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A JEWELER'S GUIDE TO BUILDING YOUR EMAIL LIST

Posted by Corkie Bolton on

Please note: This post contains affiliate links.


Why is email marketing important for us jewelers? Because we do not own our audience on Instagram (or Facebook, or even Etsy!) If something happened tomorrow to your Instagram account, and dare I say: it VANISHED... how would you get in touch with your customers/followers/community? THIS is just one important reason to start your email list and start it today! For the longest time I was hesitant to send emails, I always worried I would be bothering people. “Gosh, Corkie is so annoying emailing me her beautiful jewelry once a week!” (said no one ever.) The truth is there will be people that don’t want to get my emails and that is okay, they are not my “true fans”. A True Fan* (we will call them TFs for short) love your work, and support you no matter what. They will show off the jewelry they bought from you and tell their friends all about you without prompt. Getting our email marketing going will help us develop relationships with our TFs, so let's get to it!

Choose An Email Service

There are many options out there but I want to discuss my personal experience! I have used Mailchimp in the past and I've just switched to Flodesk.

What Flodesk is doing for me that Mailchimp was not is they are giving my emails personality (to match my jewelry!) I need that as a maker, but I don’t have time to design everything myself. With Mailchimp I could insert my logo, images and text boxes but it was a little ... boring. This article isn’t meant to be an in-depth comparison of the two services but I wanted to explain what I was missing out on and how Flodesk has become a solution. One thing worth noting is that Mailchimp does provide free email service if you are under 2000 subscribers (which my jewelry list certainly is) BUT Flodesk is only $19 a month unlimited (with my referral link) and if I’m going to convert more jewelry sales because my emails are AWESOME it seems worth it. Below is an example of a recent email I sent with Flodesk.

Create Your Offer

Often times businesses create an offer to incentivize customers to sign up for their email lists (this is totally up to you!) However if you do plan to offer something, before you start collecting emails be ready with your first email and introductory offer. I think it's best to have an email ready to go, that way after someone signs up they hear from you right away. I've put together a few offer ideas specific to  jewelry businesses:

  • You can offer a discount code on their first purchase. Some marketers don’t like the idea of giving a discount because you train your customer to shop with you only with discounts but bottom line, when you release those new limited edition studs your TFs are going to shop regardless of a discount!

  • You can offer a code for free shipping or an upgrade to expedited shipping. This could be really effective around holiday shopping especially!

  • You could offer a gift with purchase. A free polishing cloth is a nice idea (I actually do this anyways with every order but it could be a nice offer.) You could offer another gift such as a tote bag that has your brand on it. The question I’d ask myself is, do I have a really rad logo that someone would love to carry around? The cost of a tote could be less than giving people 15% off (depending on your price points) and more memorable. You could partner with another non-jewelry company (someone whose brand’s values align with your own) to offer their product as a free gift - “Each purchase will arrive with my favorite organic lip balm from <insert awesome brand>”. Perhaps you can work out buying it at a wholesale cost. It will promote both of your brands so it is a win win.

  • You can give a “first look” to a new collection release. I'm sure there are a few methods to this, but you can share a URL early to your subscribers that is not yet public. Or some people create a password protected page and give their subscribers the secret password. I just make my shop live, email my subscribers and then announce it on Instagram hours later, giving those subscribers a heads up and the first chance to shop.

This is an example of the pop up on my website corkieboltonjewelry.com

Where to get people to sign up (if you have less than 10K followers on Instagram)


  • Linktree in your profile. You can make a form (this form is created in Flodesk or your respective email marketing website) and then link the URL! If you aren't familiar with Linktree they make it so that you can have multiple links in your Instagram profile, pretty nifty!

  • Pop-up on your website. They are effective, and if someone is maybe on the fence about their first purchase and they see you are offering a percentage off or free shipping it might convert the sale!

  • In person. At a show you can place a sign-up book out and encourage people to sign up. You could even say "hey, I'm offering 10% off orders when you sign my guest book! I'd love to stay in touch about future collections!"

