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Celebrating Jewelry Artisans in National Craft Month

National Craft Month Header

March is National Craft Month, a time to explore the arts we’re passionate about. At Stuller, it’s an ideal time to celebrate the craftsmen who built the jewelry industry over centuries, using only the most basic tools. These goldsmiths, lapidaries, engravers, designers, and other jewelry artisans developed techniques that are still practiced today.

Like most trades that involve skilled hand work, the jewelry industry is full of second- and third-generation jewelers — some with even longer legacies. Stuller is proud to have many such craftsmen in house helping to improve our business every day.

Here are some ways to take advantage of the buzz around National Craft Month for your own jewelry business.

 

Share the Craft

The Hobby Industry Association (now the Association for Creative Industries) started National Craft Month in 1994 to encourage creativity. More than 25 years later, it is still thriving and has become an opportunity for us to learn new crafts, return to ones we’ve enjoyed in the past, and share our skills with others. It’s an ideal time to start teaching a child or teen age-appropriate jewelry skills, to pass down those centuries of knowledge and start building the next generation of craftsmen. Along with marketable skills that could lead to a potential career and the joy of a fun pastime, sharing a craft means sharing the many health benefits attributed to crafting.

Crafty Marketing

There’s a growing trend in marketing toward storytelling, especially when marketing to millennials, who are said to value pieces with a story. Sharing the techniques and background behind handcrafted pieces helps customers connect with them better. Take full advantage of National Craft Month by inviting bench jewelers, lapidaries, engravers, and other artisans you work with or who live in your area to demonstrate their skills at your store. Have contests, trunk shows, and other in-store events and promotions to build relationships with the community throughout March.

Tools of Our Trade

One trait that craftspeople share is a love of tools. While our hands are our most important tools, hammers, files, and other hand tools are essential to craftspeople, especially ones who still practice traditional techniques. Most bench jewelers combine the old and the new into an efficient operation, the best of both worlds. If your shop has gone primarily high-tech, why not explore some old-school tools and techniques this month? You might be surprised at how doing a familiar task in a new way can spark your creativity.

 National Crafting Month Planishing Hammer National Crafting Month Needle Files National Crafting Month GRS Ball Vise
            37-1605         31-68000              26-4167

 

Practice Other Crafts with Stuller

Sure, we deal with laser welders and high-tech jewelry equipment. But we know there’s just as great a need for the other jewelry tools and supplies used by bench jewelers and other craftsmen. Where would pearl strands be without bead stringing and knotting tools? How could ring bands be cut and sized without saws and saw blades? Remember the humble beginnings of the jewelry industry this month and practice your craft!

 National Crafting Month Bench Pin National Crafting Month Crimp Bead Pack  National Crafting Month Cutter Pliers National Craft Month Sawblades
  13-3000        24143          46-4013        49-4204

 

 


What are the must-have items on your list for crafting? Let us know in the comments below!




Trusted & Tested: Stuller is Your Certified Recycled Metals Source

As Stuller celebrates 50 years in the industry, it’s a perfect time to look back on our history and the numerous milestones we’ve achieved. Among them, we’re proud to have earned both the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) Certification and the SCS Global Services Certification for 100% recycled metals.

Stuller-RJC-Certification-Social-Share

RJC certifies fine jewelry manufacturers for responsible ethical, social, and environmental practices throughout all operations. And, according to the SCS website, “SCS is accredited to conduct RJC Code of Practices and Chain-of-Custody verification assessments.”

Read more about our RJC certification.

 

SCS partners with companies to “drive practices, policies and processes that advance the goals of sustainable development and give innovators a competitive advantage.” Their services enable companies and consumers to make informed decisions based on “the highest level of environmental, ethical and quality accountability.”

SCS Recycled Content

SCS certification ensures recycled metals are used while conflict metals and other questionable materials are avoided. Stuller is honored to be a user and supplier of certified 100% recycled fine gold, fine silver, palladium, and platinum. Learn more about RJC, SCS, and Stuller’s commitment to ethical sourcing and Fair Trade practices.

Why do we take the extra steps to ensure our metals are certified 100% recycled? Because in addition to providing them to jewelers, we use them ourselves. “Stuller’s Metals department is quite unique,” says Tammy Lail, Vice President of Tools and Equipment, Metals, and Packaging and Displays. “We produce metals and work with them internally. We use what we sell. This gives us a unique advantage to really test and work with our offerings. In addition, we have inventory, so we can provide minimum quantities and immediate delivery.”

