Metals – Fine Silver

Hi Everyone!

Today we are continuing our metals blog series with a post about fine silver. In case you missed it, in our previous post we discussed sterling silver, which is an alloy of fine silver.

Fine silver is 99.9% pure silver, compared to sterling silver which is only 92.5% pure silver. Fine silver is very soft, making it more prone to scratches and dents. On the bright side, its softness is the reason fine silver pieces tend to mend themselves to your body and can be very comfortable to wear. It also does not tarnish, which is great if you are not too big on cleaning your jewelry.

Meteor Cuff: Hammered Fine Silver

Meteor Cuff: Hammered Fine Silver

While fine silver can definitely be used for jewelry, most people prefer sterling silver, as it is a little bit more resistant. We do have a few pieces in fine silver, for example our meteor cuff. We chose to make the meteor cuff in fine silver, because it makes the cuff “softer” and more comfortable to wear. It also doesn’t tarnish, making this a very low-maintenance piece of jewelry.

We suggest to store your fine silver like all your other jewelry in a dark and dry place. While fine silver is not very prone to tarnish, it does get scratches very easily so it should be separated from other jewelry. If you ever do feel the need to clean your fine silver jewelry we suggest a polishing cloth. NEVER use a paper towel or a tissue paper because the fibers in those products can scratch the metal.

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Metals – Sterling Silver

Hi Everyone!

This is our new blog series about metals. We decided that this would be an interesting topic for all you jewelry fanatics, so if you are interested in learning more about the metals we use for our jewelry, then you should definitely keep reading!

Today we will be talking about sterling silver, which is our most used metal, and a favorite of many. Sterling silver is an alloy containing 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals, mainly copper. The 7.5% can be any metal depending on preference, but time has proven copper to be the best addition to the pure silver. Why do we add “cheaper” metals to the pure silver? Simply because it makes the silver more resistant. Also – and this isn’t so great – makes the silver more prone to tarnish.

Sterling silver has been used for centuries for many different things. It is an obvious choice for jewelry, but has also been used for decorations and even tools such as forks, knives and buckets. Especially in the Victorian times, when eating with your fingers was a big no-no, cutlery was very important. Even today people still use silver cutlery for important occasions, however it is much less common and many people rather melt down the silver to create a piece of jewelry from it.

Sterling silver is a metal we use very frequently for our jewelry. Silver looks good on every skin tone and goes with all colors of clothing, making it a very versatile metal. When it comes to engagement rings, we tend to stay away from sterling silver as it is much softer than gold. This means it is more prone to scratches and dents and doesn’t usually hold stones as well as gold would.

Since sterling silver does contain some copper it will tarnish over time. The best way to prevent this as much as possible is by storing your silver jewelry in a dark and dry place. We always recommend storing your jewelry in a little plastic baggie, because that will prevent it from tarnishing as well as getting scratches or dents from other jewelry. Also in order to preserve your jewelry, don’t wear sterling silver in chlorinated water or when working with household chemicals, as these will damage the jewelry.

No matter how well you store it, after some time your sterling silver jewelry will tarnish. To clean sterling silver jewelry we recommend using a polishing cloth or a mild soap and water solution. For stubborn spots simply apply a little bit of silver cleaner with a cotton swab, and follow by brushing your jewelry with a baking soda and soap paste.

Make sure to NEVER clean your sterling silver jewelry with tissue paper or paper towels because those can cause scratches because of the fibers in these products. Also, be careful with sterling silver dips, as those can damage gemstones by taking off their color and polish.

Happy New, New, New Year!

Concentric: Gold-filled with oxidized sterling silver

Concentric: Gold-filled with oxidized sterling silver

DSC_0119 GeodeSliceDanglesIt’s been quite a busy year being a new mom and making so much custom work. I just wanted to write this quick post to highlight some of my most recent designs for my production line. Despite balancing it all, I am so excited that I’ve been able to create several new styles and new takes on classic ones. You will be seeing more and more as 2015 progresses. I hope you’ll like them!

The druzy and geode collections are limited edition. Because each stone is totally one of a kind in color and shape, the way each stone is set is different completely different. They’re going very quickly, contact me to see what’s left.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Quartz – Stone of the Month

Considered the “Universal Crystal” all over the world because of its transparent and colorless nature, Crystal Quartz is the perfect alternative to the diamond, the traditional birthstone of April.

The word “crystal” comes from the Greek word “krustallos”, meaning ice. Quartz was believed to be ice formed by the Gods. Since the Middle Ages, crystal balls made of clear quartz have been used to predict the future. The English word “quartz” comes from the German word “Quarz”.

Another theory, by Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder, was that quartz is ice that has been permanently frozen after a great length of time. Pliny supported this idea by the fact that quartz is mostly found near glaciers in the Alps, but not on volcanic mountains which were formed more recently in the geological history of the Earth.

