Friday, 24 May 2013

Meeting Jewellery Designer Carole Allen

Cornwall Open Studios starts this weekend so we’ll be out and about getting tempted and inspired by a whole host of creative people. Carole Allen is part of this years line-up and we are so pleased she found time to talk to us!
How did you get into making jewellery?
I signed up for some evening classes in silversmithing at Cornwall College just as a hobby, many years ago. Before long I was hooked by the bug, invested in a few tools from Kernowcraft and started making some bits for friends and family at home. 
Describe your workspace
I have the most amazing purpose-built studio in my back garden, which is split into two rooms – one for teaching and 1 for working. Everyone who comes in loves it and I know how lucky I am to be working in such a lovely sunny space. 
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by nature and most of my Jewellery has an organic feel. I also have a passion for colour and many of my enamelled pieces are inspired by the colours and hues of the Cornish coastline. 
What’s your favourite gemstone and why?
Of course I love diamonds – who doesn’t!  They’re so easy to set as there’s no worry about breaking them or destroying them in the ultrasonic cleaner.
I also enjoy coloured stones, my favourites being peridot, aquamarine, rhodolite and amethyst.
What advice would you offer beginners wanted to start making their own jewellery?
Find a good teacher to learn the basics and then continue to learn from books until you decide what you want to specialise in. When you know, do some master classes with your heroes. That’s how I did it. It’s taken time but I now feel that I have a broad range of knowledge. 
What jewellery making technique do you use most often?
I don’t think there’s any one thing that I mostly do as every technique leads to another. Piercing leads to filing, which leads to soldering, which leads to buffing, which leads to polishing. 
Which other jewellery maker or designer do you admire? And why? 
I much admire some of the enamel artists with whom I’ve had the privilege to learn the art of enameling. These include Jessica Turrell, Joan Mackarrel and Gillie Byrom. I also love the work of Jessa Marshall for it’s mysterious and organic nature.
Why do you love Kernowcraft?
I love Kernowcraft because everything is of such a high quality.  I know if I order stones that I won’t be disappointed. I also like the fact that if I order in the morning, I’ll receive my parcel the next day, with minimum postage costs.
Carole Allen also offers courses in jewellery making and will be in her studio from 25th May – 2nd June. For more information visit Open Studios Cornwall.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Perfectly Pretty in Pearls

To go with all that glitter, you will need pots of pearls – in the film, famously Tom's gift to Daisy was a string of pearls worth £350,000!
In love with their timeless appeal, we have pretty White Mini Pearls, Cultured Freshwater Pearls, White BiwaPearls, White Head Drilled Teardrop Pearls, Cultured Saltwater Half Drilled Pearls, and pearls in beautiful colours form pinks to the unusual Khaki Green Keshi Pearls and Cultured Saltwater Pearl Cabochons. To get the look consider making a fascinator, long knotted necklaces with tassels, a multi strand cuff or some long drop earrings. We've got lots of information about pearls on our website.

Pearls are traditionally strung on silk thread but if you wear your pearls very often it is recommended that you re-string them about once a year. For extra security you should knot the thread between each pearl – this will prevent all your pearls falling off the strand if it should break and also stops the pearls from rubbing against each other. We recommend The Basics of Bead Stringing as a great go-to book for stringing techniques. If you’re looking for a slightly longer-lasting thread we recommend our LS110Flex-Rite 7 extra fine jewellery wire. At 0.3mm in diameter it is perfect for pearls as they have very small drill holes and it is incredibly strong yet still has a lovely flexible drape.

Make your long flapper necklaces and multi strand cuffs by buying your pearls in strands. Buying our beads in strands works out on average 40% cheaper than buying them individually, giving a great excuse to buy more!

We used our new Gallery Wire Settings with a Grey Moonstone, some Sterling Silver Round Wire and a White Head Drilled Teardrop Pearl bead to create a drop perfect to peek out beneath a cloche hat!

For more inspiration have a look at our Cubic Zirconia, Pearl & Crystal Tiara Project and for more pearly projects, we recommend Create Jewellery: Pearls book.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Gatsby, a feast of delicious, indulgent inspiration!

The Great Gatsby look has been all over the media in the last few weeks and with the film opening last week, we are pretty excited ourselves. The costumes for the film were designed by Catherine Martin and the 20s inspired pieces have become known as the Ziegfeld Collection, a collaboration with Tiffany and Co. While we can't get our hands on the original pieces (swoon), The Great Gatsby is a feast of inspiration and we can't help but feed you!

Starting the week with the ultimate extravagance, for those extra special commissions - the diamonds. For incredible sparkle that you only get with diamonds, choose from two grades; the Diamond Faceted Stone W30, an affordable stone with excellent quality. They may have inclusions that are visible to the naked eye but have a lovely sparkle. Our best quality Diamond faceted Stone W24, sometimes known as commercial white diamonds, the hardest mineral on the earth is 10 on the Mohs scale. This stone may have some tiny inclusions visible to the naked eye but that doesn't detract from their brilliance and beauty. If you ever need help choosing the right diamond for your piece, then get in touch as we would be happy to discuss your requirements.

If you are going for opulence and abundance with your pieces, achieve the look with the White Zircon Faceted Stone W19. With a close resemblance to a diamond, Zircon was once believed to provide the wear with riches, wisdom and honour.

For subtle colours that resonate with the time, you can’t fail to be wooed by the warm light of Champagne Coloured Cubic Zirconia FacetedStone W6 – they work well with either silver or gold findings and are perfect for a vintage look. If you can’t decide which colour to go for, opt for the Rainbow Glow Cubic Zirconia Faceted Stone W44 that flash with iridescent colour.