Category Archives: Advice and How-To’s

How To Polish Jewellery Blog Post

How To Polish Jewellery (With Dialux)

Here is a how-to on polishing your jewellery. Dialux offers a range of polishing products to suit any kind of material used in jewellery design for desired finishes.

Dialux is a premium polishing compound commonly used throughout the jewellery making industry. The products are made in Germany with high quality ingredients.

The bars are combined of a compound that is blended with abrasive grit. The large range of polishing bars allows for a variance in levels of abrasiveness, achieving the required finish on different materials.

Here is a useful chart which explains the appropriate polishes for each material, as well as the finish you will have at the end.

dialux-chart

Image Source: Eternal Tools

We recommend that you sand down your material first with a Polishing Buff Wheel and ensure that any scratches have been removed. After this, apply a conservative amount of Dialux polish onto the appropriate tool. This may be a calico wheel or belt etc.

It is important to not cross-contaminate your tools as you do not want the different polishes to mix.

Pre-Polish:

It is suggested that for pre-polishing, the Yellow, Grey or Orange is the best. Take care to only use slow movements for these polishes as they are more abrasive than the rest of the range.

Polish:

For polishing, White and Blue are normally the recommended, and occasionally Grey for stainless steel materials. If you are using the Blue Dialux with a Flexishaft Pendant Drill Kit it is best to use a Calico Wheel.

Finish:

The final finish for gold or silver jewellery, use either Red, Black, Green, White or Blue. It is recommended that you use a soft Cotton Mop for the Black polish.

SHOP PRODUCTS 

Winter Styling with Earrings

Winter is officially here which means earrings are in big time. As the layers come on, it becomes more practical to wear earrings as they won’t be hidden under your scarves and jackets.

Winter is also all about making a statement. Even with your scarves and jackets, you still want to let your earrings show off. Styling your hair up in a high bun or ponytail will really give your earrings the attention they deserve.

 

OUR FAVOURITE EARRINGS FOR WINTER


*Images for example only. Not available for purchase *

Statement Earrings

As the name suggests, these earrings will be the stand out piece of your outfit. Match the earrings with a simple outfit to draw attention to them.

earrings_1024x1024

The Simple Stud                                                                            

You can’t go past the classic stud earring. Simple yet stylish, stud earrings have the benefit of not getting caught in your winter accessories.

 

the-best-types-of-jewelry-to-wear-in-the-winter-1583882-1449260202.1200x0c

Drop Earrings

These earrings will brighten up your winter outfits and are very easy to combine with jeans and a simple sweater.

string-of-beads-drop-earrings-for-women-2018

EARRING SUPPLIES AT WESTERN FRONTIER TRADERS

We have OVER 100 different styles of earring fittings in sterling silver and base metal. Come and visit us in-store or shop online to view our range.

 

62088852_445478426012751_205665204753661952_n

 

 

Cab Setting: Suitable for polymer clay, enamel and gemstones

 

 

TIPS FOR EARRING CARE

Be mindful when wearing earrings with warm winter clothing as accessories can lift the earring out of your ear which can lead to a lost earring.

Here are a few tips for keeping your earrings safe and secure in your ears.

 

 

62021521_400444744011896_1793073563893235712_n

 

Place small plastic stoppers as hooks to stop them coming out of your ears.

 

 

61848285_393756554681338_6018042255997140992_n

 

Safely store your earrings in a button to keep them together.

 

 

61985671_2311757575809616_2940562214043516928_n

 

Change your standard earwires with kidney ear wires or continential clips. These hook at the back to keep them secure.

 

WHAT’S NEW IN DISPLAYS

 

Untitled design (1)

Perfect for home use or for beautifully showcasing your designs at a market or in your shop.

Top: Earring Stand Set of 3

Bottom: Earring Display

Right: Ring Stand

Choosing The Right Jewellery Wire

Metal wire is an important part of jewellery making and is often one of the first decisions you will need to make when you begin a new design. Wire comes in a wide range of sizes, shapes, hardness and metals. There are so many choices available with each reel of wire having lots of confusing numbers on it. Using the right type of wire will reduce any frustration and of course, will allow you to make beautiful pieces.

Beading wire is not the same as jewellery wire which is a solid strand of wire that is available in different hardness’s and thicknesses. Beading wire actually comprises of a multitude of tiny wire strands that are twisted together to form a strong wire. For this post, we will focus on the qualities of jewellery wire.

There are genuinely two important aspects about the wire that you need to pay attention to; these are the wire gauge and wire hardness. Wire is measured in either mm – which is the UK’s measurement guide, or in gauge – which is America’s measurement guide.