  • Opt-in button when they make a purchase. Shopify for example has the ability to let customers check a box at checkout. If this is an option on your site, take advantage! You could also send a personal, follow up email after a customer makes a purchase and put a call to action button to join your list within that email. 

  • Post about it on Instagram! This gives you a chance to talk about your introductory offer and how much you would love to grace your follower's inboxes! You can do a call to action in the caption - "hey guys if you are interested in being added, comment below and I'll shoot you a DM!" This gives you a chance to chat with folks and send them a sign-up link.

If you do have 10K followers (congrats!) You can create a sign-up page on Flodesk and then link in a story and have people "swipe up" to join your list.

What To Do Once You’ve “Got Them” 😂🙏🙌

Once someone clicks that "subscribe" button, I recommend setting up an automation to immediately deliver a welcome message or whatever introductory offer you promised. Flodesk allows you to create what they call a workflow, this is an automation that will not only send your offer to your subscriber but you can also create additional emails and set up a time frame for them to be delivered. For example a 

week or month after your introductory email, you can send a follow up email where you share a bit about your jewelry making process. Not all of my emails are about selling, I want to develop a relationship, help people identify with what my brand is all about and showcase what makes my work special! When I can get to know my customers a little bit better it brings me a lot of joy!

Final Thoughts

Building an email list can seem overwhelming but you got this! It takes time, but if you are consistent about reaching out (I recommend minimally sending two emails a month) your customers/followers/community will get in the habit of engaging with your emails and look forward to them! You will now have another way to get in touch about:

  • Holiday shipping deadlines.
  • New collection releases.
  • Sales and subscriber only promos.
  • Educating about your materials/packaging/policies.
  • Tell your story in more depth.

You can do this with any email marketing provider but I do recommend Flodesk. Full disclosure, I do receive a little something something if you sign up using my referral code but I fully stand behind them and you will get locked into a $19 a month rate! Normally it is $38 which is still a steal. That rate is for unlimited emails to unlimited subscribers, wowza. You can also try it out for a month free!

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TEN INSTAGRAM POST IDEAS FOR JEWELERS

Posted by Corkie Bolton on

If you are a small, independent jewelry brand (I'm a one woman show 🙋‍♀️ ) your Instagram page is often your PRIMARY MEANS TO ADVERTISE YOUR WORK. I know one thing I have struggled with is what to post about (besides the jewels, lol.) When I first started my @corkieboltonjewelry page I was all. over. the. place. Yes, I would show you my jewelry but I would also show off my lunch, a random selfie and other strangeness that were truthfully not "on brand" and had nothing to do with my work. Then I went to the other extreme, my grid had to be PERFECT, every post was "here is a thing to buy." That got super boring and also tiresome to keep up. So now I am in the middle of those two extremes, and I think that is where we should all be. I want people to get to know me, because I am the person behind my work so I show glimpses into my life (but I ask myself "do people care what I had for lunch?" probably not, lol.) I balance these posts with photos of my work, but also progress shots and explanations of how things are made. People LOVE THAT. Customers want to get to know you and they are curious to see how your work is made! With all that said, here is a list of ten post ideas for your Instagram feed if you get stuck in a rut! 

1. A video of you working on a piece.

Video seems to be having a moment on Instagram right now! Putting together a quick 5-30 second video showing off what you do to create a piece can really captivate your audience and get them more invested in your process.

2. Share a self-portrait and tell us a few things we may not know about you.

When your followers can connect with you on a deeper level, it makes them want to support your business. Sharing where you went to college, your beloved cat's name or the fact that you are a crazy plant lady along with a wonderful picture of your face can deepen your connection with your audience.

3. Share an image of your studio space.


It's where the magic happens! A creative person's workspace always fascinates me and I know others will be interested in yours as well.

4. Tell us how you got started making jewelry and show a piece you made a long time ago.


One of my favorite posts I did a few years back was a picture of rings I had made in high school. A #throwback piece can show how far you've come, how an idea has evolved and allow you to tell your origins story.

5. Share a tip about how you create your work or run your business.


Perhaps you have an interesting and visually appealing way of setting up your pieces for soldering, or you are an organizational genius and you share how you store your gemstones! Doing a little tip can benefit your audience (since you likely have other jewelers following you) it can inspire others and is generally a great post for engagement.

