Tag Archives: silver jewellery

Diploma in Silver Jewellery graduate feature – Guida Cusso

 

This week on the blog we will be featuring some of the graduates of our Diploma in Silver Jewellery as we have a free exhibition of their work this Friday, 7th July 2017, 6.30-8pm, at our London studios. You are invited to attend!

Today we feature jeweller Guida Cusso

guida-cusso-silver-ring-london-jewellery-school-diploma-in-silver-jewelleryWhere do you live? I have been living in London for the last 5 and a half years, but I am originally from Barcelona.

When did your interest in jewellery making start? It started when I was a child, I was making jewellery with plastic beads at an early age. I have always loved making things with my hands and I have tried all kind of crafts. When I turned 18 I went to uni to study Translation and Interpreting, but it was a very hard decision and my other option would have been artistic jewellery then.

Why did you decide to take the Silver Diploma? I had tried a few evening courses on silver jewellery and I loved them so much! I really wanted to take a step forward and the Silver Jewellery Diploma was my perfect match.

guida-cusso-silver-brooch-london-jewellery-school-diploma-in-silver-jewelleryWhat was your favourite class on the diploma and why? I enjoyed them all, but if I had to pick one, I would say wax carving. It is so rewarding and relaxing!

What are your goals for the future? I feel quite confident with my skills, but I would love to keep learning more techniques and to go deeper on what I have already learnt.

What is your favourite piece you ever made and why? From all the pieces I have made, my favourite one is a pair of drop earrings in the shape of a curved leaf with matt finish. While making them I realised how important it is to mirror symmetrical earrings. It was hard work but the result was a pair of very light and wearable earrings that match anything you wear.

guida-cusso-stone-set-pendant-london-jewellery-school-diploma-in-silver-jewelleryYou can follow Guida on instagram @guidiki

 

 

The Diploma in Silver Jewellery exhibition is this Friday, 7th July 2017, 6.30-8pm

Where: London Jewellery School, Rear Ground Floor Studios, NEW HOUSE, 67-68 Hatton Garden, London EC1N 8JY

How to find us

No need to RSVP, just turn up!

images copyright Guida Cusso 2017

Introducing our latest silver jewellery classes

As you may have noticed, our tutors have been working on some exciting new additions to the courses we offer at LJS for both beginners and more advanced practitioners and we’d love to invite you to book a place!

Here are our newest silver jewellery classes (click on the links for more detailed information)

One day classes

Silver stacked bangles

Intermediate level – learn how to shape, texture and solder silver wire into stacking bangles. Students usually make 2-3 bangles

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Make your own silver findings

Advanced level – Learning to craft your own findings such as ear wires, clasps, and brooch pins allows you to customise your designs and add a truly handcrafted and bespoke element to your work. (We recommend that all students complete the soldering masterclass before taking this class or that you are confident working with the torch. As this is an advanced silver class and we recommend that students are familiar with silver jewellery making and are comfortable using hand tools in a workshop environment)

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Granulation and fusing

Granulation is the technique of creating numerous tiny spheres of metal with which to decorate your jewellery. They are not soldered into place, but are instead “fused” with the surface and to each other. Learn this technique in our one day class.

granulation-fusing-one-day-silver-jewellery-class-london-jewellery-school

Channel setting in silver

Advanced level – Learn to set stones in a ‘channel setting’ – a setting commonly used to set multiple stones along a strip of material, either across a pendant or around a ring (to do this course you must have completed our two day stone setting course and soldering masterclass or equivalent elsewhere)

channel-setting-one-day-class-london-jewellery-school

Collet setting in silver

Advanced level – Develop your stone setting abilities in this class and learn how to create a collet setting (to do this course you must have completed our two day stone setting course and soldering masterclass or equivalent elsewhere)

collet-setting-silver-one-day-class-london-jewellery-school

Grain setting in silver

Advanced level – Learn to set faceted stones using the ‘Grain’ setting technique. The class will really bring on your stone setting ability and add a new setting technique to your repertoire (to do this course you must have completed our two day stone setting course and soldering masterclass or equivalent elsewhere)

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Evening and taster classes

For those of you that are working in London during the day, check out our new silver evening and taster classes

Stacked silver rings taster (1 evening)

Learn to make four individual silver rings in just one evening!

silver-stacking-rings-taster-class-london-jewellery-school

Soldering and stone setting in silver (6 weeks)

This 6-week evening class (run once a week) is perfect if you’ve attended beginners silver jewellery and you want to move onto the next step. Learn more advanced soldering alongside stone setting techniques including bezel setting, tube setting and gypsy(flush) setting

soldering-stone-setting-evening-class-london-jewellery-schoolClick on the links to find more and to book a place.

