Saturday, April 30, 2016

Review of Setting School

As a professional jeweler who earned a bench jeweler diploma from the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts (, I find myself occasionally wanting to brush up on old skills, or gain new ones altogether.  I learned basic stone setting at the academy and wanted to push those skills a little farther. 

I had the opportunity to go to a week long session at the New Approach School for Jewelers ( to study comprehensive stone setting.  Some of the techniques would already be familiar but many would be new and tricky to learn!  The instructor was well known for being excellent and he has taught thousands of students both in his school and via DVD instruction. 

The instruction was solely on setting techniques.  We did not create the jewelry that we set stones into.  The techniques we learned were as follows: 

Flush Setting.  We set both colored and colorless stones.  Colored stones often have a heavier base to saturate their color, so they need to be set slightly different from clear stones.

Gypsy and Heavy Walled Bezel Settings.  In both cases you need to refine a seat for each stone prior to setting it.  Both settings use a hammer and punch in order to move a fair amount of metal over the stone. 

Bright Cut Setting.  This techniques requires you to create a seat for the stone.  Next, you set the stone by creating prongs to lock the stone in place. You then carve away the metal around the stone at an angle.  Lastly, you can add a mill grain to finish to the edges.

Claw Prong, Traditional Prong and Square Stone Prong Settings.  The ring on the left begins as a traditional prong setting that is then modified to create a talon like appearance to the prongs.  The middle ring is a traditional, Tiffany style prong setting.  The ring on the right is set by creating a seat within each prong to accommodate the square edges of the princess cut stone.

Regular Channel and Floating Channel Settings.  In a regular channel setting, you create a seat for each stone in the floor of the channel, and with a hammer and punch, move the metal over the stones.  In a floating channel setting you carve a precision seat in the walls of the channel.  You then manipulate the stones into their seat.  Lastly, you tighten the metal around the stones.

Gaining new skills is always an exciting challenge and a great opportunity to expand your creativity.  I definitely recommend doing it!  

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bonnie's Magnificent Jewelry Shop

Babbleon is one of the great shops that offers rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings on Etsy. Bonnie is a member of the JewelryonEtsy Team and hails from Ogden, Utah.  Married with 2 babies (fur babies that is). she was born and raised in the great state of Kansas.  She started selling her jewelry on Etsy in 2009.

Bonnie, the designer and owner extraordinaire, created the beautiful winning piece in the recent, Jetteam Spring Challenge. In case you didn't get to see it, here it is again!


Bonnie works with many different materials and her shop is filled with bright colors. There is something for everyone so be sure to stop on over to browse through the shop. You'll be glad you did!!

Here are some of the other items for sale in Bonnie's shop.


Chakra Bracelet and Earring Set
Butterfly Pottery Cuff

Leather and Copper Bracelet

Judy Lott


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Celebrating Mother's Day with the Jetteam

Mother's Day is May 8th this year. This holiday is observed by over forty countries. What better way to honor her than selecting a beautiful piece of jewelry made by a member of the Jetteam on Etsy? Of course, it goes without saying that you will tell her you love her, thank her for all she does for you and your family too. Something extra special handmade by an artisan, would be the "frosting on the cake" so to speak.

We all have special women in our lives; aunt, step mother, sister or friend. Celebrate them all, not only on this special day of rememberance but all year long. For those who are fortunate to still have their mother with them, give them an extra hug!! And let's not forget those pet moms.

According to Webster's Dictionary, this is the definition of a mother.

Definition of mother. 1 a : a female parent b (1) : a woman in authority; specifically : the superior of a religious community of women (2) : an old or elderly woman. 2 : source, origin <necessity is the mother of invention> 3 : maternal tenderness or affection.

Here are just a few of the many gorgeous jewelry pieces for sale on Etsy by the members of the Jetteam.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Book Review

Simple Soldering - A Beginner's Guide to Jewelry Making
by Kate Ferrant Richbourg
As jewelry designers, haven't we all decided at some point that learning to solder would be a good thing to do?

Those times when an open jump ring or cold connection just won't get the job done, soldering can offer the solution to many a problem.

But, as those of us who have tried soldering, whether we've mastered the technique or are still struggling, already know, this is not an easy technique.

After a couple of disgraceful and embarrassing attempts to go it alone, I looked around for a how-to book and, because of its title, chose this pretty paperback.

Starting with The Basics - how soldering works, fire scale & flux, types or solder and flow points & grades, the author leads us through the wheres and wherefores of setting up a work space and choosing our tools and materials.

Then comes the real nitty-gritty: a sampler of 16 pieces to create before moving on to a set of 20 projects. The projects include hook + eye clasp & dapped bead caps, soldered beads, stacked rings, chain earrings, tube riveted pendants, and more.

