Tag Archives: jewellery making

Birthstone for September-Sapphire-Barnacles of Bling

Sapphire is the birthstone for September and is famous for its deep blue colour, caused by the presence of iron and titanium. But these stones can be found in almost every colour and when non-blueness occurs they are termed ‘fancy’. A nice compliment, although it makes the gemstones less valuable.

It’s tough to write about sapphires without mentioning ‘that ring’ (you know, the one that now belongs to Kate). However, I intend to sidestep it to not seem like a big fawning royalist and just say it’s iconic. (Iconic enough that my American brother-in-law thought it might be mandatory to propose to British ladies with a blue-stoned ring. He didn’t, but I like the story.)

If you are born in September you are graced with the qualities of tolerance and wisdom. You are also inspirational. So here is Elizabeth Taylor in a swimming pool wearing her diamonds and sapphires. She has also brought along her trusty parrot. Liz was not a September baby, but let’s pretend so that I can justify the use of this great image.

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If sapphires match your eyes like this don’t be too worried if it’s not your birthstone.

The thing is with these gemstones, they do lend themselves to be used in significant pieces of jewellery on account of their value. So they may be better for inspiration rather than aspiration for now.

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Even this little skeleton merperson brooch by Lydia Courteille has an indicator of once being a marine monarch in its dinky crown.

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Yet jeweller Polly Wales has left no stone un-cast in these two examples of her signature technique of casting stones in place rather than setting. The skull encrusted with sapphires of different sizes could be the remnants of an underwater pirating accident producing a facial of sparkling barnacles of bling.

Maybe Leo wouldn’t have come to such a sticky end if (the other) Kate’s blue diamond necklace had been a sapphire instead. That ‘heart of the ocean’ could have gone for a light dip in a pool with a parrot rather than being brutally chucked into the waves by old lady Kate.

Anyhow, all’s well that ends well. And even if it’s not your birthday, don’t get the blues. Give yourself a present and join us on one of our stone setting courses and learn techniques to bring your own inspiration to the nation.

Stone setting in silver (2 days)

Intermediate stone setting

Channel setting in silver

Collet setting in silver

Grain setting in silver

Stone setting in metal clay

Introduction to gemstones (evening taster class)

Lil Adams is the London Jewellery School Sundays Studio Manager. Lil studied Fine Art in Leeds and lived in Melbourne before travelling about and settling in London. She now works at the British Architectural Library and enjoys making jewellery with found and natural objects and is shamelessly addicted to casting.

10 wirework christmas decorations to inspire you

This Christmas tutor Anna Campbell has been inspired to make her own wirework Christmas decorations. Have a look at some of these fabulous ideas:

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Wire christmas ornament hangers via WireExpressions

 

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Holly decoration via Earth Balance Craft

 

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Celtic tree ornament via Nicholas and Felice

 

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Christmas globe via Eni Fenyvesl

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Christmas wreath via Louise Goodchild Designs

 

 

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Beaded angels via Dotty Beads

 

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Swarovski snowflake via Rosie Willett Designs

 

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Wire christmas tree wall hanging via Better Homes and Gardens

 

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Beaded star and tree via Minimalisti

 

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Snowman via wiremajigs

 

Are you inspired to take one of our one day wirework jewellery classes? We have a couple of places left for December classes and have classes scheduled into 2017

Beginners wire weaving

Beginners wire wrapping

Wire jewellery with Linda Jones

 

Do share your creations with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Author: Anna Campbell

LJG Guest Blogger - Anna Campbell of Campbell Hall Designs

 

Adventures in wax carving – Week 2!

So last week I posted about week 1 of my 5 week Wax Carving Evening Class at the London Jewellery School.  We have now had our second week of our class and it is fair to say that we were all getting into the swing of things and powering forward with our designs!  Some of us made some changes to our designs this week as we had had the chance to think about our pieces and how we would realise them in wax!

So it was pretty much straight to business this week!  We all worked hard shaping the wax and scraping away and refining the waxes.  It was a very quiet class as we were all concentrating so hard!

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Everybody hard at work on their designs! 

