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Jewelry Making and Methods

Jewelry making is a hobby that is becoming more and more popular. Jewelry making supplies are available in most craft stores in abundance. While jewelry itself has been around for many thousands of years, the ability to create one-of-a-kind pieces in your own home is a new phenomenon.
In fact, there are many places where you can find jewelry making instructions if you want to get started, but in order to understand this hobby, we must first look at some of the history of jewelry making.

A Brief History of Jewelry Making

Early jewelry was made of bones, rocks, bits of wood, and animal teeth. It is believed that the Egyptians introduced gold and silver jewelry, but there is no way to know for sure. The Egyptians were the first to use gemstones in their jewelry. As the dominant world power of their time, they passed their love of fine jewelry on to other ancient civilizations.

Skip ahead to the Renaissance of the late 15th and early 16th centuries. During this period jewelry adorned clothing as well as complemented it. With the rise of a new middle-class industrial elite in the city states of Italy, jewelry was no longer the exclusive purview of royalty or the nobility.

The 19th century Victorian era saw the introduction of more elaborate designs and keepsake pieces such a lockets and mourning brooches. In the 20th century, metals such as platinum began to be popular as well as the more traditional gold and silver. The idea of individuals crafting their own jewelry has evolved with the use of the ornamentation.

Different Types of Jewelry

A list of the types of jewelry being made today would be endless. Let's take a look at a few of the most common.
  • Necklace - a piece of jewelry that goes around the neck
  • Bracelet - a piece of jewelry that goes around the wrist or ankle
  • Armlet - a bracelet for the upper arm
  • Bangle - a stiff bracelet or cuff
  • Brooch - a piece that is pinned to a blouse at the collar
  • Buckle - the clasp on a belt
  • Cameo - a piece of jewelry carved to represent the profile of a woman
  • Choker - a necklace that fits tightly around the neck
  • Pin - a decorative piece that is attached to the clothing
  • Earring - a piece that is attached to the earlobe
  • Medallion - a heavy necklace piece that resembles a medal or disk
  • Ring - a piece that encircles the finger
This list is by no means exhaustive, but these are some of the more common pieces of jewelry being made today.

Methods for Jewelry Making

The methods for jewelry making are constantly changing. Here are a few popular methods. Think about the types that sound attractive to you.
  • Embossing - Embossing is the art of imprinting an image onto a surface. Metal and leather can be used to create embossed jewelry.
  • Filigree - Filigree is jewelry that is created by twisting strands of different metals, such as silver and gold, into one piece.
  • Repousse - Repousse is making an image by hammering or pressing metal onto a mold to create a relief image.
  • Gliding - Gliding is the process of treating the surface of a gold piece to remove any non-gold metals. This creates the appearance of a higher carat gold than that actually used.
  • Chasing - Chasing is the art of decorating metal by either engraving or embossing.
  • Engraving - Engraving is the art of carving an image or lettering into the surface of a metal piece.
Of course, there are many other methods. Consult a jewelry making encyclopedia at a local library or bookstore for a more comprehensive examination.

But where can you buy jewelry making supplies? Start at hobby stores and specialty shops or do a Google search for jewelry making supplies to locate on-line retailers. Once you have decided on the type of jewelry you want to make, finding the supplies is easy! But finding ideas can be trickier. Where can you look for inspiration?

Where to Find Jewelry Making Ideas

As with any art, inspiration can be found anywhere. Browse fashion magazines to see what colors and styles are popular. Home interior magazines also show some of the trends that can be transferred into jewelry making. Perhaps you can find inspiration in nature. Look around at the colors of the flowers that are blooming and think about how you can incorporate those into your plan. Or look at photographs of bygone days to create a retro or vintage look.

Once you have an idea, experiment with different mediums until you find the perfect one. Once you have designed and created a stunning piece, you might want to consider making more than one. Then you can sell your pieces. Start small by selling your jewelry at consignment stores. As you gain in skill and are producing more varied pieces, consider opening a booth at a craft fair or county fair. If you don't have a large inventory you may be able to partner with another maker and share a booth.

Cleaning Your Jewelry

If you purchase hand-made jewelry you are going to need to know how to keep it clean. Copper and silver jewelry both tarnish easily with handling. You can buy commercial cleaners for monthly cleanings and use a mild detergent on a weekly basis. Make sure to thoroughly dry your pieces. Use only 100% cotton jewelry cloths to prevent scratching your pieces. Flannel is also safe to use. An old, clean t-shirt makes an inexpensive jewelry cloth. Gold jewelry is easier to clean because it does not tarnish and responds well to soaking a simple commercial jewelry cleaner.

 

 
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