We love ideas for new classes so what would you like to learn? Let us know in the comments below

Our shortlist for the Jewellery Maker of the Year 2016!

Wow, we have been overwhelmed by all of the beautiful entries submitted to our 2016 Maker of the Year Competition!  You are all a talented bunch!  Thank you to everyone who entered and shared their beautiful work with us!

It was so hard choosing our short-list of candidates!   We absolutely love each and every one of these designs for their exquisite craftsmanship, design and presentation.  Choosing a winner is going to be tough!

Have a peruse at our amazing shortlist who are presented in no particular order!

Mihaela Coman - A cup of tea

Mihaela Coman – A Cup of Tea

Mihaela had the Katherine Mansfield short story in her mind when she made this ring. The delicate ring has 6 silver little pieces soldered together to create the tea cup and the citrine is cleverly set in the tea cup.

 

London-Jewellery-School-Blog-Maker-of-the-Year-Competition-Shortlist-Vlad-Zoldak-Interstellar-Ring

Vlad Zoldak – Interstellar Ring

The ring was inspired by Vlad’s fascination with space and its elements, primarily an element that gives live to everything living even in the most hostile places; water. It is made of sterling silver and 20ct terminated Aquamarine. The entire ring is handmade and soldered together.

London-Jewellery-School-Blog-Maker-of-the-Year-2016-Competition-Shortlist-Suzanne-Ross-Lapis-Maki-e-pendant

Suzanne Ross – Lapis Maki-e Pendant

The inspiration for this piece came from the colour of the lapis lazuli itself. The colour reminded Suzanne of a peaceful ocean sailing with clear blue skies. Suzanne chose labradorite beads as they change colour with movement like the sea. The gold painting on the lapis is done in the traditional Japanese gold decorating technique called “maki-e” where urushi ( a tree sap) is painted on and gold powder is sprinkled onto the wet ground. When it has set, the gold is sealed with urushi and then sanded with charcoal and polished.

London-Jewellery-School-Blog-Jewellery-Maker-of-the-Year-2016-Competition-Shortlist-Robyn-Golding-Green-Fingers-Ring

Robyn Golding – Green Fingers Ring

This piece is called Green Fingers and is a double ring connected with three short chains. The piece is inspired by gardening but also from the materials used within this piece, It is made from 100% recycled silver and reclaimed plastics, the green hand is also flocked to give it its green colour. The hand is also removable and is a lid of a small container to reveal a real plant inside.

 

London-Jewellery-School-Jewellery-Maker-of-the-Year-Competition-Shortlist-Anca-Druga-Pendant

Anca Druga – Starry, Starry Night

This design is inspired by “Starry Night over the Rhone” – Vincent Van Gogh. The pendant was hand painted and handcrafted using acrylic colors on polymer clay, fixed in a wire wrapped support to emphasize the texture and depth of the design.

 

London-Jewellery-School-Jewellery-Maker-Of-The-Year-2016-Competition-Shortlist-Claire-Housden-Morphology-2-Necklace

Claire Housden – Morphology #2 Necklace

This is a leather necklace which I designed in 3 colourways (black&black, black&white, and black&red). The inspiration for the morphology collection is vegetable tanned leather itself; and how it can be manipulated to hold a 3-D form. Claire has  developed a unique technique to texture and fold the leather, which she uses throughout this collection.