Wire gauge refers to how thick the wire is, and the wire is thicker as the number is smaller. Hardness means how hard the wire is, it mainly includes full hard, half hard and dead soft.

When choosing wire you want to also be aware of differences between manufacturers when it comes to softness. You also need to ascertain how brittle the wire can become as you want to be able to use the wire without any breakages.

 

DIFFERENT WIRE SHAPES

Wire is available in a few different shapes including round, beaded, d-shaped, square and rectangular. Round wire is the most popular and many jewellers choose to only work with round wire. This is because it is very versatile and comes in the largest variety of sizes.

 

TYPES OF METAL

FINE SILVER WIRE

Fine silver wire, also known as pure silver, is the most malleable wire. For this reason, fine silver wire can be easily shaped into intricate designs. The wire can also be used for findings, rings and wire wrapping. It can be reshaped if needed and anneals wonderfully.

Fine silver does not get as brittle as sterling silver does. Fine silver also melts easily, creating smooth balls on the tips of the wire.

STERLING SILVER WIRE

Sterling silver wire can be used for making your own jewellery findings and wire wrapping, as well as making rings and soldering to create your own unique jewellery designs. This wire is ideal for use as a base wire when you want a structurally sound base such as a bracelet.

Once you start working with sterling silver wire, it quickly starts to harden, making it difficult to finish intricate details. Sterling silver wire is difficult to reshape after a mistake, doesn’t torch as easily as fine silver does and will become darked in colour if annealed.

COPPER WIRE

Copper wire has a lovely, rich colour. It can be used to wire wrap beads, make jewellery components and much more. Copper wire can be soldered with sterling silver solder or ready fluxed solder paste. You can torch copper and create balls on the tips of the wire, but the balls are pitted. Copper can be annealed just like fine silver and sterling silver, and it oxidizes really quickly.

When purchasing copper wire, you want to make sure it is raw and uncoated without any anti-tarnish coating, or it won’t oxide.

CRAFT WIRE

Craft wire tends to break frequently. Use this wire for weaving only if you want to add a vibrant colour to the weaving sections.

If you want to oxidize your pieces, choose “bare copper” instead of “natural copper.”

SILVER PLATED WIRE

Silver plated wire has a copper core which is then plated with final silver. It can be used to wire wrap beads, create jewellery components and much more.

MEMORY WIRE

Memory wire is made from carbon steel or stainless steel. It is great for bangles or other loops because it returns to the loop it was made into in the factory. It is also ideal for making beaded wine charms, rings, multi-strand bracelets and chokers. Memory wire cannot be used for any projects that require wire wrapping.

 

WIRE SIZES

28 (0.32mm)-30 (0.25mm) GAUGE

28-30 gauge wires are the finest, giving them a thread like appearance. Use the wires for coiling, weaving, knitting and wire wrapping very small light beads. The wire can also be used to weave and sew the base wires together, adding stability, strength, cohesiveness and texture to the wire jewellery design. Work with this wire slowly as it can easily become kinked or break. Not suitable as structure wires or used for open loop links.

26 (0.40mm) GAUGE

Still quite fine but is relatively strong. Use for coiling, weaving, wrapping around stones, knitting and crocheting, balled headpins, wire wrapping small beads and briolettes.

24 (0.51mm) GAUGE

24 gauge is very versatile wire that is not recommended for creating open link chains. Use this wire for coiling, weaving, binding, spirals, head pins, small jump rings and wire settings for small stones.

22 (0.65mm) and  21 (0.71mm) GAUGE

These wires can be shaped by, and with the use of, regular jewellery making tools. They are preferred by many for prong settings and earwires.

Use to create wirewrapped links, open chain links, earwires, headpins and eyepins, jump rings, small clasps, frames, spirals and wire settings for small to medium stones.

20 (0.81mm) GAUGE

Good for other delicate handcrafted findings and for creating a variety of techniques and pieces including earwires, hoop earrings, frames, spirals, headpins and eyepins, open link chains, jump rings and split rings, rings, wire setting for medium stones and bails for light stones.

This wire can be shaped by hand and with the use of regular jewellery making tools.

18 (1.02mm) GAUGE

Can be shaped by hand with the use of regular jewellery making tools.

Use for bails, large jump rings, bracelets, rings, and delicate clasps

16 GAUGE

May be available in either dead soft or hard temper.

It can require heavy duty jewellery making tools for shaping and cutting.

Use for frames and structure wire, clasps, rings, bracelets, cuffs and bangles and thick jump rings.

14 GAUGE

May require heavy duty making tools for shaping and cutting.

Use for clasps, thick jump rings, rings, bracelets, cuffs and bangles and frames/structure wire.