6. Show us your favorite piece to make and tell us why.

This is an opportunity to highlight a piece you love, and you can talk about the inspiration, how long you've been making it, whether it comes in other variations or ask if it should be made in other variations ;)

7. Share a video of your favorite jewelry making technique and talk about the technique.

We are back to video again, perhaps you do a hammered texture and you want to show off covering the surface of your piece or you want to demonstrate setting a stone. Even super simple techniques are FASCINATING to people that do not make jewelry. It is more effective at showing that your pieces are handmade than using #handmade lol.

8. Tell us the name behind your brand and show off your packaging.

Perhaps it is your name (again,  🙋‍♀️) explain why your business is your name. In my case because I am that one-woman-show that designs and fabricates everything. You can also talk about your packaging, think about when you're shopping and how much packaging can draw you in to a particular brand. If you use eco-friendly packaging and this is something you want your brand to be about and connect with those that care about that you can highlight it!

9. Show us your best seller.

When you talk about a piece that has done well, it is an opportunity for your customers that have bought it to chime in! You can talk all about what makes the piece great. Bonus points if you have a customer pic to share WEARING YOUR BEST SELLER.

10. Image of raw material and educate us on what they are.

Sheet metal, wires and gemstones are pretty interesting before we even do anything to them. This is a great opportunity to educate your followers about what you use to create your work and why. What draws you to particular gemstone? Do you use recycled metals?


It can be really hard for me to post daily, and I'm sure it is hard for others as well! Hopefully this article gave you some ideas for posts! As jewelers we do want to show off the pieces we have for sale but we also want to work in some storytelling!

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METALSMITH SOCIETY'S TOP NINE TOOL TALK TUESDAYS OF 2019

Posted by Corkie Bolton on

Every week on Metalsmith Society I explore a different tool used in jewelry making for #tooltalktuesday! It has been a wonderful opportunity to deep dive into different tools and discuss with members of our community! Some of these posts are sponsored, without this support the page would not continue to run daily. So thank you for your support of our sponsors in 2019, when you purchase from them (or my Amazon links) you are supporting the page! Here is my list of the top nine #tooltalktuesday posts of 2019:

Luxi Polishing Compound

These silica-free polishing compounds are free of animal fats, contain no hazardous materials, and are made of an alumina oxide abrasive in a water-soluble binder (which makes them safer to use). They're designed with vegetable fats and you can use less (saving you money) since the compound stays in place on your buff. The residue is easy to remove because they are water-soluble. @riogrande sent me the LUXI Sample Bar Assortment (Item#: 331111), which is an awesome and inexpensive way to try them all! Always use a dedicated buff for each compound to avoid cross-contamination! Determining which compounds are "best" is subjective but if you want a simple 3-step process, I recommend starting with the gray LUXI (Item#: 331090) an aggressive compound that will do scratch removal and pre-polishing. I used a 4” tight muslin buff (Item#: 330147) on my Foredom Bench Lathe. You can also use a yellow treated buff which is more rigid, allowing you to get more aggressive with your polishing. Next, I used the blue LUXI (Item#: 331095), which I also used with a tight muslin buff. It's also a pre-polish but brings you closer to your final polish. Lastly, the white LUXI (Item#: 331097) with a balloon cloth wheel (Item#: 330651). This got me my final mirror finish! The videos speak for themselves but LUXI is definitely an awesome option for polishing! For your flexshaft you can find the yellow treated, tight muslin and balloon cloth wheels in 1” versions that you can use with a screw mandrel from @riogrande. Also, the Asian Blue, Green, and Purple are formulated to work better at lower speeds and temperatures, so they are ideal for someone like me using a Foredom Bench Lathe (it's slower and not as hot as a polishing cabinet). On full speed, I did get a great finish using Gray, Blue, and White, so feel free to experiment!

Purchase the sampler here.