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Our lovely tutor, Sophie Arnott, putting us through our paces 🙂

My own design is coming on.  I pretty much have the organic shape carved out and am just refining the surface with sandpaper and steel wool to make sure it is nice and smooth as any flaws in the wax will be picked up in silver (and are much harder to sort out once cast!).  I will waft my piece under some heat to remove any little curls of wax remaining so it is completely nice and smooth for casting.

Next week I will start burring out the underside of the ring to make the ring lighter (as it would be very heavy in solid silver, not to mention expensive to cast!) to make it nice and comfortable to wear using a ball burr in a pendant motor.  And I will hopefully make a start on my second design.

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My wax carved ring – almost finished 🙂 

I am really enjoying the course so far and although I still love fabricating pieces completely by hand from sheet metal, wire and tubing, I can see how this technique could be incorporated into my designs and collections.  Plus it is incredibly therapeutic peeling away layers of wax!

I can’t wait for week 3 and seeing some of the finished waxes of my fellow students!  Have a great week and will post pictures of how everyone is getting on next week!

 

Author: Karen Young

London Jewellery School Blog_Karen Young Bio

 

Adventures in wax carving…Week 1

I have been a silversmith for almost 7 years now, and have learned my trade exclusively through short courses including many of the London Jewellery School’s courses.  I love the fact that there is always a new skill or technique to learn in jewellery making as it is such a vast subject, and try and get into the classroom a couple of times a year to expand my skill set and try something new.  I always find that some time in the classroom rejuvenates my enthusiasm for this wonderful (but sometimes frustrating craft), and always pushes forward my designs and inspiration.

I largely hand-forge my jewellery and love the process of taking sheet metal and wire and transforming it into something that people will treasure forever.  However recently I have struggled to realise some of my design ideas using traditional silversmithing methods and began to wonder if carving my designs in wax might be the answer.  I decided to sign up for the 5-week wax carving evening class at the London Jewellery School, so sorted my childcare out on Tuesday evenings in October and November and started to look forward to the class!

I thought it might be interesting for you to see how I get on!  So over the next 5 weeks I will be sharing my wax carving diary with you!

Last Tuesday was week 1 of class!  The class is full and there are 7 of us so will be nice to get to know everybody over the course of the 5 weeks.  Interestingly there are only a couple of us with jewellery making experience – the vast majority are complete beginners so it will be nice to see their jewellery making journeys and watch them catch the jewellery making bug!

The evening class I am taking is taught by our silver and wax carving tutor, Sophie Arnott who has her own UK jewellery brand Anvil and Ivy and is also the founder of Carved Workshops which runs short wax carving course near her home in Essex.  A trained silversmith, Sophie now almost exclusively carves her jewellery designs out of wax.  I have known Sophie for a couple of years now after meeting her on a stone setting evening class at LJS, and know how passionate she is about wax carving so was very excited to be taking this class with her.

So, after making our introductions Sophie spent some time taking us through the different types of materials and tools we would be using over the next 5 weeks.  The great thing about wax carving is that the tools required are actually quite minimal compared to the likes of silversmithing, so my husband will be relieved that the scope for new tools is limited!

We also started to talk about the type of projects we could work on and what it is possible to achieve in the 5 weeks.  Sophie worked with each of us to establish what we wanted to work on during the course and helped us tweak designs to make sure they were realistic.

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The first task was to learn how to load the special spiral wax saw blades into a saw frame and then Sophie spend some time teaching us how to choose our wax ‘profile’, mark out and cut our ring slice ready to start on our design next week.  And then it was over to us!  We spent a bit of time playing with wax offcuts to get used to sawing the wax (it is pretty different from cutting metal!) and filling the wax flat before moving on to cut out and prep our slice of wax that we would be using for our 1st project.

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Before we knew it the 2.5 hours were up and we had to pack up – I think we all could have kept going as we were all having fun!  I am just itching to start working on my design next week (and might do a bit of practicing at home this week).  I can’t wait for week 2!

