Archive | 27/10/2014

Fantastic ideas for working with ring blanks


If you want to make rings, then using a ring blank is pretty much an essential starting point. If you weren’t sure what they are, ring blanks are exactly what the name sounds like – blank forms of rings, that can be used as a base to decorate and craft your own ring.

Ring blanks can be found in a variety of styles, materials and sizes – from adjustable ring blanks, blanks designed to have decorations or stones fixed to the front, and mesh blanks that you can wire beads on to. There are really no limits on how to use blanks – you can be as creative as you like, and with a ready-made ring form to work with, it can be quite a quick process to get to a finished piece that’s ready to wear.

To whet your appetite for creativity, here are just a few suggestions on working with ring blanks:


Time for vintage

For a really unique and vintage inspired piece of jewellery, you can transform a piece of broken retro paraphernalia into a creative decoration. Old watch faces look especially evocative – the more battered and beaten they are, the better! For this idea, small, delicate vintage watch faces work really well.

You simply need to remove the original clock face from the casing of a watch, keeping, or discarding the hand fixtures. Using a strong craft glue, affix the watch face to a large flat fronted ring blank, and leave to dry. You can add a protective glaze afterwards to secure the watch face. Another steampunk-inspired alternative is to go behind the clock face, and use the inner cogs and gears of a watch instead – definitely a very eye-catching and original result!


Stylish stamps

You don’t always need to attach something to a ring blank in order to turn it into a work of creative art. Plain ring blanks can be transformed into something beautiful, simply by stamping or carving the surface of the blank instead.

To create stamped rings using blanks, it’s easier to use wider blanks, that allow more space for decoration. It’s also much easier to stamp a wider surface than a very narrow piece of metal. Hammer out the ring into a flat piece carefully – you may find that you need to sand down or polish any uneven edges. Once flattened,  you can create a pattern using a metal stamper or textured hammer. If you’d like to add contrast to the stamped surface, try filling it in with marker pen.

Finally, create your ring using ring forming pliers, to shape it to the correct size.


Get stitching

If you fancy trying out cross stitching and have a knack for small and fiddly projects, then this ring idea may be right up your street. You’ll need some plain fabric, backing buttons and ring blanks with a large, flat surface to attach them to.

Stitch on your pattern or character onto the fabric and attach carefully to the backing buttons. Once this is fixed on, you can then glue the button to the front of your ring blank. For best results, you should try to keep the motif relatively small – no bigger than 20-30 mm. While the small stitches might be quite fiddly, the end result is really cute!

Buying silver jewellery online? Here’s what to look out for…


Silver jewellery is often some of the most beautiful in the world. Though it’s not quite as expensive as its counterpart in precious metals, gold, silver jewellery has definitely been on the rise in recent years, and you can find all kinds of original and inspiring creations across the internet. With artisan silversmiths and more established jewellery designers all wanting to get in on the action, how do you avoid disappointment when shopping for silver jewellery online?

Read the description

When you are planning on buying silver jewellery online, the first thing to do is read the description extremely carefully. Both gold and silver jewellery is extremely popular, so more unscrupulous sellers do try to take advantage of this fact, by using keywords to mislead buyers into thinking they are buying something they’re not.

As with gold, silver jewellery comes in a range of options, from pure, solid silver jewellery, to rolled silver or silver-plated. All three types are different – solid sterling silver jewellery is made completely with the silver metal. Rolled silver and plated silver are made by adding silver to the surface of a different base metal – usually something cheap. Both processes are different – silver plating involves dipping a metal surface in silver, to give it a silver finish. While it will look similar to pure silver when brand new, the silver plate will wear off very fast.

Rolled silver, by contrast, involves adding layers of silver coating to a metal. This is bonded much more strongly than the plating method and lasts longer – but it is still not the same as sterling silver jewellery.

Nearly all modern sterling silver jewellery will have a hallmark, so the description should state if it has this or not. If the seller does not describe a hallmark, such as in the case of antique jewellery, you can’t really be sure if you are buying a sterling silver item or not.

Look closely at photographs

Photographs are a really important way of judging a piece of jewellery. Not only do they show the style and design of a piece – they will also indicate the scale of an item, in relation to the proportions of your body, and most importantly, you can see if there is a hallmark or other symbol or not.

Most jewellery sellers will have a selection of photographs, including close up views from different angles and zoomed-in images. Examine them carefully to see if you can find a hallmark, and judge the quality of a piece, before you decide to buy it.

If you’re not sure, ask the seller

Before you commit to buying silver jewellery online, you should make sure that you are fully satisfied – the last thing you want is to buy something and find that you’re not happy with it! So if you don’t feel that the seller has provided enough information, don’t be afraid to ask for extra pictures, or additional information.