 

London-Jewellery-School-Jewellery-Maker-of-The-Year-2016-Shortlist-Theodora-Gould-Holy-Trinity-Bangle

Theodora Gould – Holy Island Bangle

The Holy Island Bangle is inspired by a small and magical island off the western shore of Lough Derg in Southern Ireland.  Theodora wanted to make something that had an ancient and celtic feel but also reflected the colours of the island. Made from sterling silver, the stones are 5mm cabochons; garnet to represent the rambling roses, sapphire for the water and the expanse of sky, peridot for the lush Irish grass, citrine for the yellow lichen which covers the tumbling ruins and dark and lavender amethyst for the wild flowers.

 

London-Jewellery-School-Jewellery-Maker-of-the-Year-2016-competition-shortlist-Kim-Styles-Morganite-and-sapphire-cluster-ring

Kim Styles – Morganite and Sapphire Cluster Ring

This morganite and sapphire cluster ring, with wild rose and hydrangea flowers in white and yellow gold. The morganite is set in rose gold to echo the beautiful pale pink of the stone. Kim wanted to make something really pretty that she could wear as an example of what she does. It is entirely handmade from 18ct gold sheet and wire.

 

London-Jewellery-School-Jewellery-Maker-Of-The-Year-2016-Competition-Shortlist-Nichola-Foster-Wirework-Lampwork-Bead-Pendant

Nichola Foster – Wirework Lampwork Bead Pendant

Nichola is a lampwork artist and recently learnt how to wire weave which she finds really enjoyable and very addictive! Here is one of her lampwork glass beads which she has set and decorated with copper. The design emerged as she worked, and demonstrates her love of curves and scrolls.

 

London-Jewellery-School-Jewellery-Maker-of-the-Year-Competition-Shortlist-Scott-Shead-The-Kracken-Pearl-Ring

Scott Shead – The Kracken Ring

Sterling Silver ring with a large Pearl. The ring is designed to sit on one finger and have a tentacle curl around another finger.  Scott lives on a Scottish Island which inspires him and he handcraftedthe Kraken Octopus ring to be a statement piece. The ring is designed to be comfortable to wear and also to make a great addition to a steampunk or nautical style outfit.

To check out all of the competition entries – please have a look at the Facebook Competition Post!

Don’t forget!  The prize winners will be announced on 5th September!

Good luck to all of the Shortlisted Candidates!

Tool Time – Barrel Polishers

london-jewellery-school-blog-Tool-Review-barrel-polisher

For the next post in our series about great workshop tools to add to your collection we are going to be talking about Barrel Polishers (also called Tumblers)!

When you first start to make silver Jewellery you will probably polish by hand using sand paper of varying grits to get a nice smooth finish on your piece, and a liquid metal polish such as Glanol which comes as part of our fab new polishing and finishing kit.  This process can take quite a while to do by hand, and we have no doubt that soon you will be looking for a tool to speed up your polishing and finishing time.

There are a few options in terms of polishing machines you will want to consider such as a pendant motor, micromotor or even a bench polisher, but one of the most common polishing tools that are purchased first for a new workshop is the Barrel Polisher (also known as a Tumble Polisher).  So what does it do?

A barrel polisher allows you to quickly and economically polish small quantities of Jewellery and Jewellery findings and components at the same time.  You place your Jewellery in the vaned container or ‘barrel’.  And depending on the finish you want you either add steel shot and a teaspoon of polishing compound such as BarrelBrite and just enough water to cover everything and have approximately 1cm of water above the steel shot; or cutting powder, ceramic cones and water for a matt finish.

london-jewellery-school-blog-tool-review-polishing-jewellery-jewelry

Shot and Barrelbrite in the barrel.

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Jewellery ready for polishing, plus enough water to cover the shot added.

You seal up the barrel so it is watertight as per the manufacturer’s instructions and place onto the rotating motor.  Typically the motor just plugs in at the wall and starts as soon as you turn on the switch at the socket.

Make sure that your barrel is not wet at all or it might not turn properly and don’t touch your barrel with wet hands when it is on.

Ideally tumble your pieces for as long as possible – I always aim to tumble my pieces for at least four hours but I often check them every hour to see how they are looking.  Please note it is best to open and drain your tumbler over a large plastic bowl or container so that you don’t lose all your shot and have to spend ages picking it up.

