Hammered Nu Gold Link Chain Necklace - Detail

The History of Chain Making in Jewelry Design

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Hammered Nu Gold Chain Link Necklace

Hammered Nu Gold Chain Link Necklace

Among scores of volumes written and authoritative reports on the history of the use of metal in fashioning jewelry throughout the centuries, the information surprisingly reveals little on the development and use of chain.

Bead stringing, out of which chain certainly evolved, in contrast, was a highly-developed art, for example, among the Egyptians as long ago as 5000 years B.C. It is among the examples of the remarkable gold jewelry work of these people that the use of rope chain is first noted. This first use, as far as we can determine, did not come until centuries later, about 1990 B.C.

Hammered Nu Gold Link Chain Necklace - Detail

Hammered Nu Gold Link Chain Necklace – Detail

In the intervening years, however, the skill in the use of twisted gold wire in making links for use in bracelets, necklaces, belts, and pectorals in Egypt, displays a constant degree of higher skill and craftsmanship. It seems logical that as more elaborate jewelry developed, the first examples of chain (at least in Egypt) evolved. This was found to be in excavations made about 1895 in Egypt, which proved to be the tomb of a princess which historical records indicate lived almost 2000 years before the time of Christ. Numerous examples of finely-detailed gold and gemstone necklaces were found — and these were most noteworthy for the use of a perfect “foxtail” type rope chain. There would appear to be a relation here to the use of solder, as the beautifully symmetrical design is formed with soldered joints. The jewelry referred to is displayed in the Cairo museum. This museum visit is a “must” for anyone visiting Egypt.

Amazonite Sterling Silver Chain Maille Necklace

Amazonite Sterling Silver Chain Maille Necklace

In the centuries following, numerous examples of chain — from elaborate link-type to elaborate rope-types are displayed in the museums throughout the world. The Louvre in Paris has good examples dating from the 3rd-4th century AD. Many of these are in Roman style jewelry, interspersed with some examples believed to be from eastern nations.

In the intervening centuries the use of chain has become so universal in jewelry-making that, for the most part, few of us give little attention to the endless variety and sizes of chains available. Obviously, the machine age, in which manufactured chain, from the most inexpensive to the finest quality in silver and gold, literally spout from automatic machines, is the reason we take it all for granted.

Chased Gold Chandelier Chain Link Earrings

Chased Gold Chandelier Chain Link Earrings

But chain making, as it was done thousands of years ago, link by link, by the patient and keen-sighted artists is not a lost art. In fact, there may have been more original designs and patterns created in the past generation than at any comparable time in history. Many more are doing it for the challenge it offers as an art form. It requires both determination and patience. Reward? The knowledge that your handmade chain has no exact duplicate.

Even more so, if it is an original pattern, or one that cannot be machine made it has more value — and there are some patterns so complex that machines cannot duplicate them. At many of the gem and jewelry shows sponsored by local clubs, you will find chain-making a part of the “how-to-do-it” demonstrations. There is no age barrier or requirements in making chain. Children easily learn the simple patterns, and with nimble hands, and sharp eyes, make excellent progress. On the opposite extreme (and not excluding anyone between) the older people find it a fascinating challenge requiring few materials and tools. It is a hobby that must be near the ultimate in a way to make surplus time pass so quickly it literally goes unnoticed.

Chased Stainless Steel Chain Link Necklace

Chased Stainless Steel Chain Link Necklace

Because chain-making is a subject about which little has been written, we can find little more than a few paragraphs, or at most, brief chapters in books relating to the subject. The reason for the lack of information would become obvious if you were to go beyond making some very simple chain and attempt to write instructions on how to do rope chains.

Chain making just seems to be a craft where written (or event illustrated) instructions do not completely fill the need. Person-to-person direction is by far the best way to teach and learn.

To find out more about making chains, the obvious source is to talk to one who has had countless hours of experience in making chain, and as a demonstrator at gem shows has had background of teaching what he knows to others.

Green Opal Gemstone

The Wonderful World of Opals – Investing in Opals

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Green Opal Gemstone

Green Opal Gemstone

“Should I buy opals as an investment?” “Are opal a wise investment?” The answer to this is really yes — and no — depending on your approach to purchasing.

In these days of such a volatile world economy, we all share uneasiness as to just what might prove to be a “hedge” to our security. It is difficult to receive a meaningful and definitive counsel on any investment. Investments whether for stocks, bonds, real estate, business ventures, gemstones in general — or opals specifically, all have many factors in common, i.e.: “Is the particular choice of good value relative to other choices?” “Are you buying while the market is low?” “Have you searched for and found a competitive, informed, and reliable broker (or dealer in the case of opals)?” “Is your dealer trained and experienced to enable him to competently advise you according to your particular needs?”

