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Valerie Tyler Collection Blog — jewelry

Must Have Jewelry and Metalworking Tools

Posted by Valerie Tyler on

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links.

 

As a metalsmith and jewelry designer I'm frequently asked by both customers and aspiring artists what tools I use to create my work so I thought I'd compile a handy resource list of some of the tools I have found most useful. 

A good set of pliers and cutters is essential. You'll use these for anything from forming and cutting wire, to creating jump rings and making attachments. There are tons of different pliers you can use but to start achain nose, flat Nose, and round nose pliers, as well as a pair of snips meets most needs.

Beadsmith Color Jewelry Tool Pliers Kit - 4 Piece Set w/ Case

You can almost never have too many hammers. They provide a variety of functions, including stamping, texturing, riveting and chasing.  Having a variety of hammers will allow you to form metal in various ways more easily. 

Just a few examples to consider:

A basic brass ball peen hammer is great for stamping. It has enough weight to do the job while being a little easier on your joints.

Ball Peen Hammer, Plastic Brass, Black Yellow, 6-1/4 Inches 1-inch Flat Head 1-inch Ball Head. Sold Individually

Brass Ball Peen Hammer

 
 
Chasing Hammer, Steel Wood, 28mm Flat Head 13mm Ball Head, 10 Inches. Sold Individually
Ball Peen Hammer, Steel Wood, 16mm Flat Head / 16mm Ball Head, 10-1/2 Inches Long, 4 Ounces. Sold Individually
Texture Hammer, EUROTOOL®, Wood Steel, 9-1/2 Inches (9) 17mm Interchangeable Faces. Sold Per 10-piece Set

 

A few tools that help you form metal without marring it and set stones without damaging them (when used correctly)  include rawhide mallets, bezel pushers and burnishers 

 

Mallet, Rawhide Wood, Brown Red-brown, 11-1/2 Inches 30-35mm Head. Sold Individually rawhide mallet

 

 Bezel Pusher, 4-inches Long 4x4mm Flat Square Tip. Sold Individually

Burnisher, Straight Wood Handle, 6-1/2 Inches Long. Sold Individually Burnisher

One of the tools that really opened up my creativity was a dapping block and punches (also often known as a doming block)  As far as all the different types of forming tools go, this is something I'd recommend even beginners try to use. 

Eurotool Metalwork Deluxe Dapping Set Block With 24 Punches

 

Use mandrels to help you form and size things like rings and bracelets.

 

 

Those who want to do stamping, personalization or just add their own initials or makers mark to pieces might consider a steel stamp set.

Stamp, Tempered Chrome Vanadium Steel, 3-4mm Modern Font Uppercase Alphabet Letters A-Z

 

If you have any plans to do soldering, fusing, or even annealing metal, a torch is an essential tool.  For many smaller tasks a small handheld butane torch can suffice. 

 

Torch, Max Flame, Steel / Plastic / Aluminum, Black, 6x5 Inches. Sold Individually

Torch, Max Flame

Of course, for those with a little more experience the Torch Set, Little Torch™ Acetylene/Oxygen System. is considered one of the best and is great for larger projects. 

Torch Set, Little Torch™ Acetylene/Oxygen System.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg and doesn't include things you would need for safety like masks, goggles and so on. There is also literally hundreds of other tools depending on the types, styles and quantity of jewelry you have in mind to make.  Then depending on the pieces you are making you might need things like flux, pickle, metal protectants to coat your work and chemicals to add patinas. However, even these few basic items in this list can help you create hours of work! 

Happy jewelry making! 

Please do share your favorite tools or supply links in the comments below.  I'm always on the lookout to add to the workbench. 

 

The owner of this website, Valerie Tyler, is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com.

 

 

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Personalized Jewelry Gift Guide

Posted by Valerie Tyler on

 

Personalized jewelry makes the best meaningful gifts.  The Valerie Tyler Collection has several jewelry options that can be customized especially for your gift recipient.  These are some of the top sellers in the collection that have received rave reviews from thousands of happy customers.  

 

One of the most popular gift ideas, which was even featured in US Weekly, is the personalized two heart ring.  This solid brass ring can be adjusted to fit the wearer so you don't have to worry about picking the correct size.  It can be hand-stamped with any two initials you like, be it a significant other, children or your own personal initials. 

 

 

If you're looking for an adjustable ring with a more minimalist design, the minimalist initial ring can be hand-stamped with either two initials or two numbers (perfect for birthdays, anniversaries or special dates!)

 

 

 

Chevron is super trendy right now so if you'd like something that's current and fashionable you might consider the chevron initial ring. This is a single initial ring and again adjustable to fit the wearer. 

 

If you prefer a necklace a tiny charm necklace is simple, modern and perfect for everyday wear.  The Valerie Tyler Collection includes rustic brass, antiqued silver, and number options

 

Finally for those who like something to adorn their wrists there is the custom, personalized initial cuff bracelet.  This bracelet can be stamped with any two initials (These are also made with various mantras as well so they're even collectable and stackable!)

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Mountain Inspiration

Posted by Valerie Tyler on

When I began designing the pieces for the Wanderlust line for the Valerie Tyler Collection I let landforms and gorgeous locales serve as the inspiration for the pieces.  The jewelry was created drawing on the textures, shapes, lines and other elements you might see when gazing at various landscapes and natural structures.