I normally tend to tumble either smaller pieces or larger pieces together as mixing them can cause damage to the smaller pieces.

Pros:

The biggest benefit of barrel polishing your pieces is that you can polish multiple pieces at once – you can have your work polishing in the background whilst you do other things so it is a real time saver!

One of the key benefits of tumbling your Jewellery and findings is that the steel shot gently work hardens the outer layer your pieces which is essential for things like ear pins and ear wires.  I normally still gently hammer or twist my findings in addition to tumbling so that I am 100% sure they are hard and robust but the tumbler hardens them a little too and makes them lovely and shiny.

Cons:

It is important that you bear in mind that for very smooth surfaces the little pins in the steel shot mix can occasionally leave little dents in your pieces.  For this reason you may prefer to remove the pins from the shot if you are polishing pieces with no texture, or chose another means of polishing your piece.

For intricate pieces you might find that the pins don’t quite get into all the nooks and crannies so you may need to either finish your pieces by hand, or look at investing in a pendant or micro motor.

If you intend to use different compounds to enable to you finish your pieces to a matt or polished finish I recommend having different barrels for different compounds so that you don’t get any contamination.  I have two barrels – one for getting a matt finish and one for getting a polished finish.

Barrel polishing won’t unfortunately remove any scratches so you still need to spend the time removing scratches beforehand using your files and your emery papers.

I wouldn’t recommend tumbling pieces with stones set or beads already set as there is a risk that the steel could crack the stones.

Finally please use stainless steel shot!  It is a bit more expensive to buy (do shop around) but it more rust resistant and so will save you money in the longer term!

Which one to buy?

There are a number of tumblers on the market that vary quite substantially in price.  The best piece of advice I can give you is to buy the best tool you can afford at the time.

I initially bought the Metal Barreling Starter Kit With 3lb Machine from Cookson Gold with the plastic barrel and lid.  However I found it was prone to leaking and you do have to heat the lid with warm water before use otherwise it was impossible to get the lid on without cracking it.  You can get replacement barrels, lids and belts for this machine.

Basic Barrel Polisher-CooksonGold

Metal Barreling Starter Kit With 3lb Machine from Cookson Gold

After about a year I upgraded my tumbler to one of the rubber ones.  I upgraded to the Cookson Gold Gold Pro one and I love it!   It comes in 2lb or 3lb sizes and you can buy the tumbler on its own or as part of a starter kit.  I have since purchased a second barrel to use with cutting powder and ceramic cones so that it is more versatile.  It is a great option for a good workhorse at a reasonable price.  FYI – I don’t tend to keep my shot and water in the rubber barrel – I transfer it between uses into a large jam jar.

london-jewellery-school-blog-jewellery-tool-review-barrel-polisher

Gold Pro Barrel Polisher by Cookson Gold

If you will be using your tumbler round the clock however, you may want to consider one of the semi-professional machines from Evans or Lortone or a Rotabarrel for the serious workshop!

Barrel Polisher

Author: Karen Young

 London Jewellery School Blog_Karen Young Bio

Jewellery Business Week Case Study: Using social media to grow your business

business-week-banner-2016

 

Silversmith Karen Young has been working hard to build up her jewellery business Karen Young Handmade Jewellery and her use of social media caught the eye of the LJS team. We talked to her about how she uses social media to promote her business and products

Which social media do you use? (e.g. instagram, twitter etc)

I am on all of the main social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+ but the main ones that my target audience are on regularly are Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest so I tend to focus most on those.  I also have a blog on my website and send a newsletter about once a month.

Whilst Facebook still drives the most traffic to my online shops and has the best conversion rate into sales, Instagram is fast catching up! I love Instagram the best out of all the platforms – it is so visual and I have found a wonderful community there.

 

How have you built up your social media following?

