Let’s Talk Earring Wires,…Shall We?



The unsung heroes of earrings, ear-wires are what most people think of as ‘just hardware’ for their beautiful earrings.  Alas,…they are not.  At least not in my opinion. And, once you read this article and start noticing earring wires, you might change your mind and quite possibly your ‘ear-wire’ opinion (or form your own).

For starters, although I prefer to start with a positive instead of a negative comment, I’m going to share with you my dislike of ‘store-bought’ (i.e. traditional/manufactured) earring wires. 

(Manufactured Earring Wires - Compliments of Pinterest)

They are, to me, the bane of practically all earrings; distracting from the most beautiful designs and, for lack of a better term, ‘trashing’ them.    

(Oohhh,….I’m feeling the flack from this sentence already!)

Have you ever seen a pair of the most beautiful earrings with your favorite gemstone or the most unique and intriguing design that stopped you in your tracks only to see them hanging from a pair of sterile, manufactured, cheap-looking earring wires, thus mucking up their astonishing beauty?

Admit it.  You've noticed.   

They distract from the designer’s beautiful work of art which takes hours of intricate work, skill and education. Not to mention patience – some of these beauties take days or weeks to create, start to finish!   And, if you’re the kind who notices, they completely take away from the overall beauty of the finished piece of jewelry.

It’s as if you’re viewing this gorgeous painting in the Louvre and then you happen to notice the frame and it’s some slick, manufactured looking, no character square piece of #*@!$ engulfing this fine work of art.  

Yes, I probably should have used my inside voice there, but seriously folks,….I’m calling ‘foul’!!



Here’s a solution:  

If you’re a jewelry designer, create your own.  




I’d wager to bet that if you are capable of creating beautiful works of jewelry art, a simple earring wire design is going to be a breeze for you.  

Or, if you feel you don’t have the time for this, as time is money and the most efficient way of doing things saves money, purchase some well-crafted, quality, hand-made ear wires from another designer or someone who does this on a regular basis (No, I no longer do this).  




Another thought is to make a few different ear-wire designs on your own, consistent with your style of jewelry / earrings and have them cast in bulk, thus ensuring the same outcome time after time.  
They're bound to become a ‘signature’ piece in your designs, just as your clasps or your logo tags may have become and will help set your designs apart from others’ and make your jewelry distinguishable.

Having clients who mentioned how they prefer my simple ear wire designs over ‘store-bought’ ones; sayingthey add a touch of class to the design and feel stronger and of better quality, makes me feel I am delivering the best over all product and design to my customers.


 I’m quite curious to know how many people really do notice the ear-wires of earrings.

Whether you’re someone who loves wearing earrings, a seasoned jewelry designer, or a retail or boutique establishment, please jump in and leave a comment below telling me what you think.  

Who knows,…maybe it’s just me.

Until Next Time,

Peace, Love, Pearls and “Great Earring-Wires”, Baby!!


Cheers,

~Shel~


Please join our fun community of jewelry lovers by signing up for our monthly 
Pearls! Newsletter.
 (trust me, we talk about more than just pearls!)

It's packed with all sorts of 'Pearl-Fect' goodies each month, from the latest jewelry news and fashion trends, to exclusive online products, events and promotions.

And, receive Our Free, Pearl-Facts Info Sheet when you sign up HERE.



Michelle Ludlam-Buettner (Shel) holds a Graduate Pearls Diploma from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and is a Certified Pearl Specialist through the Cultured Pearl Association of American (CPAA).  In addition to creating her own jewelry line, she is also a freelance writer specializing in jewelry editorial, copy, line and manuscript editing who can often be found fawning over pearls in her spare time.  Follow Shel’s blog at MiShelDesigns.net or see what she’s snapping over on Instagram @pearlgeek

Questions and inquiries welcome at Shel@MiShelDesigns.net

Wholesale Inquiries please list "wholesale" in the subject line.



Breathing New Blood Into Your Pearls

I'm amazed when I hear people say, "I can't wear pearls. They're too stuffy and just not my style."




Well, I'm here to tell you, "Yes, you can wear pearls!"
 


