Monday, November 28, 2016

The History of Wire Wrapping

The art of wire wrapping dates as far back as 1446 B.C.    In ancient times, wire wrapping was the only way to craft metal jewelry without the technology of casting or soldering.  The ancient Egyptians pounded gold into flat sheets and then cut the metal into strips.  The strips were then rolled to create tubes.  The tubes would become the ornate wire that they would wrap around their chosen jewels and stones.  Ancient civilizations did not have the assistance of electricity, fire or any of our modern day technology.  Yet, they were able to create stunning one of a kind pieces of wearable art.

This group of rings, earrings and pendants reflects the cosmopolitan nature of Ptolemaic society. They display a variety of artistic styles relating to the many cultures that met in Thonis-Heracleion. While the cobra is an Egyptian symbol, the ring engraved with a winged Nike – the personification of victory – shows Greek influence. The hoop earring with a mythical creature (above) is inspired by motifs commonly found in the Middle East, associated with Persian craftsmen. The majority of this jewellery was discovered in the temples of Amun-Gereb and his son, Khonsu-the-Child, where they were probably deposited as offerings.


Swivel ring with wedjat amulet-gold and lapis lazuli-21th dynasty-reign of Psusennes I cairo egyptian museum-swivel ring with wedjat amulet

Wire wrapping is one of the oldest techniques used when creating handmade jewelry.  This technique is done using wire to create components.  These wire components are connected to each other.  The wire is bent into a loop or some other shape, wrapped around itself to finish it off and make it permanent.  The technique of wrapping wire around itself is called wire wrapping.

The British Museum has samples of jewelry from the Sumerian Dynasty, found in the cemetery of Ur that contain spiraled wire components. This jewelry is dated at approximately 2000 BC. Other samples of jewelry from Ancient Rome show wire wrapped loops (one of the important techniques in making wire wrapped jewelry). This Roman jewelry is dated to approximately 2000 years ago. In the manufacture of this early jewelry the techniques for soldering did not exist. Later, as the technique for soldering developed, the wire wrapping approach continued because it was an economical and quick way to make jewelry components out of wire.  (

I am very honored to be utilizing a technique that is thousands of years old.  I hope that my creations last just as long as the ancients.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

What is the difference between traditional karat gold, gold filled and gold plated?

First let's clarify that no jewelry in retail today is made from pure gold.  The most popular karats used are 18kt, 14kt and 10kt with 14kt being the most common. 
What is a karat?  A karat measures the purity of gold.  Pure gold being 24 karats.
So, what is the difference between karat gold, gold-filled and gold plated?  Pure gold is usually mixed with a metal like copper, silver and/or zinc to make jewelry The other metals increase the strength of the gold because 24 karat gold is too soft.  Each karat represents 1/24th of the whole.  Karat gold is essentially an alloy of mixed metals.  Now, with that said, here are the differences that my research has revealed:
 Gold is an elemental metal.  That means that pure gold is only made up of gold atoms.  In its natural form, gold is buttery yellow and has a bright shine or high luster.  It is extremely soft and malleable and scratches easily.  Gold in its pure state is rarely used for jewelry making.  Any jewelry created using pure gold would not be able to hold its shape and any gemstones that would be set in it would probably end up falling out.  So, other metals are added to increase its strength creating a "gold alloy".  An alloy is the combination of any two metals.  Gold alloys are created by melting pure gold and mixing it with another metal (usually silver, copper, tin, or zinc.  Almost 100% of all fine jewelry made today is made from some sort of gold alloy.
Gold filled jewelry is created by wrapping one or more sheets of solid karat gold (18K, 14K, 12K, etc.)  around a base metal (usually brass) under very intense pressure.  These gold sheets are now effectively "filled" with something other than gold.  Unlike gold plated jewelry, gold filled jewelry has a measurable amount of actual gold in it.  Here in the United States, the law requires that items marked with G.F. (marking for gold filled) must be at least 1/20th gold by weight.  Example:  14K gold filled is 14/20 gold by weight.  Gold filled is permanent and does not flake off, rub off or turn colors.  It will last for decades.
Gold plated jewelry is created using a base metal (e.g. copper or silver) that has a molecule layer of gold applied on top.  The layer is so thin that it can actually be rubbed off with a coarse pencil eraser in just a few strokes.  Gold plated jewelry should be considered nothing more that a coloring of gold to a base metal.  There is almost no value to the gold applied no matter if it's labeled 24K, 14K or 18K.
Now that we know the difference between them all, here are a couple of visual examples.
(photos borrowed from

How to Clean, Care for and Maintain Your Copper Jewelry

Care and maintenance for your copper jewelry without a patina treatment.
Copper will naturally tarnish over time due to they sweat on your skin and exposure to air. Here is all you need to bring the shine back to your copper jewelry:
1. A bowl big enough to hold your piece(s)
2. Lemon Juice (fresh or concentrated) either works just fine
3. Salt (kosher)
Add enough lemon juice to cover your piece of copper jewelry, then add about a teaspoon of salt. It’s not an exact science, but it should clean your copper piece in about 60 seconds. Rinse and dry with a soft cotton towel.  You can polish your copper with Beeswax or renaissance wax to protect it a bit longer.