Sheer hard work and consistency! It is possible to buy followers on social media but I really wouldn’t recommend it.  I have always felt that the point of social media is to cultivate engagement and dialogue with followers so they get to know and trust you and you can’t do that if they are fake accounts.  So I have built my following on each platform over time and by replying to comments on my feeds and direct messages, and being active daily on the platforms.  I post virtually daily on Instagram and try and take the most beautiful pictures I can and about 3-4 times a week on Facebook and Twitter.  I need to spend a bit more time on my Pinterest boards and blog more consistently in 2016.

How has social media helped drive your sales?

Social media definitely drives more traffic to my online shops and ultimately drives sales, but I have never used social media for sales alone.   Unlike large jewellery stores and brands I don’t have a massive marketing budget and social media not only allows my brand to reach people all across the world, but more importantly lets me actively communicate and engage with my target customers.  People shop small over bigger brands because your story and why you do what you do speaks to them and you can really get that across using social media.

Also it takes time for your followers to get to know you on social media and trust you, so they may not buy from you for months or even years so you won’t get sales from social media overnight.  But if you focus on providing great customer service, creating great products, post great content with beautiful pictures, and do so consistently then the sales will come.

I also use social media (in particular Facebook) to do research into my target customers.  If you don’t really understand who you are selling to and what motivates them then posting on social media can be a little hit or miss.  On business Facebook pages once you get over 100 likes then you get access to some pretty fantastic and powerful tools that can help you understand your customers better which means what you post on social media improves over time.  I have used Facebook to build a profile of my ideal customer: where she shops, what her demographics are, what motivates her or scares her.  I have even given her a name!  I target all my social media messaging to her.  That’s not to say that other people won’t buy from me but I am talking to someone instead of everyone (or even worse – nobody).

I also use my newsletter email list (did you know you can import your email list into Facebook Ads Manager?) and target ads to them which is cheaper than ads to totally new audiences.  Your email list is important as social media algorithms can change in a heartbeat (organic reach on Facebook for example is harder than ever to achieve) and you have no control over it but you own your email list.

I do use Facebook ads now and again and have found them to be very powerful (again these work best if you have spent some time defining your target customer) to promote my shop and also to boost important posts so they reach more of my target audience.

 

What kinds of things do you post on social media? What do you find gets you the most response?

I don’t like to be too salesy on social media as for me it isn’t just all about sales it is about cultivating a relationship with my followers and letting them get to know me and my brand.  I tend to post in the region of 2-3 engagement type posts to every sales or call to action post.

I spend a lot of time styling my photo so that they look beautiful and that when people are scrolling down their feed on social media they will catch your eye – I tend to get more engagement and comments when I have taken the time to take the best photograph I can.  I take all my social media photos using my iPhone using the Camera+ app which means I can adjust exposure, crop, balance colour etc on my phone and add text using picmonkey, canva or wordswag if I need to.

I post a mix of styled product shots, work in progress, behind the scenes snapshots, quotes and the occasional selfie so that people can put a face to my brand.  I don’t tend to post too much really personal stuff (unless it directly relates to my business – for example before Christmas my boys helped me make a ring for Granny’s birthday so I posted pictures of them at work but I don’t post pics of my lunch for example as it doesn’t fit with my brand).  Behind the scenes shots work well and people really seem to love quotes particularly on Instagram.  Also short videos seem to do well and get higher engagement and visibility particularly on Facebook.

I use Iconosquare for Instagram and Facebook tools to keep an eye on content that is generating the most engagement and to understand what hashtags on Instagram are working well so you can tweak and improve your content over time.  You can use scheduling tools to schedule your posts but I just tend to just set aside time to post on each platform as that way I can respond to comments and engage with my followers when I post as it feels a little bit more authentic.

Each month I plan out a detailed social media calendar which is about 80% complete that is a mix of engagement posts and call to actions.  I don’t like to do a 100% completed calendar as I want a little room for spontaneity and to be able to keep my feed authentic.  I detail which platform, what kind of post (engagement, call to action), what the picture or video will be and what my caption will be.  This means I don’t need to think too much about social media meaning I have more making time.

What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out with social media to promote their business?

When you start out on a social media platform, take the time to fill out your bio including links to how customers can either contact your or buy from you.  I like to include a little about my why. And if you run a business make sure that business is listed in your About section on your personal Facebook profile.  That way if people find you on Facebook they can find a route through to your business page.

