a very prestigious celebrity stylist. After learning I lived in Nashville she asked me about my love of country music. I told her I hated country music and she kept saying, “So you don’t like Taylor Swift? Not even Taylor Swift??” and I was adamant about not liking Taylor Swift. It was then and there that I realized I could have easily changed my answer to better fit our conversation; for her to “like” me. But I didn’t. I am who I am and I’m not changing for anyone. It is a memory that still sticks with me to this day…and it was with me a few weeks ago when I had some big meetings in NYC.
9. My #JewelryRoadTrip project involves a lot of travel, appointment making and on-the-spot creativity when visiting stores and designers’ work spaces. My husband Matt usually is the photographer behind all my #JewelryRoadTrip features but there was one big trip he couldn’t make–all my Pennsylvania coverage. My mom ended up coming along with me and taking all the photos. She was SO nervous and wanted to do a good job. I think she did great and it is still such a memorable trip for both of us. It was one of the first literal road trips where we drove my Prius up from Nashville and across the entire state of Pennsylvania over the course of four days. My car surpassed the 100k mileage mark on that trip and we celebrated by eating Arby’s (my favorite road trip fast food place…wait, maybe I am white trash?? See #5).
10. One of my most proud moments was being a co-curator at the Doyle & Doyle Vault series, where the NYC-based antique jewelry store put on their version of a month-long museum exhibition. I chose the topic of Sentimental Rings and several of my personal pieces, including my grandparents’ wedding bands and my grandma’s engagement ring were a part of the exhibit. In order for her ring to get to me, my grandma had to mail me her beloved ring. We both were so nervous for this feat–I had been tracking the package every step of the way. On the day of delivery, it was pouring rain. My alerts told me it had been delivered at my doorstep, but it was nowhere to be found. I was having a full-on panic attack over this. I ran outside in the rain in search of the package. To my surprise, it was sitting on the stoop of my neighbor a few doors down from me. It wasn’t just any neighbor…it was our neighbor that we were in a fully committed “poop war” with. What could I possibly mean by this? Well his dog would go to the bathroom in our yard almost daily…so my husband would take the dog poop and put it on their porch. Dumbest thing ever, but we were totally into it at the time lol. I grabbed the package off their porch and ran back home. That day ended the “poop war” and they moved shortly afterward, so all crisis averted. (By the way, my grandma’s Italian handwriting is the reason for the incorrect delivery–insert Italian hand gesture meaning WTF).
WANT MORE? Check out my Pinterest board which features everyone’s anniversary posts
Summertime gives us all the wanderlust vibes you can ever imagine. Our Instagram is typically filled with jewels, gems and all things relating to jewelry design, so it always grabs our attention when our favorite jewelry designers and store owners post an envious getaway pic. We’ve seen glimpses of Paris, tropical islands, Canadian mountains, and everything in between. I’m personally obsessed with the US desert southwest–remember I honeymooned in Sedona, Arizona?–so when I saw a New Mexico landscape scroll onto my screen I had to know more. Luckily the sister duo of Vale Jewelry, Eva & Ava, were more than happy to share about their two-week trip to New Mexico–let’s find out more:
We planned this trip around a visit to Walter de Maria’s groundbreaking land art, The Lightening Field, but it quickly ballooned into a 2-week major road trip around New Mexico. The fifth largest state, but one of the least populated, the vast deserts and scrubland inspired Georgia O’Keeffe body of work as well as numerous other artists. You only have to spend one day there to understand why it’s muse to many creatives, between the sunsets, endless sky, and the ingrained history of crafts. No wonder it picked up the nickname of The Land of Enchantment. Home to most of the US’s oldest Native American and indigenous tribes and pueblos, including the Zuni, Navajo and Hopi, this magical and awe-inspiring land should be on anyone’s travel list.
Left photo: One of the oldest continuously-inhabited communities in the United States, Taos Pueblo was built in the early 13th century and located right in the Rio Grande Valley. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it holds a very active Tiwa-speaking Native American tribe residing in multi-storied adobe houses built as two complexes made from mud, wood, grass and water. This historic village is located just 1 mile outside Taos. About 4,500 members still live in this area, but only about 150 still reside inside these structures year-round without the modern convenience of running water and electricity. While it is a private community, they do offer visitors to come see parts of the village where locals sell crafts like pottery and local eats like fried bread.
