The price of silver has almost doubled in the past six months! For interesting chart reading, check out the Kitco charts on silver here. Just a year ago, I could buy an ounce of silver for less than $20. Today, the price of that same amount will most likely hit $40. There are predictions that the prices will continue to climb, possibly hitting $60 an ounce.
I'm sorry to say, I will have to raise some of my prices. I'll be going over my costs on the silver pieces and adjusting prices. If you have been thinking about a certain piece, please order it now. I still have a small amount of silver stock that was bought at lower prices that I can use for orders in the next day or two.
Another option that now makes more sense, is for you to provide the silver for your pieces. If you have old broken, out of style, orphan earrings, etc., that are marked sterling or 925, they can be melted down and cast into something fun. This is also a nice option if you have some old silver that is sentimental, but is in such bad shape that it's unusable. You can be assured the same silver that was given as a gift many years ago is now in the new piece you are wearing.
Most of the pieces in the Bones of the Sea Collection can be made from your silver.
I'll update the site soon with more details about this option. Meanwhile, contact me if you are interested.
I've been going into the city to browse museums since I was a teenager in high school. No matter what my passion of the moment was, there has always been something to inform and inspire me, in the city's great museums.
On Friday, I went in to the city for some shopping.
Afterwards, I took advantage of MOMA's free Friday night admissions (a saving of $20).
There's nothing like seeing great works of art in person. You can fall in love with a work through photographs, in a book or on the internet. But I really don't think you can fully appreciate what makes it a recognized masterpiece, until you see it up close.
For example, can you really get a sense of how large some of Monet's work is, unless you walk in a room full of Waterlilies? Or the size and thickness of Calder's jewelry? Or the beauty of Jackson Pollack's work? Or can you focus on one small section of a canvas, unless you see it up close?
Warhol's soup cans & Jasper John's flag
It's also a place where you get to understand what quality means. Once you see quality, you can recognize it. When I dealt with antiques, I needed to be able to recognize quality when I saw it. No antique price guide is ever going to have every possible antique you will find, even if you were able to look them all up, before deciding on a purchase. What I had to rely on, was knowing how a piece would stand up sitting in a gallery with the best from that era. And I couldn't do that, unless I saw enough of the best.
I didn't see any jewelry at the MOMA on Friday. But I saw quality, I saw passion, I saw boldness and thinking outside the box. Those are all the factors I'd like to show in my own art jewelry creations. So, I am inspired for the new week. I hope you are too!
My idea of the perfect day goes like this. I take a walk on the beach in the morning. I find some little treasure that has it's own story. I bring it home to my studio. I create a new piece of work, using this object. I take a picture and share it with my friends online.
Just in case you ever wondered - there are many ways to get to the same result in jewelry making. Most people, jewelers included, will just buy a clasp from a jewelry supply store. Most of those pieces are made overseas where the workers are paid pennies, or they are stamped out in factory machines here, so that there is little labor cost.
I'm still trying to find a good balance between making every part of a piece from the raw metal or buying some of the components like chain and clasps.
Anyway, here are some pictures of a clasp I made recently. First the pattern is copied onto tracing paper and glued onto the metal. Then I use a jeweler's saw to cut it out. This is not too easy, as it must be thick metal to be strong enough for a clasp. When the pieces are just sawn out, they are flat. I use files and sandpaper to round them and smooth them. Then the components are put together. This is a very simple clasp, called a sister clasp, or fold over clasp. It took more than an hour to make. The only way it is cost effective for me, is if it is attached to a necklace that is outstanding.
So...back to the bench.
I'm going back to basics. After spending a year making a ring a day in 2010, I'm starting all over again with my approach to rings. Yes, even after all those rings, I still have so much to learn and explore about rings.
There is one piece of adornment that the majority of both men and women wear every day. It's a simple, plain wedding band. A symbol of love and commitment and indicator of relationship status.
A simple wedding band ring was the first piece of jewelry that I made when I learned to solder. I felt such joy when I made my first ring. Yesterday, I made this simple silver band and felt the same joy again. Just enjoying the process and the wonder, that there is a piece of jewelry that is treasured by so many. It's not about trends or the latest style. It's not about art jewelry. It's something much more ancient and universal. It's somehow a part of the reason I make jewelry, although I struggle to use words to define this.
I've made this ring available for custom order, for any size and inscription, through my Etsy shop. If you'd rather order directly from me, just use the contact form.
Here's a quickie review of the Academy Awards last night, from a jewelers perspective.
Natalie Portman's earrings were a perfect fashion accessory. They complemented (did not compete) with her dress and cheekbones. Her own style showed through and that's what made her look beautiful.
Anne Hathaway looked incredible in wardrobe and jewelry changes. She's got it. And who thought she needed James Franco, anyway?
Best acceptance speech was from Tom Hooper for "The King's Speech", which ended with "always listen to your mother".
That seems good advice whether you are a Hollywood star, director or a lowly jeweler at the Jersey Shore.
Have a great day. And listen to your mother!
I recycle all the silver scraps that accumulate at my jewelry bench. I heat the metal up and usually cast it into molds that I have created. Sometimes, I run out of forms and still have hot molten metal in the crucible. One option is to pour the metal into a jar of water. The reaction of the cold water and the hot metal is so fun to see. There's a sharp sizzle, like fireworks. And then there's a precious free form of solid metal. No two are ever alike.
Here are some results of a recent melting session. Notice the colors? How could this be silver? Well, sterling silver is 925/1000 parts silver. The other 75/1000 parts is copper. Some of what you see are the copper reactions. Also, silver, like other metals, changes colors based on heat and other factors.
Here's one that looks like a secret little pod. I added a tiny silver sphere (also recycled silver) and twisted some silver wire to create this ring. After I clean it, it becomes a shiny bright silver color. I add a dark antique patina, to enhance the mystery of the pod and to highlight the details.
This ring is available for sale in my Etsy shop. There will never again be another one exactly like it. Just like you!
Did you know that I also make silver or copper crosses? I engrave on the back a short message, initials, name or date. They are very popular - a classic gift. The rugged look of them makes them perfect for both men and women.
For now, I sell them on my Etsy shop, since they don't really belong in any of the collections here. They look great with a leather cord or your own sterling chain.
There's a great new resource on the web to help you figure your ring size. You don't need to print anything out or wait in the mail for a sizer. Just go to www.FindMyRingSize.com and follow the directions.
I know it's a little weird - they tell you to put your credit card or license up against the monitor. The card is used to help determine pixel sizing. You can use a business card, anything that's the same size as a credit card. You can even use a ruler.
It's a good idea to try to double check that the sizing is correct, by putting a ring up that you know the size.
Let me know what you think of it. I've just added buttons throughout my website for those who would like to purchase a ring, but don't know their size.
Looking back at the first week in 2011 on both my work and my blog, I'm pretty pleased. This was a week of adjustment after the long holiday season and being snowbound. So, I didn't expect to do too much.
Bead by Bead
Day by day, bead by bead, I'm starting to see the Pirate Collection taking shape.
More designs started to flow this weekend. This usually happens with me. I start by learning new techniques and creating samples or practice pieces. As I do that, designs begin to flow for the embellishments and alterations that I need for my collections.
Eventually, you will begin to see finished pieces.
Thank you for joining me on this journey.
Mary Lu Wason
is a studio jeweler. Here she shares the inspirations, discoveries and process of creating her art jewelry collections.
@PirateTides on Instagram