Butterfly Pendants, Pins and More

What is your favorite insect? I think nine out of ten people would say it was the butterfly. I’d venture to guess that many people don’t even think of this bug as an insect, imagining those creepy crawly nasty things have nothing to do with this magnificent winged creature. Just look at all the colorful butterfly wearable art available! How many cockroach brooches and ant earrings have you seen? Seriously, the butterfly is truly beautiful, despite the fact that it is, indeed, still a bug.

If you can open your eyes to a truly magnificent rendering of this insect, the creative butterfly jewelry designs here take you on a fantastic yet finite tour of fifteen wonderful examples of one artist’s conception of this critter. All of them have a look that ties them together, yet each one is truly unique. You like color? You’ll find it here in several lovely necklaces, earrings and pins. Are you more conservative? How about a sweet little sterling butterfly pendant or possibly the same design in 14K gold?

I find it interesting that different artists’ conception of this animal vary so widely. I suppose when seen through different eyes the butterfly could appear large, small, delicate, humorous, colorful or poetic. I’m sure there are hundreds if not thousands of poems dedicated to this little creature, so that last one is not as unusual as you might think.

Me, I’m a guy so I can’t wear the jewelry. But I’m also a connoisseur of fine porcelain, silver, gold and enamel butterfly designs, and these I happily collect whenever I can find them (not the easiest thing in the world). Besides having to endure the incredulous looks of shopkeepers, I have to get the items home in one piece, sometimes a challenge for my naturally butter-fingered self.

Sometimes I think “Oh that I could be a woman, able to pick up a lovely butterfly pendant in an antique store or thrift shop and bring it home to examine it more closely.” My sister does wear animal jewelry, and I keep vigilant on these shopping excursions, hoping for something lovely to give her for her birthday. In these cases, I can do just that. (Bringing them home for a closer inspection.) It’s a little bit like looking for colored glass on the seashore, an adventure becoming less and less satisfactory as plastic replaces glass bottles. Thus it is with antique butterfly jewelry.

Lucky for us all that there are jewelers still willing to make designs of the butterfly, and are following in the creative footsteps of their forefathers and mothers. From the sparkly rhinestone brooches of the 1940s and 50s to the more modern artisans of the 20th century artists have long been entranced by this little bug. I only hope this love and fascination follows them into the 21st century.

The New Enamel Jewelry

Lately I’ve noticed a profusion of artists working with what is sometimes called the new enamel jewelry , or cold enameling with epoxy resin. I’ve seen many designs using this technique with bright colors and powerfully fun designs. The new enamels aren’t made with glass, but with epoxy paint applied delicately with needles and brushes, then cured until an extremely hard resinous coating forms.

I’m a cat lover, and one of my favorite cat jewelry designs in this medium is a pair of perky calico cat earrings – not only is the design concept attractive, but the choice of colors matches my favorite calico, sitting right beside me now! The great thing is the potential for creativity using this new enameling technique. As far as I can see, the process isn’t as complex and wearing as the one using a kiln, and the effect is enchanting in its own right.

I know there are some who are purists, who wouldn’t go near something not created in the old fashioned way. My point is that there’s room for all in this enormous world of jewelry creation. I’m not one to pooh pooh a technique or medium just because it doesn’t have a long and noble history. Every technique now in use in jewelry making was at one time new and possibly looked at askance by the old timers. In the world of creation, specifically jewelry creation, I believe an open-minded approach is the way to go. Who knows what delightful techniques might develop from this one in the future?

This isn’t to discount the beauty of the original enamel designs. There are gorgeous objects, both jewelry and other items made with the painstaking method of heated glass enameling. Have you seen some of the Renaissance pieces in jewel-like tones? It’s remarkable how translucently lovely these are. Even the fearsome Vikings crafted beautiful enamel sword and other weapon hilts, an anomaly I find fascinating.

And closer to modern times, some of the deco and later enamel designs created both in the US and abroad are expressive and fun. The use of color by some of these artists really appeals to me, and the fact that many of the jewelry pieces are one of a kind is especially attractive. Now these sell for quite a bit of money, and I would say they’re absolutely worth it. If you are a true collector, there are still many gorgeous pieces to be had.