When considering opals as an investment, it is wise to approach the idea as you would any other investment — thinking the whole investment concept through. “What do you hope to achieve?” “When and how do you want to convert your investment?” “If you intend to sell, do you have a plan for selling them?” “Will you change them from rough to cut stones or from cut stones to finished jewelry?” Such conversions add value by your applied skills and if you do have these skills and the shop equipment to increase this value to your purchases, do not neglect to add this “asset” in your evaluation of your proposed investment plan.

Perhaps, as is more usually the case, you will not be planning to sell your opal investments, but rather have the pleasure of them as gems and leave them as a part of a family jewelry estate for the continuing enjoyment of your family and heirs.
You may wish to do as many other of today’s craftsmen are doing — convert the rough opals to gemstones, or the gemstones to custom crafted jewelry and sell it. If this is your plan, you will no doubt soon have a business venture on the way, and opals are a ‘sure fire’ seller! However, we can talk about such business objectives another time. This does not fall under the investment category.

Once you have decided that opals are worthy of your investment program, you will need an effective approach as to which opals to buy.

Violet Opal Gemstone

Violet Opal Gemstone

Here are some suggestions:

1. Buy the best you can afford! If there is one word of advice about prudent opal buying this is it! Remember, opals have value because of their beauty and rarity. These two factors usually combine — the most beautifully is usually most rare — and the price therefore climbs proportionately. But the fine opals, the beautiful, the exceptional gem will always be sought after and retain its value. It is better to have a one carat gem of fine quality than a bagful of low quality ‘opal in name only’ stuff. In seeking to buy so that value is stable and increases, this principal should be your guiding light.

2. Specialize You will have a more valuable investment if it is in a single form. It may take you some time to Zero in on your opal — it may turn out to be black opal, jelly, crystal, or boulder. It might be Australian or Mexican, rough or cut stones. You might know more about and have better opportunities to buy opal in finished jewelry — perhaps antique opal jewelry (there are some real prizes there!); maybe only specific items, say, ladies rings or pins or snuff bottles. Whatever your opal interest is, find it as early as possible and become a specialist in that opal!

3. Confer with as many qualified and experienced dealers as you can! Remember, dealers have had to be successful buyers or they wouldn’t still be in business. Profit from their mistakes. They have surely made them and will gladly steer you away from those pitfalls. This, by the way, is a bonus factor which you rarely find in most investments: Your stock broker need never have had a personal investment in stocks, or particularly the one he is advising for you; the real estate broker may, or may not, own real estate such as he suggest you buy.

Yellow Opal Gemstone

Yellow Opal Gemstone

4. Study Opals! Expose yourself to opals in every way possible. Join a gem and mineral club. You most certainly will meet others with an avid opal interest, and knowledge to share. Contact the American Opal Society, which is devoted exclusively to opals and they accept associate members from any place in the country. They have an ever increasing bank of information — films, opal bibliography, newsletter, etc. Attend gem shows at every opportunity — opals invariably are in full evidence at the shows! Read about any aspect of opal you can. There have been numerous books devoted to opals, from the mining, the gem aspects, the cutting and the history, and their use in handcrafted jewelry. Any information will increase your opal investing ability. If it does nothing else, it will give you a broader appreciation of the opal.

So the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ of it turns pretty much on your contribution (in addition to your pocketbook) to your opal investing. If you buy without a planned approach to it you will likely not have a wise investment. If you make planned investments out of your personal knowledge you could well be glad you chose opals!

Handmade Aluminum Jewelry

Stunning Handcrafted Jewelry in Atlanta

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Oxidized Sterling Silver White Agate Flower Ring

Oxidized Sterling Silver White Agate Flower Ring

Shopping for a unique gift for that someone special, or maybe yourself?  Have you thought-about hand-crafted jewelry? There are tons of well-designed items of jewelry by hand made craftsmen of Atlanta. There are a a handful of issues you need to take into account before you begin shopping for that amazing gift. You should first of all ponder the recipients taste before making any purchases. The best received present will be one that compliments their present collection or taste. Have they got a favored gemstone? What’s their birthstone or zodiac stone? Do they like one metal over another? An example could be if the recipient has a good number of silver earrings, you’ll probably decide to try buying them a silver necklace or silver cocktail ring to add a little spice to their jewelry collection. You will surely find some exquisitely designed handcrafted copper bracelets by Atlanta jewelry designers.

Fold Formed Aluminum Leaf Drop Earrings

Fold Formed Aluminum Leaf Drop Earrings

Throughout history, jewelry has continued to develop coupled with advances in materials. Styles and designs have transformed and modernized, and then often return to their most basic forms and elements. Even before the age of reason, men and women both adorned themselves with handmade jewelry. Simple necklaces and bracelets constructed from flowers, woven grasses, shells and stones were created to decorate early humans.