Then start posting great content and following other accounts.  Build organically and focus on quality rather than quantity. And let people know you are on the platform through your business cards, your website or online shop and even ask people to tag you on social media if they are happy with their purchase.

What are your plans/hopes for your jewellery business in the coming years?

My business is still fairly new so I want to build on a great 2015 and really start to grow and develop my business in 2016 and beyond.

Firstly I want to rebuild my website now I really know what I want my website to do, and direct all my marketing back to my own website rather than Etsy.  That is my main priority for the first quarter of 2016. And behind the scenes I am working to develop a new collection of personalised luxury keepsake pieces that will become tomorrow’s heirlooms, as well as celebration jewellery such as engagement and wedding rings.

I hope to build to a strong monthly revenue that will enable to me continue doing what I love without having to go back to corporate life.

Finally I am hoping to take part in some great retail fairs so that I can spend some time with my customers face to face!

Where can we find out more about you?

I sell on both Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/KarenYoungJewellery) and my own website www.karenyoungjewellery.co.uk – please note that I am in the process of upgrading my website which will hopefully be finished soon!

 

Special Business Week offers

Don’t forget about our special offers on business courses for this week only.

These offers are only available on booking made during Jewellery Business Week 21-27 February 2016 inclusive. Call 020 3176 0546.

Click here for more details of all the business courses included in this offer.

Inspirations: Textured silver jewellery

Often when we think about silver jewellery we think about highly polished mirrored finished pieces but it is also a metal that looks great with a textured surface and with oxidise/patinated finishes.

In our classes we teach texturing through hammering and through using a rolling mill, two great ways to create interesting finishes on silver. And we continue to be amazed by what ideas students come up. So, with our new Diploma in Silver Jewellery starting this week, it seemed time to offer you some inspirations.

 

silver cuff

This silver feather cuff is by former Diploma in Creative Jewellery student Emma Piper. She created the texture by putting annealed silver sheet through a rolling mill with large feathers.

 

textured silver jewellery

The patination and texture on this bangle by Charlie High gives it almost a textile effect

 

textured silver ring

The silver in this Justin Dunance ring with a black diamond, has bean beaten to achieve a textured effect reminiscent of granite emphasised by the oxidised hammer marks.

 

textured silver pendant

Combined textures – a silver and stingray from Goldlip Jewellery

 

textured silver ring

Joanne Massey lapis and texture silver leaf ring inspired by natural textures.

 

textured silver jewellery

Fine silver wire has been used to create a textures surface on this pendant from Kaila Jewellery

50% off online learning for LJS students

online jewellery classes

Have you taken any of the following courses with London Jewellery School?

If so we have a very special offer for you. Until 29 February 2016, you can have 50% off the cost of the sister course at Jewellery School Online, our online learning site.

That means if you have taken one of the courses listed above you are eligible for the discount on the corresponding online courses which can be a great way of reinvigorating your learning if you are feeling rusty and need a reminder.

 

Why buy an online course?

These courses are a great way to continue your learning at home

  • You can pause, rewind and reply demos as many times as you like to perfect your technique
  • Each course comes with lifetime access and downloadable course notes to support your learning
  • Not everyone can remember everything covered in the course by the time they get round to making at home. Online courses are the perfect solution to refresh your memory and ensure you get great value for money when learning.

 

Which online courses are available to you?

LJS Course                                                                                                               Online cource with 50% off

Beginner’s Metal Clay or Silver Metal Clay Taster                                           Make Silver Metal Clay Charms with Julia Rai

Fashion Jewellery or Intermediate Beading                                                      Introduction to Fashion Jewellery with Hayley Kruger

Beginners Wire Wrapping or Linda Jones Wire Class                                    Introduction to Wire Jewellery with Linda Jones

Make a Silver Ring Taster Class or Beginners Silver Jewellery                     Make a Silver Ring with Rosie Sanders

 

How to claim your discount…

Email: contact@jewelleryschoolonline.com with your name, the course you have taken at LJS and the online course you would like to take and we will send you your 50% unique coupon code. You can then sign up to the course for half the price and access it from now onwards.