Today's pearls are anything but stuffy and they're definitely not boring like we've been led to believe. 




If all you've got in your jewelry box is your classic strand of 

Pearly Whites


then hop on over to SmartFem Magazine and check out the recent article I wrote in their beauty and fashion section



and learn how you can turn any strand of pearls into something fun and ultra stylish! 




Please add a comment below and tell us what ideas you have for adding some pizzazz to your pearls!




Please join our fun community of jewelry lovers by signing up for our monthly 
Pearls! Newsletter.
(trust me, we talk about more than just pearls!)

It's packed with all sorts of 'Pearl-Fect' goodies each month, from the latest jewelry news and fashion trends, to exclusive online products, events and promotions.

And, receive Our Free Pearl-Facts Info Sheet when you sign up HERE.


Until Next Time,
Peace, Love and Pearls, Baby!!

Cheers,
~Shel~ 



Michelle Ludlam-Buettner (Shel) holds a Graduate Pearls Diploma from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and is a Certified Pearl Specialist through the Cultured Pearl Association of American (CPAA).  In addition to creating her own jewelry line, she is also a freelance writer specializing in jewelry editorial, copy, line and manuscript editing who can often be found fawning over pearls in her spare time.  Follow Shel’s blog at MiShelDesigns.net or see what she’s snapping over on Instagram @pearlgeek.  

Questions and inquiries welcome at Shel@MiShelDesigns.net

Wholesale Inquiries please list "wholesale" in the subject line.

Some Nature Eye-Candy For You Today

Since my jewelry supplies have been missing in my life for what seems like an eternity, I've been working on getting a few things unpacked and sorted; putting them in places I can actually get to so I can 'play' when the opportunity arrives.

In the meantime, my ever talented sister was tagged for a challenge on Facebook and in turn, tagged me to play along.

It's a simple and fun photography challenge and if there's anything that captures my heart like my pearls, it's photography. 

I'm not as proficient as I hope to be some day, and my cameras of choice and circumstance are still my point-and-click Panasonic Lumix (for most all of my macro shots!) and my Cannon, but I enjoy the entire process. From taking the photos to editing them, to seeing the final result, it's a very satisfying hobby. 

The challenge on Facebook is called Challenge on Nature Photography and the rules are simple. Once you've been challenged, you are to post one photo a day for 7 days of your most interesting Nature, Animal or Landscape photos and in turn, you nominate a different person for the challenge each day and then tag the person who challenged you and the person you challenged.

For those of you who might know me, it's no surprise that most of my pics are Macro shots of flowers or their leaves. Yes, I'm obsessed.

Not a Lady, Bug!

A Rose Like No Other



Purple Perspective


Raindrop Reflections

Sunset Water Blues


Everything Has a Season,...


Cheery!


Until Next Time,
Peace, Love and Nature Photo Fun!!
Cheers,
~Shel~

A Tutorial For You On A Snowy Day!


Since moving from sunny Arizona back to my small hometown in central Illinois last fall (yep, I moved back to 'Mayberry'!) I've come to appreciate the beauty of winter again. 



Atlanta, Illinois - Photo Credit: Marsha Hindman



 

A while back, my brother-in-law asked me how I was adjusting to the mid-west weather and small town living again. 

 "I decided, no matter what, I'm going to find the beauty in every day", I answered. 

His reply, "Well then, don't look in the mirror, Shelly!"

LOL! 

Yep, gotta love 'Old Man River'.   He comes up with the best comebacks and can make you laugh at just about anything. Even yourself.

So today, as we started getting hit with freezing temps, gusting winds, icy rain and snow flurries, I saw the beauty in the snowy white scene outside and went to go look for some fun, white pearl earrings to wear today.

I came across these beauties in my jewelry box. 




 
These white, cascading Keshi Pearl earrings are the first piece of jewelry I ever had published in a jewelry magazine - BeadStyle Magazine - and I thought they were very appropriate for today. 
Just the way the snow is dancing and sparkling in the wind outside, these Keshi Pearl earrings will be dancing and sparkling on my shoulders, making today bright and sunny, even in the dead of winter! 