Supply Chain Awareness

Over the past few decades, it has become increasingly important to make sure we fully understand our supply chain. “Ethical sourcing of metals has been the biggest change in the industry,” Tammy says. “It’s important to understand where your metal is sourced. Our position is that there is enough metal already in the marketplace and that mining metal is an unnecessary process or damage to the earth.”

But responsible sourcing isn’t enough. “Our main objective is to provide socially responsible metals that perform consistently,” Tammy shares. “We continuously test our metals to make sure they perform the same way every time they are used.”

Metal Innovations

Essential to Stuller’s continued success, Tammy says, “We are always seeking new alloys to help our customers.” This is happening with the expert help of Randy Welch, Senior Process Engineer in Metals Technology, who has been part of the Stuller family since 1981.

Randy has worked in casting, assaying, making mill products, and metal development, including creating and improving alloys.

“Sometimes an alloy isn’t performing as it should. Off I go to investigate and correct,” Randy says. “I also spend about 40% of my week on the phone with customers, helping them with issues. That’s an essential part of my job.”

Through the years, Randy says, newer equipment and technology in the industry have necessitated adjusting alloys for better performance. He has even been involved in creating new alloys to meet new needs in technology.

The Next 50 Years:
What’s Next for Stuller Metals?

Many Stuller team members are currently in Vicenza, including members of the metals department. “We are always interested in the metals that are being used in the industry — how they are being paired together, like rose gold with white gold, etc.,” Tammy says. “In addition, we aim to understand non-precious metals as well as their impact and ease of manufacturing.”

We look forward to sharing what they learn and how it can help with your metal needs. In the meantime, you can learn about our recycled metals, new products, technology, and much more during Stuller’s Bench Jeweler Workshop, March 27-28, 2020. Register by February 17 to take advantage of early-bird pricing.


Ready to see what we have to offer? Shop Stuller metals today.




5 Instagram-Worthy Fall Gemstones to Share this Season

Winter is coming. In fact, it’s already visiting much of the country. But autumn is lingering with harvest hues all around and Thanksgiving just around the corner. In nature, fashion, and even food, this time of year has its own special color palette, and Earth provides gemstones to match.

Warm Citrine Gemstones

Winter Gemstones Citrine Gems

Affordable and fashionable, Citrine’s warm honey-colored hues remind us of things we love about this time of year: a crackling fire, autumn leaves, pumpkin pie! These cozy images lend a cozy feeling to Citrine jewelry, making it a perfect color to wear with fall fashions.

Fans of the PBS series, Victoria, will be pleased to learn that Citrine grew in popularity due to Queen Victoria’s love for the native Scottish stone after she and her husband, Prince Albert, had their beloved summer home built near Balmoral Castle in the 1850s. Because Victoria loved Citrine’s golden hues, the stone became popular for Highland brooches, kilt pins, and sword handles. With the popularity of shows like Victoria, The Crown, and Outlander today, sunny Citrine is poised for a comeback. And who couldn’t use a little extra sunshine as winter approaches?

London Blue Topaz Gemstones

Winter Gemstones London Blue Topaz Gems

While we’re reveling in the sunny delights of autumn, let’s not forget the clear blue skies so frequent this time of year. A Blue Topaz colored sky is one of autumn’s greatest features, but this year-round color carries us through snowy winter and cheerful spring days to aquatic ocean blues in summer. This crisp blue gemstone is bright and energetic, bringing a breath of fresh air to contemporary jewelry designs all year long. Blue Topaz gems can easily fall into the bold or pastel category, making them perfect for pairing with just about any other gem.

Rosy Garnet Gemstones

Winter Gemstones Garnet Gems

Another one of autumn’s classic colors, juicy reddish Rhodolite Garnet brings to mind this season’s grapes and wine, apples, and even cranberry sauce. And like a fine wine, Rhodolite’s moody cabernet color, with hints of purple or pink, pairs just as well with jeans and snuggly sweaters as formal holiday attire.

Rhodolite Garnet gets its name from the pink blooms of the mountain rhododendron, which grows in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina, where it was first discovered.

Smoky Quartz Gemstones

Winter Gemstones Smoky Quartz Gems

How can you not think of a cozy fire when you think of Smoky Quartz? The word “smoke” is right there in the name, after all. Both its color and its name bring to mind all sorts of other fall favorites, like toasting marshmallows, firewood, and even chestnuts roasting you-know-where.