12 GAUGE

May require heavy duty making tools for shaping and cutting.

Use for neck collars, bracelets, cuffs and bangles, rings and frames/structure wire.

 

Choosing the right wires also depends on personal preference. Some jewellers avoid certain types of wires and have their personal favourites.

If you are unsure about which wire is best for your projects or if you have any questions, please get in touch and our knowledgeable staff will happily assist.

How to Choose the Right Pliers for Jewellery Making

Pliers are an essential tool in jewellery making and all jewellers, whether novice or experienced, should own a number of different essential pliers.  Owning a quality set will reduce wasted time and improve the quality of your jewellery making. The range of pliers available is extensive which can make it confusing and difficult to pick the ones you will need. Before making a purchase, it is important to be aware of the different kinds of jewellery pliers available, along with the specific tasks each plier is designed for. All jewellery pliers are designed to firmly grasp small objects and wires and to bend and shape metal; however, each type of plier has its own unique characteristics.

Round nose pliers, chain nose pliers, flat nose pliers, bent nose pliers, crimping pliers and side cutters are considered to be the most essential pliers that all jewellers should own. Almost all jewellery-making techniques can be executed with these four pliers.

Side Cutters

Side cutters are great all round cutters and have sharp jaws that come in a variety of shapes. These pliers will cut through most jewellery wires as well as sheet metals and threads.

The shape of the cutters affects how the cut face will appear; general side cutters will leave the cut edge smooth and even.

Side cutters are not to be used to cut memory wire and other very strong or thick wires as this will damage the blades and you will need to replace the cutters.

Round Nose Pliers

Considered the most essential plier, round nose pliers have rounded jaws that are used to hold, shape and bend jewellery wire. The shape of the pliers makes them useful for creating loops, curves and circles. These pliers are also essential for creating items such as earrings and adding bead charms to a bracelet.

They can be used to make a variety of different sized loops or the same sized loops.  If you want to make your loops all the same size, make a mark on the jaws so it’s easy to find the right spot on the jaws for the size you want. Getting a pair with a short “nose” will allow you to make small, neat loops while maintaining good control of you work.

 

The jaws of round nose pliers are smooth with no crimps or jagged edges, leaving a neat and professional finish.

There are many different types of round nose pliers, particularly when it comes to size. These pliers are likely to be the most used so be careful to find a plier that feels the most comfortable in your hand.

Chain Nose Pliers

Chain nose pliers are often confused for flat nose pliers given their similarity however, differing from flat nose, chain nose pliers are flat on the inside and round on the outside. These pliers can be used for bending, holding, turning wire and also opening and closing jump rings and crimping beads. They are particularly ideal for gripping components, and reaching into tight places and difficult angles. Chain nose pliers are available in short and long nose varieties. Short nose offer more control where as long nose are better for reaching.

When using chain nose pliers make sure that the flat surface of the jaws are smooth or you will end up with little dents in your metal.

Flat Nose Pliers

As the name suggests, flat nose pliers have a slim flat surface. They are similar to chain nose pliers with the only difference is they do not taper towards the end giving them a greater surface area for holding the wire securely.  They can be used for opening and closing jump rings, crimping beads, gripping wire, and to straighten unwanted kinks or bends out of your wire.

Flat nose pliers come in a variety of widths that are great for holding bigger pieces.

Crimping Pliers

Crimping pliers are different from other pliers as they are designed to crush or flatten. Use these pliers to secure and crush metal crimp beads onto wire, round them and also to clamp on crimp covers. Crimping pliers leave neat, professional results.

They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including some designed to crimping beads and others designed for electrical wiring. Pay attention to selecting the correct type for jewellery making.

 

Bent Nose

Bent nose pliers are flat on the inside with a 45 degree angle at the nose useful for wire wrapping and tucking the ends of the wire into beads. They are similar to chain nose pliers as they are brilliant for reaching into small spaces as well as gripping at difficult edges. The bent nose makes it easy to work with awkward angles and allows you to keep your wrist comfortably straight while working. The thinner the jaw tip on the bent nose plier, the better for very fine, detailed work.

 

While the style and set of pliers is an important characteristic to look for when making a purchase, there are other factors that should be considered also.

Handles

There are a range of handles ranging from PVC and foam grip to ergonomically designed handles. PVC is generally harder wearing than a foam grip but not as comfortable to use for long periods of time. When working on large projects, used ergonomically designed handles as they are far more comfortable, less fatiguing and will reduce the strain on your hands. More padded and wider shaped handles are also recommended for comfort.