See the post here

Bench Anvil Kit

This kit gives you two bench pins, a small flat anvil area for stamping, two bracelet mandrels (oval + circle), a standard ring mandrel and THREE bezel mandrels (circle, oval + square). So if you are looking for a lot of versatility and an all-in-one type tool this one is great! Please keep in mind the clamp opens to a maximum of 2.25” so measure your intended workspace prior to ordering! This tool is perfect for travel and small spaces. I love that you can attach it to most tables and then pack it away if need be (do me mindful hammering on this could mar a table). I found hammering and forming on it secure. You do need to make sure the clamp is as tight as possible before you hammer aggressively :) I also had an opportunity to work with an additional mandrel set comprised of 8 different sized mandrels in parallel, stepped, and tapered shapes. They are specially designed to fit the Bench Anvil Kit, giving even more working possibilities out of it! I’ve been using them for earring wires and hoops!

Purchase the kit here.

See the post here.

Whaley Sliding Hammer

This amazing tool is super useful for stone setting, it allows you to stabilize as you hammer. You select a punch and screw it into place, then it slides back and forth inside the hammer. I got a wide variety of punches and I hope to experiment more and show off some other things the hammer can do. For setting it allowed me to strike with the right amount of force but remain in control 😍 My close up videos are sped up, but meant to show how awesome this tool works to get my bezel closed. Afterward I protected my stone with painters tape and filed it, down. I’ll likely follow up with a silicone wheel. 

Purchase the Whaley Hammer here from Otto Frei and use code MMS719X to save 5% off your purchase and support the page!

See the post here.

Foredom Flex Shaft Handpiece Holder

This is a tool that I’ve had for many years which I don’t use as much now that I have a polishing machine but if you are solely relying on your flexshaft for polishing it’s amazing because you can turn yours into a mini polishing machine!! You simply attach the clamp to your bench (the opening can accommodate no thicker than about 2.25” ) and slide your handpiece in ( it’s compatible with For use with Foredom H.30, H.30H, H.30SJ, H.43T, H.44A, H.44B, H.44T and H.44HT Handpieces) now you’ve got yourself a lathe! You can grind, deburr, carve, sand and polish your work but now you have the control of holding the piece with both hands. You can adjust the height to a comfortable standing position, which I love. The only downside is polishing can get a bit messy, always wear eye protection and a mask. Protect yo’ self! I love this thing. I used to use it a ton as a wax lathe. 

You can purchase the holder here.

See the post here.

Joyce Chen Ultimate Scissors

When I need to trim bezel wire or a thin backplate, these are my go-to scissors for the job! I have also used them to cut bits of solder or other wires. They are extremely sharp! I found out while researching this post it is due to the carbon content in the steel, it is double or even triple the amount compared to normal stainless steel scissors. They are also formulated to be corrosion resistant! People use these scissors for cutting things like bones and branches 💪 They retail for about $21-$26 so I think they are a reasonable price for a long lasting, multipurpose scissor. I personally would not go thicker than 22g sheet when cutting with these! As someone who also does a lot of crafting and gardening these are just bomb scissors to have around! 

You can purchase the scissors here.

See the post here.

Whaley Hand Vise

This simple hand vise created by Whaley Studios has a hole in the center so you can easily hold long wire or tubing. The handle has a flat side that not only allows you to firmly hold the hand vise against a flat surface, it also prevents it from rolling away. The grip is ergonomic and the chuck to loosen and tighten is easy to use. This is my go to tool if I want to coil a shorter piece of thick wire around a ring mandrel to make some stacking rings, or if I want to manually twist wire. It’s also great for straightening out a piece of wire. You can do this by attaching one end to your regular vise, and the other end to the Whaley hand vise and then give it a nice tug. This would also be great for holding wire and tubing while filing or polishing. 

You can purchase the vise here from Otto Frei and use code MMS719X to save 5% off your purchase and support the page!

See the post here.