The less adventurous way of describing a Smoky Quartz gem is simply “brown.” But there’s so much richness and elegance in these stones, brown just doesn’t suffice. Smoky Quartz is beautiful paired with pink, blue, or yellow gemstones. How gorgeous would a big Smoky Quartz center stone be flanked by peachy-pink Morganite this time of year? Or any time of year, really.

Green Tourmaline Gemstones

Winter Gemstones Tourmaline Gems

Not all leaves turn into fall colors this time of year, and one glance across a mountain or field will undoubtedly show you a patch of evergreens. They’re the same throughout every day of every year, and their constant, steady color has become synonymous with things that last. This timeless color is perfectly displayed in a gemstone like Green Tourmaline. This timeless green is as popular with male buyers as women, arguably doubling its value in your display case.

Especially since green is commonly affiliated with eco-friendly products, we see green gems such as Green Tourmaline being used by designers and sought after by fashion-forward consumers. Its rich olive-green hue provides a stunning year-round fashion accessory.


 




Making Gemstone Jewelry

Gemstones and metal jewelry have been beautiful partners for thousands of years. The gemstone cuts have changed through the centuries, as have the jewelry design styles, but now as then, gemstones add beauty, value, and color to metal jewelry designs in a way that nothing else can.Rub

There are literally hundreds of different gemstones with more being discovered occasionally, even in modern times. Because they all have different qualities, specifically qualities related to durability like hardness, cleavage, and fracture, not all gemstones are suitable for use in jewelry. Some gems are more suitable for gently worn jewelry, such as earrings and pendants, than for jewelry that can receive hard knocks during daily wear, such as bracelets and rings. It’s important to understand a gemstone’s durability and consider it as you are making gemstone jewelry. Let’s take a closer look at hardness.

To fully understand a gemstone’s hardness–and get an idea of its suitability for jewelry designs–you need to understand the Mohs hardness scale. Learn more about the scale below from jewelry experts Tom and Kay Benha2323m.Citr

Mohs’ Hardness for Gemstones

By Tom and Kay Benham, Contributing Editors, Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist

Beginning rockhounds and jewelry makers are often confused by the Mohs hardness scale for rocks and gems. The Mohs hardness scale was set up in the early 1800s by mineralogist Friedrich Mohs, who selected 10 well-known minerals and numbered them in order of scratch hardness, such that a mineral will scratch all minerals having a lower hardness number. It served the purposes of comparison–but because it is a non-linear scale, it does not provide a true indication of the relationship of the various hardnesses. Mohs-hardness-scale-gemstones

An examination of the chart on the left demonstrates that while corundum (ruby and sapphire) and diamond differ by only one number on the non-linear Mohs Scale, their hardness difference is four times greater on the linear Knoop Scale.

What does this mean to the beginner without any fancy equipment for measuring hardness? Well, by using simple items on hand, rockhounds can easily test for different hardness. Graphite, talc, and gypsum can all be scratched by a fingernail; calcite can be easily scratched with a copper coin; fluorite and apatite can be scratched with a pocket knife; a hardened steel file will scratch orthoclase; and quartz will easily scratch window glass.

You can assemble a simple kit using small samples of all the minerals listed on the Mohs hardness scale for testing the hardness of stones in the field. A diamond is really unnecessary, as it will scratch anything. —Tom & Kay

What This Means for Your Jewelry

So how does that affect the gems you use when making gemstone jewelry? There are no hard and fast rules, but in general, you should use harder stones for knockabout jewelry types like rings and bracelets, and you can use softer stones for protected pieces like earrings and pendants. Other factors aside, peridot, quartz (including amethyst and citrine), tourmaline, all the jaspers and agates, most garnets, and topaz are some common stones generally considered hard enough for setting in rings and bracelets, with hardness ratings ranging from 6-1/2 to 8.

Softer stones like amber, coral, fluorite, and apatite (with Mohs’ hardness ratings ranging from 2 to 5) would be safer worn in earrings and pendants, in general, or at least with substantial protective settings if set in rings and bracelets. As I said above, though, there are no hard rules. We’ve all seen my favorite gemstone, pearl (Mohs’ hardness of 3-4), featured in rings and bracelets and not always with protective settings. Jewelry like this should be worn with care–but most folks don’t wear pearls on the soccer field anyway!

Originally published in Jewelry Making Daily on October 15, 2015.

Republished here with permission of the authors.2