Chinese enamel, also known as cloisonné, is another variation originated long ago but is quite popular now, as well. I’m taken in by these detailed enamel jewelry pieces, even though I realize many of them are mass produced these days. The technique itself is so distinctive, that you just have to give the jewelry artists credit for maintaining the ability to produce them.

Whether ancient or modern, enamel jewelry will always be attractive to me, and I hope new methods to create wonderful colorful jewelry continue to appear on the scene.


Ethical Gemstones

Many end of the line consumers aren’t aware of how gemstones are mined or made into jewelry. Either assumptions are made that the miners and artisans are paid a fair wage or no thought is given to it whatsoever.

The truth is there are ethical companies and companies that exploit their workers. If you can support someone at a fair wage, why not shop a little more and make your money make a difference? Sometimes that may not be the least expensive route, but I’m a firm believer that just because something is cheap, it’s not necessarily the best at any level.

www.lucinajewelry.com is one company I’ve found on the web that has information on where the gemstone jewelry you’re purchasing actually comes from. They even give data about the shops where the jewelry is produced, many of which have jobs providing an income for women who might otherwise either live in poverty or have to resort to degrading practices just to survive.

There are women artisans from Colombia, Afghanistan, South America and other countries producing lovely jewelry in many different gemstones. I saw some beautifully creative pieces with citrine, aquamarine and fluorite, among others. The site is aesthetic and enjoyable.

There are, of course, many sources of gemstones to turn to for your special purpose; I’m just suggesting checking out some sources that will be supporting a more survival route.

Miners have been forced to work in unsafe environments in some third world countries where they’re put at risk for respiratory illness. There are documented cases of child labor in both the mines and in the finishing process of diamonds (cutting and polishing.).

If you’ve seen the movie Blood Diamond you’ll understand what this is all about.

Another site I found appealing was a sapphire mining operation in Australia that is environmentally sound as well as taking good care of their workers. The mining is done shallowly, after which the topsoil is replaced. What I appreciated about this site is the family run aspect of it and the genuine care of the environment, including concern for native wildlife.

Like many other things in life, shopping for a gemstone can be done ethically or without paying too much attention to the effect created. Part of selecting a reputable jeweler, besides the usual things to look for such as length of time in operation and quality of the products should be finding out where the gemstones actually originated.

Give the Gift of Animal Themed Jewelry

I’m a big animal lover, animal fan, animal fanatic- however you want to put it. That’s why I can’t seem to get enough of jewelry depicting the little beasts, I suppose. I don’t think it’s an accident that people are instantly attracted to jewelry with an animal theme, especially when it’s well rendered. We’ve depended on animals for protection, affection and food for millennia.

In case you haven’t noticed, the election is over and we can now go about preparing for the holiday season. I think we all deserve to kick back a little and enjoy ourselves. It’s certainly been a tense couple of months, so time to unwind and think about some gift giving, eggnog and happier times.

Are you looking for something to brighten up the mood of a young friend? I think a pretty but affordable sterling silver pendant could be just the ticket. I know many of my friends are trying to cut down on their holiday budget this year, and I understand. But you can do that and still give tasteful and meaningful gift items to those you love. And if your little darling is a charm collector, you can go the other route with something like a pretty silver charm she can add to her collection.

For my money, these are two of the best jewelry items you can spend your holiday money on. I like gifting things that I know will actually be worn

Last year I decided to go a different direction and gave all my family rather expensive coffee table books. I think I surprised them; in the past I’ve gone the route of lovely gold or silver jewelry or attractive jewelry boxes. Oh, did I neglect to say that the coffee table books were about jewelry around the world? I don’t seem to stray very far from the subject at hand.

If you are feeling extra flush and want to be a bit more flamboyant, there are still a lot of bargains in gold and gemstones. Of course, you can expect to pay more for high quality items, so do your selecting carefully. I like to pick things out in person if at all possible- I always like to see and feel the stone myself, and see it under different lighting, but that’s just me.