After all, the seller wants you to be happy with the item!

Essential beading supplies every crafter needs


Whether you’re a professional jewellery maker or just love to create special items for loved ones, you’ll always need to have some basic supplies on hand to help your finished pieces look perfect. To make sure you’re properly kitted out, we’ve listed some of the most essential beading supplies that you should always have in your craft kit:

1. Beading needles

Ever tried threading beads by hand? You’ll soon get eye strain unless you’ve got these valuable beading supplies in your kit! Beading needles are not like regular needles – they come in a range of sizes to work with different beads, and have a narrower eye, designed to help you thread beads more easily.

2. Beading thread

Along with needles, another important part of your beading supplies will of course be beading thread! This is not the same as regular sewing thread – beading thread is smoother and stronger, and is designed to craft jewellery with. You can find thread in a variety of materials, including silk and nylon, as well as different thicknesses and colours.

3. Thread conditioner or lubricant

This might seem like an odd one, but if you’re making lots and lots of beaded jewellery, you’ll soon find that thread can become weak, or even worse – get tangled up! Thread conditioner can be used to lubricate and strengthen thread, to ensure beads come on more easily, and that the thread will not weaken and break over time.

4. Bead trays

If you’re working with lots of different beads in a variety of colours and sizes – especially if you’re the kind of crafter with multiple projects on the go – then bead trays are an absolute must have. You can use special trays designed for crafters, or any small container to hold your different beads carefully. Whatever you use, a bead tray will help keep beads safe and separated from each other, making beading far more easier.

5. Bead scoop

Using a proper scoop might seem unnecessary, but if you’re trying to take out tens or even hundreds of beads by hand from a big container, you’ll soon find that trying to pick them out by hand can get pretty tiresome! A bead scoop is a convenient and mess-free way of getting at your beads – and you can easily put them back into containers with them too.

6. Spotlight

Our final two essential beading supplies are all about making the task of working with fiddly little beads much easier. If you find yourself squinting to see what you’re doing, a small spotlight will make it much easier, by illuminating the area you’re working on.

7. Magnifying glass

When you’re using extremely small beads and are trying to find that miniscule hole, it can get quite difficult! A magnifying glass will make beads much easier to see, and speed up the process of beading.


These are just some of the basic essentials you’ll need when working with beaded jewellery. As you continue, you’ll naturally expand your collection of supplies. Have fun!


Craft ideas for Japanese seed beads


Delicate and refined, Japanese seed beads are wonderful beads to make all kinds of jewellery with, and can be used in a variety of forms. You can choose from a great range of colours, sizes and textures, making them a fantastically versatile craft item to work your creative magic with! To get your ideas started, have a look at 5 great ideas for getting crafty and creative with these fantastic little beads:

1. Minimalist simplicity

Sometimes the simplest joys are the best – and the refined beauty of Japanese seed beads work wonderfully when you want to create something that is unfussy, but still exceptionally attractive.

For an elegant and minimalist piece of jewellery, string beads across a silk thread and fasten with a simple sliding knot, for an easy bracelet or necklace that can be worn with anything. You can try combining different colour combinations for a funkier look, or for an ultra minimalist look, stick to just one or two colours across the entire piece. Add a touch of contras by using gold plated or sterling silver fixer beads to secure the adjustable knot in place.

2. Textured knits

If you’re a crafty knitter, then this is a great way of working with Japanese seed beads. Try knitting them into one of your favourite patterns, to add texture, colour and a touch of sparkle.

Try adding beads to knitted hats or headbands to give a pretty touch to warm accessories, or try knitted bracelets or arm warmers for a fun take.

3. Hoop party!

Seed beads can be used in a variety of ways – and not just for bracelets or necklaces! Here’s really beautiful way to use them – instead of stringing them onto thread, use a coiling wire instead – and shape into beautiful hoops, which can be turned into bangles or earrings.

You can really get as creative as you like with this – if you’re particularly nimble fingered, you could create a richly textured hoop with multiple layers of beads in different sizes and colours.

4. Personalise it

One of the great things about seed beads is that they have a generally uniform size and shape, making them ideal for stacking and looming alongside each other. If you have a beading loom, you could create some really interesting patterns – from flowers and stars, to names or an inspirational message.

To make the most impact, it’s a good idea to plan out your pattern first, and choose colours to suit the style. If you’re creating a word or name, use a contrasting colour such as white, or a bright shade, to make sure it will stand out.

5. Colour block style

Bold, chunky bangles are the perfect accessory for styling up a simple outfit – whether it’s a basic jeans and tee shirt combo – or a glamorous evening outfit. Create a gorgeous bangle using seed beads by threading beads onto string, and then fixing onto a plain cuff.

