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A Digital Alchemist is someone who combines technology with tradition to create better design. We are at a juncture in history where technology has advanced so quickly that we barely understand how to use it properly. People are quick to abandon traditional techniques that were used to design and create mankind’s most beautiful jewelry. Tough economic times have forced business owners to redefine themselves and leaders in the industry are telling them that technology has the answers. These leaders would say there is a revolution in the industry going on; and if you’re not part of it; you will be left behind. A Digital Alchemist would say that it is an evolution going on, and that the future of the industry depends on not forgetting the past.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Flea Markets and Garage Sales as a Source of Hard to Find Tools

Flea markets and garage sales are a great resource for old, used and somewhat bruised tools. 
Once in a while you will find a tool that is not readily available in stores.
I found this timber infill cross peen tack hammer with end claw at a local flea market and paid $12.00, while a similar one online had an asking price of $65.00.
It was probably used by an upholsterer or saddler, but has now found a new home on my jeweler's bench.

Timber infill cross peen tack hammer with end claw

Monday, March 26, 2012

Johnson Matthey NY (JMNY) announced the winners of their 2012 Sustainable Design Awards

Charlie Herner               Susan Suh               Jason Dow               Edit Simon    
Sustainable Design Awards 2012
Johnson Matthey NY (JMNY) announced the winners of their 2012 Sustainable Design Awards at a cocktail party held in one of New York's most exclusive venues, Kittichai. This year, the party showcased the talents of four emerging designers in two categories, Platinum Love and Palladium Expression, who had wowed the judges with their innovative designs, and subsequently manufactured them in platinum and palladium. We are proud to announce that the winning four designers are:
In the Platinum Love category:
  • Charlie Herner of Green Lake Jewelry Works, Seattle, WA
  78th & Cognac is a stunning masculine band inspired by architecture, featuring bead set diamonds, and textural contrasts created by stippling and sandblasting techniques.
  • Susan Suh of Susan Suh LLC, New York, NY
  Petal Wings With PavĂ©, inspired by butterfly wings and stems of flowers, are remarkably light and elegant earrings, around 6 dwt each, with the sparkle of pave diamonds.
In the Palladium Expression category:
  • Jason Dow Jason Dow Jewelry, Honolulu, HI
  Mandala Cuff is a substantial yet light, wearable piece, featuring ancient eastern motif, made possible by innovative use of casting, laser welding and back-set diamond setting.
  • Edit Simon of Edit Simon Jewelry, Vancouver, BC
  Petals is a multi-faceted piece which enhances the depth, shine and color of a stunning center stone, palladium being used to show the metal’s ability to create texture.

Images of the winning pieces and more information can be viewed at, where you can also soon see images of the event, or register yourself and receive the first news of next year’s competition.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ikea Hack: Engraver's Ball

Homemade engraver's ball for around $50

The pictured engraver's ball was assembled out of easy to find items, in about an hour and for around $50.
I started engraving last year and took a class with Master Hand Engraver Jason Marchiafava.  I had everything I needed from the class except an engraver's ball.  During a trip to Ikea I noticed the bowls looked about the right size and the rest came together logically.  I ran into Master Hand Engraver Sam Alfano at the recent MJSA show in NYC and showed him a picture of the ball.  Upon his request here is the ball and how I made it.  I hope it inspires someone else and I would love to hear about other peoples attempts at homemade engraver's balls.

Tools, Parts and Instructions
  • drill, drill bits and driver bits
  • welder ( I have a PUK 2)
  • small funnel
  • (2) stainless steel bowls (Ikea) 
  • (1) bearing (American science and Surplus) weld onto bottom of 1st bowl
  • (3) steel rods (Rio Grande) drill holes through the bottom of bowl, push rods through and weld onto inside wall of bearing. This is for added support
  • (1) steel ring (Home Depot) weld on top of bearing
  • (1) large washer (Home Depot) weld inside of ring as base to mount universal holder
  • 2nd stainless bowl, weld to the other stainless bowl
  • (3) containers of stainless BBs 6000 each (used approximately 14,000 Walmart) drill hole and fill ball 
  • (1) 5/8" steel plug (Home Depot) plug fill hole
  • (1) universal work holder #113089 (Rio Grande) drill holes then screw holder onto washer
  • (1) rubber base (GRS) set finished ball onto rubber base and you are ready to go

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pantone Color of the Year: Influence on Jewelry

As designers, salespeople and merchandisers a part of our job is understanding color and using that understanding to influence our daily decisions.  Pantone, the color experts make our jobs easier by doing research into "color influences", they look to the entertainment and arts industries.  Pantone looks at films in production, art exhibits, emerging artists, popular travel destinations, sporting events on the global stage and other varied socioeconomic conditions.  They also analyze how technology might affect manufacturing (availability of new textures) and its effect on the presentation of color.

The influence of Pantone's color of the year can be seen in many industries, including clothing, housewares, bedding, pillows, interior design, paint and makeup colors.  We in the jewelry industry should be aware of these trends and use this information to optimize our success.  Utilize it in our designs, sales presentations, packaging, and marketing materials.  Show your customer you are the trend setters.  I suggest keeping a collection of images to show your customers how to connect the dots and create a cohesive design aesthetic throughout their lives.  This will empower both you and your customer.

  Tangerine Tango on the Runway: Elie Tahari Spring/Summer 2012 photo: Gerardo Somoza

 A little color theory goes a long way.  Understanding color schemes will make everything easier.  Two types of color schemes are analogous and complimentary.  Analogous schemes are made up of colors tightly grouped on the color wheel.  Complimentary schemes mix cool with warm colors, by using opposites on the color wheel and a pleasing balance of saturation.  To apply this to jewelry we look to colored gemstones and find there are many options which can be used for many styles and price ranges.

Gemstones that are available in orange include spessartite garnet, zircon, fire opal,
sapphire, tourmaline, imperial topaz, moonstone, star moonstone, citrine, andesine, hessonite garnet, carnelian, and coral.

 Blue being the compliment to orange gives us these gemstones.  sapphire, tanzanite, topaz, zircon, spinel, aquamarine, apatite, lapis lazuli, sodalite, tourmaline, paraiba tourmaline, rainbow moonstone, iolite, kyanite, agate, and flourite.

Some people think it is hard to sell colored stone jewelry.  I believe a better understanding of color and its influences on our daily lives will open up a world of possibilities.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Design Suitable for a King's Mistress.

The Marquise or Navette cut stone is believed to have been commissioned by Louis the XIV of France (The Sun King) because he wanted a stone that was shaped like the mouth of his mistress the Marquise de Pompadour. I have featured it here with a sapphire in a crown influenced design in honor of it's creator.