Enjoy your shopping, and have fun! The best part for me is picking out the gifts and imagining the look on the face of my friend or family member when the realization hits- this is a gift that was tenderly chosen, and just for her.

Jewelry for Dentists?

Sure, why not have custom jewelry created for dentists ? People who work in this profession are sometimes looked at with amused tolerance, if not downright fear and loathing. I think they deserve their own jewelry! Take the tooth fairy pendant for instance. She is a symbol for many people of growing up, losing teeth and finding that shiny quarter under the pillow. This is a symbol the dentist deserves. She’s sweet, cute and brings good things.

If you’ve been subjected to a root canal, a painful filling, or (heaven forbid) a tooth extraction, you know the impossibility of being looked upon with affection if you’ve made dentistry your profession. Think how it must feel for the dentist having patient after patient enter his or her office, a frown on each one’s face, dreading the moment when you ask them to “open wide.”

So why jewelry for dentists? Look, I think it’s a wonderful idea. I have nothing but respect for my dentist, and I think she should wear a lovely little symbol of joy.

And no, I’m not being facetious. If I spent my day with my gloved hands inside one person after another’s mouth, I’d feel like I deserved something special. And I’m not just talking about the dentist, mind you. I’ve had lots of lovely hygienists work on my mouth
as well. It’s dirty, hard and often thankless work. So when was the last time you actually thanked your hygienist or dentist for a job well done?

It doesn’t have to be expensive; I’ve seen pewter dental lapel pins that communicated with humor the appreciation felt for keeping a toothsome mouth. You don’t have to go out and buy your dentist a diamond ring!

You’re thinking “Is this guy serious? Buy my dentist a thank you gift?” Well, I am and I’m not. If you have an appointment near the holidays, why not present him or her with something fitting, something personal, something lovely? Yes, dental jewelry! Stranger things have happened, you know. But now that I know such a thing exists, and how fitting it is, I think I shall have to go out and purchase something for the entire staff at my dental clinic.

If not the tooth fairy, then maybe a smiling tooth pendant, or a dental name tag. There are more possibilities than you probably ever conceived of in this rather large niche of dental jewelry. Really!

More on Animal Themed Sterling Silver Jewelry

I have a lot to say about this topic. If I didn’t love animals, I doubt I’d have this as my personal “hobby horse,” but as I do love them, (practically all of them), you’ll have to indulge me. Or skip this page- it’s up to you!

One of my favorite sites has some of my favorite animal jewelry. I’m not talking about cutesy generic dogs (even their unique dog charms have mountainous amounts of character) but animals that frequent zoos and exotic locales. Yes, sterling silver pendants , earrings and charms that include some of the least seen items in the entire jewelry world.

I am a sucker for jewelry that is well made and has an artistic touch. Take this cunning little monkey charm – can’t you imagine him in motion? To me the charm is like an instant of simian life frozen in time. If I wore charm bracelets (that is, if I were female) I’d start a dozen of them, both silver and gold. I’d load them up with unique little gems like this one.

And of course I’d match them up with silver earrings, pins, pendants and so forth. Why stop with just the charm? For women who don’t care to have their ears pierced a charm bracelet is the perfect alternate way to collect dozens of wonderful wearable art pieces. The only problem is that with so many of them the individual charms might go unnoticed. Another good reason to have several bracelets with fewer charms on each. Have you considered starting different charm bracelets for different topics (or animals?) This could be a great way to handle the over-crowding issue. My grandma had a gold charm bracelet that was so heavy she reserved wearing it for extra special occasions. I doubt if the idea of thinning the charms into separate bracelets ever occurred to her.

Christmas is over, but Valentines Day is just around the corner. This is a good time to start thinking about a perfect piece for your love. No need to panic if you give it a little thought a few weeks in advance. I hate to say it, but it’s only about 5 weeks in the future! Online jewelry stores are the perfect solution, since hundreds of choices are just a mouse click away. How in the world did we survive before the internet?

I still favor the traditional red heart for Valentines Day; however, if your special someone is an animal lover, you know which direction I’d point you.

