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I recently received a question in the mail from a reader concerning ethics in DIY jewelry design. Since we’ve gotten this type of question before, and often thought about it ourselves, I decided to try and answer it here. Keep in mind that this is only an opinion, and I’m not a copyright lawyer:

twofords asks:

What are the “rules” when it comes to copying someone else’s work? Whether there are legal rules around doing so, but even more importantly (or just importantly) the ethical and moral rules around doing it? … Is it unethical to “steal” someone’s idea and
make it yourself?

First off, I want to say that this problem is of course not only limited to jewelry making. If you walk into any supermarket, you’ll see tons of “copycat” products on the shelves just hanging out. Many are such blatant copies that the colors, font and pictures on the packaging are meant to mimic the real item. And those original items are supposedly copyrighted and trademarked.

The same thing exists when you go to the store or online to buy electronics, baby products, furniture. In some cases the product is almost an exact copy, and the degree to how well it is copied varies. Others will only take a general idea or design scheme and try and make something original, or at least improve on it.

I believe there ARE legal rules surrounding this type of infringement, but I’m not sure to what degree they are enforced or whether that is even possible in the global (and especially online) economy. Because I don’t know what those rules are exactly and how they apply to jewelry, I’m going to assume that it is VERY difficult (or impossible) for a DIY or home jewelry maker to enforce design copyright in that manner. (Can you imagine trying to copyright or patent all your designs?) So, we’ll talk about ethics only.

Continue reading “Mailbag: Ethics of Jewelry Design” …

I’ve been seriously neglecting the Jewelry Making reader mailbag lately. This question was actually posted in a comment, but I decided to move it up to the main page because others have asked this question before. And most importantly, I have no idea! I would one day like to experiment with soldering, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Tim W. asks:

Help! I need a reliable torch that has adjustable flames for small and large silver projects. The more I research the confuseder I get. Some say that acetyline has too much soot others say that propane is the way to go. I don’t know but we are having a hard time getting enough heat on larger projects to get the soldering done when I use a standard bernzomatic torch from the hardware store. Not to mention the flame getting smaller and larger it you tilt the bottle… What torch do you recommend?

If you make these torches or are a jewelry maker and have soldering suggestions, please leave a comment. However: while I don’t mind others pointing people in the right direction via commercial links in comments, please put your link in an “href” tag and don’t write out the entire URL - that tends to break my blog column formatting. Also, please DO NOT put 4-5 links, just the one will do!

Thank you to everyone who came to visit us at the Felt Club this past weekend. We had a great time and sold quite a few pieces… earrings seemed to be a bigger seller this year.

A few questions from the Bloglander Jewelry Making Mailbag that I hadn’t gotten to yet:

Jennifer writes: “I am just beginning in the whole jewelry making/beading process. I am interested in finding out the best way to produce bracelets using jewelry wire, esp. when it comes to attaching the clasps so it doesn’t look so … amateur. Thanks.”

Bloglander Jewelry Making says: Well, I know that it will take some time to get the technique down. I’m assuming you’re talking about using crimp beads or something similar to tie off the end of a bracelet. You might find this article about creating folded crimp beads helpful. You will need a special bead crimping tool, available at joann.com or other craft stores.

Some people also like to add something called “French Wire” (sometimes known as “bullion” or “gimp”) to cover up the bare jewelry cable/wire that shows where it connects to the clasp. It’s basically very thin silver wire that comes spooled like a slinky, and you insert the beading cable through the middle of it. See this About.com tutorial for an example of what it looks like.

Continue reading “Mailbag: Bracelets and Clasps” …

Digging through the mailbag again, and this question popped out. I’ve been actually trying to work up a tutorial with several ways to make your own jump rings, but I just haven’t gotten to it yet. Actually, the real reason is I haven’t perfected that technique either!

From the Bloglander Jewelry Making Mailbag:

Brenda M. writes: “I would like to know if 18 gauge wire, not silver, is strong enough to make jump rings out of? Thanks!”

Bloglander Jewelry Making says: As far as I know, it should be fine. In fact I think many times that base metal wire might even be more rigid than full soft or half hard silver wire. The base metal is often more brittle, though. As far as gauge size goes, I’ve made it with anything smaller than 22 gauge.