 

Material

Generally pliers are either made from stainless steel or toughened tempered steel. Stainless steel pliers have the benefit of resisting rust very well but are less hardwearing. Hardened and tempered carbon steel pliers are extremely tough and hard wearing but they do have a tendency to rust, so they need to be oiled regularly. The type of material suitable will depend on how often you are going to be using them.

 

Size

Pliers come in sizes ranging from miniature to heavy weight. Miniature pliers are not suitable for prolonged use. Heavy weight pliers are more suitable for heavy duty work and are suitable for working with memory wire. Make sure the pliers you choose fit your hands. If they are too small, the handles can uncomfortably press into your palms making them difficult to work with for long periods of time.

 

Jaw Length

The jaw on a set of pliers determines how much force can be used. Short jaw pliers are much stronger and can function well in doing fine work. Longer jaws lack power but can reach further.

It is also better to have pliers that have smooth inner jaws as the serrated ones could damage your work. Serrated jaws will however give you a much firmer grip.

 

Need to stock up on these essential pliers?  Western Frontier Traders stocks quality pliers essential for jewellery making. Shop the range of pliers here.

Starting a Jewellery Making Business: What You Need to Consider

Have you found yourself wondering if your hobby could become a legitimate business?

Every jewellery business needs to start somewhere, whether it is the dining table, kitchen bench, office, or garden shed. Many businesses also form out of a hobby, providing a great opportunity to work from the comfort of your home and earn an income from your developed skills. Starting your own business will ultimately give you the chance to make money doing something you love.

The jewellery making industry is indeed crowded but still offers room for newcomers who bring a fresh take to an existing design, or an entirely new niche. Like any other business, a jewellery business requires serious time commitment and it is essential that you consider all important factors before diving straight in. With careful planning and an awareness of commitments required, you can create a successful business.

 

First Things First

If you are considering starting your own jewellery business you want to begin by firstly examining the market to see who is out there and what is trending. What are other handmade jewellers doing? What are key jewellery trends? This will help you to then decide what your focus will be.

This takes us to the next step, defining your mission statement and business goals. While this may appear to be unimportant, spending some time defining the aims of your business ensures you are aware of the scope your business and helps to highlight the specific factors you will need to consider. Reflect on, and write down, the purpose of your business and your business priorities. Considering how much time and money you are willing to invest is an integral part of this process.

Other factors to consider include expected costs, for example, startup costs and cost of materials. Will you base your business online, or will you also sell your jewellery at markets and other venues? Careful planning comes from being firstly aware of expected costs and your desired business direction.

 

What’s Your Angle?

Your jewellery can generally take one of three angles; fine jewellery, fashion jewellery or somewhere in the middle. Fashion jewellery follows trends, uses less expensive materials, and is offered at a lower price. Fine jewellery uses precious/semi-precious metals and gems, is priced at a higher price point and is often luxury and occasion jewellery.

When choosing which angle to take be mindful of your existing strengths and skills and importantly, do something you love! Don’t just choose a market or angle only because there is opportunity there. If you don’t love it, you will not put your effort into your business, and your business will fail to get started.

After you’ve chosen your angle, you will then need to further define your ideal customer. Who are they? Why do they wear jewellery? Where can they be found? What other things do they enjoy? This helps when creating your jewellery and also later on when you start marketing and selling your jewellery.

Don’t try to be everything to everyone, pick a particular market and do it really well.

 

Design and Inspiration

38836af6a36ab54674bf6cde6e5d75c5

Follow jewellery trends and create your own mood and inspiration boards to keep inspired. This could be as simple as creating Pinterest boards or finding physical materials and elements to assemble on a bulletin board. Collect colours, textures from nature and travel, and images from fashion and jewellery blogs.

 

Production and Materials

How you will make your products depends on skill level required, materials, price point and design. Some methods of jewellery production require specialized training and certifications.

Handcrafting jewellery can be one of the most involved yet personal ways of making jewellery as you are doing everything yourself. Handmade jewellery often requires the assembly of existing elements including chain, wire, beads and cast pendants. This type of business is easier to scale, as elements can be purchased in bulk.

 

Branding

Establish your voice, vision, and story.

Emotional stories work well and help to connect with potential customers on a deeper level. Have a place where your customers can read about who you are, and share your processes and inspirations with your social media followers.

Don’t focus too much on branding early on, i.e. don’t spend all your time designing a logo, website and packaging. Focus predominantly on the core of your business, your jewellery. All those other things can come later.

 

Education

There are plenty of online jewellery resources and tutorials. Also look for local workshops and programs. There are casual classes and short courses that you can benefit from to widen your skillset.