Right photo: San Geronimo has a storied past as one of the first post-Columbian Spanish Catholic churches in the US. Built by Native Americans of the Taos Pueblo people under the suppression of the Spanish missionaries and colonial powers, this one featured above is actually the third reincarnation. It was one of the many churches destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt when tensions between the native tribes and Spanish colonial presence boiled over. The current church shown above was built in the 18th century.
Left photo: The ladder above resembles some of the staircases used in many pueblos as well as native and local adobe houses. Typically, the staircases are made of local timber such as pine, spruce and ponderosa. These ladders were precious items since the wood had to be cut down from forests located quite a distance from local desert pueblos. They were passed down from generation to generation. In traditional Pueblo culture, the people of the original land came to this land by the underworld. Hence, many pueblos build ceremonial underground chambers within these adobe houses called kivas that the chieftains use for religious song, prayer and ceremonies. The one above is one from the Acoma pueblo featuring a double ladder for going up and down with a lightening rod shape holding the two together.
Right photo: On our way back from staying overnight at The Lightening Field in Quemado, we stopped by Pie Town. Yes, you read that right, it’s a town named after one of the best desserts having taken its name from an early settler of the town in the 1920s that made the town famous with a highway pie shop. The pies above are at a local pie shop called Pie-O-Neer. The Macaroon Apple Pie and Cherry Cherry Pies are worth the stop. And yes, we ate all 4…and then took a few for the road.
Left photo: One of our favorite stops for local barbeque, Rudy’s had the most incredible brisket and baby back ribs, this is the place to stop for New Mexican bar-b-q in Albuquerque, friendliest staff and the tastiest homemade cherry and apricot cobblers this side of the Rio Grande! If in Santa Fe and craving local barbeque, stop by a food truck called Santa Fe BBQ.
Right photo: A must when you’re in Santa Fe. The New Mexican picnic above is breakfast at a local favorite called Tia Sophia’s. They make some of the best sopapillas, the pillowy fried quick breads in the image. Order everything ‘Christmas’ which means doused in both the red and green chiles. Also, a stop at Gabriel’s just outside Santa Fe is a must too. Known for their tableside guacamole and carne adovada, neither will disappoint! The local enchiladas and tamales are things to order when in town.
Left photo: This is the view from Sandia Peak after hopping off the tramway. The crest here reaches over 10,500 feet and the tramway’s the world’s second longest ride. The sunsets and sunrise in New Mexico are unreal, typically fiery red and orange against the bluest backdrop.
Right photo: A quick hike in Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Park is a must if you’re in central New Mexico. Formed by volcanic ash deposits that have since been weather-worn to form sand-colored cylindrical cone shapes standing side-by-side. A walk in between these canyons is awe-inspiring.
Left photo: No trip to New Mexico is complete without a stop at White Sands National Park. The world’s largest gypsum dune runs for over 275 square miles. So big, this dune can even be seen from satellite in outer space. Despite temperatures reaching 120F during the afternoon, the gypsum sand never gets hot due to the gypsum crystal’s natural ability to reflect the sun and the fact that it does not convert light into heat. We went barefoot and even did some dune-sledding down the steep cliffs. For a cool experience, plan to camp overnight.
Right photo: Another stop along the way is Carlsbad Caverns and watching the enchanting Bat Flight where over 500,000 local Brazilian Free-Tailed bats make their nightly migration from the cave to feed. It’s a coordinated visual symphony!
Showing off some vintage Native American silver by Navajo and Zuni tribes made between the 1900s and 1950s. We picked up these older pieces during our travel around New Mexico. Some of our favorite stops include:
Rainbow Man (Santa Fe) – amazing selection of fabrics, weavings, jewelry and objects
Santa Fe Exchange (Santa Fe) – wide range of both sterling silver, objects and some turn of the century pieces
Shalako Indian Store (Santa Fe) – widest vintage sterling silver shop, great for Concho belts, rings, and bangles. Nancy and Marsha are both well-informed on Native American jewelry
Palms Trading (Alburquerque) – solid selection of old pawn, blankets, shoes and food stuff
Rose’s Pottery (Bernanillo) – housed behind Rose’s is an old theatre that the owner converted to a small private collection of early Pre-Columbian to middle of the century art and pottery. If you’re lucky, she’ll give you a tour of this collection passed down from her father. The front features a beautiful collection of Kachina dolls and pottery from all the major pueblos
Old Town Antiques (Alburquerque) – the owner Connie is like an encyclopedia of New Mexican crafts, beautiful selection of both jewelry and objects, she even offers Pre-Columbian artifacts.
