Brightsmith is Ten Years Strong! July 26 2018
July 2018 marks my tenth year in business as a silversmith. Over the past decade, I've had the thrill of sending my creations to all fifty states and almost forty countries on six continents. I never dreamt what started out as a hobby would come this far.
When asked once what I would do if I won the lottery, I answered that I'd probably just sit around and make things all day. While running a small business has proven to consist of much, much more than sitting around, I do get to spend my days making meaningful objects. Most days, I do feel like I've won the lottery!
Thanks for your continued support!
One of the most common issues my buyers encounter is difficulty in building a set of rings that "look right" together. The most meaningful set of stacking rings most of us will ever wear is our wedding set, and many brides have a hard time figuring out how to match wedding bands to their engagement rings.
Most jewelry wearers assume that if you match the color and style of the engagement ring, it's all good, right? An advanced wearer might even consider matching the band's width (the measurement of the visible portion of the ring when worn, or the top). However, the most important and commonly overlooked factor is the band's height, which is the measurement of the profile of the band (visible when viewed from the side). This dimension may also be referred to as the band's thickness.
When reading a description from an online listing, a band's measurements will usually be written in the width x height format. For example, a ring that's "2mm x 1mm" is 2mm wide and 1mm high. A band that's designated as "full round" will only have one dimension listed, because it measures the same from any angle. While most people never consider a ring's height, I'll explain here why it's crucial to pay attention to all dimensions.
The bands below are of matching width but different heights.
With regular stacking rings sets, fashionistas can achieve an artier effect by intentionally mismatching band heights:
But apply this principle to a wedding set and things start to look really wonky! Disclaimer: I'm sorry I don't have prettier rings to show here, but since I don't carry pre-made stock, most of the rings pictured in these demonstrations are from my errata and scrap pile!
As you can see, though most of the "important" factors are matched - white color and 2mm width - the mismatched height of the bands throws things off balance. As the height gets closer to matching (right) the set looks a bit more balanced, but even a tiny difference of half a millimeter makes a visual impact.
Here's How It's Done
Even though the "important" factors - color and width - are totally mismatched here, the set still looks relatively balanced because the height of the bands match. Yay!
To drive the point home, below are some plain bands to look at without the giant stone to distract you.
Bands with Mismatched Height and Width
Bands with the Same Width, but Mismatched Height
Left: 1.5mm x .75 half-round rose gold band with 1.6mm full-round rose gold band
Center: 2mm x 1mm hammered white gold band with 2mm full-round white gold band
Right: 2mm x 1.5mm diamond platinum band with 2mm full-round white gold band
Bands with Matching Height
Left: 5mm x 1.5mm hammered matte gold band with 1.6mm full-round hammered matte gold band
Center: 2mm x 1.5 half-round white gold band with 1.6mm full-round rose gold band
Right: 1mm x 1mm palladium white gold band with 1.2mm x .8mm half-round rose gold band
I hope you've found this helpful! Feel free to email me if you need additional assistance. I'm always happy to answer questions!
Why Buy Recycled Gold? April 15 2015
The Smithsonian Magazine has published a fantastic article on "The Environmental Disaster That is the Gold Industry."
from the article: "While the list of retailers aligned in their opposition to dirty gold continues to grow longer, most gold remains quite filthy. The majority of the world’s gold is extracted from open pit mines, where huge volumes of earth are scoured away and processed for trace elements. Earthworks estimates that, to produce enough raw gold to make a single ring, 20 tons of rock and soil are dislodged and discarded. Much of this waste carries with it mercury and cyanide, which are used to extract the gold from the rock. The resulting erosion clogs streams and rivers and can eventually taint marine ecosystems far downstream of the mine site. Exposing the deep earth to air and water also causes chemical reactions that produce sulfuric acid, which can leak into drainage systems. Air quality is also compromised by gold mining, which releases hundreds of tons of airborne elemental mercury every year."
Shekh ma shieraki. April 04 2015
It's rare that my three worlds - linguistics, law, and silversmithing - collide, but I was recently commissioned to make wedding bands engraved with a phrase in Dothraki, the language of the Game of Thrones universe.
This raises an interesting question: Are conlangs, or constructed languages, protected by copyright?
Short answer: Maybe.
Workspace Safety: Jewelry Makers and COPD February 27 2015Today's sad passing of Leonard Nimoy from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases) affords an opportunity for hazard awareness for jewelers and fiber artists.
While Nimoy attributed his COPD from having been a smoker in his youth, jewelers and fiber artists are also risk groups for developing COPD. For silversmiths/goldsmiths like myself:
- the solders we use may produce toxic fumes (cadmium, found in many gold solders, is extraordinarily toxic);
- the flux and pickle we use are so acidic that the fumes alone are capable of eating through steel in a matter of weeks; and
- our buffing wheels and compounds produce dangerous irritants.
I've been taking the opportunity today to consult with fume extraction system and ventilation system manufacturers. They've been extraordinarily helpful in customizing a system, based on the Material Safety Data Sheets from the materials I use. I also recently added a cadmium-level test to my regular checkup routine.
Jewelers: as your business scales larger and you spend more and more time at your workbench, don't forget to scale up your work-safety measures, as well!
I'd love to hear what kind of systems other artists are using to make sure they live long and prosper. :)
Sale! November 28 2014
To celebrate the season and the official launch of brightsmithsilver.com, here's my gift to you!
Happy Thanksgiving! November 27 2014
Among the many things for which I'm thankful this year are all the people I've had the opportunity to meet and engage from all over the world through my jewelry. Being old enough to remember life before the internet and e-commerce, it never ceases to amaze me what an amazingly connected this world is! The following map illustrates the global reach of my tiny business in the last year:
This year, I created jewelry for customers for the first time in Russia, Japan, South Africa, and Brazil. I've sent hundreds of wedding bands and commitment rings all over the world, each ring containing a little story within its personal inscription.
I'm grateful that so many of you have shared your stories with me, though the most touching are probably too personal to share in a blog. From time to time, I'll be posting some of my favorite inscriptions here. While the year's not quite over yet, I'm pretty sure this one wins for 2014:
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and may the season find you in good health, surrounded by those you love.
Spreading My Wings! (Under Construction) October 07 2014
I've known for a very long time that, for the sake of more firmly establishing my business and my brand, I've needed to develop my own website. Etsy, with its ethos of DIY and empowerment, is still my first love. I've had tremendous continued success on Etsy and other e-commerce sites, for which I'm grateful! To an extent, I still can't fully get my head around the fact that this has actually become my day job. It's way too much fun.
But as I've always advised those who have asked me the secret to my (modest) success, if you want to make your craft your day job, you've gotta treat it like a day job. For me, this means keeping on top of tasks that I might not love so much...like marketing and branding. And I should probably do it before the need arises.
So here's the website! Full site will be soft-launching in late October, with an official launch on Black Friday.
For now, most of my goods are (and will remain) at my Etsy shop.
You can also shop for a cause at the AFSSA Silk Road Gala and Silent Auction. Asian American Family Support Services of Austin (AFSSA) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to assisting immigrant families affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, or trafficking.
Silk Road is absolutely my favorite fund raiser ever, and the food is more than worth the admission cost. Brightsmith is proud to be an annual silent auction sponsor and, as always, I'll be presenting an original collection exclusive to this event - including these ruby earrings!