While all the sampler pieces and projects I worked on are interesting, educational, and fun to make, I found them a bit more time consuming and creatively restrictive than I had hoped. 

No, I didn't make my way through them all, mainly because I wouldn't be able to claim any of the results as my own designs.

A couple of wonderful things I did gain from this book: 
1) Lots of inspiration and ideas for new designs and creations of my own. The color photos are lovely.
2) A generous helping of "pride of ownership." This 160 page book brings a professional aura to my jewelry making shelf, and expecting guests, I manage to have it "just lying around" for them to ooh-and-aah over. Did I mention that the photos are lovely?

Other assets include a useful index and a helpful DVD.

Simple Soldering, published by Interweave Press, 2012.
Find it here:
Also available as an eBook + Digital Download Bundle:
More temptations by Kate Richbourg:


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Not Just Jewelry Designers!

JETs, Jewelry on Etsy Team – what are we? A group of jewelry designers with a common goal. To enhance and guide each other, both design wise and personally. A team with a wealth of knowledge to share.

The point of the title, NOT JUST JEWELRY DESIGNER, is to show what other knowledge is needed as a designer.

One example – photographer and photo manipulator.

Why? You ask. We need to show off our designs to the best of our ability. Customers want to see the real thing so a description really does not do the trick.

We are not professional photographers but we need to know how best to take our photos – lighting, background, sharpness are just a few. Not everyone can afford a top of the range camera and some even use Iphones (which I might add are getting high tech cameras added -  LOL).

So what happens when it goes wrong? Don’t fret. If it’s that bad then start again but there are numerous free, budget and expensive photo editing software programs about.

Picture too dark – just increase exposure or highlights. Decrease shadows maybe.

Picture too bright – if your highlights are too high you may have to start again but decrease highlights and see what happens. Maybe increase shadows.

Item not close enough – crop it baby – easy!

And don’t forget sharpen. Your item must be nice and clear. Never mind the background, make sure you show off your design.

So the main tools are – Exposure, Highlights, Shadows and Sharpen.

Do not mess around with Vibrance, Saturation, Hue and Luminance. These will change colors in your design and not show the real product.

Just a little info about what jewelry designers do behind the scenes. Unfortunately or fortunately I go that a bit further. After taking a few courses on photography I was hooked and below is an example, before editing and after editing, of what I now do – major photo manipulation!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Cooking with the JETS

Loquat Jelly

I was taught the basics of canning by my dearly departed grandmother and I’ve been canning on my own for probably about 7 years now. I tend to stick to more traditional methods (read: grandma’s way) and I’ve had great success and tasty food. This year I decided to try making jelly out of a fruit I’d never ever heard of.

It turns out that the mysterious fruit bearing tree in front of my father’s office was a loquat tree. If you’ve never seen or tasted a loquat think of it as the unlikely offspring of a lemon and a peach. It has a soft peachy inside with a tart/sweet citrus flavor and two to three pits at the center. It’s native to China but does particularly well here on the Texas Gulf Coast and in other sub-tropical climates.

Note: This recipe can really be used with just about any other fruit. Jelly making is pretty much the same all over once you get about 4 cups of whatever juice you’re using. So here we go.

You will Need:
  • Roughly 4 to 4.5 dozen loquats depending on size
  • Your choice of pectin (I used the low sugar Sure Jell)
  • Clean jars (about 4 or 5 half pint jelly jars or 2 pint jars)
  • 3 ½ c. granulated sugar
  • ½ c. honey
  • Kitchen strainer
  • Funnel (optional but makes your life easier)
  • Ladle (non-negotiable)
  • Large pot for cooking the jelly
  • Large stock pot for processing the filled jars

Step 1: Prep Your Jars

I may use old fashioned methods that might make modern day canners gasp but you’ll never catch me using dirty jars. The first thing you’ll always need to do is either run your jars through a cycle in the dishwasher or if you’re pressed for time, soak them in soapy sink water hot enough that you can’t put your hand in it. 

Gather your squeaky clean jars, new seals, and lid rings on a clean towel near your workspace.

Step 2: Prep Your Loquats (or other fruit)

This is by far the most tedious and mind-numbing part of the process. Loquats are small, slippery and acidic. I started by cutting the ends off the fruit and giving them each a good slice on one side from top to bottom. From there it was easy to simply pull the fruit open and use my thumb to dig out the pits in one move. 

Once pitted, you can chop the loquats into large chunks and place them in a bowl.

Step 3: Cook the Fruit

Once you’ve chopped all your fruit, place it in the medium to large cooking pot and fill it with water until it just covers the fruit. Cook the loquats on a medium flame until they are nice and soft. This can take between 10 and 15 minutes. You’ll start to notice the citrus fragrance and see the water change color.