Japanese Rubber Finger Guards

Japanese Rubber Finger Guards from Otto Frei they are actually infused with bits of leather to add to their durability but still have the feel of rubber. My use for these has been to protect my fingers while sanding small objects. They fit well enough and aren’t bulky so that I can grip smaller objects. If I’m just sanding something for a second I wouldn’t bother with them but when I’m doing those marathon sanding sessions, these are a game changer. You could also use them to protect your fingers from coming into contact with patina or flux. Or when your fingers are gripping something repetitively these will make those jobs more comfortable. They come in different sizes I actually have the small and medium and I like the small for most of my fingers and the medium on my thumbs. I can’t speak to their longevity as I’ve only been using them a few months but they are pretty solid! Can’t imagine having to trade out my first two for awhile. They are sold in packs of ten for $6.95 so not a huge investment if you want to give them a go.

You can purchase the vise here from Otto Frei use code MMS719X to save 5% off your purchase and support the page!

See the post here.

SmoothSet Bezel Pusher

These acrylic bezel pushers created by Flow Studio Supply I’ve had these on my bench for many months now and wanted to share my experience! The premise of these acrylic pushers is that you can use them to set your bezels and they won’t scratch your stones! @flowmke2 was thoughtful about the design, they made two sizes, there is a pointy and curved end (in addition to the straight sides) and they have a bright label so you can easily spot on them on your bench! What I have found them the most useful for is shaping thicker gauges bezel wire around stones and the initially pushing down of a bezel! 

You can purchase the bezel pushers here.

See the post here.

Hakko Fume Extractor System

One of my goals for 2019 is to have more conversations about improving our health in the studio. I realized that although this system is an investment, it was time to step my game up! This HAKKO unit is very light (7.5 pounds) which I like because it’s easy to move around. I have one duct but it does have the option of using two. It features three suction speeds and if you watch my videos you can get an idea of how loud they are, I like how quiet the loudest setting is, If I needed to speak over it or have it on for longer periods it doesn’t bother me! The best feature of this system is its HEPA filter (High Efficiency Particulate Air, is a designation used to describe filters that are able to trap 99.97 percent of particles that are 0.3 microns). It captures dangerous solder fumes (along with any other chemical, patina, white out etc. fumes) and actually RETURNS CLEAN PURIFIED AIR BACK INTO YOUR STUDIO 🙏🏻❤️

You can purchase the system here.

See the post here.


Thank you so much for tuning in every week for #tooltalktuesday! If you have a tool you would love to see covered please comment below, or let me know on Instagram! If you are looking for other tool recommendations please visit my #TOOLTALKTUESDAY page!

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METALSMITH SOCIETY'S 2019 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

Posted by Corkie Bolton on

Please note: This post contains affiliate links.

Whether you have a loved one who is a jeweler or hobbyist or you are looking for something to splurge on for yourself this holiday season this list should provide some awesome gift ideas!

Boom Brick

I LOVE MY BOOM BRICK. It is a portable speaker you lay your phone on top of so you can blast tunes while you make jewelry! No connection cables needed, no bluetooth required, and no batteries! It is compatible with any device and has about 6-8 hours battery life then you charge it up with it's included USB! I have also used mine at backyard summer cookouts, works awesome! $41.48 on Amazon.

GRS Mounting Plate

If your loved one (or you) dream of having a benchmate system get started by getting the mounting plate and bench pin! This mounts to their bench and from there they can pourchase all types of vises and attachments! $25 on Amazon.

GRS Bench Pin Kit

Once you have the mounting plate you slide this bench pin on. The benefit is to be able to quickly change from your bench pin to another tool (like a benchmate) in seconds! $43.95 on Amazon.

Revere Pliers With A Wooden Stand

Gift them excellent pliers and the means to organize them all in one! Designed by renowned goldsmith Alan Revere, this exceptional set features four different high-quality pliers made from carbon tool steel: Round-nose, Chain-nose, Flat-nose and Flat/Half-round forming pliers! $139 on Amazon.


Eco Jewelry Handbook by Christine Dhein

Whether someone is a beginner or they have been making jewelry a long time the Eco Jewelry Handbook is an incredible gift! It's a resource for anyone concerned about health and safety in the studio, and people who care about the impact of mining precious materials on people and the planet. $19.95 on Amazon.

Digital Caliper

One of those tools I didn't have when I first started out but was a game changer! This is my go-to tool when I need to measure pieces of metal or stones. $26.99 on Amazon. If you want the best quality that will last forever and have the most accuracy go for the Mitutoyo brand $115 on Amazon.