Tia Sophia’s (Santa Fe) – best brunch and breakfast place for New Mexican cuisine
Café Pasqual’s (Santa Fe) – modern twist on New Mexican with some delicious homemade cookies
Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q (Alburquerque) – fantastic ribs, brisket, daily special cobblers and desserts
Gabriel’s (Santa Fe) – delicious guacamole and carne adovada
Frontier (Alburquerque) – a mix of everything, an all-day diner styled location popular with locals, young and old
Jimmy’s on Jefferson (Alburquerque) – quick local favorite for breakfast, order Steve’s Breakfast Special featuring a plate of hash with green chile.
Grove Cafe & Market (Alburquerque) – modern eatery with homemade granola and breakfast and brunch
Cocina Azul (Alburquerque) – great lunch spot for some of the best carne adovada and homemade and fresh sopapillas and posole
Farm & Table (Alburquerque) – fresh and modern New Mexican classics as well as farm-to-table dinners with a small working farm on the back
Golden Crown Panaderia (Alburquerque) – tasty fruit empanadas
Georgia O’Keefe Ghost Ranch (plan advance for an overnight stay, it books up early)
Georgia O’Keefe Museum
Walter de Maria The Lightening Field (apply in February when they open up spaces, openings close within minutes)
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument (get there early before it gets too hot)
White Sands National Park (come here right before sunset for the most magical view)
Carlsbad Caverns National Park (don’t miss the last elevator down at 5pm)
Rio Grande Gorge & Bridge (shop from the local artists selling at the foot of the bridge, view is not for the faint of heart)
Roswell, NW (stop at the museum and eat at Big D’s for their famous green chile burger)
Sandia Mountains (go there an hour before sunset)
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Beadfest Fall is almost upon us (from October 13-16th 2016) at Tacoma but I realise that I am yet to write about my experiences at Beadfest Summer 2016. The last month has been pretty exacting – I have been extremely sick yet was working full time.
Beadfest Fall is almost upon us (from October 13-16th 2016) at Tacoma but I realise that I am yet to write about my experiences at Beadfest Summer 2016. The last month has been pretty exacting – I have been extremely sick yet was working full time. I was the organiser of a 2 week long event with competitions and ceremonies at work and then came the navaratri display. But slowly I am getting a handle on things so without much ado here are the highlights of my beadfest workshop experience – well in two quick successive posts. Beadfest Summer 2016 happened at Oaks, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. From King of Prussia (where I stayed at) I had to go through the valley Forge park to get to Audoban and Oaks. The first morning I was pretty scared, for the route looked like a hill station roa d- completely green and devoid of houses or stores for a few miles but then slowly I began to enjoy it for it is impossible to find such beautiful trails in Chennai. So coming back to the workshops – I had such fantastic learning and so many experiences in four days that I cannot do it justice by by cramming it all into one post. Hence in this post I am going to only talk about the first two workshops.
Day 1: Celestial Fusion I couldn’t have asked for a better class to start my beadfest experience or a better teacher than Jean Van Brederode of Charmed I’m Sure Studio. Jean was very sweet and patient and her work with both Crackle Enamel and stamped solder was fantastic and very inspiring. Including me there were only five of us in the class so we got to learn and experiment a lot. At first, we learnt was to create the back piece for prong setting – cutting the plate and wire, making the bail and soldering them together using sheet solder which was all very new for me.
Then we domed another disc and enamelled it in layers. I was working with full dedication at great speed (inspite of cutting my thumb in the first 10 minutes) until I spilled a load of enamel powder on my disc and panicked. Jean calmed me down and helped me streamline it. I did a couple of firing adding colors each time that I had a fabulous piece in the end that I set and wore it immediately. I then made another piece to practice – this time using black crackle enamel.
Some instructors do not like to part with extra supplies but Jean encouraged us to make as many pieces as we wanted in the 7-hour class which was so refreshing. I made three extra discs and 2 sets of earring charms. I also tried counter enamelling. In the Beadfest site this class was referred to as “Kiln enamelling” which troubled me as I wanted to learn torch enamelling (something that I could do at home) but it turned out to be torch enamelling only. Jean had brought a kiln but we never used it.
Like most jewelry makers, I started out by stringing and knotting beads and then slowly moved to wire before going on to explore the wonderful world of mixed media and metal smithing. Apart from making ear hooks, clasps, eyepins, bails or frames on a regular basis, I do the occasional viking knit or wire crochet.While I am no expert in wire work, it is important to learn to work with wire as its ridiculously easy to create your own hooks and clasps customising them every single time.However this post is not about making any products with wire but more to do with the basics of understanding wire and is aimed at beginners.
