Copper Earrings with Gold-Flashed French-Style Surgical Steel Ear Wires.
To begin with, an unorganized and messy studio will have a powerful impact on your ability to produce items for the marketplace. If you don't care what you make or how it turns out or whether it ever gets actually worn, you have no problem working in a junkpile, but if you want to know what resources you have, and you want those resources to be findable, you'll have to make some decisions about how your workbench will be arranged and what places on the workbench will do what jobs.
TOOLS NEEDED FOR BOTH COPPER & SILVER:
1 Pair Jewelry-Style German needle-nosed pliers.
1 Professional quality FLUSH cutter -- make sure it cuts flush, or endure cuts & scratches when you wear an item!
1 Two-ounce ball-pein hammer.
1 Steel hammering plate or small desktop anvil.
1 Opti-Vision goggle set, from power 1 to power 10, your choice.
1 Round & flat rat-tail or jeweler's EXTRA-FINE file.
1 Professional Jeweler's Polishing Cloth.
OPTIONAL ADDITIONS FOR PROFESSIONALS:
1 Set Dremel Polishing Kit with Extension.
1 Hardwood Ring Polishing Hand-Vise Clamp.
1 Professional Magnifying Loupe for Close Inspections of stones.
1 Overhead clamp light or goose-neck soft-white incandescent type lamp.
1 Stainless Steel Ring Mandrel with Half-Sizes Marked.
COPPER KIT –
To make the BEGINNER'S KIT or to create copper jewelry as a primary style of product, you will need the following items:
1 Roll .16 gauge Dead-Soft Copper Wire -- for small size practice ring shanks.
1 Roll .20 gauge Dead-Soft Round Copper Wire -- for ear wires, spoons & paddles.
1 Roll .22 gauge Dead-Soft Copper Wire -- for stone-wrapping.
SILVER KIT ADDITIONS:
1 Roll .12 gauge Dead-Soft .925 Sterling Silver Round Wire -- for men's ring shanks.
1 roll .14 gauge Dead-Soft .925 Sterling Silver Round Wire -- for women's ring shanks.
1 Roll .20 gauge Dead-Soft .925 Sterling Silver Round Wire -- for ear wires, spoons & paddles.
1 roll .22 gauge Dead-Soft .925 Sterling Silver Round Wire -- for stone-wrapping & lightweight spoons & paddles.
1 roll .24 gauge Dead-Soft .925 sterling silver Round Wire -- strictly for earring frames.
Here's how these are used:
IN COPPER – It really doesn't matter what you do in copper. You can feel free to experiment, to be wildly extravagant, to make the stupidest mistakes and create the worst jewelry ever seen on Planet Urth.
There's no way a WEARABLE ring or pair of earrings will cost you much more than a dollar to make, plus your labor, so you will find it easy to sell them, so you can afford to make more. when you've really mastered the technique, you can go to a Ren-Faire or Celtic Festival and make rings to order right on the spot, at a rate of about 20 rings per hour.
I said "wearable", because a 3 1/2 pound pair of earrings will cost plenty to make and nobody short of an elephant or rhino could wear them without sinking into the ground about six feet or more. Making earrings too long will take them out of the range of most buyers, and making tall rings is equally risky. I do make both, but I know my market.
Copper rings are made with .16 gauge as the shank -- the main part of the ring, and .22 gauge is used as the wrap.
Copper Earrings are made with .22 gauge as the mainframe and I wouldn't use copper ear-wires, not a good idea -- I use gold-plated surgical steel French-style ear-wires, and so should you.
IN SILVER – You should NOT be making jewelry in silver until you've sold at least TEN ITEMS to someone other than your Aunt Margaret, who'll buy anything that's on sale, and your beginning work will be loss-leaders at best. If you louse up a silver piece, you can't just toss it -- the silver is worth too much, and if you've loused up a good stone or put it in a badly made item, you've got a double loss, plus your time, effort & energy.
Silver rings are made with .14 gauge wire as the shank for the lighter women's or children's rings, and .12 gauge wire for the heavier and men's rings. I charge the same for either, because it's not much difference in cost between heavy and light rings in silver at this time, and my labor, 55 years in the trade, and my signature as a LISTED American Artist in Who's Who in Art and listings in Art in America and Museum Collection Guides are what they're paying for in my case, plus what they see.
No matter how famous the jeweler is, if the jewelry doesn't strike the eye and excite the spirit, it's worthless. I'm not talking about the infamous "Shock of the New" and mob reactions to the Avante-Garde offerings of the current artistic community -- good crafting and good presentation are 90% of the battle.
SILVER EARRINGS take the .24 gauge wire. Stones are suspended on a vertical post-wire, so the stress on the wire is very low. IMPORTANT: ear wires are made directly on the COMPLETED earring, and are not removable short of cutting. Ear wires are made of 20 gauge wire; the scrap wire from this operation yields the material for hammered spoons & paddles.
SILVER NECKLACES AND BROAD-COLLARS are made on .22 guage wire, never on .24 gauge, because the .24 gauge wire will not tolerate the weight-stress of a bead in horizontal position, nor maintain the wrap on a shank-winding.
SILVER PENDANTS are made from the SCRAP. You can turn scrap in to a gold dealer, but you'll get less than half the value. If you make UP-CYCLED items from silver scrap, you'll be a hero of resources, and you can get full retail for your silver scrap, plus a little for your extra labor. It's harder to make scrap silver jewelry items than it would be if you started with nice, clean fresh, polished round wire with no dents, no dings, no kinks, but then it wouldn't be scrap, would it???
The other 10% of your job as a jeweler is to make sure to FINISH THE PIECE right down to the last detail, leaving nothing undone, especially the BACK of the piece, and the all-important TWO final polishes -- one with the DREMEL wheel and one with the polishing cloth, or just the polishing cloth if you're at a fair without electric power, in which case, you file the ends until they don't scratch anymore, then polish with the cloth for about five minutes.
You won't need to buy clasps or ear-wires or jump rings or head-pins for your jewelry, because you'll learn to make your own, but you can buy them if you prefer -- they come in a variety of weights and sizes at a variety of wholesale prices, but count on spending about $10 on sterling silver clasps for necklaces or bracelets, and about $5 apiece for copper clasps -- there are cheaper clasps, but they break and in the end, your customer will come back and quite rightly ask you to repair or replace it or refund the money.
One thing you DON'T want is your work back in your face, especially if it's your fault because you were sloppy or careless or INATTENTIVE.
Do you have LAZY ATTENTION?
There's a WORK REASON for all this jewelry-making. The jewelry product is a DIRECT FEEDBACK device that tells you where your attention is at the moment, whether it's high and rooted to the point, or it falls somewhere below that of "Alien-Dominated Zombie".
Your CUSTOMERS will tell you if you're awake or asleep by coming to your booth or shop in droves or ignoring your work as the crap it is.
BIOFEEDBACK? Why bother hooking yourself up to a machine that beeps and is a whole lot smarter than the operator, when you can get PAID to WORK ON YOURSELF!!!