Author: Karen Young

London Jewellery School Blog_Karen Young Bio

Behind the scenes at Create and Craft TV

Metal clay tutor Anna Campbell made her live TV debut for the London Jewellery School on Create and Craft TV last week. She gives us a behind the scenes look at what goes into making the show

 

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Earlier this year our founder and director Jessica Rose appeared for the first time on the shopping channel Create and Craft TV, showing a metal clay starter kit in action. It was very popular and Jess and the Create and Craft team decided to bring more London Jewellery School products and online courses to the channel. It was decided to continue the focus on metal clay. In January this year I had filmed the ‘torch fired stone setting in silver clay’ for Jewellery School Online so a stone setting kit was put together, along with the online course, to sell on the shows. Jess asked me if I would like to do the live TV demos and, of course, I said yes!

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Screen tests and samples

There’s a lot of work that goes into preparing to go on live TV. Firstly, I needed to travel up to Peterborough, where Create and Craft film their shows, to do a screen test. This was a fifteen minute demo of what I can do to check that I would be OK on camera. There’s a whole list of things you can and can’t say, can’t wear (some patterns etc can look funny on camera!) and there was even a helpful video to watch of dos and don’ts!

I had my screen test with presenter Martyn Parker who had just been on air so must have been ready for a break! To be honest, in my view it didn’t go that well! My metal clay wasn’t behaving but I was able to keep talking and was passed to go on live TV! It was a great learning experience and made me really think very carefully about getting everything ready for the real thing.

I needed to have lots of samples of finished pieces that could be made with both the beginners kits and the stone setting kit to show. This really helps people get inspiration about the finished products that can be made with the tools and the online classes. I also needed some ‘here’s one I made earlier’ pieces so there was no waiting around on the show. Luckily, Jess had the finished samples that she had used previously for the beginners kits so I could focus on the stones. I went to LJS to pick up some samples from the stone setting silver clay class and put them on chains and cords. I also made some more pieces myself to take for display and to show as work in progress.

 

On the day

My shows were at 4pm and 7pm on 7th October. I was glad that they were later in the day as I could travel up from home and back in a day.

When I arrived I went into the green room to get ready. I got changed and did my makeup and hair (sadly there are no make up artists to do that for you!). Then I was able to go into the studio to set up the display of jewellery and the demonstration area. You have to be quiet in there as the live show is filming in the same studio so I tried not to drop anything!

The staff in the studio were so helpful, helping me set up the jewellery, unravelling chains and generally remembering the stuff that I might have forgotten! There was a bit of concern about the torch firing demonstration. It is something we do safely every day in our own studios at LJS but I understand that they don’t regularly use butane torches and so were a bit wary!

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First live show

I was so lucky to have Natasha McCarty to work with as my first presenter on live TV. She had previously done a show with Jess and was excited about the silver clay. She really helped keep me at my ease and I so appreciated that as I was nervous. I did find that the time flew by and I quickly just got on with talking about the clay and doing the demonstration and forgot the five cameras that were pointing at me!

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Feedback and making new samples

After the first show I went back to the green room for tea and custard creams! The producer came down to talk to me and asked if we could change the second show slightly to get to the polishing of a piece earlier. I could understand why, it’s important for people who hadn’t seen it before to be able to see how the clay turns into silver and the firing and polishing is the magical part.

This did mean, however, that I had to quickly made some new samples for the later show. I did this and dried them on the top of the kettle!

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Final show

My final show of the day was with Andy Love. He had been on air during the previous hour so I didn’t get much time to talk to him before the show started but he was also great to work with. I did two torch firing demonstrations in this hour (I’m sure they loved that!), one demonstrating the basic kit and one showing the glass setting.

Then it was time to pack everything back up to get the train home.

It was a long, tiring day but I really enjoyed the experience and hopefully I will get a chance to do it again!

Author: Anna Campbell

LJG Guest Blogger - Anna Campbell of Campbell Hall Designs

Why choose a private tuition class at the London Jewellery School

Tutor Anna Campbell has recently taught a number of private tuitions for us. She makes the case for choosing a private tuition and gives the case study example of one of our private students

 

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Title: Pieces made during a private tuition (by the tutee and tutor)

 

At the London Jewellery School we offer over a hundred different courses ranging from one evening to one year. But many people aren’t aware that we also offer private tuition. Our private tuition sessions are typically one day in length (10-5pm), one to one sessions with an expert tutor covering the topic/s of your choice.