Like most jewelry makers, I started out by stringing and knotting beads and then slowly moved to wire before going on to explore the wonderful world of mixed media and metal smithing. Apart from making ear hooks, clasps, eyepins, bails or frames on a regular basis, I do the occasional viking knit or wire crochet.While I am no expert in wire work, it is important to learn to work with wire as its ridiculously easy to create your own hooks and clasps customising them every single time. However this post is not about making any products with wire but more to do with the basics of understanding wire and is aimed at beginners. It is a culmination of my learning of many years (I still have a lot to learn) so it will include snippets from many books and websites apart from my own observations. What is wire? Wire is a usually thin, flexible strand of metal that can be made in many shapes, diameters and hardness. It can be finished using many processes including coating and plating and can be electrically insulated. Thin individual wires can be twisted together to create a cable. Wire, like cord, can be used for twisting, wrapping, bezel making, prong making, weaving, knitting, crochet and macrame while making jewelry
Jewelry Wire Materials Jewelry wires can be majorly classified into three categories – Precious metal, base metal and finished wire or wire with effects. In this post, I’ll discuss only Types of precious metal wire with reference to usage and yes, availability (in India).
sterling silver bangles – Yoola Design
Silver Most commonly used precious metal wires are pure silver and sterling silver. Sterling Silver or SS is an alloy consisting of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper, Fine Silver is 99% pure silver while Karen hill tribe silver is 97% pure silver. Pure silver is nonreactive, less likely to cause allergic reactions and tarnishes slower. Silver that is used to make ornaments like Anklets, jhumkas (earrings), nose studs in India are 80 – 85% pure. The Cost of the wires varies from place to place and from day to day depending on the Share market. In India, any silver jeweller with a manufacturing unit will smelt and roll out silver wire in any gauge that you want (however, it might not be uniform). Locally I have found sterling silver to be more expensive than fine silver. Argentium® sterling silver is a tarnish-resistant variety of sterling silver that consists of 92.5% silver, 1.2% germanium, and 6.3% copper. It does not develop fire scale easily and makes cleanup relatively painless. As its tarnish resistant, the wire remains shiny for a longer period but it is not very easily available and is not as cost effective as fine silver, in India. Though not as wire, Argentium is available as jewelry and as vessels in premium silver jewelry stores like VBJ and NAC in India
Infinity Wire necklace – Yoola Design
Gold & Vermeil Though Gold wire is unavailable in India (for retail buying purposes) it is the most used wire by Indian jewellers. Internationally Gold wire is available in many karat values: 12K, 14K, 18K, and 22K. Karat (K or KT) refers to the purity of gold. 24K gold is the purest gold and is too soft and therefore alloys are preferable. Apart from yellow gold wire, rose gold (red gold) and white gold wires are also available online.
Vermeil is 24K gold electroplated over 925 sterling silver and its purity is gauged using the microns of plating (usually 2-4 microns). To be considered VERMEIL; (pronounced Vehr May) the gold must be at least 10 karat (42%) and be at least 2.5 micrometers thick. Vermeil was initially produced by fire gilding process which was then abandoned as it was considered unsafe. One gram gold is not Vermeil as the one here refers to 1 micron plating. Palladium Discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston, Palladium is an incredibly rare silverish metal. My only knowledge of palladium is that it is used to give white coloring to white gold and it is often suggested as an alternative to Platinum as it is less dense. Only as I was writing this article, I came to know that palladium wires are also available. Experts who have used Palladium wire, please share your knowledge in the comments section. Silver filled and Gold Filled Silver Filled and Gold Filled wire are made by bonding a layer of sterling silver or 14K gold onto a base metal core, which is usually a copper or a brass alloy and are finished with an anti-tarnish coating to preserve the shine. Here the layer of precious metal is much thicker than the film on plated metals. The thickness of the silver is denoted with a fraction, 1/20 or 1/10, referring to the ratio of silver to brass/copper by weight, For Example, 1/10 has a thicker layer of silver than the 1/20 variety. The core of silver-filled wire will be visible on the ends of the wire; if wire ends will be exposed, they may need electroplating to cover it, particularly if the wire is very thick. But this can be used to your advantage as you can create many usual textures by sanding or hammering. In gold filled – the ratio of gold to brass is denoted as 14/20 or 12/20 to denote the karat value of the gold 14 stand for 14-karat gold and 20 represents 1/20th or 5% of the total weight of the material.