Step 4: Strain Out the Juice

Some canners get really hung up on cloudy versus clear jelly. I’m not entering mine in a county fair so cloudy doesn’t really bother me. It just means that tiny bits of fruit flesh weren’t strained all the way out. If you’re like me, and cloudy doesn’t bother you, then you can use a standard metal kitchen strainer to press the juice from the loquats. If you’d like to stay clear, then you may want to invest in a jelly bag.

Get as much juice as possible out of your fruit before discarding it. And just to be on the safe side, I’ll usually run my juice through the strainer a second time. If you’re a hair short on the four cups of juice it’s ok to add in water to get you there.

TIP: Before the next step, take your new jar seals and put them in water in a little sauce pan. Put them on the stove over a low flame to santize and soften them. DO NOT BOIL THEM. You may also want to put your processing pot and water on a high flame to get it started boiling.

Step 5: Cook Up Your Jelly

At this point you’ll need to take ¼ cup of your 3 ½ cups of sugar and mix it with one box of the pectin in a separate cup. Things happen quickly from here so you may also want to have your sugar and honey at the ready. The low sugar pectin only uses 4 cups of sugar, but I’ve found that I like the taste a little more if I substitute half a cup of the sugar for honey. It’s not necessary though. No matter what you’re using, have it on stand by.

Put a boiling flame under your juice and get it hot. Stir in your pectin/sugar mixture and bring it to a rolling boil that can’t be stirred away. Once there, stir in all of your sugar (or sugar and honey). Allow the mixture to reach a boil again and let it boil hard for 1 minute. Things get a little foamy here and rise quickly so don’t get scared – you didn’t do anything wrong.
After the minute is over turn off the fire under the jelly and turn off the flame under your seals.

Step 6: Fill the Jars and Process

Use a ladle to spoon the jelly into each jar, leaving between ½ and ¼ inch space from the top of the jar. BE CAREFUL – I have gotten severe burns on my fingers from sloppy filling (this is why the funnel is so amazing). Be sure to wipe any spills or excess jelly off the lip of the jar with a paper towel before placing the seal on and screwing on the ring.

Once you’ve filled all of your jars, you’ll need to process them in a hot water bath. This means placing the jars up to their necks in rolling boiling water for about 10 minutes. This ensures that all harmful bacteria are killed and helps to create a seal. I use a large steamer/pasta pot. You can use a regular stock pot but you have to either raise your jars or place a barrier underneath them. If you set your jars directly on the bottom of the pot THEY WILL BREAK.

Once you’re done processing, just pull the jars (a jar grabbing tool is worth the few bucks) and set them on a towel to cool. Once you hear the POP!! Sound, it means your jars are sealed. It can take up to 24 hours for the jelly to cool enough to be fully set. All that’s left to do is label your jars and bask in your awesomeness.

Saturday, April 9, 2016


The Jewelry on Etsy Team, a global collaboration of jewelry artisans, is having a team challenge creating beautiful jewelry designs with spring in mind. The participating members were each given the same two beads to use in their entry. The entries are listed below. We are looking for you to vote for your favorite piece.

Voting will begin on Sunday April 10, 2016 and will run until Friday April 15, 2016.  Feel free to share this with your followers on your media platforms.

The Jewelry on Etsy Team (JETS) are accepting new members too! Just access the team link here and fill out an application. JETTEAM

Entries below. Voting is to the right. Select the piece you like and cast your vote next to the listing. Winner will be announced on Saturday, April 16. 2016.

Thanks for participating in this challenge. The members thank you for visiting our blog!



Thursday, April 7, 2016

National Cherry Blossom Festival

One of America's greatest celebrations of the spring seasons occurs every year and is called "The National Cherry Blossom Festival".  The festival runs for three weeks to celebrate the gift of the Tidal Basin Cherry Trees to the United States from Japan in 1912.

There are many activities geared for the whole family throughout the festival.

You can take a ride and enjoy the beauty along the banks of the Potomac River in a beautiful, glass enclosed boat. Chefs prepare tasty appetizers and desserts aboard ship and you can even dance to live music. What a breathtaking view as you travel along the river.

You can also dine at the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant. Enjoy a multi-course cherry blossom themed feast created by the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant's talented chefs!

One of the Festival’s largest spectator events is the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade® presented by Events DC which runs along Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th streets, NW.Standing room along the Parade route is free and open to the public. There are colorful helium balloons, beautiful floats, bands from all over the country and even other performers who make this a must see event.

And of course there are fireworks in the sky which light up the White House, Washington Memorial and other historic monuments in the distance.