 

Take Photography Seriously

pexels-photo-306763

High quality photos of your products will make all the difference to selling handmade jewellery. Quality photos will help to capture the unique elements of your pieces and it is likely, particularly if you have an online business that the images are going to have to sell your jewellery. To take photography seriously you don’t necessarily need an expensive camera. An iPhone is suitable and there are many DIY tips online.

 

Legal Considerations

Depending on the nature of your business, you may have legal considerations. This is particularly relevant when registering a business name or when it comes to tax. Do your research.

 

Starting a business is hard work yet it can be extremely rewarding. These factors above are only meant to be used as a starting guide to get you thinking about what your business may look like and how much time may be required.  Don’t be afraid to chase after your goals and always be patient with yourself.

 

You may also be interested in reading our other useful blog posts that are relevant to starting a jewellery business:

How To Keep Safe In Your Jewellery Studio

12 Social Media Tips For Marketing Your Jewellery Business

Setting Up a Jewellery Studio 

Charge The Customer What The Items Cost: A Guide to Pricing Your Jewellery

 

Good luck!

How To Keep Safe In Your Jewellery Studio

Studio or workspace safety is the most important consideration when setting up and operating a home jewellery making studio. Safety issues should not be overlooked in your jewellery studio and while it might sound daunting, it really is quite simple to create a safe space. In the long term, taking precaution will protect you and those you love. Your health and well-being is too precious to not take serious precaution. Failing to take your safety seriously could lead to accidents and a range of serious issues including damage to eyes and other areas of the body, poisoning, burns and fires.

To incorporate appropriate safety measures you need to first have an understanding of the tools and materials that you are working with. You need to be aware of the hazards that exist within your studio and then work to eliminate or reduce any associated risks. Read the warnings and the Material Safety and Data Sheets (MSDS) for the products and materials you are working with. The MSDS provides consumers with information on the potentially harmful effects of the product and explains how to safely handle and store the material. Many products will have MSDS reports online which should be found through a Google search, or by contacting the manufacturer.

Below are some necessary precautions you should follow. These should not be used as an ultimate guide as safety requirements depends on individual circumstances.

 

Personal: Tie up your hair and avoid long and loose sleeves and long or dangling jewellery. Power tools can get caught on anything loose and dangling.

Power tools: Eye protection and lung protection needs to be considered when operating power tools. Wear a mask and safety goggles for protection against sharp objects, splashing chemicals and anything that may come into contact with your eyes.

Soldering: Ventilation for soldering fumes is essential.

Dust: Wear a dust mask when sanding, buffing or drilling. Decide what type to wear depending on the type of dust you’re working with. When purchasing a mask you will want one that can be fitted properly and is light in weight.

Dusts such as asbestos, cotton and silica can become stored between the air sacs of the lungs and will never escape again. The dust from shells, glass and pearls is dangerous so drill them in a small tray of water or keep them wet. The water will keep down the dust.

Sanding: Use a wet/dry sandpaper and keep it moist. Always wear a mask if sanding dry.

Powders: Metal powders and pigment powders can be absorbed through the skin and the lungs.

Resin, Epoxy, Lacquer and Varnish: Protect your skin and lungs.

Ventilation and Extraction: If you are doing a lot of sanding or finishing, adequate ventilation should be supplied. Dust collection systems are available but are pricey. Ventilation alone may not be an effective approach as what is needed is the complete removal of dust and fumes. A sucking device will suck away toxic materials as they are produced, removing them entirely from your workspace.

Other Considerations:

  • Invest in good chair.
  • An apron can be worn to protect your clothing.
  • Make sure to install a lock on the door if you have small children.
  • Keep a maintained fire extinguisher next to you in your studio if you will be working with a flame or torch.
  • Ensure there is a clearance around exits and on workspaces when using tools.
  • Keep all electrical cords out of the way.
  • Never work with challenging materials or with a torch when you are over tired or under stress.
  • Protect your hands and skin from contact with irritants and chemicals by using proper protective gloves.

 

You always want to aim for a well laid-out and orderly workshop that is well-maintained, and has appropriate work stations and lots of personal safety equipment. At all times when possible, choose procedures that don’t involve exposure to risks. Set up things so that you can’t hurt yourself and substitute less hazardous processes and materials for more dangerous ones. Fixing hazards and problems as they arise will also ensure you safety is maintained.

A Complete Guide To Ultrasonic Cleaning

An ultrasonic cleaner is a device that is used to clean items such as jewellery. It is highly popular as it focuses on parts of your jewellery that are otherwise unreachable when it comes to cleaning manually.

Ultrasonic cleaning is the process of removing contaminants using sonic energy produced by industrial ultrasonic cleaners. Ultrasonic cleaning basically works by vibrating a pool of water with an object in it. The vibrations create tiny bubbles which become attached to small particles of dirt and debris and pull them off. The bubbles created will reach anywhere not matter how complex the crevices are. Every single spot on every surface will be cleaned.