The idea behind my dotted ridge earrings and dotted ridge necklace was to recreate the idea of a ridge dotted with rocks and to simulate the texture of a gorgeous craggy, rocky mountain scape.

 

Dotted Ridge Earrings

Mountain Photo from Unsplash

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River Inspiration

Posted by Valerie Tyler on

 

Rivers can be completely captivating.  They can change in a blink of an eye just from changing weather from a tiny trickle to raging waters. They bend one way then another. They curve through landscapes both gently overflowing or literally cutting through rock. They even have the power to completely change course over time.  I'm lucky to live near the Cuyahoga River so the power of rushing water is a definite inspiration to me.  Out of my love and awe of rivers I created the Riverbend Necklace.  The focal piece itself is made of curved brass, an abstract take on a bend along a river.  The curved piece itself even is corrugated to look like ripples of water. Lapis lazuli gemstones accent the necklace to symbolize blue waters. 

While rivers can unleash tremendous power at times, my favorites however are those that accent beautiful landscapes and provide tranquil beautiful places for reflection. I love rivers that feed environments with life.

 

An extra special thank you to photographers Jeff Sheldon, Julia Caesar and Wolfgang Moritzer for uploading their river photographs to Unsplash for all to use freely.  While you required no attribution with a creative commons 0 license, I still felt credit must be given where credit is due for your lovely work!

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Jewelry Care Tips

Posted by Valerie Tyler on

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click and purchase one of the product links, I may receive compensation.

Want a few tips to keep your jewelry looking good as new?  As a jewelry designer I'm frequently asked by customers and friends for tips on how to care for jewelry.  While some metals like tungsten and titanium barely oxidize or get scratches the majority of jewelry is made from metals that can oxidize, scratch, tarnish, and otherwise show signs of wear if not cared for properly.  As someone who has worked with a wide variety of types of metals and jewelry finishes I do have the following tips that can help you keep your jewelry looking good as new if you follow them. Here are some of the most important ones to follow:

  • Avoid chemicals (e.g. hairspray, household cleaning products, perfume)
  • Don't shower or bath while wearing your jewelry
  • Don't swim with your jewelry on
  • Minimize exposure to sweat by removing jewelry before exercising
  • Dry jewelry carefully before putting it away
  • Giving jewelry a gentle swipe with a soft polishing cloth to remove oils
  • Store jewelry in a soft pouch, acid free baggie or other dry spot.  
  • You may even wish to purchase a commercial anti-tarnish pouch or strips to store with your jewelry.
  • Remove jewelry before going to bed to avoid potential damage, snagging, etc.. 
  • This is a weird one, but avoid contact with most wood (unless a box is specifically designated for jewelry)  A lot of wood can contain acids that can cause jewelry to tarnish.  


TIPS FOR SPECIFIC METALS
Sometimes certain metals require some extra care.  here's a few metals I work with often and my advice for taking care of them.

Sterling Silver Jewelry/ Oxidized Silver
Sometimes sterling silver jewelry has been intentionally oxidized by a designer to give it a more rustic or industrial look or to put emphasis on a texture or design in the metal.  You DO NOT want to use silver polish to clean as it can remove the oxidation.  Use a soft cloth to gently wipe off moisture only.  At times you might wish to use a polishing cloth specifically if you've had a lot of grime build up but be aware that oxidation can wipe off with too much force, or lighten up on a piece you wear often. If your sterling is shinier be careful in choosing polishes and only use those specifically made for silver as it is a softer metal and can scratch easily.

Brass Jewelry
Brass is often a very popular material for jewelry to be made out of since it is a much more affordable alternative to gold, and as opposed to plated jewelry there is no outer coating to wear off.  It can tarnish and oxidized petty easily however.  This isn't always a bad thing.  Brass jewelry that has oxidized can often take on a lovely vintage looking patina, giving jewelry an antiqued heirloom look.  If you prefer your brass shiny and new however use brass polish or a polishing cloth (e.g. Sunshine Polishing Cloth ) to shine it right up.  For solid brass jewelry that has an excessive amount of tarnish you can sand it with super fine sandpaper like 2000 grit or if you can get your hands on jewelers polishing (such as 3M WET/DRY ) going in the same direction to bring back the original shinier color. I tend to like brass because it is so super easy to shine up.

IF YOU HAVE ALLERGIES
If you have a piece of jewelry you really love, but you find you have an allergy to there are a few things you can do.  Some people find that simply coating the piece where it offends their skin with clear nail polish can serve as enough of a barrier for the metal to not irritate them.  Or you can purchase a commercial product like Jewelry Shield to coat your jewelry.  Sometimes it's not that you have an allergy to the metals at all but things like moisture or chemicals trapped between the metal and your skin can cause a rash, that "green tinge" or itchiness.  Following the above mentioned list of tips can sometimes cut down on this.

EXTRA FUN LITTLE TIPS
  • Store jewelry with chalk since the chalk absorbs extra moisture
  • Keep those silica packets that come in shoeboxes to store with jewelry.  They absorb moisture too! 
  • Run necklace chains through a straw and then close the clasp to keep them from tangling.

My favorite product that I use all the time to maintain a shine are  Sunshine Polishing Cloths

The owner of this website, Valerie Tyler, is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com.

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