Thursday, June 18, 2009

Making and Selling Necklaces, The First Step

Making jewelry is only a part of having a jewelry store. There is so much more involved in putting a necklace like one of the above in my stores. It begins with stones, findings, chain, tools, etc. I cull listings of my favorite suppliers and then do a Google search for anything I particularly want like faceted Pink Topaz, the perfect Coin Pearl, a small Sterling Saint Anne medal or a tool for filing soldered metal.

When my packages arrive, it's like a birthday present. I can't wait to see what I've gotten and I'm rarely disappointed. I've only had three sellers pack their wares so poorly pieces were delivered broken. I can tell you exactly what items they were and who shipped them, but there's no point in that.

I usually have a design in my head. Most times I have a dozen designs in my head. I try to write them down when they pop up, but they come at odd moments and who has a pen and pad ready while reclining in a dental chair saying "Yes, I can feel that!"

Once the design is there and the stones are on my table, I search for the most appropriate findings: the Sterling Bail, the Textured Three Ring Connector, the Large Forged Circles, or the Thai Karen Heart that looks so pretty with pearls. They all wait patiently for me to pull one from the group. When the pendant style and pieces are selected, I choose my wiring and view the gauges. Most times, I prefer the larger gauges of 24 or 26, which are among the thinner wires and perfect for briolettes. The lower the gauge number, the thicker the wire.

I decide on the chain or cord, once the stones are wrapped in wire. I love the heavy wrapping, or what some people call the messy wrapping to the flatter, precise wiring, because I think it gives the briolettes a richer look and feel. Still, I do a variety of them to appeal to as many people as possible.

Most of my necklaces are 16 inches extending to 18 inches, but I’ve had so many requests for shorter and longer necklaces I try to accommodate everyone. Layered necklaces are still huge and I've made some as short as 13 inches. They are meant to be the first tier in set or are what I consider "your statement necklace." This is often the piece you never remove, unless you're swimming or doing something that could break it.

I've made a ton with Crosses or Crucifixes. I do a lot with pearls and a lot with a combination of Sterling Silver and Gold so that you can layer it with either metal.

I've also made necklaces with leather, silk, or waxed cotton. I have a customer who often asks for a long, beaded leather necklace which she wraps around her neck three times. I have another regular customer who loves my leather necklaces, but requests the cord be changed to Sterling Silver Figure 8 chain.

Whatever the style, the customer has her preference and I do my best to oblige her … or him. After all, I love jewelry. I think each piece is like music and has the ability to speak to others or simply, to direct your mood. It's what you want to say and what you want to feel, so you should have you want. And what you want should feel great!

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