Buying an ultrasonic cleaner is a much more affordable way to clean your jewellery as jewellery companies can charge up to $30 for each cleaning job, almost the same price as buying a basic ultrasonic!

Selecting the Right Ultrasonic Cleaner

There are many different ultrasonics available that vary particularly in size and power. Choosing the right ultrasonic is a relatively simple process that just requires an understanding of your cleaning requirements.

Size of Ultrasonic Cleaner Tank

Be aware of the size of the items you wish to clean to determine whether a personal or larger ultrasonic cleaner is needed. Know the dimensions of the baskets and the working depth of the cleaning fluid. This ensures your items will be completely immersed in the liquid.

Understand Ultrasonic Power

More power usually generates more effective cleaning however higher power is not always better. Too much power can potentially damage items. Choose the one that is best for your particular cleaning needs i.e.  whether you need to clean many delicate items.

 

Ultrasonic Cleaner Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do not fill or not partially fill the ultrasonic cleaner tank. Ultrasonic cleaners are designed to be used with a specific water level. This level is often marked on single tank ultrasonic cleaners. Filling less than this mark will damage the cleaner.
  • Do not put flammable or low flashpoint liquids inside the ultrasonic cleaner. These liquids could potentially ignite.
  • Do not put the items you want to clean directly on the ultrasonic cleaning tank. Items must be placed on the basket inside the tank to avoid damage caused by items drilling into the bottom of the tank.
  • Do be aware of the delicacy of items and adjust the frequency of the tank accordingly. Some delicate items may be damaged by the high power ultrasonic cleaner frequency.

 

Using an Ultrasonic Cleaner 

Please refer to the instructions that accompany your ultrasonic to ensure you use the ultrasonic correctly.

All ultrasonics are simple to use, and if used correctly, will guarantee great results. Ultrasonic cleaning generally requires setting up the cleaner, soaking the item in the cleaner, and then once cleaned, rinsing the item and the basket.

The amount of time required for cleaning varies and is set based on how dirty the item is.

Safety is important when using the ultrasonic, particularly protection from the chemicals used. Always wear protective gloves to protect your hands.

 

Checking the Cavitation of Your Ultrasonic Cleaner

The effectiveness of the ultrasonic cleaner depends on whether the ultrasonic has a sufficient energy level needed to induce cavitation responsible for the mechanical cleaning effects.

A simple test can be easily conducted to determine whether sufficient cavitation exists.

  • Cut a piece of aluminium foil 4” x 4”
  • Fill the tank with sufficient liquid and switch the ultrasonic on
  • Using a simple plier to hold the foil, slowly dip the foil into the liquid in the tank and hold for a few minutes
  • After 3-5 minutes, remove the foil from the tank and holding it up against light, see if any small holes have formed in the foil
  • If the ultrasonic has left small holes in the foil then cavitation is sufficient for effective cleaning

 

Looking to purchase an ultrasonic cleaner? Western Frontier Traders stocks three ultrasonics. 

Home Ultrasonic 

p-2015-home_ultrasonic

Other ultrasonic cleaners too expensive or too large for small-quantity or home use? This affordable, small and neat ultrasonic is very easy to use and requires only dish washing liquid, a dash of ammonia (available from the supermarket cleaning section) and water to run. This model has already been very popular and sells out quickly! Digital display, 0-30min with 18 time cycle settings, instruction guide included. 600ml tank capacity.

Dimensions:
Unit Size 20 x 15 x 12 cm ( L x W x H )
Weight 830 g

3.2L Ultrasonic Cleaner Machine 

p-2013-3.2l_ultrasonic_cleaner_machine-1

Features Digital timer- 30 min with 100W heating power 20-80 degrees C, ultrasonic power of 120W in a tank capacity of 3.2L. 12 month warranty. Stainless steel basket included.

Dimensions:
Unit Size 265 x 165 x 220 mm ( L x W x H )
Tank Size 240 x 135 x 100 mm ( L x W x H )
Weight 2.6 kg

2L Ultrasonic Cleaner Machine

p-2011-2l_ultrasonic_cleaner_machine-1

Features Digital timer- 30 min with 50W heating power 20-80 degrees C, ultrasonic power of 60W in a tank capacity of 2L. 12 month warranty. Stainless steel basket included.

Dimensions:
Unit Size 175 x 160 x 210 mm ( L x W x H )
Tank Size 150 x 135 x 100 mm ( L x W x H )
Weight 2.2 kg

Setting Up a Jewellery Studio

Jewellery can virtually be made in any space large enough to house a table or a desk, but a dedicated space where you can permanently set up is most ideal.

