Friday, 25 April 2014

Make your own Drusy Cabochon ring!

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Love our gorgeous Drusy Cabochons? Try our new ring setting, it fits most finger sizes and is finished in under 5 minutes!

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Oh and the earrings too of course....

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Simply glue the stone in place and you are ready to sparkle!

Here's what you need for the ring:

Here's what you need for the Earrings:



Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Making a ring the perfect size!

We love rings! Statement ones with big juicy stones, to delicate stacking rings, but how do you make sure the ring you make is the right size for you or the person you are making for?

Whether you are making a ring using metal clay, traditional silversmithing or wire wrapping techniques, a wheatsheaf ring size stick is a must have for making sure your ring is the right size! 

Measure your finger using our simple ring sizer, if you are unsure of the size you need 

The wheatsheaf ring size stick has all the ring sizes from A to Z marked onto the metal in a grooved line, so once you know your size, simply select the size you want to make and wrap a piece of string around your size on the selected size line and mark where the ends meet, measure your marked string with a ruler and you have the exact length you need to cut from your silver.

If you've ever asked yourself "How much silver do I need to make a ring", this stick is your new best friend! 

C48 wheatsheaf ring sizing stick

If you already have your silver you can wrap it around the correct size line and mark where you need to cut with a scriber.

You can use the stick to measure a favorite ring you already have, to find out the size, so you know how to make it fit a certain finger.

If you are wire wrapping you can use your ring stick to make sure you begin with the correct size. 

Why not try giving your ring some texture by popping it onto a ring Triblet (also known as a mandrel) and giving it a good bash with a cross pein hammer. You should also try out our texturing kit if you want to create something really unique!

Tip: The wheatsheaf size stick is notched with all the different sizes and is purely for making sure your ring is the perfect size, if you hit it with a hammer you will damage the markings and make it less accurate, so make sure to always use your triblet/mandrel when shape or texturing a ring. 

Other essentials needed for making the perfect ring are:

The ring bending pliers- for ease or bending your wire to the correct shape

The rawhide mallet - so that you don't mark your ring while shaping it on your triblet

Thursday, 17 April 2014

What gives a Boulder Opal its value?

We currently have a stunning range of Premium Boulder Opals in stock – each one brilliant and one of a kind. They are notably higher in price than our previous selections of Boulder Opals, so what is it that gives a Boulder Opal its value?

Boulder Opals are easily distinguished by their layer of solid brown ironstone left on the back of the stone. Boulder Opals are mined from large ironstone boulders under the ground. Thin veins of colourful opal forms in the cracks and fissures in these boulders which are cut into the stones we sell.

Boulder Opals usually have a flat surface or an undulating surface and are almost always cut in a freeform shape to maximise the size of the stone. The quality of the work of the opal cutter affects the value of the gem as it should be polished so that no scratches or imperfections are visible to the eye.

Boulder Opals are valued by their colour, the number of colours, size and coverage of flash (the play of colour, sparkle within the stone) with red being most valuable followed by violet, orange, yellow, green and blue. The intensity of colour, pattern and the clarity are also very important.

A stone with strong colour and a full spectrum range is generally more valuable than one with a predominantly red fire, which is more valuable than one with predominantly green colour which in turn is more valuable than a stone showing only blue colour.

In summary, when looking at an opal consider the following:

Brightness - How bright is the gemstone overall?
Spectral Range - What range of colours are visible in the play of colour?
Saturation - How pure and vivid are the colours forming the play of colour?
Direction of flash – Is the play of colour visible from multiple directions?

When designing a piece of jewellery using freeform Australian Boulder Opals, spend some time looking at it in the sunlight and turning it different ways to determine which angle is best to show the play of colour it holds. Do you want to be able to see the flash or do you want it to appear brilliant to other people?

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Super easy and super quick - simple studs using snaptite settings!

We made these Earrings (and wore then straight away), using:

SF159 5mm Sterling silver Snaptite Earstuds
C54 Pusher (also known as a prong pusher)
5mm Faceted stone (pick your favourite!)
C49 Silver cleaning cloth

Optional: Anvil and bench pin C79

Start by placing your chosen faceted stone face down on a flat strong surface so the point is facing you. 

Hold the snaptite setting by the wire on the back and gently push the setting down over your stone. 

It should make a tiny click (or snap) sound. You don't have to press hard as the little claws will gently move over the stone and the pre-notched claws are ready to hold the stone in place. 

To make sure your stone is extra secure you need to use your pusher tool to gently push the claws onto the stone.

A bench peg is the perfect surface to do this on.

Use your thumb to hold the wire of the earring against the end of your bench peg, with the back of the earring resting on the top of the peg (this enables you to push the claws onto the stone without bending your earring backing).  

Starting with the first claw and focusing on one at a time, use your forefinger to gently push the stone downwards so that a little gap opens between the stone and the claw holding the stone. With your other hand, rest the corner of the tip of your pusher on the bench peg, just behind your setting, and gently roll the tip of the pusher onto the claw so that it lightly but firmly pushes the claw onto the stone (being careful not to touch the stone with the pusher). 

Repeat on each claw and you're done!  