Society Mug

I'd be a fool to not include my own merch on my own holiday guide, lol. For the jeweler that also enjoys a cup of coffee or tea I have a few different mug designs. (They can also be produced in Europe making them a good choice for those  in Europe that want to avoid customs fees.) I also have tons of other stocking stuffers as well: sharpies, pins and stickers. Mugs start at $21 on metalsmithsociety.com

Foredom H.20 Quick Change Handpiece

If you or the loved one you are shopping for already has a Foredom flex shaft, a quick change handpiece is SO LUXURIOUS! It is one of those things you definitely don't need, but man they are nice to have. With a quick flip of the lever you can switch out bits, so it's a big time saver! $81.33 on Amazon.

Sunburst Deluxe Polishing Assortment

If you are trying to blow someone's mind when they reach into that stocking, this is the kit to get. Before I owned a polishing machine, I relied solely on my flex shaft and used radial discs get my final polish. This 116-piece deluxe set contains: 1/2" Snap-On, 5/8" & 7/8" Discs, 2mm & 3mm Polishing Pins and Points in All Grit Textures Plus 5425, 5431, 7081 and 7083 Mandrels. It's the perfect gift for all the DIYers in your life! $124.95 on Amazon.

You can also get just the Radial Discs here.

This Macro Lens is an awesome way to capture detailed, up close pictures of your jewelry or gemstones using your phone! Available for $99.99.

The lens do require a case to screw into but thankfully they are gorgeous! Cases start around $39.99.

Firescoff Ceramic Flux

This flux works fantastic and is rated one of the safest options. Definitely a nice gift to get for a jeweler on a budget, who might not buy this for themself! $25.95 for 125ml on Amazon.

Joyce Chen Unlimited Scissors

Featured during a #tooltalktuesday these scissors are AWESOME. Super sharp and great to have in the studio. I use a pair to cut bezel wires and other thinner gauge pieces and I use another pair in my garden. Love them! $20.20 on Amazon.

Glardon Vallorbe Barrette File Cut 2 

When it comes to quality Glardon Vallorbe files can last a lifetime and then get passed on to another a jeweler. They are great! I put a "barrette" file on this list because they are only cut on one face, meaning there is a large, safe surface that is referred to as the 'back'. This means only one part of the file can cut a workpiece, leading to a great degree of security against mistakes. Not to derail us, but if you want more info on files and the different cuts check out this post. I do think a #2 cut is a great option that will quickly remove material but you can also go with something like a #6 to have more of a finishing file!

Tronex Flush Cutters

So running this page I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with a lot of flush cutters and these ones from Tronex, are the the ones I reach for everytime. It is the type of tool that every jeweler will find useful. Sharp, efficient, flush wire cutters! Can be used on wire or solder, worth the cost in my opinion! $58.95 on Amazon

Bisley 5 Drawer Cabinet

For the organization lover in your life: I own two of these and I LOVE THEM. They are metal, aesthetically pleasing and make fantastic storage for jewelry pieces, gemstones or tools. All of my polishing compounds and wheels live inside one of these! They also come in some fun colors but I like the black, lol. $126 on Amazon.

Starrett Dividers

Starrett Dividers are an awesome investment! They offer far greater precision than economy dividers and in jewelry making precision is everything! They come in different sizes but this 3" pair starts at $51 on Amazon.

Hopefully this gave you some great ideas! You can also check out my #tooltalktuesday page for other ideas! If you can find these items locally, go for it! If you do decide to shop through my Amazon links I will receive a small kick-back, so thank you for supporting the page!

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STEP BY STEP TUTORIAL FOR MAKING YOUR OWN RECYCLED METAL EARRINGS FROM STULLER

Posted by Corkie Bolton on

Please note: This is a sponsored tutorial.

In honor of America Recycles Day, November 15th 2019 I have partnered with Stuller to create an earring project made entirely from SCS certified recycled metals! Stuller is committed to ethical sourcing and environmental sustainability in all aspects of their operations. They have a Responsible Sourcing Protocol and use 100% recycled materials in their manufacturing processes! Before we get into the project let's discuss some of the negative impacts of mining metals and why using recycled is so important.

THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF METAL MINING

*This excerpt was taken from the book "Sustainable Jewellery" by Jose Luis Fettolini published by @promopresseditions you can purchase it here.

"The extraction of gold and silver has a big impact on the areas and regions where mining operations are set up, since huge quantities of the earth are removed and polluted. River courses are altered and farming activities curtailed. The development of indigenous communities is also affected, and they are forced to abandon the place where they were born and raised, something which leads little by little to the disappearance of many aboriginal cultures and populations."

There are other issues as well, such as illegal mining, mercury and other chemical pollution and the negative social impacts on the individuals doing the mining. For more information on sustainable and ethical practices, I cannot recommend Fettolini's book enough!

RECYCLED METALS

Stuller is a supplier that uses SCS Global Services ( a third party) that awards certifications that guarantees metals are 100% recycled. When working on this project I was amazed I could find anything I needed: solder, sheet, wires, bezel, earring wires and other findings! Their entire fabricated metals assortment is SCS certified! So without further adieu, here is a step by step tutorial to create a pair of hoop style earrings with ethically sourced turquoise and 100% recycled metals from Stuller!

Materials List:

If you order no extra settings or stones that puts this project in the ballpark of $55 cost.

TOOLS LIST:

Firescoff Flux - Item #: 54-4414:100000:T - prevents firescale and is one of the healthiest options to work with in your studio.   

Thermo-Loc® - Thermo-Loc is a special reusable polymer material that is rigid at room temperature yet becomes softly pliable when heated/warmed. Used to secure your work while setting.

Rubber Wheels - to clean up your prongs. I like the Edenta Rubber Wheels.

Ring Mandrel - To form your hoops.

Plastic Mallet - to work harden and reform hoops.

Pliers - To open and close your jump rings.

Flush Cutter - To cut the twisted wire and trim the prongs.

Prong Pusher

Optional - Thermo Shield Paste                        

Step 1: Anneal your twisted wire:

Before we start bending this beautiful twisted wire we want to make sure it has been properly annealed. I like to tuck the ends in so that I've formed a nice coil. I then spray the wire evenly with Firescoff, this will protect the wire from getting firescale. When annealing I am using my Smith® Silver Smith™ acetylene torch with a #1 torch tip. I keep my flame soft and am super careful not to overheat. Pickle. TIP: You can also apply some sharpie to the wire and just anneal to the point of the marker disappearing!



Step 2: Solder a jump ring to each setting:

These cabochon settings are such a huge time saver, I love using them! They are cast, so they require a few minutes of clean up prior to soldering. TIP: Use a steel block to ensure a flat surface and some 400 or 600 grit sandpaper and sand the bottom using a figure 8 motion!

Spending a few seconds sanding the bottom is a small step you want to do before you solder!

On the left is what the setting looks like without any sanding.

Next I'm setting up to solder a jump ring to each setting. I will use a third hand to hold the jump ring in place. I will apply Firescoff and then solder with one chip of medium solder. For this I switched to my #00 torch tip. TIP: Use your sharpie to mark a center point on the setting to make sure your placement is correct when soldering! Next file a small flat spot where the jump ring seam is. You will be ensuring a better connection for the solder to flow, soldering the jump ring closed and hiding the seam all in one!  Pickle. Repeat for both settings! Sometimes mistakes can happen that is why I like to have an extra setting or two on hand, great if you don't end up making a mistake but nice to have on hand if you do!


                

Step 3: Forming the twisted wire:

This part is a bit subjective because you can make the hoops whatever size you would like! I used the bottom of my ring mandrel to form a coil, then I marked with a sharpie down the middle. TIP: Once you have cut one hoop you can line it up to match your next cut, since these don't need to be precise this is a quick method to get two even pieces! I file the ends nice and flat so that I can create a beautiful solder seam. The more care that goes into this, the less clean up I need to do later on!


                             


Once the first piece has been cut use it to cut the second.

Make sure you have two even wires.