Why does my skin turn green when I wear my copper jewelry?

Believe it or not, this is a very common occurrence.  Here are the facts:
When it is exposed to air, it darkens or tarnishes, forming what is commonly referred to as copper “patina.”  After prolonged contact with human skin where it can interact with air, sweat and other chemicals, such as soaps, lotions and makeup, copper can turn green or bluish-green, and stain the skin in the process.
Well, this occurrence may or may not happen because it is related to the wearer’s metabolism.
The green stains are caused by copper oxidation when in contact with sweat glands.  Therefore, if you sweat profusely when working out, or gardening in the sun, maybe it’s not a good idea to wear your copper jewelry.
Copper oxidation can also occur in an acidic environment. Your body acidity is related to your diet.  Junk food, processed food and lots of red meat will make your body acidic. Fresh fruits and vegetables won’t. That said, people’s reaction to copper cannot be predicted.  By the way, copper is a material used in many alloys like bronze, brass and sterling silver.  And yes, in extreme cases, sterling can also turn your skin green and cause allergies!  The green stains can be washed off with soap and water.  Otherwise you will notice that they are absorbed overnight by your body.  You may attempt to prevent your skin from turning green by applying clear nail polish to the side of the copper that touches your skin.  You will have to reapply as needed when the coating wears off.


It's a fact that our body needs copper and can get it from food like milk, nuts, seafood and delicious chocolate.  If you wear copper jewelry and it leaves a green deposit, your body will also absorb it and put it at good use.  So I see that as a plus.
Now, is it true that copper bracelets are effective to relieve arthritis joint pain?  Many doctors say no.  Many wearers say yes.  No one knows for sure.  I've done a little research and here is what I found:
Fact:  Copper is an essential mineral that is absorbed through the skin.  Some believe that this natural invisible process becomes visible when we experience physical, emotional or mental stress. If this is true, then turning green may be an early stress indicator and could be one of the reasons that copper has been worn for ages around the world. Copper marks wash away easily, or you may allow it to be absorbed by your skin.
- "Copper is an essential element for the enzyme that regenerates the cartilage lining our bones and to clean up the radicals destructive to human tissues." - Excerpt from the book: The Copper Bracelet and Arthritis by Dr. Helmar H. A. Dollwet, Professor of Biology, University of Akron, Ohio, USA.
- "Copper has anti-inflammatory effects in the body, and may therefore have painkilling properties. One study showed that copper from a bracelet can be absorbed into the body, and it does seem that this can offer some relief from arthritic pain."  Google
"People who are deficient in copper may benefit from wearing copper jewelry, since it can be absorbed through the skin. Jewelry is a good way of taking in the small amount of the mineral needed. The healing properties of copper, in the form of bracelets, necklaces, rings, or earrings, can allow a minimal amount of the mineral into the body without overwhelming it. Some wearers of copper jewelry find it relieves the symptoms of arthritis and circulation problems."
- On a holistic level, copper has historically been associated as the body metal, and is considered a grounding metal for the human body and spirit. (Silver is the metal of the spirit, and gold is the metal of the mind.)
Spiritually, copper is also considered a metal capable of storing healing properties holistically, as well as having protective properties. This is why it was used in ancient times for totems and talismans.
Because holistic and spiritual uses of the copper properties are holistic in nature, copper can be coated for these properties to work, in theory. However, some people still believe these properties could be blocked by the physical barrier of a coating on the copper. For healing purposes, the copper should not be coated to allow direct contact with the skin.
So you see, Copper has been used for medicinal purposes in Ancient Egypt, Greece and even by the Aztec civilization.  Hippocrates himself mentioned copper as a treatment for leg ulcers.  Could it be that doctors today prefer to prescribe expensive pills (and fuel the multi-billion drug industry) rather than recommend a natural and affordable alternative?  Or, is copper really an old school remedy?  
Who knows, I say do what works for you.  If wearing copper helps whatever ails you, go for it!  

How to Clean, Care for and Maintain Your Sterling Silver Jewelry

There is a very simple, efficient and inexpensive method to cleaning and maintaining your Sterling silver jewelry. Silver will naturally tarnish over time due to the sweat on your skin and exposure to air. 
Here is all you need to bring the shine back to your silver jewelry:
An aluminum pie pan or a piece of aluminum in a bowl big enough to hold your piece.
Baking soda
Boiling water
Cover your silver jewelry with baking soda in the aluminum pie pan and add boiling water.  Add enough baking soda and water to cover your piece. Once tarnish is removed, rinse and dry with cotton towel or silver polishing cloth.
When you are not wearing your sterling silver jewelry it tends to tarnish faster.  To slow down this process, store it in a jewelry bag in your jewelry box or drawer.