But a private tuition is more expensive than a one day class so why choose one?

 

You get a course tailor made just for you

You can pick and choose projects from our classes that you would like to do. Alternatively, you can ask to cover something that we don’t have a class for and we will endeavour to find a tutor.

 

You get one to one tuition

Based on what you want to cover, an expert tutor will be chosen to help guide you throughout the day. Your tutor is hand picked by our management team based on the projects you would like to work on.

 

You get more done

When you are working one to one we find that you can cover more in the time as you have a dedicated expert working just with you at your pace.

 

Good use of your time, especially if you’re not based in London

We regularly have private tuition students that are not based in the UK. This summer we had a private tuition student who came over from Japan! She did a number of days of private tuition with us and covered beading, silver clay and polymer clay with different tutors.

Even if you are from the UK it can still be more economical in terms of time and money. For example, if you would like to do projects from intermediate and advanced beading you would have to pay for two days of courses and travel to us twice. But you could cover projects from both in one day (note – not all of the projects!)

 

Dedicated private tuition space

We have a dedicated private tuition space in our new studios in the heart of Hatton Garden which means we now have more availability of dates and times. We are open 7 days a week so can accommodate weekends as well as weekdays.

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The dedicated private tuition workshop at the London Jewellery School.

How do I arrange a private tuition?

Contact us by email on info@londonjewelleryschool.co.uk with as much detail as you can about what you would like to cover on your private tuition. Do include links to photos of the kinds of things you would like to achieve. This gives the management team the information they need to advise on what can be achieved in a day and to choose the tutor with the skills you would like to learn.

Also, please include a number of potential dates as we need both the room and tutor availability to match up with your availability. Please provide a phone number we can contact you on to help us do this quickly.

 

What have others covered in private tuitions?

Here are some things that have been covered in previous private tuition sessions. Please note, sometimes more than one day is necessary depending on the complexity of the work and number of projects you would like to make.

 

  • Making an engagement ring
  • Making a special gift e.g. for an anniversary, birthday etc
  • Jewellery business tailored advice
  • Support with a commission
  • Working in gold
  • Help in developing a collection
  • Glass and enamel work
  • Beading and wirework
  • Silver clay

 

Case study

K has recently taken voluntary redundancy from her work and would like to build up a part time jewellery business. After some discussion with our management team she booked two days of private tuition with me to work on silver clay projects.

 

K was able to pick and choose exactly what she wanted to learn from 4 different classes at LJS. These were:

Beginners metal clay

Intermediate metal clay

Soldering on metal clay

Fingerprint jewellery

 

Private tuition day 1

We covered topics from beginners metal clay and soldering on metal clay including

  • Silver clay earrings
  • A silicone mould and moulded silver charm
  • A cubic zirconia stone set pendant
  • Silver clay stud earrings
  • Silver clay cufflinks
  • Torch firing silver clay (all pieces were torch fired)
  • Soldering stud earrings and cufflinks

 

Private tuition day 2

We covered a mix of metal clay projects including

  • Fingerprint jewellery
  • Pendant with keum boo (gold leaf) and gold paste
  • How to make a silver clay bail
  • Silver clay ring with embellishment

 

(note – to cover all the projects K had to purchase some additional silver clay on day 2).
Would you like to know more about planning a private tuition? Give us a call on 0203 176 0546 to discuss what you would like to do.

Author: Anna Campbell

LJG Guest Blogger - Anna Campbell of Campbell Hall Designs

Free Jewellery Tutorial: Make a Beaded French Knit Necklace with Anna Campbell

Here at the London Jewellery School, all of our tutors are highly trained in a wide number of jewellery making techniques.  And they all love sharing their knowledge, skills and passion with the next generation of jewellery makers and artists.  Tutor, Anna Campbell, has created a short video tutorial on how to make a beaded french knit necklace using a French Knit Dollie.  Anna usually recommends the Clover Wonder Knitter as it has a wider hole in the centre which is great for larger beads.

 

We hope you enjoy making this project!  Have a go and let us know how you get on by sharing pictures on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

If you want to learn more jewellery making techniques you can find our face to face classes here, online courses here and a selection of other videos on our YouTube channel.