We look forward to seeing you on a course soon.

New ways to try silversmithing for the first time

We know that some of you would like to learn about making silver jewellery but aren’t ready to commit to a full-day workshop. And others of you have asked about soldering in our silver taster classes.

So we have added to our range of silver jewellery tasters to provide more options with the introduction of a session on making stacked soldered silver rings and one on making a pair of silver earrings.

silver jewellery class

In the Stacked Silver Ring Taster students will make a set of five soldered rings using silver wire. This will include making the rings to size and shaping rings. This is a good choice for someone who has taken one of our other silver tasters and who would now like to learn a little about soldering.

In Make a Pair of Silver Earrings students will learn to texture silver and cut the metal to shape using a template to ensure both earring match as well as drilling the holes and using polishing and finishing techniques.

These classes join the Make a Silver Ring (making a textured wrap around ring), Handstamped Silver, Silver Charm and Silver Cufflinks taster classes to give you lots of opportunities to try out silver techniques and make different pieces in short classes. And if you sign up for our taster package, you can take four taster classes for the bargain price of £150 for the lot – for example both rings classes, handstamping and the earring class would teach you a variety of techniques with four finished projects to take home.

In the jewellery workshop – making your own pickle

Anna Campbell discovers the contents of her kitchen cupboards can be useful in her workshop too.

Jewellers pickle is an acid used for getting rid of firescale on metal, particularly after soldering. Many people are wary about having it in the home, especially those of us with small children or animals. I made do without having it in my home jewellery studio for quite a while because I work in professional jewellery studios where I could easily just pickle my pieces when I was there for teaching. However, I had an urgent commission recently and found I didn’t have time to get to the studio.

So, what to do? I googled it (of course) and found that there are ways to make pickle from substances that you have in the home. And so I had a go at making it myself and found that it was very effective and had other benefits. So, this is how I went about it.

I found this blog post by jeweller Jo Hollingsworth about using vinegar and salt to make a pickle, so I had a go.

You will need
240ml of white vinegar to 1 tablespoon of salt
Microwaveable bowl
Tweezers
Jam jar

jewellery making silver

If you love fish and chips you may already have pickle ingredients in your kitchen

Making the pickle
Make up a solution of vinegar and salt in the ratio above that will cover the piece/s you want to pickle. The amount you need will obviously depend on the size of the piece or pieces. I didn’t have white vinegar at home so I used malt vinegar (I do love chips) and it worked fine. I put the solution into a microwaveable bowl and stirred the salt in for about a minute until it had mostly dissolved.

Heating the pickle
I put the bowl in the microwave on full power for two minutes. That was how long I found it needed but microwaves vary so I recommend you check your own microwave. Try for 30 seconds to a minute to start with.

Using the pickle
I found that I used it effectively when the solution was steaming. After taking the bowl carefully out of the microwave (you may need to use your oven gloves for this) I dropped the silver pieces (I have only used this with fine and sterling silver so far) into the solution and left them for 20 minutes. Remember to take the pieces out using tweezers, don’t put your hand into the hot solution.
With this method there isn’t constant heat as there is in a pickle pot so it saves on electricity because you are only heating it up while you need it.

Reheating the pickle
If you feel your pieces could do with a little more – if you can still see the firescale – take the silver out of the solution (with tweezers) and do another blast in the microwave. Do remember to take the silver out of the bowl. You can’t put metal in the microwave.

However, I found with the small pieces I have used it for such as stud earrings and cufflinks, I haven’t needed to reheat the pickle.

Finishing
When the pieces are clean of firescale run them under the tap to rinse off the acid. And voila! Done and ready for polishing.

Re-use
I pour my used pickle into a jam jar to keep it for the next time I need it. I haven’t had to dispose of it yet but I plan to dilute it in a large bucket of water before pouring it down the drain.

This is an eco friendly way of making pickle which uses inexpensive items you already have at home. It also saves on electricity compared to using a pickle pot.

Do you have a ‘ home remedy’ you can recommend to other jewellers? Please do add your advice in the comment section below.

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