Professional looking earrings in under two minutes! If you haven't tried these before they are brilliant, great for beginners or an excellent time saver for even the more experienced in jewellery making.

Tip: polish afterwards using the polishing cloth for a shiny professional finish 

Or if you would like to try a bit of soldering, you could try the 8mm version:

You may already have some of these items in your tool kit already, but here's what you need:

W48 8mm Blue Topaz faceted stones x 2 (Or choose any 8mm Faceted stone, click here for a yummy selection)
S86 8mm Sterling silver snaptite setting x 2
SF62 2.5mm Sterling silver Earstud with flat plate (pair)
C54 Pusher tool 

For soldering:

C181 torch
C14 block
C165 pickle
C83 plastic tweezers
C103 reverse action tweezers
A30 solder paste - easy    
A29 Solder paste needle
C195 scratch brush
C173 Polishing papers
C49 Silver cleaning cloth

(or if you prefer the traditional soldering process A80 solder strip + C93 + C118 Borax dish and cone + C119 Flux brush)

Before we set our stones we need prepare our workspace and solder the flat plates to the backs of our snaptite settings. 

I used the solder paste, as I find it easier to work with. Prepare your workspace by making sure you have your reverse action tweezers to hand and a bowl of water ready to quench your piece.

Mix up your pickle solution in a suitable container (glass or plastic). 

Tip: (I prefer to mix up a small batch at a time using a glass container and a teaspoon of pickle crystals - exact measurements and full instructions are included with the item...Also it's important to remember to only use plastic tweezers when retrieving your piece from the pickle! As metal tweezers can react with the solution and copper plate your silver! Remember to pour your water into your container first and then add your teaspoon of pickle.)

First you get your scratch brush and rub the surface of the flat plate and the back of your snaptite setting, to
remove all grease and invisible 'dirt' that could stop your solder from flowing. Place your snaptite setting onto your heat block with the claws downward and your nice scratched clean surface upwards. 

Apply a small blob of solder paste to your flat plate earring backing and press down onto your snaptite setting. 

Now you are ready to solder. (Make sure you tie back long hair, wear a breathing mask and/or make sure you are in a well ventilated area).

Light your torch and carefully circle your piece with the flame making sure you lower the flame so that the blue tip (inside the flame) is closest to your work. Pass your flame near to the solder but not so it's blasting the flame straight onto the solder. 

Tip: I like to sneak the flame near the piece and wait for the steam (which is your flux premixed into the paste) to burn off. Then I like to walk the flame over the work (like walking through a waterfall). I do this a couple of times and keep a keen eye on the solder and as soon as it flows take the flame away and switch off.

Obviously your piece is now hot, so you need to use your reverse action tweezers to pick it up and pop it into the water to quench the metal.

Next you need remove all the black marks on your silver by placing your setting in to the pickle solution you made earlier. Leave the pickle to do it's thing and go and have a nice cup of tea. When you come back if your piece has turned a nice frosty white-ish colour, it's ready to take out. Using your plastic tweezers, lift out your piece and rinse under running water. Dry off with a tissue. 

Polish up using your polishing papers to bring your silver up to a nice shine (use each colour in sequence, each one is a different grade). 

Now pop your stones in and push the claws over using the same method described above and finish by buffing up with your silver polishing cloth for that high shine!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Make them and wear them - Briolette Chain Earrings

Sometimes the lure of beautiful Gemstone Briolettes is too much and you just have to buy them! We made these earrings (and wore them straight away) using:

SF18a Sterling Silver Kidney Wire with Safety Catch
SF1a x2 5mm Jump Rings
SF1 x4 3.5mm Jump Rings
SN2 Sterling Silver Chain
A85 0.5 Sterling Silver Wire 
SO1638 x2 Rainbow Moonstone Faceted Teardrop Briolettes
B304 Rose Quartz Faceted Teardrop Briolettes 

Tools: A pair of Side Cutters, Snipe Nose and Round Nose Pliers - for the best value set of pliers choose our Pliers Pack, guaranteed to get you off to a good start.
Optional: Soldering equipment

Start by wire wrapping your briolettes, if you haven't done it before it is good to practise with some Silver Plated Wire before moving onto precious metal. Decide what length you would like your chain drops to be and trim four pieces to size before adding a 3.5mm Jump Ring to each end of each piece of chain. Add your wrapped briolettes to one end of each piece of chain and read our information about working with jump rings. Ensure that they are closed tightly.

Thread the other ends of your chains onto two 5mm Jump Rings and again close tightly. You might consider soldering your jump rings for extra security, although be very careful of your briolettes if you solder the jump rings connecting the briolette to the chain. Thermo-Gel is a very handy heat barrier if you are in any doubt.

Finally thread your chains onto your earwires and your lovely new earrings are ready to wear!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Use spirals to capture your seaside treasure

If you love beach combing as much as we do, you'll have lots of treasure!

You can make your beachy finds into attractive pendants or decorations with Sprials! In a medium or large size, you'll be able to accommodate shells or multiple pieces of sea glass and enjoy the patterns the wire makes around your objects while holding them tightly!