 

Author: Anna Campbell

LJG Guest Blogger - Anna Campbell of Campbell Hall Designs

The ‘C’ Word (Part 2)

 

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So Part 1 of this blog talked about how you can start to prepare in advance for the Christmas Period and start building your inventory early.

Part 2 will look at how you can preserve your all important time for revenue generating activities by improving your productivity and reducing your admin. So how can you do this?

5. PLAN YOUR PROMO & OFFERS

A. CREATE YOUR MARKETING CALENDAR

I am a big advocate of planning your marketing and social media in advance, but it is even more critical you do this for the Christmas period so that you aren’t frantically worrying about what to post and when to post when you have a million other things to do. Get a big calendar and plot out the big events (remember Black Friday and Cyber Monday as these are great events for sales), and your special offers to coax people into buying.

For example, I offered Free Shipping (Special Delivery) for any purchases in November and a free polishing and finishing kit in December plus free gift wrapping. Some people offer free up-sell items such as stud earrings.  You may also offer early bird discounts for ordering early.   I essentially had what I wanted to post on social media plotted out including my newsletters (high level content at the very least) well in advance so I didn’t have to worry about what I was going to post on the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter on any given day.

B. CREATE ALL YOUR COPY, GRAPHICS AND IMAGES IN ADVANCE

Once you have plotted out what you want to post, spend some time drafting compelling copy (you will always need to review and tweak just before you post but that takes minute) and creating images in advance using the likes of Canva (they even do an app for the iPhone!) or Picmonkey.

I blocked out a couple of days in September to take festive pictures of my jewellery and taking behind the scenes shots so that I had everything prepared in advance. Of course I left a little space to add in impromptu photos of Christmas fairs, custom pieces and work in progress, but I had 80% of my content planned in advance.

Then every Sunday I blocked out time to schedule the week ahead and I blocked out an hour each day to respond to comments and engage with my customers and followers. Time blocking really helped me make the most out of my time and meant that I could focus on social media time on engaging with people rather than writing and posting content.

C. DECIDE ON YOUR KEY DATES (INCLUDING LAST ORDER DATES!)

It is essential that you decide on the key dates for your business including last order date for custom pieces, last order date from your regular collections and when your shop will be closed to orders for the Christmas period. Then you know what the boundaries are and you can communicate these to your customers well in advance.

6. DECIDE ON YOUR PROCESSES

You have ordered your supplies and built your inventory, but there is another way you can streamline your work and that is by planning your processes or manufacturing operations in advance (can you tell I used to work in operations 😉 !?).

1. YOUR WORK SCHEDULE

Planning out your weekly work schedule can really help you organise your working week and working day. I tend to spend the first hour of every day responding to emails and spending time on social media.
Then I have dedicated workbench slots or days.

I like to batch together similar tasks such as soldering on cufflink backs or ear pins and do multiples of each task. I usually end up have 1 day of manufacturing (soldering, piercing, etc) and another day each week for polishing finishing and stone setting.

I then have a posting and packing day where pieces go to the assay office and post office) each week.

You have to be a little bit flexible, but by blocking out time for different tasks and doing what you can in bulk means you are usually more productive overall.

2. YOUR PROCESSES

Don’t make the mistake of wasting precious time trying to remember how to make each piece. Spend some time jotting down the process you follow to make and produce each piece of jewellery. It doesn’t need to be fancy – even a handwritten page in a notebook is fine – you can always work to having typed instructions later. Key information to include is:

A. Materials and dimensions – this way you can look up the dimensions and what the piece is made of (components and raw materials) and you can check your inventory and/ or start making the piece straight away without having to faff around measuring samples etc (or order the right materials and not forget anything!).

B. Time to make the piece including any parts that can be batch produced in advance

C. Step by step instructions on how to make the piece (include drawings or photographs if it helps) so each piece is as similar as possible.

D. Important notes such as alternate suppliers and any other relevant notes.

Also think about your order process end to end – I have a massive planner that is dedicate to my business and when an order comes through I enter the order in the calendar and add the piece to my workflow and diarise when I will make the piece (hopefully using pre-fabricated components), when I will assemble, polish and finish the piece (including setting any stones) and when the item is due to ship. I usually aim to do this well in advance of the maximum shipping date including in my listing so no order ever gets the stage where I am rushing to finish it in time.  I have set up all of my email templates in advance too including ato-responder emails as part of the purchase and dispatch process.