For a really striking look, create blocks of a single colour and contrast multiple bangles with complementing shades, or combine different colours within one cuff.

Choosing the right beads for jewellery making

Fancy getting crafty and making your own jewellery? Or do you want to give someone a personal gift, that’s made all the more special with the hand-made touch?

Making your own beaded jewellery can be a great way to explore your creative ideas, and create a result that’s really unique. But before you embark on any project, it’s essential that you have the right beads for jewellery making. To help you out, here are some essential tips you should think about.


Design your project

First things first – you need to plan out your creative jewellery project. Whether you’re only making a single bracelet or plan to create a whole range of matching items, it’s helpful to know just what you plan to do.

Think about styles, designs and colour schemes. You may want to sketch out ideas, or just doodle different colour combinations to see how they work together. This way, when it comes to purchasing the beads for jewellery making, you won’t be left baffled and wondering where you should start!

How much skill do you need?

Another important aspect to consider is skill level. Different types of craft require different skills – and some are harder than others. While simply threading beads onto a chain or string may not be too difficult, you might need to spend more time on finishing off – such as adding a sliding knot to a bracelet, or looping off metal fixtures.

You may also need to use special tools, such as pliers or wire cutters. Alongside the beads for jewellery making, having the essential utensils is also a must have, if you want to make your own jewellery, and it’s an important part of any preparation before you start.

Brush up

If the jewellery you want to make needs more advanced skills than you currently have – you have a few choices. Either you can find a simpler way of doing it, change your design entirely – or swot up on your creative skills.

If you fancy learning a new skill, you’ll definitely have a lot of fun. It can be an incredible rewarding activity, and you’ll gain some special skills. There are lots of helpful videos and tutorials online, where you can find out how to do everything from crocheting with wire, to operating a glass torch!

But be warned – you will need to be patient. While some skills are easy, they can seem fiddly to the first timer, and it’s easy to get frustrated. While other skills are more complicated – and you’ll need to spend a lot more time perfecting them, before you can start making anything.

How long will it take?

The last part to think about before you start a jewellery making project is how long will it take you? More importantly, will you have enough time to commit to it? There’s nothing worse than unfinished projects with beads and charms lying around, cluttering your space!

Are you working to a deadline such as an upcoming birthday, or do you have plenty of time? Be realistic in how much time you think you can really spend – and plan your project accordingly.

Charm bracelets – the perfect gift for every occasion

When you’re looking for a gift that is truly special and personal, you want to choose something that will truly capture the sentiments of the occasion. Whether it’s a special birthday, a celebrated anniversary or to commemorate an achievement, you want a gift that can show just how you feel.

Charm bracelets were once a traditional memento, designed to capture every special moment throughout life. And it’s no wonder they’re enjoying such a resurgence – when life moves faster than ever, you really want something that can make time stand still and crystallise a special moment within a beautiful symbol.

So how do you choose a charm or charm bracelet? And how many should you have? We take a little look at what makes these items of jewellery so covetable and special to wear.


The charm of collecting

Unlike other kinds of jewellery, charm bracelets are designed to be part of a growing collection. And really, you can have as many – or as few – charms attached to yours as you like.

Perhaps you’ll wear a single bracelet with special mementos from a certain person – a charm to commemorate a special date, or a cute icon to represent a particular time. It sums up all the unique character of your shared experiences, and can be a wonderful way of remembering someone.

But sometimes, more can be merrier. And there’s nothing quite like the sweet tinkle of a cluster of multiple charms jangling at the wrist, summing up a lifetime of lovely memories and experiences.

For some collectors, you don’t need a special occasion to wait to add on a new charm! Maybe you want to remember that fabulous holiday you just enjoyed, show off your beloved pets, or simply celebrate some of your favourite hobbies! There’s a charm for virtually everything, so you’ll never be hard pressed to find the right one.


Totally customisable

One of the many great attractions about charm bracelets is of course the fact that they can be made completely unique, and designed to suit the person who’s wearing them.

Love simplicity and minimalism? A single refined charm suspended on a delicate chain looks elegant and sophisticated, without losing any of the personal touch.

Or do you prefer to max out your style? You can add as many charms on as you like – and of any kind – from gleaming sterling silver charms, to cute and colourful enamelled pieces that add a lovely pop of colour and decoration to any look.

You don’t have to stick with one particular arrangement, either. If you’ve got a lot of charms and don’t want to wear them all out at once, it’s simple and easy to mix and match, as you like – so you can create the jewellery to go with every outfit.

However you like to wear your charm bracelet – whether it’s playful and funky, or simple and modern, they’ll always be a great way of sharing and enjoying special moments in life.