Cleopatra necklace – Yoola Design
Silver Plated and Gold Plated These are Copper or brass (depending on the country) wire plated with Silver or Gold and technically come under finished wires. The wires look as shiny as the real metal in the beginning but plating wears off over time often becoming yellowish, greenish or blackish in the process. On over manipulation (bending, twisting and repeated straightening) or on rough handling, the coating will chip away leaving the base metal wire visible. To create a more luxurious product, articles made of silver wire can be plated in Gold water (different from Electroplating) and is often referred to as “Gold dipping” by Indian Jewellers. A similar Rhodium dipping can also be done.
Dancing fish silver necklace – Ksemi
Tips for Working with Precious Wire 1.The first thing to do is get yourself a set of good wire working as there is no point in marring gold wire with a cheap cutter or pliers. Coat pliers with Tool magic (or equivalent potions) and use nylon jaws, fingers to wrap wherever possible. 2. Plan ahead and measure well. A precious metal wire is expensive so it is essential to use only the required length to keep your piece cost effective. It will help to prototype the piece in copper or brass before you work with expensive metals 3. Collect end bits – you can melt bits (of silver) into balls for granulation work and bigger bits can be flattened to use as dangles or ornamentation. 4. Know your metal – especially when you are about to solder or patina it! Silver or gold filled wire act differently when you try to ball them using a torch and develop firescale which is hard to remove. 5. Avoid using abrasive sandpapers or sticks on the filled and plated variety I have also come across Platinum wire, particularly in electronic circles but I am not sure if there are independent artists who use them for jewelry. I have worked with silver, sterling, Vermeil, Filled and plated wires before, though in a limited capacity, and can safely say that you don’t require extremely advanced wire working skills to handle them. I encourage you to go for it, if you feel that it will add value to your designs. Some popular sites to buy precious metal wire are Rings-things and Cooksongold apart from etsy stores. Contact your local jeweller for silver wire and gold and silver plating on the wire.
Those were my tips on working with precious metal wire. Please share your tips for working with precious wire and your experience of working with them.
Wire Crochet jewelry pictures courtesy: Yael Falk, Yoola Designs I hope you found it interesting Cheers
What is beauty? Who is beautiful?These are questions I ask fashion communication students after they complete my semester and a half long course on Costume Appreciation, where we discuss the aesthetics, beautification processes, and attire worn by people around the globe.
What is beauty? Who is beautiful? These are questions I ask fashion communication students after they complete my semester and a half long course on Costume Appreciation, where we discuss the aesthetics, beautification processes, and attire worn by people around the globe. For me, it is the single most thought provoking discussion that a fashion school can and must have and after a lot of thought, I am sharing my views on this topic here. History teaches us that there is no one yardstick for measuring beauty and how Various ideals of beauty have evolved over time. In some cultures, spotless white or black skin is the ideal of beauty while in some other tattooed or painted skin is considered beautiful. Some prefer no accessories while other elongate necks and earlobes with jewelry. Some think anklets indicate slavery while other think they celebrate free-spirited nature. With the passing of time, different cultures have borrowed from each other, amalgamating their ideals with those that contradict them, leading to rich cultural practices.
Photo: Kritarth Ghosh, Model: Adhithi Priya, Headgear: Divya N, Concept: Birth of Colors
When the (Victorian) British came to India, they were shocked to see even women from respectable families without blouses or wearing skirts that reached the knee. It went against their tenets of modesty, respect, and cultural values. However, here, in the hot, humid subcontinent skin show was not just accepted but also appreciated for what it is worth. Slowly, along with their mindset, their clothing process also changed and the west started accepting show of skin (on certain parts of the body) as a sign of beauty. At the same time, Indians, who coveted the high neck, ruffled collared blouses and tweed jackets of the English felt that covering the body made them more beautiful and hence covering the body became the Indian culture while baring skin became western culture.
Image from Basics: Fashion design – Jewellery design by Elizabeth Glaton; book review coming up soon
In the past European women, applied lead powder on their faces as paleness was considered the epitome of beauty and in the process suffered painful cancers. Hindu, Tamil Brahmin women used to apply turmeric on their face and hands as yellow was considered as the auspicious (mangalagaram) mark of a married woman (Sumangali). Marie Antoinette’s powdered hair is legendary along with the staggeringly high fruit and feather coiffures of the18th century noblewomen which would be inhabited by mice and vermin. Until the mid 90’s only curvy women were considered sexy in Indian movies with 2000’s giving way to anorexic models.