I also have 3 trays for papers – 1 for invoices for supplies or tools ordered, 1 for in progress orders and 1 for completed orders. This means I can easily file all my paper work at the end of each week without having sort through it carefully as I am doing this as I go. I put these papers in monthly folders which helps with my accounting each month – one of the first things to slip when things get busy!

3. OUTSOURCE WHAT YOU CAN?

You may want to look at any aspects of the process that you can outsource. For example, if pieces are being cast you may want to ask the caster to remove the sprue for you. Or get your pieces polished by a polisher. Or get a stonesetter to set your stones.

Find out the cost of this work and then establish if there are any processes you can get done more cheaply (or quickly) than if you were to do it yourself and try a few test pieces to see what the quality is like.

Even some help packing parcels a couple of hours a week or looking after your social media can be a big help. It can be a big leap mentally to do this (I really struggled with it) but at the end of the day your jewellery is still handmade, you have still designed it and done most of the work (certainly each piece has been quality checked by your hands) so it is worthwhile considering doing so that you can focus on the parts of the jewellery making process you are best at and enjoy doing particularly is your brand is taking off and you need to free up capacity to stay on top of your orders.

You never know, one day you may even hire bench jewellers to work for you so it is something you might need to get your head around sooner or later! The main thing I would emphasise is that if you do as much as you can in advance will really take some of the stress out of this busy time and make the Christmas period more enjoyable (and scalable!).

Do let us know of any tips and tricks you have learned to survive the Christmas period in the comments below!

 

Author: Karen Young

London Jewellery School Blog_Karen Young Bio

The ‘C’ Word!

 

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London Jeweller, Karen Young talks about the dreaded ‘C’ word and how to survive the Christmas Rush in this 2-part blog series!

Yes, I said it! The ‘C’ word – Christmas! It is no understatement to say that Christmas is the busiest time of the year for jewellers. It gets to December 25th and most of us want to collapse with exhaustion as all the orders are finally cleared and you have been working round the clock to get those very special handmade gifts to customers before the big day!

And I hate to say it, but the quiet summer months are the perfect time to start preparing and planning the last quarter of the year so that those crazy 3 months run like clockwork, and you can focus the majority of your precious time on making and fulfilling customer orders, and taking part in Christmas fairs which pay dividends well into the next year.

So what can you do to make the Christmas rush more manageable, and survive the chaos? Having one Christmas period under my belt now and having learned lots first time around I thought I would share the top tips I have learned the hard way!

START PLANNING NOW!

You cannot start planning too early for Christmas – I know some jewellers who start planning for this as soon as Valentines and Mothers day are over. I find however that orders really tail off over the summer period as people are on holiday (as are you!), and big events weddings are in full swing and so I like to dedicate August to planning and preparing and starting to build my supplies and inventory. So where to start?

1. BOOK YOUR CHRISTMAS FAIRS

One of the nicest parts of the Christmas period is taking part in fairs and getting in front of your customers (particularly if you mainly sell online). But the deadline dates for most Christmas fairs such as Crafty Fox and Spirit of Christmas Fairs are very early and you may even find that some of the application deadlines are soon or have even passed so don’t delay – get your applications in NOW!

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2. START BUILDING INVENTORY

The beauty of handmade jewellery is that you lovingly handcraft your work and and each piece touches the hands of the maker/ designer.  However, making each and every piece from scratch when the order comes in can really push you to the limit during the busy period and you just don’t want the stress of having to continually order supplies and potentially run out. To keep the stress levels down I highly recommend that you start to do the following:

          A. PLAN YOUR CHRISTMAS RANGE

Start designing your Christmas range as early as possible – even if it is updating the colours of an existing design or creating a few key pieces you will be promoting on the run up to Christmas. These should include your statement pieces to grab people’s attention, your bread and butter pieces such as pendants and rings and your up-sell items such as earrings. Pay close attention to what supplies you will need and start to build your supply of these items to make sure you will be able to order additional supplies if you need to (or use limited supplies to your advantage by labelling items ‘special edition’.

