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How do you find the materials to make your jewelry?

I have established relationships with several reputable companies to buy most of my findings—the metal parts that the jewelry is made with—beads, headpins, earring hooks/leverbacks and toggles and clasps.  I purchase the bulk of my pearls, stones and other beads at shows that are for the trade or from several companies that sell to designers.  I hand select almost all of my beads—the exceptions are some of the czech glass beads that I purchase from established vendors that I trust purchasing from without seeing the product. I travel to a number of shows on the east coast of the US, however I hunt down beads and supplies nationwide during my travels!  Many designers order in bulk without seeing and handling the material they will work with.  I prefer to hand select what I work with, I’m very picky and the better the quality the better the product for my customers.  I also minimize my waste (imperfect/damaged beads) and am able to price my jewelry accordingly.

How do you come up with the design for your jewelry?

I have boxes and boxes of beads…  some bought for a specificdesign and others because they were just too beautiful to pass up!  I follow current color trends for some of my designs, some I don’t… I may try a dozen combinations before I find the one that looks right and is appealing.  If I wouldn’t wear it or give it as a gift—I don’t make/sell it.  Most of my designs are unique and are made in limited quantities based on the materials I’ve selected to make them.  There are a few of my designs that I make in larger quantities like the stacked freshwater pearls, but even that style is different from earring to earring because of the natural materials.

What metals do you use in your jewelry?

I use a mixture of sterling silver, silver vermeil, silver plate and lead/nickel free pewter. The bulk of my findings – the little metal parts used to make jewelry- are silver and yes it will tarnish in time if left out in the open air.  With the rising cost of silver and the ability to get good quality lead/nickel free pewter, I have started using some of it in my designs.  I clearly note the metals used in each item.  I use sterling silver ear wires/hooks and leverbacks.  For anyone that happens to be sensitive to sterling silver, I can change the earring wires to surgical steel.