But a red ruby or a sparkling diamond in a beautiful setting is always a tasteful choice. As far as I know this animal jewelry site doesn’t carry gemstones. However there are surely a lot of them available, and in this economy you might get a wonderful deal.


Purchase Your Silver Jewelry Now!

Rumors about silver prices skyrocketing abound. Families are purchasing silver eagles and silver rounds as a hedge against what may come. I’ve noticed a little nervousness out there in the marketplace. Some silver coin dealers are having a hard time getting supplies.

What does this mean for the future of silver jewelry ? Will we, like one silversmith I knew years ago, be forced to start melting down our silverware in order to have enough supply to create the beautiful jewelry we’ve come to take for granted?

It’s been said there is not a lot of silver left to mine . Whether or not this is true, there can’t possibly be an endless supply of it. Besides its use in jewelry and as money, silver has manufacturing uses. This alone could drive the prices up into the stars. Not to be an alarmist, but it pays to stay informed about what the future may bring.

Sterling silver has been affordable for so long that’s it’s a little hard to wrap my wits around the idea of it, as some experts predict, outpacing gold prices. That still seems like something out of an alternative universe, something from the Twilight Zone.

But assuming this is a possibility, as unlikely as it seems, wouldn’t it be a good idea to buy those sterling silver earrings you’ve been coveting before the only thing you can do is look at them and dream? Or worse, kick yourself for not getting them when they were only $65.00 instead of $200.00?

At any rate, I think its unlikely silver will ever dip as low as it did in late 90s. If it’s true that the industrial uses for silver have increased dramatically and the supply can’t possibly keep pace with the demand, then I wouldn’t wait around for prices to drop dramatically. Of course, I could be wrong and so could all the so-called experts. Who knows? Maybe a huge supply of silver will be discovered on the moon. Anything is possible.

Some jewelers haven’t raised their prices much from several years ago. But I expect that will change before too long. It’s hard to ask customers to pay so much more than they’re used to for the same product, but it’s the same thing you may have noticed in your local supermarket. In order to stay in business, grocery stores and jewelry companies have to charge more.

My advice is not to put off buying your silver jewelry gifts till November or December. Traditionally prices are lower in the summer months, and tend to rise as the year progresses. And this year they may rise substantially.

The Timelessness of 14K Gold Charms

Will lovely gold charms ever go out of style? I don’t believe that’s possible. For one, I believe gold charms and talismans have been popular from the beginning of man as an artist. Of course, this would also apply to the wearing of a gold pendant . This, according to some of the latest findings, goes back to the time of the Neanderthal. Even they crafted simple works of art from whatever they could find. Think about the beauty of a seashell, and you’ll have a greater understanding of the primitive mind, and the way he looked at his environment.

I find this fascinating. Almost as much so as the early goldsmiths, and the beautiful and evocative work they created in their primitive studios. One of the things that I love about gold-smithing is that the skills and tools used today are pretty much the same as what the early Egyptian artisans employed. It’s been said that if you placed a very early goldsmith (think B.C. not A.D.) in the shop of a modern smith, in very short order he could manipulate the tools skillfully and be able to cast and finish a piece of gold into something marvelously beautiful. I find that fascinating! I don’t think the same thing would apply to an office worker of the early 20th century and the modern computer user in his or her little cubicle today. Come to think of it, in another five or six centuries, which of these skills do you think will be the most revered? Makes you think.

As anyone who knows me realizes, I’ve been a gold jewelry lover my entire life. When I was a young man, gold was not as expensive as it is today, and I collected quite a bit of unique jewelry. Since that time I’ve given a lot of it away (sigh) but to think I did hold it in my hand at one time still gives me pleasure.

Once the price of gold shoots out the roof, it may be only the ultra-rich who can afford gold jewelry. I hope that doesn’t happen in my lifetime, but all indications are that it very well might. I encourage anyone who can possibly purchase gold now to do so, whether it is in the form of collector’s coins, gold bullion, or jewelry. I don’t want to be an alarmist, but with the way the economy is down turning, it’s important to make sure that you and your family are well taken care of. Gold has always been considered the only real money, and has been the standard of trade for millennia.