The ancient Japanese theorized that quartz is formed from the breath of a white dragon, and therefore represents perfection.

Pure crystal quartz, which is often referred to as rock crystal, is found abundantly all over the world. Natural quartz can have inclusions and traces of other minerals in it, which is why larger stones are often synthetically enhanced. Because of its hardness (a 7 on the Mohs scale) and its glass-like properties it is often used for hard stone carvings. The crystals of quartz are generally six-sided and can grow either singularly or in groups taking on different shapes according to the temperature at the time of their formation. They can also come in a variety colors that are considered to be gemstones on their own. These include citrine, rose quartz, amethyst, smoky quartz, milky quartz, and many more.

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While quartz isn’t permanently frozen water, God’s ice or an object to predict the future, it has been said to have strong healing powers. Quartz is known to give its wearer power, energy and clarity. Quartz can help rid you of negative energy, clear your head, feel harmonious and give you new strength to carry on. The crystal quartz is simply an all purpose stone when it comes to natural healing properties.

Photo Credit: Flickr.com – cliff1066

New Custom Pieces!

With Spring upon us, we wanted to share the new custom pieces we’ve been working on this Winter. We’ve been so busy that we realized we hadn’t shown you many new pieces in a while. So here is a glimpse of some of our most recent work.

We couldn’t have done it without our amazing clients whose vision make these designs possible. We always love making our customers dreams come true because it pushes our creativity and skills keeping us fresh and on our toes. For example, we worked with Palladium for the first time, which can be a difficult metal to work with. However, it was all worth it! We are so excited about how it came out because of the contrast it created with the yellow gold inlay. Check it out in the album below, we can’t wait to use it again.

Our newest pieces also include fingerprints engraved onto the inside of wedding bands, a fun wedding ring stacking set and a gorgeous sapphire engagement ring. For mother’s and father of another bridal party we created some custom petoskey jewelry for a destination wedding taking place in Traverse City, Michigan. And the Nebula ringwe created as an engagement ring last year now has a wedding ring which was designed to fill it like a puzzle! Wow, we’re even a little impressed with ourselves 🙂 Please visit more of our other our custom wedding bands here.

Metalwork – Forging

Today we will share with you some insight on one of our most important processes – forging. Forging is the process of shaping the metal using force. Forging can be done either hot or cold, depending on the metal. For our silver and gold jewelry, we use the cold forging process after annealing the metal. Meaning, we hit the metal while it is cold after heating it up to loosen the molecules and then cooling it off so we can hold it while hammering it. Hot forging is when you hit a portion of the metal while it is hot, traditional blacksmithing is done this way with steel.

To forge the metal all we need is a hammer and an anvil. It’s a very “old-school” process, employed for centuries by metalsmiths from all over the world. Now, often times, the forging process is done by big machines that can put a lot of weight behind every strike. However, we love the preservation of the ancient techniques, so for our jewelry we use only the force of our arms and the weight of the hammer. An interesting fact about forging is, that it actually makes the metal stronger. While you might think that hammering metal would make it thinner and therefore more prone to break, it does exactly the opposite. Forging refines the molecular structure, which results in better and stronger physical properties of the metal.

When we forge the metal to create our signature hammered texture, it is important to stay consistent. That means we try to put the same amount of weight behind every hit, and we move the metal carefully, so the hammer hits each part evenly, creating a very nice texture and refined flow.

Watch Rebecca create her signature texture in our ‘How To: Forge’ video below.

For more detail, also check out this video we did with Mark Shale Stores last year.

Dawn Clark Netsch Award

In September, the Illinois Artisan Gallery contacted me to submit a design to create a brooch that would serve as an award to honor a woman in Illinois that exemplifies Dawn Clark Netsch. I was extremely honored and excited to win the commission. Not only is Mrs. Netsch a role model for many, it was extra special because my mother worked with her and I had always heard so many wonderful things about Mrs. Netsch growing up.

Dawn Clark Netsch

Mrs. Netsch is a pioneer in education, law, and politics. In addition to being a professor at Northwestern University, she was a state senator for 18 years. In 1990, she became the state comptroller, making her the highest-ranked woman in Illinois government history. She is known for being the first woman to be nominated to run for Governor of Illinois in 1994. Her commitment to racial and sexual equality continues to maintain her status as trailblazer. She was inducted as a “friend of the community” to the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1995 and every year she marches in Chicago’s Gay Pride parade.

Dawn Clark Netsch’s brooch made out of sterling silver with oxidization

The brooch was inspired by Mrs. Netsch’s love for billiards and the modern aesthetic. The entire brooch is made out of sterling silver, and the “ball” and “cue” has been oxidized to create this two-tone effect.