Practically all of today’s jewelry is manufactured. Machine fabricated jewelry is much more economical, not only for the consumer, but also for the manufacturer. Casting machines now quickly process into uniform molds such components as metals, plastics, and resins, allowing even complex jewelry designs to be produced with speed and consistency for the majority of Atlanta jewelry manufacturers. Mechanized punch presses and forges are also employed by many Atlanta jewelry manufacturers to simulate a handmade effect. Hand-hammered texturing is one of the more “handmade” looks manufactured by this method, making the production consistent and highly profitable to the manufacturer.

Patterned Copper Cuff Bracelet

Patterned Copper Cuff Bracelet

In the past decade, however, the modern marketplace has experienced a resurgence of interest in handmade jewelry, and a greater value is again being placed on unique and limited edition jewelry designs, made by hand with ancient crafting processes. Given this renewed interest in handmade, many Atlanta jewelry designers are seeing greater demand for their talents and designs for unique handmade jewelry. Even art galleries and major departments stores feature local and national designer jewelry that is handmade. With the advent and spread of the Internet as a sales tool worldwide, many international jewelry artisans, even located in remote regions, are also enjoying the benefits of direct sales to distant customers.

Choose Quality Over Quantity When Selecting Handmade Jewelry

Make sure you always choose quality vs.. quantity when buying jewelry that is handmade, especially if this purchase is a gift for someone special. Purchasing a smaller, well-made piece is much better than buying a larger, poorer quality item for the same price. Speaking of price, those on a budget simply need to remember that good handmade jewelry is not always expensive. It is the quality and look that truly counts, not the amount paid.

What are the Benefits of Purchasing Handmade Jewelry Rather Than Mass-produced Jewelry?

14k Gold-Filled Wire Wrapped Carnelian Tear Drop Earrings

14k Gold-Filled Wire Wrapped Carnelian Tear Drop Earrings

The most basic definition of handmade jewelry is that it is crafted by hand as opposed to mechanically made by a machine. In its purest form, hand-assembled does not mean handmade. Handmade and hand-assembled are totally unrelated, but commonly misunderstood by both consumer and designer. Just because a piece is hand-assembled does not make it handmade. Handmade jewelers use old metal-smith skills, simple tools, and a broad variety of techniques to create their desired forms and shapes. In handmade jewelry you can often observe each item’s uniqueness, its dissimilarity from similar pieces. Individuality, culture, and meaning are clearly evident in handmade objects. Making marketable and sought after handmade jewelry requires a considerable amount of dedication, skill, and creativity not often found in most mass-produced jewelry. The quality of a piece of fine handmade jewelry will definitely be recognized and appreciated by many over mass-produced jewelry.

16ct Rutilated Gold Quartz Sterling Silver Ring

16ct Rutilated Gold Quartz Sterling Silver Ring

Even though handmade jewelry might appear to be slightly flawed in the eyes of the casual observer, high quality handmade jewelry should nonetheless last a lifetime. More often than not, manufactured jewelry has a higher probability of breaking than its handmade counterpart. Many department stores sell “handmade jewelry” labels, but this doesn’t necessarily mean high quality. Many of these “handmade” pieces are actually hand-assembled pieces that are composed of mass-produced components (findings) and are quickly assembled by hand. Mass-production facilities typically require artisans to meet efficiency quotas that result in poorly made jewelry, made with cheaper materials — even if it is technically made by hand. Over the long run, you would be much better off in terms of wear ability if you selected non-mass produced jewelry, or jewelry that wasn’t made in huge production runs. High quality Atlanta handmade jewelry often has an artisan’s name and reputation proudly attached to the finished product. Fortunately, quality and uniqueness are typically apparent to the careful observer.

Certainly the most important advantages to owning hand-crafted jewelry is that it gives the wearer the pleasure of wearing something one-of-a-kind which no one else has, that is created by a genuine artisan with love and passion for his or her work. Crafting well made and designed jewelry is an art form. This strength of feeling comes across in the design process, and in the finished jewelry itself. Mass-produced jewelry is just “soulless.” One’s personalized style, taste, individuality, and identity can be conveyed by and can be better reflected by wearing jewelry that is hand-made. Wearing mass-produced jewelry lends oneself to look mass-produced and off the rack. Regardless, mass-produced jewelry usually brings with it no special meaning or history — no story, no life. When you wear beautiful Atlanta handmade jewelry, it is a pleasure to be able to explain to admirers the actual story or history behind what you are wearing, or information about the artist, which is often possible with handmade jewelry bought from individual artisans or their representative galleries. Above all, it is simply a joy to wear jewelry that someone has personally and lovingly created by hand.