Who is to say what is right? In this age of extensive and often extreme grooming does the concept of Saamudrika Lakshanam hold good?
One of the main functions of fashion is gender identification and differentiation but how can we define how a man or woman should look without considering the context of the civilization, the geographics, demographics and the evolutions of the culture? Lord Krishna, the best strategist and one of the most handsome Gods is said to have had radiant blue-black skin, lotus pink lips and he is described in epics as wearing bright yellow silks with pearl and diamond jewelry and sometimes a nose ring. A very famous Cretan sculpture shows a powerful goddess holding up snakes with her breasts spilling over her jacket. In the high Gothic period wearing a hose that came over the mid thigh with velvet breeches was considered as manly perfection. A very famous Cretan sculpture shows a powerful goddess holding up snakes with her breasts spilling over her jacket. On a more relatable level, I remember my grand uncles having long hair (similar to a back oseldet) and wearing chunky diamond studs in both ears as a part of their tradition. I see male traders wearing nail polish and Mehendi even today and I know of women who’ll only wear all black or blue outfits. Today, our societies, our nations and hence our practices are in a constant flux. Living in this melting pot of cultures, we are racing towards frontiers and embracing technology as our second skin but we are still not open to breaking stereotypes and challenging falsely conceived notions. At a time when leggings are being considered as destructors of culture, are we willing to call a man wearing a pantyhose and gathered velvet shorts as manly? Are we open minded enough to see him wearing yellow silks, a nose ring, flowers and pearls? Should a woman be completely covered up to be a “good, respectable woman”? Can a plus sized or even large women wear short, fitting clothes without being ridiculed? Why is a girl considered feminine only when she wear pinks, pearls or flowers? Why is there is constant debate whether the fair or dark skin is more beautiful?
I understand that this is sensitive (and controversial) topic with exhaustive arguments from either side of the bench. But the fact that there is a discussion itself is a positive development for me. I feel that Fashion brands, designers and enthusiasts have a responsibility to make this society more open minded and aware and accepting of the fact that we are all created equal. No one being should ever be made to feel that they are less than another for looking a particular way. I laud Jabong‘s sequel to their “Be You‘ Campaign that discusses alternative ideals of beauty and questions stereotypes as a positive step in this direction.
Without going into the commercial or strategic aspect of branding, I think this one of the best fashion advertisements of recent times in terms of content – styling and choreography. Controversial as it might be, it is interesting to see the Indian advertising industry transform into this mature, complex visual medium. It makes you sit up, take notice and propels you to discuss real yet scarcely discussed issues like “identity”in a contemporary Indian Context.
Recently, I found this post on Facebook that said “One’s choices may not resonate with you! But that does not make them wrong!”. I don’t think I can sum up this post any better. One does not have to conform to a particular way of looking to be considered beautiful. With a little awareness, acceptance, and kindness everyone can live beautiful lives.
Vanakkam, Vandanam, Namasthe to all the folks visiting JewelsOfSayuri for the Bead peeps swap and hop reveal.
Vanakkam, Vandanam, Namasthe to all the folks visiting JewelsOfSayuri for the Bead peeps swap and hop reveal. Our Hostess Linda had put together a list of 53 magnificent jewelry blogs and bloggers early this year for a bead swap and now its time for the reveal. My Partner is Kelly Hosford Patterson of Pyxeestyx- The travelling Sideshowand to see what we sent each other, check out the swap intro post here. The beads were all so gorgeous and the colors – green and blue, and fitting perfectly in my comfort zone. I assumed that it would be extremely simple and I would churn out pieces by the dozen. Since most of my customers prefer pieces with an Indian traditional look, I hardly get to experiment with very modern, western arrangements. Hence, for this reveal, I decided that I would make a piece that was completely western. After some brainstorming and word association, I settled on the following words – Rustic, frosted, mouldy, dreamlike to guide my design process.