One issue with base metal is that the jump ring “ends” may be sharp when cut, and I don’t know if it’s as easy to file down base metal as it is silver. I haven’t tried filing either (it might not even be necessary to file it if the wire isn’t cut at such an acute angle) so I might be wrong about this.

I suppose it would also depend upon the application and whether the jump ring is required to support stress or force. For example, for use in earrings you could get away pretty thin wire. For chunky necklaces, however, I wouldn’t use really thin wire. Actually, a bigger concern might be the fact that the jump rings aren’t soldered so you have a chance of the connector slipping out through the opening if they aren’t closed correctly (refer to this article on opening and closing jump rings).

Depending on the application, it may be worth it just to buy them if you need the quality to be consistent. Above are store-bought jump rings, nickel plated base metal on left, silver on right. For making the jump rings, I know Beadalon sells a really simple device for it that’s about $10. It has 4 metal mandrells for wrapping wire around, and a plastic doohickey base for winding it. Try Rings & Things for more info.

More mail for today. This one is actually something that I’ve been interested in figuring out as well:

From the Bloglander Jewelry Making Mailbag:

Don P. writes: “Hi, I’m trying to find ‘blank’ adjustable finger rings. I’d like to glue unmatched old earrings to these bands to make unusual finger rings. I’m having trouble finding these plain adjustable bands. Could you direct me? Thanks.”

Bloglander Jewelry Making says: We haven’t really used these adjustable ring blanks in making rings as of yet, though we’ve always been interested in giving a shot one of these days. Up until this point we’ve only tried making ring blanks out of wrapped silver or basemetal wire (this might be an upcoming tutorial). But we’d always wondered if there were options for times when you just want to glue some pieces on the top of a ring.

I believe that there are 2 types of ring blanks commonly sold, adjustable ring blanks with a pad and adjustable ring blanks with loops (often known as Charm Rings?) I did a quick lookup on Rings n Things and found the two items pictured at left that might fit the bill for you. You may want to take a look at other jewelry resellers and compare prices and styles.

The first (pictured on the left) are called Adjustable Glue-On Finger Rings and feature a round textured 1cm flat pad on which you can glue stuff. The ring itself adjusts size as well. The only thing is that there are only base metal or silver/gold plated ring blanks.

The other ones are called Adjustable Finger Rings with Loops and these come with 1 or 3 loops connected to the band. They are adjustable as well, except for the sterling silver one which is not. These are also called Charm Rings because you can just attach charms directly to the loops.

I’m not sure if the above links will work since they’re CGI based… if not, try go to the Rings n Things website and navigate into “Our Products” -> “Specialty Findings” -> “Finger Rings”.

pic of chain to claspWhew, I’ve FINALLY got a new article up. Lately, I haven’t had any time at all to devote to these tutorials. They take up an immense amount of time to photograph and write. But I figured it was about time for a new one, and plus this tutorial serves as a “Mailbag” answer for several similar questions that have come in. (A quick note: I’ve also gotten a hold of a new camera so the pictures are going to be “off” for a bit until the functionality is learned.)

Basically, to paraphrase the question asked by 3 readers so far:

How do you connect a closed ring jewelry clasp to a length of cable type footage jewelry chain?

We actually wrestled with this one, trying many different ways. In the end, the method that we use most frequently is outlined in the tutorial below. We basically use a wirewrapped accent bead to connect any two closed loop metal pieces. I hope this helps out the readers who wrote in to ask this question… sorry this answer comes so late.

Attaching Chain to Clasps with Wirewrap Accents

I’ve decided to dig through the mailbag for the next couple of weeks to put questions to rest. That instead of putting up a new jewelry tutorial which is what I’ve been meaning to do for ages now. Have no fear though - there should be one upcoming which combines the Mailbag AND a tutorial…

From the Bloglander Jewelry Making Mailbag:

Brieanne writes:
Hi- I would like to make jewelry by setting images into pendants (like this one)

What are the empty pendants called-frames, cups, etc? And where do you find them? How does one make these? Thanks!