You can make your very own pair of these fun, flirty earrings and have a beautiful, winter-white day while still remaining warm and toasty!
 
Just hop on over to Kalmbach Publishing's Jewelry and Beading Store HERE and grab this tutorial and create a pair, or two!

And, created with white keshi pearls, this Keshi Necklace by Naomi Fujimoto would be the perfect one to pair with your newly created earrings!
 

Necklace by Naomi Fujimoto - BeadStyle Magazine



Until Next Time,
Peace, Love and Fun with Pearls!
Cheers,
~Shel~




Returning to the familiar,...

Quiet for quite some time now to work on 'work', I've been asked recently if I will be returning to jewelry making and designing with pearls and to updating the blog with pearl and jewelry information any time soon.

The answer to these questions are, "Yes". 

In response to the above, I've been asked a few times lately about pearls and the 'do's and don'ts' of designing with them and thought I'd reach back in the archives and give you one of the 'good ones'.

The original blog post is 'here', with even more Q and A's, but here's the answer to one of the most frequent questions I receive in regards to designing with pearls.

Q: Can I 'liver of sulfur' my finished wire work piece with my pearls, or do I have to oxidize my metal first and then create my piece?" 

Great question!  And, safety first here, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on any solution(s) you are using whether it’s Liver of Sulfur, Silver Black, etc. and always wear protective eye gear.  
 

Here’s my answer:  You should not place your pearls or other porous gemstones (such as turquoise, etc.) or fragile beads (painted, AB coated crystals, etc.) into a solution of Liver of Sulfur.  
 
Technically, you should oxidize your metal (silver, copper, etc.) prior to working with or assembling your piece.
  
Now, have I ever placed my finished piece along with my pearls into a solution of Liver of Sulfur – yes.  
 
Should I have? No, not really.  
 
Why did I do it? Because I was lazy (just stating the truth here folks!) and I wanted to see what would happen to my pearls. 
(Granted, I didn’t do this with my ‘super-good’ pearls!!)
 
So, what happened? 
 
Well, my pearls came out just fine after about a 30 second dip in some LOS. Absolutely perfect. Not a problem at all. 
 
See?
 
Pearl, Turquoise and Sterling Silver Wire
Wrapped Pendant "Freya"
Before and After an LOS Solution Dip

Although, another time, when I left my pearls in some LOS solution for a couple of minutes, one of them had a dullness to their nacre that wasn’t there prior to the LOS dip and one time it even turned a white pearl a rather dull, gray color. 
It was hard to see right off the bat, but in certain lights you could tell it had lost its original white color and that something was a bit ‘off’. 



It's a bit hard to see here in this photo, but the pearl on the right has lost
a bit of it's beautiful luster. If I had a before and after pic, it would
probably be a lot easier to tell the difference.
 
So, if you have poor quality pearls with extremely thin nacre or chipped nacre (think large hole pearls that have chips around their holes, etc.) you will want to LOS your metal prior to assembling your jewelry if at all possible. If not, then a quick ‘dunk’ might be okay – but then it might not. So, ‘dunk’ at your own risk,…or well, at your pearl’s risk! 
 
A great alternative if you cannot oxidize your piece until it’s finished and you have stones in your design that you are afraid may be affected by a Liver of Sulfur solution is the eco-friendly, boiled egg method
Yes, you can boil an egg, peel it, cut it in half and pop it in a seal-able plastic bag or plastic Tupperware type bowl, seal it up, and the sulfur in the egg yolks will eventually oxidize/blacken your piece without harming your stones/beads.  Now, this does take time,…20 minutes to 2 hours or more, it just depends on the eggs.  So, this is not for the impatient crafter, but it is a great alternative that doesn’t harm your beads/stones (at least none that I know of so far anyway). 
 
*One word of caution if you use Silver Black to blacken your work: don’t let it touch any of your pearls/beads/stones.  Or anything else for that matter – clothes, fingers, your desk, etc. - I’ve had it turn mine black,….well, dark gray/brownish. It wasn’t pretty. So if you’re just using a dab of Silver Black to blacken some stampings you’ve done on metal and you’re just touching it to one small area, that’s fine, just make sure you avoid all of your pearls, stones, beads, etc. 