Of the Yore Necklace: The idea here was to use the copper domed disc, the ceramic (?) tube and the bone sort of piece as the focal component(s) by marrying them together with wire. This simple process proved to be extremely frustrating because of the sound that arises when ceramic/frosted glass/natural components/chalk strike metal. Metal on metal is even worse! (You should see me when my colleagues eat lunch with their metal spoons 🙁 ) It was this minuscule sound that drove me absolutely mad and my teeth start grinding even when I just think of it. I somehow powered through it and finished the piece but I did not even want to touch it, so I took it apart and remade it using embroidery thread.To avoid any more friction and the resultant noise I replaced the beads at the neck with a strand of leather cord and cotton cord each – in brown and blue respectively to bring out the colors of the main components.
The bone piece and the sea glass still feels chalky to touch and I am wondering if coating it with some sort of a sealant will help? Any Suggestions? I love how this piece looks and really want ot wear it
Neel – Gulab Earrings (Blue and pink earrings): For my second piece, I made a quick pair of wire earrings with the carved fan shaped blue sea glass beads and rose quartz beads to match a new printed pink, blue, and beige cotton shirt. I cheated a bit and wore them both to work on Tuesday 🙂 before the reveal.
When I saw Peeps disclosing that they had made 3 -8 pieces for the hop, I made another pair of earrings but gave them away to my cousin without photographing it, so I decided to do one more using the packaging paper.
Misty Moor – I made a recycled paper pendant with foil encasement on the sides and add patina inks for more depth. It started off as shrapnel sort of form, very modern looking. But I wasn’t really happy with it, so I added some rhinestone and ball chain to it (Okay, I gave in and Indianised it!). After these pictures were taken, I have poured resin into it. I used the green nuggets and the patterned beads from the beads that Kelly sent me and finished it with organza ribbon. It feels a little imbalanced, ( I am unable to put my finger on what is wrong!). Maybe the pendant is shimmery and the beads look a little dull? I might restring it after the hop – design/color/material suggestions are welcome.
Those are the pieces that I made, I still have lots of goodies left and hopefully you would see them in future designs. So what did Kelly make with the goodies that I sent her? Visit her blog the travelling Sideshow to find out. Special thanks to Linda for hosting this hop with amazing artists. Please do take time out to visit blogs of other participants of the Bead peeps swap and hop II. Happy Hopping!
If you are a designer, a fashion writer, a jewelry enthusiast, a stylist or an expert in all matters of accessorization or body adornment, I would love to have your views on my blog. Learn all about guest posting from my previous articles in this Guest posting series and be a guest writer here!So what can you write about?Getting down to specifics, here are the eight different broad categories I want posts in
If you are a designer, a fashion writer, a jewelry enthusiast, a stylist or an expert in all matters of accessorization or body adornment, I would love to have your views on my blog. Learn all about guest posting from my previous articles in this Guest posting series and be a guest writer here! So what can you write about? Getting down to specifics, here are the eight different broad categories I want posts in. It doesn’t mean that I’ll only post articles like these, so brilliant out of the box ideas that are still relevant to my blog are welcome. It would be great if they fall into any of the following categories as it would be easy for me to label and promote them.Be sure to click the examples clicks in each of the topics to see previously written articles in that category.
1. DIY Tutorials: I love a good DIY any day. Blogs are all about creating content that offers value to the reader and tutorials offer quite a good bang for the buck. So jewelry Tutorials are on the top of my list. Each tutorial must come with a material list and step wise instructions. It must have atleast 2 images of the finished item or product created using the steps listed and several step wise pictures. Please look at my existing tutorials to get an idea of what exactly is that I am looking for.
2. How to: Very similar to tutorials, how to articles tell you “how to do something”, for example how to clean your jewellery, how to make earn from your blog or they could just be a set of tips that be easily followed by readers. The difference between a tutorial and a how to article is that there is no end product or final design that is created by the writer using the instructions he or she has written. They are just curated ideas.
3. History, culture and Traditions (and how it relates to jewelry of accessories): I am a girl who is very proud of my culture and heritage and I really like learning about practises and traditions from other parts of the world too. So If you have an unique culture or a a piece of jewelry that carries history with it, do write in to me. I would love to read about it and post it here. My Bridal series which discusses bridal jewelry from across the globe does just that.
4.Technical or scientific information: I welcome expert metalurgists, gemmologists, gemstone dealers or jewellers to share their expertise on my blog. I love to know about casting metals or how emeralds look green. It could be about how gold jewelry is moulded or how to buy sapphires. I do have a separate gemstone and metal section for you to get an idea of what has already been covered
5. Interviews of crafters, artists and designers: I love getting to know more people through my blog but unfortunately I seldom have the time to interview someone myself and format the written content. So if you are budding journalist and would like to feature your interview of a new or established designer or artist who is doing fabulous work then I would be very interested in having you on board. I would like the interviews to ideally be an hybrid format though straight question and answers are welcome too.