          B. ORDER YOUR SUPPLIES

You have to watch your cash-flow, as it is easy to get excited and overspend, but there are some things you can do to generate some extra cash to allow you to build your inventory:

a. Have a pre-summer sale – sell off end of line pieces or excess stock

b. Host a de-stash sale on relevant Facebook groups or even eBay – you can sell off beads, excess supplies and tools you don’t use to generate some extra cash.

London-Jewellery-School-Bead-Stockpile

       

c. Sell your scrap!

You can even do what I did last year and sell your scrap silver – I made about £400 by selling my scrap to Cookson Gold which paid for my extra stock alone and the extra tools and consumables I needed.

When ordering Christmas supplies for my business, I will look at what I use the most frequently (for example I mainly use 0.8mm silver sheet, 0.8mm wire, 4.5mm tubing) and I will start to order extra with every order so that I create a stockpile. This way I don’t have a massive single outlay and I can spread the cost over several months.

I will also start to build my inventory of my most popular gemstones, beads and pearls (IJL in September is a great way to do this – I normally do the bulk of my gemstone buying at this event). You also get greater discounts when you buy in bulk (check out Ward Gemstones who offer great discounts when you bulk buy) so do try and save some money each month that will enable you to bulk buy when it counts!

Also, don’t forget to order all other supplies such as packaging, padded envelopes and all your parcel inserts such as business cards, social media cards etc! I nearly ran out of necklace boxes last year and had a scary 3 weeks until my new boxes arrived so make sure you have plenty!

You may want to source back up suppliers too just in case an all important material is out of stock with your usual supplier!

3. PREP AS MUCH IN ADVANCE AS YOU CAN

Although it would be lovely to make everything from scratch as the order comes in, this just isn’t feasible in the busy Christmas rush. You need to start prepping as much as you can in advance!

For example, I prep all my blanks for my tag necklaces, cuff bangles and rings in advance so that they have smooth edges and are nice and polished, holes drilled and are essentially ready to stamp.  I also create a stock pile of my most popular charms and handmade earring findings etc, so that when an order comes in, all I need to do is stamp the names, words or phrases the customer has asked for, assemble the piece/ solder jump rings closed, polish and finish the piece and then pack and send it on its way.

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If you get your work cast in silver start consider getting moulds made and your most popular pieces cast well in advance so that you have a supply of each piece where you simply need to remove the sprue, add any jump rings, settings or findings and polish and finish.

I texture sheets of silver on the rolling mill and cut out multiples of my most popular shapes so that they are in a semi-finished state, and I solder on findings and settings but leave them unset so that I only have to set the appropriate stone or pearl when the order comes through.

london-jewellery-school-blog-wax-carving-rough castings

Rough castings ready to be de-sprued, polished and finished.

This one is a biggie – I get as much as I can hallmarked in advance (I mainly work in silver and gold so you don’t need to worry about this if you work with other materials)! Things like adding stones or stamping names don’t impact the hallmark (you just can’t solder any additional metals to a piece once it is hallmarked), so I send off a massive package of almost finished ring blanks, necklaces, earrings and bangles to be hallmarked as I find this process is the one that takes the longest (approximately a week or even more on the run up to Christmas). I put each one in a little ziplock bag so all the components of the piece are kept together.

It is a bigger outlay at once but the cost per item to hallmark goes down with the more pieces you hallmark (particularly if you use the standard service) so I find it really makes a difference to my profit if I do this particular process in bulk. You can’t anticipate every eventuality or combination of order so I recommend focusing on your highest volume pieces first, but prepping your ‘component parts’ is a great way of shortening your turn around time significantly meaning less stress for you and happy customers as you can ship quickly.

4. TIDY AND ORGANISE YOUR WORKSPACE

I was so guilty of this last year! I was so busy that my workspace ended up in quite a state and I am sure that I wasted so much precious time trying to find things! So do take the time to sort out and organise your workspace in August or September, and give all your tools and supplies a home!
This year I have put all my components in labelled ziplock bags and in alphabetised sections in an expandable folder. It meant I could always find what I was looking for and could easily see when I was getting low in stock! I also recommend taking 15-20 mins at the end of each day to clear your workspace so that it is ready for the next day and put all your tools and supplies back in the correct place. This will save you heaps of time during the chaos, I promise!