Okay, so now you're ready to go and have a little 'blackening' fun with your silver and pearl designs, right?! 



Go ahead - be brave and have fun! 

Until Next Time,
Peace, Love and Playing with Pearls!!  
Cheers,
~Shel~



 


Knotty Board Fun!

I'm sure you've all heard me mention how I absolutely LOVE the waxed jewelry cord Sandra over at The Knotty-Do-It-All carries (it's great for knotting gemstones and some of my large hole pearls!) and how I love both my large and small Knotty-Do-It-All boards

So, last year when I saw Sandra was carrying some great 'Tassel Cord', well, of course I had to place an order and try it out. 

Here's a photo of two tassels I completed with the Knotty-Do-It-All board using Sandra's instructions.


I haven't yet completed necklaces to go with these - bad me!!


 The cord feels great and it works up perfectly into tassels which have that 'swing' you want a tassel to have. (yes!)

Tassel Cord from The Knotty-Do-It-All

I got quite a few colors, but I might have to go back for more - they're all so yummy!! 

So, if you're making tassel necklaces (like, who isn't these days?!) and stocking up on supplies you'll need for the 'holiday times' then you're gonna want to grab up some of these spools of tassel cord. 

I use my Knotty-Do-It-All boards quite frequently while making knotted jewelry. It's easy, fun and the quality of these boards and the accessories which accompany them are really great.




Here's some pieces of jewelry I've created with the help of The Knotty-Do-It-All Boards.

Also, most of these designs were created using either the waxed jewelry cord or the nylon cord Sandra has over in her shop.














Oh, and here's my little 'disclaimer'.  
"I did this review of my own free will and spoke completely freely 
about my feelings regarding the product(s) I mentioned here today, because yes, I really use them
and yes, I absolutely love them!



Until Next Time,
Peace, Love and KNOTTY Beads and Pearls, Baby!
~Shel~

Pearl Knotting without Tools - Tutorial

Hello There ~ 

Hope this post finds you all well! 

I've recently had a few people ask me if I could re-show them how to knot pearls (or any beads, really) with out any tools so I wanted to bring out this video again and show everyone.

I have this video up on my 'Tutorials and Fun Stuff' page here on the blog, so anytime you feel like getting a little 'refresher' course, just hop on over to that page and watch it again.

I first posted this video after I hosted The 2nd "Pearls, Pearls, Pearls" Blog Hop I did back in June of 2014. 

During the blog hop, I posted a link to a video by the folks over at Pearl Paradise showing how to knot pearls with out the use of tools.  I mentioned that I did it just slightly different and a little backwards compared to what is shown in the video and so when people asked me what I meant, I thought it would be easier to show you than to tell you.

 

Here's my video above. 

If you have any questions, please shoot me an email over at 

Shel@MiShelDesigns.net
and I'll be happy to help you out!

 
Please join our fun community of jewelry lovers by signing up for our monthly 
Pearls! Newslette
(trust me, we talk about more than just pearls!)

It's packed with all sorts of 'Pearl-Fect' goodies each month, from the latest jewelry news and fashion trends, to exclusive online products, events and promotions.

and, receive Our Free Pearl-Facts Info Sheet when you sign up HERE.

Thanks!! 


Michelle Ludlam-Buettner (Shel) holds a Graduate Pearls Diploma from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and is a Certified Pearl Specialist through the Cultured Pearl Association of American (CPAA).  In addition to creating her own jewelry line, she is also a freelance writer specializing in jewelry editorial, copy, line and manuscript editing who can often be found fawning over pearls in her spare time.  Follow Shel’s blog at MiShelDesigns.net or see what she’s snapping over on Instagram @pearlgeek.  

Questions and inquiries welcome at Shel@MiShelDesigns.net

Wholesale Inquiries please list "wholesale" in the subject line.
 
Until Next Time,

Peace, Love and Pearls, Baby!!

Cheers,
~Shel~