Western Frontier Traders very own Jewellery Manager, Carmel Fasolo, has kindly shared her knowledge and personal experiences in setting up a studio.

Studio

I have been making jewellery for over 25 years now and have worked from all kinds of spaces including an office desk, kitchen table, spare room, garage, and even the floor.

Wherever you decide to set up your studio, make it a space that you love and enjoy being in. Creating a little space for yourself that is just your own, where you have the freedom to create, is such a joy.

I have dedicated space in the back of my garage that I have been lucky enough to set up as the home of my creative little business where I have been working from for the last 10 years.

JEWELLERS BENCH

Whether it’s a purpose built bench or a simple table, it’s important that the table is at the correct height for the work you are making. This will help save your neck and back from aching especially if you are working for long periods of time.

An adjustable height chair is great solution for this as it can be adjusted to any height suitable for the job you’re doing, and it gives great support for your back. Choose a chair that is large enough to have tools and consumables such as saw blades, files, saw frames and setting tools in immediate reach.

jewllers Bench

SOLDERING TABLE

Many professional jewellers will solder from their jewellers bench, but I like to have a dedicated bench that I can solder from. It needs to be free from draughts, clean, and heatproof for safety.

DRAWING AND DESIGNING TABLE 

My drawing and designing table is one of my favourite spaces in my studio. It is where I can spread myself out and madly design and create. To keep inspired, I like to have inspiration or mood boards and surround myself with an abundance of images, quotes and organic nature finds such as sea sponges, gemstones, feathers, decaying leaves and native seeds.

Design table

STORAGE AND SPACE

If you are anything like me, you will have a multitude of crafting habits, and will need a ton of space to house multiple tools and crafting supplies.

Built-in storage, bookcases, shelves, drawers, boxes and tins are great to keep tools, metals, chemicals, books, beads, and crafting supplies organised.

VENTILATION 

Good ventilation is an absolute necessity. Windows that you can open, a garage door, or a good exhaust cupboard to suck up hazardous particles is worth thinking about when deciding to set up your studio.

LIGHTING 

Plenty of bright lighting is a must in any studio, whether it is an overhead fluorescent light, a lamp, or natural light source from an open door or window.

I always like to place my jewellers bench under a window to get as much natural light as possible, plus I like to look outside my window at my wonderful garden.

ADEQUATE ELECTRICITY 

At least one double power point is needed in any jewellers studio. Lighting, polishing and drilling equipment all need to be handy, so be sure to think of where you will be placing of all this equipment when you initially set up your studio or install power points

WATER SOURCE

If you are lucky enough to have a water source such as a sink nearby, then that is great. If this is not possible, then always have water on hand as a bucket or bottle of water. It’s handy for washing and rinsing your silver work.

Quick Extras To Get You Market Ready

It’s a week out from a market and you have made the majority of your stock, but you just need a few extra pieces. Except, you need time to price everything and organise your display so why not let findings and components do the work for you.

With just 5 components (10 single components) I made these simple, elegant, sterling silver earrings.

4 EASY STEPS

Step 1 – Lay out your components

Step 2 – Open a jump ring and attach your chain and your flower component then close the jump ring

Step 3 – Open your ball stud and attach your flower component

Step 4 – Add a butterfly and you’re done!

ExtraForMarketsPhoto

Item List Cost

0.33g CH60 Belcher Chain $0.76

2 x 3mm jump rings $0.22

2 x flower components $2.86

2 x ball studs $1.65

2 x butterflies $0.95

Material Total $6.44

Time (5 minutes @ $30ph) $2.50

TOTAL $8.94

$8.94 cost for a pair of sterling silver earrings, can I hear you say: PROFIT? Even at $29 RRP this is a steal for the customer and 300% profit for you. As an artisan jeweller I understand that you don’t want finding and component jewellery to be the bulk of your stock, but it’s a great way to beef up your display and have a few inexpensive extras for your customers. You’d be surprised how many buyers add one or two extras just because they are there!

Charge The Customer What The Items Cost: A Guide to Pricing Your Jewellery

One of the questions I get most often at Western Frontier Traders is: how do I price my jewellery? So I have decided to dedicate a blog post to help you price your jewellery correctly.

Many jewellers undersell their work. There is a common myth that cheaper items move faster, but in the case of handmade items this is not always true. Customers expect to pay a higher price for bespoke and handmade goods and prices that are too low can make them second-guess the quality. Once you know the formula it is quite simple, but it’s important to understand the reasoning behind it.
My number one tip: don’t absorb anything.