Bloglander Jewelry Making says: Whew, I’ve felt out of my depth trying to talk about jewelry making that I dont’ have a lot of experience in. So, I’m relying on you readers to correct me where applicable!

The above photo, by the way, is from the Etsy website who we’ve profiled here before as a great way to sell your jewelry w/out needing to be web saavy. (Credit for the photo and the seller: barbarauppsala. I don’t know how long the link above that Brieanne listed will be good for so I screengrabbed it to show.)

I’m pretty sure what you’re talking about is some sort of Cabochon Mounting (Pendant Mounting?) which is basically an oval or circle loop of metal where the cabochon stone, gemstone, crystal or other pendant sits. There are a huge variety of them. Some of them have 4 or more small pre-notched “prongs” on the mounting that you fold over the stone in order to seat and secure it.

Continue reading “Mailbag: Cabochon Mountings” …

Sorry everyone, I know a lot of people have sent in questions for the “From the Mailbag” section and we basically have not answered ANY of them yet. Too much jewelry making, not enough time! =) Anyhow, I’ll try and start catching up over the next couple months. Here’s one for today:

From the Bloglander Jewelry Making Mailbag:

Heidi F. writes: “I am looking for a cheap base metal finding. I have been buying them at Michaels Craft store, but they stopped selling them. The package calls them rhinestone settings, but they are not the kind that crimp around the rhinestone, the rhinestone is just glued to the top of the piece and it has loops on either end to string them together.”

Bloglander Jewelry Making says: I haven’t really used the rhinestone settings that you described before, but I think I know what you’re talking about. I’ve seen small base metal (brass or copper?) cups that are meant to hold beads or stones at Joann’s before. But I’m not sure if they had loops or not… actually, I wonder if they may be listed as “Bead Caps” instead of “Rhinestone Settings”?

A quick search on Rings n Things and Fire Mountain doesn’t show many results for rhinestone settings, but it does bring back quite a few on bead caps. The pic at left is from another site I found (jansjewels.com) and seems to be what you’re talking about with the loops on either side.

The only thing is that it DOES seem to have the four crimps that are meant to go around the stone. Also, it is a concave instead of a flat surface, though if you’re gluing something down this might actually be better because it’ll cup the stone more securely and probably make it so it doesn’t get knocked off as easy. I didn’t see any that didn’t have the 4 crimps on them, though there are a variety with open / closed backs and 0, 1 or 2 loops. Maybe someone else knows if we’re on the right track… ?

We are going to be starting a new feature here at Bloglander Jewelry Making: a “From the Mailbag” section. Basically, we’ll post up questions that people have submitted about jewelry making and other related issues. The reason for this is that a ton of mail comes in asking about a particular question, and we aren’t always able to answer it properly either due to time constraints or due to lack of knowledge. So hopefully, there will be some visitors who may be able to shed some light on the issue by commenting. We’ll definitely TRY to answer these questions but can’t guarantee an authoritative answer (or any answer at all for that matter!)

From the Bloglander Jewelry Making Mailbag:

Katherine B. writes: “I was wondering if you can help me find a certain chain. I’m looking for small gauge, delicate chain that looks almost black, or copper chain. Ive looked everywhere and I saw some jewelry with it and I would like to try something like it. For earrings and necklaces. All i can find is 2mm, and that seems too thick.”

Bloglander Jewelry Making says: Hmm… having not worked with darker metal jewelry chain and with no picture to go on, this seems like a difficult question. I assume you mean “non-coated” chain, so it’s the actual metal that is almost dark (or it’s plated with a metal that’s dark). I’ve seen a few places that carry smaller gauge chain in a metal called “gunmetal”. Here’s one example, from Rings -n- Things. I’ve taken the liberty of including a pic of it below.

It looks darker to me, but I’m not sure that’s what you’re going for. I’m not even sure what metal this “gunmetal” color chain is made of, although the descriptions sometimes say “imported brass footage chain”. It’s made of soldered links and is 1.1 mm (unfortunately, looks to be out of stock). I’ve also seen something called “antiqued” chain, but I didn’t see this on their site.