I recently spent half a day at the Baton Rouge Gem & Mineral Show. These events are such fun for those of us who love looking at gems!
So many beautiful stones; do you have a favorite gemstone for jewelry? Malachite with its rich green swirl? Jade with a hint of the orient? Lapis lazuli? Onyx? Maybe quartz or even rose quartz? The beautiful lavender/purple shades of amethyst?
It seems that the most popular gemstones for jewelry are black onyx and pearls (not sure pearls are actually gemstones....), which makes sense - black and white with sterling silver jewelry are so classic and easy to wear with almost everything in your closet.
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One of the first inspirations I had when I was starting to make jewelry was chain mail armor. I mean, that stuff is just amazing - so strong and yet so flexible that it moved with the body. Except for the weight, I imagine that it was perfect as body armor.
Those were exactly the qualities I wanted to have in my handmade metal jewelry - strong of course, to hold up to daily wearing but flexible enough to be completely comfortable for the wearer. Who has ever worn jewelry that was so stiff you wore it once and, after that, it sat in your jewelry box? I know I have. Never again!
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When it comes to buying jewelry, you face so many choices in terms of quality, style, price and many other factors. How will you navigate through all of those factors to make the best decision for you and for your lifestyle? After all, just because that bracelet is perfect for your best friend or your mom, doesn't mean it's perfect for you. You have your own personal style and your own preferences when you buy jewelry for yourself.
~ With that in mind, here are 6 things to consider when looking for that perfect piece of jewelry ~
1. Will you be wearing this jewelry on a daily basis or only for special occasions?
If you plan to wear it daily, think about what your typical day looks like.
Are you in a corporate career with lots of variety in your day or are you at a desk most of the day? Think about how your jewelry needs to function in either of those settings - a necklace and coordinating earrings may be a better choice than a bracelet if you spend time at a computer much of your day, since some people find that bracelets get in the way when they are at a computer.
If you are at home most of the day, are your days active, shepherding your children from school, to piano lessons, to soccer practice? Simpler jewelry might be called for, if you are looking for wear every day jewelry pieces. Your jewelry needs to work overtime to effortlessly take you to every activity of your very busy life - nothing too big and bulky for you! Think streamlined, simple shapes and lightweight designs, for this special time in your life.
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2. Are you looking for something to wear primarily on special occasions?
You can have lots of fun if this is what you are looking for! You can go as big and bold as like, in sterling silver, gold or the popular "mixed metal" look. The key to accessorizing for special occasions is to think outside of your regular "wear every day" jewelry. This could be bigger than you normally wear or maybe a "denser" jewelry piece that makes more of a statement or a piece with repeated or different components. As long as it still feels within your own personal "style" zone, you can have fun with it!
3. Do you generally enjoy wearing larger or smaller jewelry?
Pay no attention to anyone or anything that says larger jewelry is only for larger women and smaller jewelry only for smaller women. Seriously - do not listen to this. Think about what YOU like on your own body. That is the right choice for you. So, once you know that you generally enjoy wearing, start there when you are looking for jewelry. Don't be afraid to step out of that now & then - there is no harm in taking a look at larger pieces if you generally wear smaller ones. Who knows? You might find something you love in a larger jewelry piece and have a new "favorite"!
4. Silver, gold or both?
Are you a silver girl, a gold girl or do you like to wear both (maybe even at the same time)? This is important and many people know instinctively which metal they like best, or wear more often. Mixed metal jewelry (jewelry pieces incorporating both silver and gold and sometimes copper within the same design) is gaining in popularity. After all, who doesn't like jewelry that goes with everything else in your jewelry box - so easy to accessorize when you have a busy morning and need to throw on something without having to think too much about it!
5. Do you like matching jewelry, coordinating jewelry or do you prefer to wear what you like without thinking about what matches?
Opinions and preferences are all over the map with this. Many people love to wear a perfect "set": matching necklace, bracelet and earrings. Others are happiest with jewelry that "coordinates" but doesn't necessarily "match": a sterling silver necklace in one design, for example, and a sterling silver bracelet in another design. The pieces are "held together" by the fact that they are both sterling silver. Others simply like to wear what they enjoy wearing with no (or minimal) thought to what matches or coordinates. So, the best advice is to follow your heart - whatever makes you happiest is what you should wear.
6. What do YOU love?
Finally, and this is the most important thing to remember - purchase the jewelry that YOU love. Don't buy what your friend likes or what your sister likes, unless they have the same style as you. Don't let the sales person or the designer "talk you into" buying it. If you love it, you will wear it often and enjoy it for a lifetime. And life is way too short to buy jewelry that sits in your jewelry box, right?
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Every piece of metal silver, gold or copper jewelry in my booth and on my website is made by hand and entirely by me and only me. I have no studio helpers for either design or creation of the jewelry; it is my pleasure and my passion to design each and every jewelry piece myself.
Every piece of jewelry starts with round sterling silver wire or flat "sheet" sterling silver. The original and most popular jewelry designs are made of rings of very specific sizes; if the sizes are not exactly correct, the jewelry will either be too stiff to wear comfortable or too loose and will not hold the design. Each ring is made and finished by hand in my studio in south Louisiana.
It may surprise you to know that I am largely self-taught although I have taken many jewelry classes both locally and across the country.
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Maybe you think that mixed metal jewelry can be worn with any outfit and that is absolutely true. It's also fun to pick up some of the colors in the metals in the outfit you wear it with when you can.
For example, if your jewelry is silver and gold, it might be fun to pick up some of the gold color in your shoes, purse, belt or scarf. It kind of gets "tied together" that way!
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I use so many different tools to make my jewelry but one of the most important is my power drill. This week, after 10 years "on the job", my drill suddenly decided it had had enough and was no longer functioning. Minor crisis! Obviously, it had to be replaced ASAP so today I headed out to Lowe's and picked up this beautiful drill - see below!
Did I mention that I really love tools? I do. I have lots of them but this is one of the most used tools in the studio!
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A question I commonly get about my jewelry is related to what material I use to make the jewelry. My favorite metal to work with is sterling silver and most of my jewelry is either sterling silver or a combination of silver and gold or copper. I also notice that you, my customer and friend, love sterling silver, too.
But, here's the thing - as long as you and I LOVE sterling silver it will continue to be my "go-to" jewelry making metal. The others just don't take us to our happy place, do they?
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A lot of people want to know how long it takes me to make my jewelry - maybe you have had the same question. Since my jewelry is frequently complex, it's hard for you to imagine the time it must take to make it.
The question is a little hard to answer. The truth is that each piece can take days to weeks, depending on what other pieces I am working on at the same time and the complexity of the design.
I rarely work on just one piece, preferring to work on several pieces at the same time. That way, I get a break from each design and can go back and forth from earrings to bracelets to necklaces. That said, it's fair to say that the simplest pieces may take a couple of hours and the more complex pieces I may spend up to a month making and finishing.
Are you looking for a gift idea that included Luxury Jewelry? This could be just what you are looking for!
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I am Laura Teague, a metal smith, knitter and sewist living and working in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and traveling the western US whenever I can!