6. Design Inspiration and Fashion trends:Inspiration is what really keeps the design world going and when inspiration is combined with trend forecast or predictions then they became a carefully planned idea that can be utilised to great great products. So fashion writers, so send in your articles regarding accessory and jewelry trends. Be specific, cite your sources in case of a forecast and hustle up images to go with your write up.
7. Blogging and Social media: In my experience as a teacher, I find that only a few artistically inclined people can write, fewer can write well and even a lesser number are aware of the requirements of modern day blogging. The world of SEO, conversions and insights can be a hard thing to keep up with and I am sure that most bloggers (yes even the successful ones) would appreciate blogging tips, ideas and suggestions on blogging and social media that would simplify their lives.
8. Jewelry Business – At its very core, Jewelsofsayuri is about jewelry promotion and business and instead of shying away from that fact, I want to embrace it. So if you have got ideas of how to increase jewelry sales, how to setup up processes, streamline sources and vendors and do better inventory management, I am all ears. Jewelry Business articles with specific simple ideas would be more appreciated than grand generic suggestions.
Finally a Writing tip
Many people who have no trouble expressing their ideas when it comes to speaking, struggle when they have to write. They get all worried about the language, tone, grammar and it becomes a chore that they no longer enjoy. This issue has a very simple solution – Write your first draft like how you would you talk with a friend on the topic. Edit it (three times) by first correcting grammar and spelling errors and then restructuring the paragraphs to make more sense and finally tinkering with the voice, tone and style to make it interesting.
I hope that you find these content ideas interesting. Most of these topics aren’t restricted to my blog alone. Editors and bloggers across the world would love to accept well researched and written articles in most of these categories. So try your hand at guest posting today. Before you send in your posts, do check out my posts onGuest Posting Dos and don’tsandHow to write a fantastic Guest post If you would like more writing and editing and tips, do mention in the comments and I’ll compile a post with those soon.
Of all design motifs I love spirals the most and for good reason for they are the most basic and one of the oldest designs known to man. Math and art geeks would associate Spirals with all things beautiful due to the Golden proportion and the Archimedian spiral Sanatana Dharma on which Hinduism is based on states that AUM is the primordial sound and the basis for all creation.
Of all design motifs I love spirals the most and for good reason for they are the most basic and one of the oldest designs known to man. Math and art geeks would associate Spirals with all things beautiful due to the Golden proportion and the Archimedian spiral Sanatana Dharma on which Hinduism is based on states that AUM is the primordial sound and the basis for all creation. The visual representation of the letter or the symbol AUM is incomplete without the spiraling loop. The Primordial spirals begin with a loop and continue to grow outward to infinity and beyond. This most basic spiral is called “Suzhi” in Tamil, yes like in the phrase “Pillaiyar suzhi” ( Curling symbol of Lord Ganesha – the elephant headed God)* which is used as the first symbol or expression of thought when starting to do any handwork – from writing to sculpting. See the end of the post for an elaborate footnote.
Likewise, loops and spirals are the foundation for wire jewelry. With a few simple turns of your pliers you can turn even the most humble piece of wire, into a work of art as spirals represent creation, beauty and adornment.
I have made many different spiral earrings over the years and they continue to be my favourites ( I even wore one today) so when this month’s Earrings everyday, we are all ears monthly challenge reveal was on Spirals I just had to participate. The first design is inspired by the curls and spirals on a tendril or a creeper and is called the Spiraling Tendril.
It is an ornate pair of earrings with annodised aluminum wire and mirror work beadsThe Second design is one of my personal favourites – its simple, elegant, classy and yet rich enough to accompany dressy clothes. I get compliments whenever I wear it even though my pair is quite old. I have made multiples of it over time and yet I always feel excited about it.
Out Inspiration was the fiddlehead fern. Chennai, where I live, is super crazy hot now, its been like that for a while (No, we don’t have spring here – just a long summer) so associating the inspiration with spring and the color green was difficult. Hence I chose the form over the color and created my own concept. Do check out what the other designs in theWe’re All Ears :: April Reveal
Lord Ganesha, is referred to as the custodian of the AUM sound as his form bears acute resemblance to the visual representation of AUM and people believe that as Ganesha is the destroyer of obstacles drawing a symbolic representation of him – the Pillaiyar Suzhi will remove any obstacles in their path to success.