Charge the customer what the item costs. This may sound obvious but believe me, many jewellers don’t do this one simple thing. A piece of jewellery isn’t just that. It’s the effort involved in designing it, making it, packaging it, researching shops to sell it in, paying designers for your logo, paying for rental space, website rental, Facebook advertising, business cards, price tags, shipping, driving to those little out of the way suppliers, it all adds up. It seems small, but you better believe that your departure slip is included in the price of your airline ticket or that your ‘free’ shower gel is snuck into the room fee. To make a profit from jewellery, you have to pass these costs onto the customer.

Whenever I order anything, I single it down to how much it costs per unit. My business cards cost $125 for 500, so I know that each card costs $0.25 and as every item of jewellery comes with a card, I know I have to add this cost onto each item. If I sell 500 pieces of jewellery in a year and decide to absorb my card’s cost, that is $125 I take away from my profit. Doesn’t seem like much, but what about if I decide to then absorb the price tag? That is another $50. And what about the two tanks of petrol I spend a year going to that out of the way shop? Another $100. And I guess the bags aren’t too expense, so that’s another $250. And all of a sudden that is $525 worth of profit.

Now imagine all the other little bits and pieces I don’t even both to add up. Electricity, gas, oxygen, cleaners, oxidising solution, rouge, Tripoli, the list goes on. These items are why you must have a contingency. A $0.50 cost to the customer can end up costing you a lot more.

Having a contingency also gives you some wiggle room. Some jewellers don’t mind a little haggle. If you have a contingency percentage, you are able to give that regular customer a discount, or give the woman buying her three daughters necklaces 10% off.

So here is my pricing formula:

((Material Cost x 4) + Labour) x 1.1 = Min Retail

((Material Cost x 4) + Labour) x 1.5 = Mid Retail

((Material Cost x 4) + Labour) x 1.8 = Max Retail

I have created a useful calculator with the formulas already input. Download HERE.

In regards to labour, lots of jewellers don’t pay themselves enough. My standard hourly rate is $40 p/h and $50 p/h for commissioned work.

What about Wholesale?

You will notice I have added a wholesale price on the calculator. I generally go on the premise that a wholesale price is half of the retail price. This is why it’s important to multiply your material costs by four. It’s also important to stick to your guns with minimum quantity orders if businesses want the wholesale price. If you have a MQO of 15, don’t let companies try and worm their way down to 10. You are selling them a product at half of the price and they payoff is that they order multiples. It’s your business, don’t let others dictate how you run it.

Time vs Material Costs

For me personally, time is always at a premium. And when you are making lower cost handmade items, there are certain things you can do to save time. I am a big believer in pre-made findings. If I am making a bespoke pair of 18ct gold and pink tourmaline earrings, I will most certainly make my own ear wires, but if I am making multiple pairs of lower cost earrings, I will use pre-made sterling silver ear hooks. The same goes for ear posts, butterflies and bails. I cannot justify spending an extra two hours on simple findings when I can buy them for a great price. Our sterling silver findings can be found HERE.

Final tip: I cannot stress how important your time is. I have met jewellers, and artists for that matter, that don’t charge for their time. You cannot make a successful business just charging for materials.

I hope this sheds some light on this sticky subject, and that you are now better prepared to price your jewellery reflective of your time and efforts.

Ruth – Western Frontier Traders

The Art of Packaging

Your jewellery creations deserve to be displayed in a way that showcases their value and beauty to all potential customers. After all, you have put all your hard work and love into designing and creating the pieces so why wouldn’t you want to show them off in the best way possible?!

Jewellery packaging can be used for showcasing and displaying your jewellery and to make the sales experience extra special for your customers using wrapping, labels and gift boxes. Professionally presenting and displaying jewellery can grab the attention of browsers and bring an extra “wow” factor to the jewellery.

Be Creative

It is creativity that will help draw attention to your packaging so don’t be afraid to be bold and ingenious. There are heaps of creative ideas and examples available online that can be used as inspiration. Pinterest is particularly great for finding inspiration with endless ideas available!

Include Packaging In Your Planning

When preparing for an upcoming show, exhibition or stall, consider how you will display and present your jewellery. Packaging and displays should be carefully considered and planned, as it forms a key part of your branding and selling strategies.

Personalise In Line With Your Brand

Packaging can add to your marketing efforts and is a powerful way of extending your brands image and personality. Ways of personalising packaging include using customised labels, adding your business name and logo to packaging materials and ensuring consistency between packaging and your brands colours and designs.

– – – –

Western Frontier Traders stock a range of display and packaging products including boxes, pouches, labels and bags in a range of sizes, designs and colours. The full range of display and packaging products can be viewed in store or online at http://bit.ly/jewellerypackaging