Sure I digress, but who doesn’t? The topic was gold jewelry, after all. And I did mention it one time in the last paragraph!

Seriously, though. If I were able to do it all over again, I’d buy a lot more of that yellow shiny stuff!

Unusual Sterling Silver Earrings

I’m always on the lookout for unique sterling silver earrings , and I especially like the animal themed ones. Let’s face it, there are thousands upon thousands of sterling earrings advertised and sold on the internet, as well as in mall kiosks and stores. It’s refreshing to locate jewelry that’s surprising and fun among all the riff-raff. it’s one of my favorite things to do in fact!

For instance, dolphin earrings in silver have got to be one of the most common jewelry designs ever created. I thought it was just a passing fad back in the 1980s, but here we are over 20 years later and they haven’t yet lost their appeal. Almost everywhere I turn I see dolphin earrings in sterling silver with or without diamond eyes, .925 dolphin earrings with different finishes, and of course in a myriad of poses. Most, of course, are busy leaping from the “water,” the way most people tend to envision this animal. But please, artists make your animal jewelry at least marginally anatomically correct. You do know what I’m talking about, right? You’ve seen the crazy ones too right? I mean when I look for unique jewelry pieces I don’t mean I’m looking for odd shaped things.

When examining earrings of a particular type, something unusual tends to pop out at you. Cat earrings are like that too. Most of them are too cutesy for my taste, but since all artists have their own vision, there’s not a lot I can do about it. I like earrings that have a nice feeling, something artistic and if possible, hand made. They don’t have to be “edgy” and in fact I’m sometimes bored and often confused with what passes for artistic wearable art. Especially if it’s animal jewelry you’re talking about. I like animals to basically look like animals. Maybe I’m just old fashioned.

But having said that, I must admit I enjoy stylized animal jewelry as well. Maybe that’s what attracts me to primitive art. Some of the jewelry and religious charms originated in societies that really saw the essence of the design and created work that communicates on a very basic level. Have you ever seen the beautiful art in those famous caves in France? Yes, now that is art at a very basic level indeed.

One of the best metals for making this type of jewelry is sterling silver. I love sterling silver earings. I think they go well with almost anything and seem to be timeless in fashion. I know sometimes it seems like white gold or titanium is in fashion but sterling silver is always there when you need it. and silver is usually one of the first metals we get jewelry in when we are starting on our collecting journey. It’s not because it’s cheaper, because some pieces can be quite expensive, but I believe it’s because it is easier to mix and match in our wardrobe. It doesn’t require much sophistication since it goes with almost anything.

I guess that’s one of the appealing things about sterling silver jewelry. It’s instantly interesting (how many people are there who actually don’t like it) so from that point it’s just up to the artist to do something creative and inspirational, like sterling silver earrings that knock your socks off!


Pewter Jewelry Then and Now

Pewter has some fascinating characteristics that make it rather appealing in the world of jewelry making. If properly finished, it has a luster reminiscent of silver, but without as much possibility of tarnishing when exposed to the air. That is and of itself is a big deal in the world of jewelry.

It isn’t an expensive metal- which I believe makes it more likely to be used as whimsical jewelry designs in pewter that aren’t trying to impress anyone. If a jeweler is feeling especially creative, he or she can experiment with making something in pewter and get a feel for the public interest in the design. And let’s face it, we aren’t always looking to wear our drop dead impressive jewelry pieces when going out. Sometimes a more casual piece is just what the doctor ordered.

Today pewter can be cast without lead, making it safe to have around children and pets. With all the news today about toys and jewelry from China containing lead, this is an especially important factor. The fact that old pewter contained lead may have steered a lot of people away from it but that’s a thing of the past.

It’s thought that the early Egyptians had their uses for pewter, although there aren’t many samples of it around today. It’s possible that even then it wasn’t valued like gold or silver and most of the use was for everyday objects like eating utensils and plates. Since the melting point is low, it was easy to recast whenever necessary. think about that for a minute… bent your fork? just throw it in the pile honey and I’ll melt it down later! haha

Much pewter in the Middle Ages was utilized in this way. It’s easy to associate pewter mugs with beer and feasts around a large hand hewn wooden table. Who hasn’t fantasized about hoisting a huge pewter mug of ale like some “Game of Thrones” type character from back in the old days!