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In part 2 of this blog series I will talk about planning your Christmas marketing and PR and nailing your processes to make everything run like clockwork (most of the time :-)).  Let us know if you have any tips for surviving the Christmas period in the comments below!

Author: Karen Young

London Jewellery School Blog_Karen Young Bio

Top jewellery exhibitions and events in London!

London is a very inspiring place for jewellers and we are lucky to have some annual events and exhibitions that help get the creative juices flowing! Here are some recommended events to put in your diary!

 

  1.    Goldsmiths Fair

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Source: http://www.goldsmithsfair.co.uk/about-goldsmiths-fair/

 

The prestigious Goldsmiths Fair is held in September/October each year at the grand Goldsmiths hall at St Paul’s. This two-week extravaganza is not to be missed, as it is a dazzling display of 100’s of independent designer-makers in the world of silver, gold and precious jewellery.

Find out more here: http://www.thegoldsmiths.co.uk/exhibitions-promotions/goldsmiths%27-fair/

  1.    IJL, International Jewellery London

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Source: http://www.jewellerylondon.com/Archive/exhibiting/thenewvenue/

 

Held in early September, this giant scale exhibition at London’s Earls Court promises to inspire, as the place to discover the latest trends, source new and exciting products, network and attend the industry’s leading seminar programme. Great for buying supplies but beware of overspending when bringing your credit card!

Check it out at – http://www.jewellerylondon.com/

 

  1.    Dazzle

A free exhibition open to the public which is taking place this year at the OXO tower. The jewellers themselves range from graduates to established artists. They are not there all the time but this one is not to be missed… http://www.dazzle-exhibitions.com/

 

  1.    Collect

We’re already looking forward to Collect in February 2017, the UK fair for contemporary objects which includes jewellery.  Presented by the Craft Council and taking place at the Saachi Gallery it’s sure to be a well curated exhibition

http://www.craftscouncil.org.uk/what-we-do/collect

 

  1.    V&A

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Source: http://www.ejal.com/project.php?projNo=39&catNo=5&nextNo=0

 

The Victoria and Albert Museum in central London is hailed by many to be the greatest museum of art and design and when it comes to jewellery it never fails to disappoint. With a full range of permanent and often temporary jewellery exhibitions, inspiration is offered in abundance.

See what’s currently on here – http://www.vam.ac.uk/.

 

  1. Craft Central Open Studios

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Source: https://twitter.com/craftcentraluk

 

Craft Central is a pioneering not-for-profit organisation dedicated to building a strong future for craft and design. Every year they hold open studios where members of the public can meet the jewellery and craft designer makers in their studios and take a look at their latest collections. Three of our tutors have studios here so pop along to the open studios to say hello!

For full details of the next open studios event please see – http://www.craftcentral.org.uk/madeinclerkenwell.

 

  1. Cockpit Arts

Cockpit Arts have two London studios and support craft practitioners with their business incubator service. They have two open studios a year where you can visit makers of many different crafts, including jewellery, and buy directly from them.

http://cockpitarts.com/shop-cockpit/open-studios/

 

  1.    London Fashion Week

Anyone who’s anyone in fashion can be seen strutting their stuff at London Fashion Week and although it is a trade only event, London Fashion Weekend is open to members of the public. Get your tickets and shop, get a goody bag and browse the catwalk to see what’s next in the world of fashion. For full details see their website –http://www.londonfashionweekend.co.uk/

 

  1.    LJS

Last but by no means least, we at LJS run events throughout the year including our diploma student exhibitions, suppliers event, expert talks and the (now) legendary London Jewellery School Christmas Party! To keep up to date with future events make sure you are subscribed to our email newsletter.   
Let us know what you think of the events you go to and share any that are in your local area with us via our instagram, twitter or facebook pages or in the comments below.

Author: Anna Campbell

 

LJG Guest Blogger - Anna Campbell of Campbell Hall Designs