Monday, October 18, 2010

Fall break

I am so blessed: Currently my good friend Claus is ”working” in my workshop, as a sort of internship. He is helping me out with a lot of things that I haven’t had time to do – such as sorting and more importantly – pricing my jewelry and stones plus moving my pieces from my Phantasteria shop to my Castens shop. More about that in another post. Yesterday he got a go at sand casting with moderate success. But it’s I messed up the first (and second and third) time too, so he’s doing great by that standard!

Claus is good company as he is, but when I call him a blessing, I am referring to the fact that I had become quite stressed. With my day job, regular household chores plus being a good mother/girlfriend, my Castens company with way too many ambitions and ideas was taking a huge toll on me. I figured out that I had a working week of between 60 and 70 hours and so no wonder I was starting to fall apart! Claus is helping me getting structure and system into the whole project which is the base for being at ease and working freely.

Lucky, lucky me…

However, I am still in due need of a holiday. Brain has stopped functioning, as Claus so vividly illustrated a few days ago.

So tomorrow I’m flying to Finland with my daughter to meet with my boyfriend at his father’s house in the woods. We will be taking long walks in said woods, go to the sauna and relax with capital R until I return Sunday the 24th in the evening to resume my busy life.

So: happy fall vacation to those others who take a break too!

A girls best friend…

Yup, am talking about diamonds of cause! It started with creating this ring from a bunch of outdated rings.

They featured a lot of timy diamonds and I didn't know what to do with them. However, after finally learning to flush set (see earlier post), I have started to embed them in a number of different designs. It just looks so lovely! Only downside: Don’t want to use white sapphires anymore – they just don’t have the same flash to them as the real thing! And don’t want to use zirconias either. Oh dear… will I have to upgrade and start buying diamonds often? I guess the answer is yes *grin*

Here are some examples of my latest work. This one with the moonstone I have claimed for myself, but I have more moonstones. Perhaps I’ll make another one…

And here we have a true beauty, which I have fallen completely in love with!

I have created the ring from 2 mm silver wire and have set a facet cut imperial champagne topaz in a 14 carat bezel.

A number of golden balls lighten the design and the biggest holds a reclaimed Top Wesselton diamond. Finally I have roughened up the surface and polished the golden balls to create structural contrast.

The colors are subtle and elegant and just so very delicious… I’ll put it on Etsy soon, promise!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pricing jewelry -oh dear!

I love creating my jewelry. Every piece has a bit of heart blood in it and quite a chunk of my soul. They are created with a lot of love and happiness, but when I get to the point of pricing, things start to become difficult. So many hidden factors apart from materials and hourly wages go into this equation. Please read this very illustrative blog post from my very talented colleague Jess from Rosie Revolver in order to get an insight into what your money for one piece of amazing jewelry actually pays: 

Also two of my other very talented coleagues have written good thoughts on this:

So, most of us have this inner fight of the business person VS the I’m-just-so-happy-you-even-like-what-I-made-person. On Etsy, it’s my impression that the latter often wins. Granted, I have to take rather high prices because expenses in general are extremely high here in Denmark, but still… So often I have seen gorgeous pieces which I’m thinking are in the same league as mine and cringe when I see the all-too-low price tag. If any customer has seen THIS piece and then mine, they will find my prices downright insane.

And yet I’m even not pricing my pieces high enough to pay the rent of the shop I want (and hence don’t have yet)!

So, what to do?

Well, so far I’m once in a while posting articles here in my blog where I in detail describe the process of creating my often rather elaborate (and hence time consuming) pieces. I’m proud of my skills as a jewelry smith and have no problem giving the "behind the scene" tour. But I'm wondering if a customer -you, dear reader? - will feel the reaction I'm hoping for: understanding the chosen price and realizing the handicraft that went into it. And of cause enjoying to see how a piece is created.

Again: What to do?

How to align?

DO I want to align?

Should I just put any price tag on it which feels right (high enough) to me and trust that someone will buy it at that price?

Thoughts and ideas are very welcome!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sumptuous be thy name

I have created a big, fat ring from recycled 14 carat gold, featuring a large and amazing facet cut prasiolite, a facet cut emerald and a diamond.  It’m allowed to boast because this ring is truly very, very special!

It started with Lisbeth approaching me with some old gold rings. She didn’t wear them anymore and would like something new made of the precious metal and the stones. “But surely” was my answer, and hence we designed a ring based on the big prasiolite that one of her rings, a very old fashioned 70’s model, held .

I used a model which I had previously made for another ring, ensuring that it was the approximate size. Gold doesn’t shrink as much as silver does, at least that is my experience, so the size must be relatively correct. So, here we are, with all the rings of 14 carat, a small one of 8 carat, my gold scraps from previous projects and a bit of 22 carat wire to balance out the 8 carat. Higher carat = nicer color.

This is the setup with the mould still open plus the model  after having being removed from the mould.

Point of no return has been passed here – we have a nice, softly moving glob of molten gold. The trick is to heat it for a while longer after it has molten in order to bring up the temperature to a good flow – and in order to stirr together the different carats by lightly tapping the melting bowl onto the surface.

When the metal has been poured, the oily sand gives of a soft fume – fairly decorative IMO.

And now the moment of truth: Did it flow as it should? Do we have a solid ring? Yes we do!

After rinsing of the sand, this is what it looks like. Not overly charming to be sure…

However, removing the casting cone and filing it smooth improves the ring a lot! This is beautiful in its own right. Perhaps with a flush set stone or three… 

But that was not what this project was about, and hence I created a cone-shaped bezel setting for the stone (which is bright and well-cut enough to bear this kind of dark setting), sawed out a piece of the ring shank and soldered it all together. 

I attached a thick piece of tube for the 3 mm emerald and then for the curl. Always a bit tricky to solder it on exactly as I want it, and so I used two self locking tweezers to hold it in place. It’s my experience that it’s easier to work with the curl by attaching one end first and then bringing it around to a good finish – instead of fiddling around forever with tweezers to make it fit.

I soldered the other end of the curl and then the ball to hold the diamond.

Here we are – all the soldering and pickling over and ready for finishing polish/surface treatment and setting. Note that I have already cut the seat for the prasiolite.

The end result… stunning! At least I think so!