Pewter is very soft as it is primarily made from tin. Because of this, tools aren’t made from the metal. This might be another reason why there aren’t too many antique pewter objects, jewelry or otherwise, found in museums or private collections. I could be wrong, but the fact that it is rather soft might have limited its long term durability. The peices you do find from long ago are usually pitted and show their age very well. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on perspective.

Celtic jewelry is often cast in this metal, and it seems to go very well with the relatively rough look of pewter. I believe the Celtic knot type designs are lovely, but personally I prefer them in sterling silver. That’s not to deny that pewter, or “poor man’s silver” does have a certain appeal. Sometimes the beauty of the jewelry itself is in the old look that the metal’s softness will yield. This is an advantage that pewter has over silver.

There is some agreement that in the 11th century pewter became more popular than ever. Perhaps the ability to mix the alloys in a standard manner was discovered. Trial and error eventually triumphing over guess work with a formula that was fool proof? It’s hard to know for sure, but the fact that its popularity boomed during this period lends me to believe this could be the case.

Many people collect pewter jewelry, finding it more to their liking than silver or gold. I believe it will remain a popular metal for years to come, despite its association as a 2nd class citizen in the art of making jewelry. I think it’s great personally, so give it a shot yourself and see if it tickles your fancy too!

Beautiful Jewelry That Everyone Can Afford

Now that we’ve all acknowledged the economy is in for a bumpy ride, many of us are wondering how to keep up our life style of “buy whatever I want whenever I want.” Well, that might be impractical under the circumstances. However, what’s to stop you from finding well made, beautiful jewelry at low prices ? I tell you, it’s out there. If you can’t do a little bit of looking on your own, then you’re in worse shape than I thought! But don’t worry, we’ll go over some ways to find that elusive affordable jewelry in this post right here.

Seriously, you can find hand crafted jewelry made right here in the USA for bargain prices if you don’t mind searching a little. Some people have already discovered the fun of exploring thrift stores and local art fairs, (Not that the two venues really belong in the same sentence) I’ll bet you that some of your best friends may have some great ideas up their sleeves on where to look. Just the other day a friend and I hit some local estate sales and the results were interesting to say the least. While a lot of sales had expensive prices on everything, there were more than a few pieces of affordable jewelry to be found by the end of the day. Just a lesson in persistence. You might not find the perfect piece right away, but just keep looking and it will turn up.

One of my favorite art shows is the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar that takes place every December in Austin Texas. But you don’t have to wait until the holiday season, or fly to Texas to see what this eclectic group of artists has to offer. Go to their website and look at the listing of artists, complete with all of their web sites! I tell you, there are still ways to “let your fingers do the walking.” The Armadillo Bazaar is rich in jewelers from all over the country, and every one of them hand makes their own work. Maybe I’m just getting sentimental as I grow older, but it seems like a great idea to support your own country’s economy. And I would say the same thing to any readers out there in cyberspace from Germany, England, Japan and so forth. So I’m not being USA-centric. I believe all of us should support our local economies. This can start with buying your produce locally, and extend to other areas of life, including artistic ones. The estate sale I mentioned in the previous paragraph are another local avenue to go down. So you don’t always have to go far to find the jewelry of your dreams.

If all else fails, maybe you can learn to craft your own jewelry! This idea is not as crazy as you might think. There are lots of people who have developed skills over the years, some who are quite talented. You can easily learn to bead and work with clay. Casting and enameling may take more complex skills, but aren’t impossible to learn. At the very least you’ll create some great (and meaningful) Christmas presents! And if creating isn’t your thing, you can also check out Etsy where a ton of creative people make things and sell for low prices all day long.

Now if your only jewelry love is gemstone jewelry, things might be a little more complex. Cutting gemstones well is a delicate art. But hey, there’s no time like the present to expand your horizons! And you may just learn something that becomes a brand-new livelihood. Stranger things have happened. And in this day and age it seems like strange is the common way for things to happen!