Step 4: Solder two jump rings together:

These jump rings will connect the hoop to the earring wire! I used my #00 torch tip again, apply Firescoff and use a tiny piece of medium solder. I like to ball my solder and place it on the seam, but this is not necessary. Pickle. TIP: Use your third hand to secure one of the jump rings with the seam pointing north. If melting or soldering together is an issue you can paint on a little Thermo Shield Paste to the bottom jump ring to ensure the jump rings don't solder together! If you use the paste be sure to thoroughly clean before soldering the other ring! You need to solder two jump rings together for each earring, so repeat this step.

Step 5: Assemble all your pieces and solder your twisted wire:

Now we will thread our setting and our two connected jump rings onto our twisted wire and solder it closed! In order to get the ends of the twisted wire to meet I bend it into an oval, but don't worry we will fix this later on! TIP: Hold the hoop up to the light to ensure that the seam is meeting perfectly! If it's not right, go back and file a little more until it's perfectly flat! This tip can be applied anytime you solder anything but in this instance the seam is in patterned wire and quite visible so we want to take extra care! Once again I used my #00 torch tip, apply Firescoff and use a tiny piece of medium solder. Pickle. Repeat for the other earring.

                 


Step 6: Reshaping the hoops:

Now I will use a plastic hammer to reshape my hoops on the mandrel. You could also use a raw-hide mallet, you just want to use something that won't mar your metal. TIP: I happen to have a grooved mandrel, and this came in handy because I placed the setting and jump rings in the groove while I hammered. This protects them from getting marred, but if you are gentle while hammering a regular mandrel will work just fine. This process of hammering will also help work-harden your hoops! Once I have a shape I like, I spend a minute or two giving the solder seam a quick polish. You can use what you have whether its radial discs with your flex shaft or a polishing machine. Now you can attach your french wires! I use my pliers to carefully open and close them onto the jump ring that is not attached to the twisted wire. Next you can tumble the earrings if  you have a rotary tumbler. I recommend twenty minutes with steel shots before moving on to setting the stones! Many gemstones can be damaged in a rotary tumbler so it's good to be cautious and tumble prior to setting stones!



Step 7: Setting the stones:

We are going to want to secure our settings in Thermo-Loc® or another comparable material! Thermo-Loc® is a special reusable polymer material that is rigid at room temperature yet becomes softly pliable when heated/ warmed. Since I have a jump ring soldered onto each setting, it will not sit flat so using some Thermo-Loc® will hold it perfectly while I push my prongs down! TIP: Use a crafting heat gun to warm up your Thermo-Loc® I used this one. Careful they do get very hot!

I have a little bit of work to do on these prong settings before I can set the stone! I begin by gently opening the prongs with my prong pusher. TIP: Cover your prong pusher with painters tape, to help prevent damage to the stone if you accidentally slip! Next I take a small ball bur (I used a 1.4mm) to cut a seat for the stone. I cut about 1/3 of the way into each prong where it meets the base of the setting. I found that I needed to go at a slower speed to have control and prevent the bur from catching on the prong. Once the stone is sitting nice and flat in the setting, I can move on to the next steps! 

I take my stone out and trim about 1mm off the prongs using my flush cutter. You can in theory keep your prongs longer or go shorter it depends on the look you want! Next I use a rubber wheel to shape the prongs, you can do a claw shape, you can use a cone bur to round them, this part is also up to you! Once I've done some shaping I put the stone in the setting and gently push each of the prongs starting with north and south, then east and west. I use my prong pusher (still covered in tape) and I'm not pushing all the way down, I'm doing it gradually to avoid having the stone shift. Once I've pushed the prongs all the way down I can continue to shape the prongs a bit more with the rubber wheel, I'm careful not to hit my stone but the rubber wheel is safe just in case I do. 

This is my prong pusher covered in tape. 

To shape my prongs I used a knife edge rubber wheel like this one.

Once I have set both stones and I am satisfied with the prongs, my earrings are complete! I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and if you create the earrings be sure to tag me and @stullerinc so I can share on the page!

Thank you Stuller for sponsoring this tutorial! 

Be sure to give them a follow on Instagram @stullerinc 

You can shop for all your recycled metal needs here.




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