Thursday, 21 February 2013

What are Jewellery Findings and How are They Plated?

What are jewellery findings?
Jewellery findings are the parts used to join jewellery components together to form a completed article.  They come in many forms, a necessity in the art of jewellery making.

Jewellery Findings

Plated metals are a popular choice for jewellery findings.  At International Craft there is a huge range of gold and silver plated findings, perfect for creating earrings, bangles, necklaces, brooches, bracelets and pendants.  Click here for more on jewellery findings at International Craft

What is ‘plated’ and what is the process involved?
Plating means to deposit a metal onto a conductive material, to create a surface.  This surface acts as a decorative finish, protective barrier and helps prevents corrosion.  Most plating is done by a chemical process known as electroplating. The basic metallic item of jewellery is placed in a tank containing a chemical solution and a block of the plating metal. By passing an electric current through the solution, a specific amount of the metal is transferred onto the jewellery.   The electroplating process began in 1800 by a man named Luigi Brugnatelli, an Italian chemist and university professor. Luigi developed the process of gold plating using voltaic electricity and working on a wide variety of metals. Within five years he was able to plate a fine layer of gold on metal plates. There are other methods such as vapour deposition and sputter deposition, these are more commonly used for electronics and household items.

Gold plating is done using 18 or 24 carat gold.  24 carat gold is soft, so alloys can be added to harden it.  Most jewellery plating is done with silver or gold.  White gold is an alloy of gold and another white metal. It is often plated in rhodium to give it a bright white look. Pink or rose gold can also be used in plating.  At International Craft all findings are nickel safe and comply with EU regulations regarding nickel content.

Silver plated ear screw
Silver plating adds a beautiful shine to a more solid metal.

Today there are many companies that will restore plated jewellery by removing any old tarnishing and replacing the gold or silver plating so the item looks new again.

In gold and silver plated findings you will find jump rings, essential jewellery components in the making of jewellery.  Jump rings are circular metal rings with an opening, used to attach clasps, pendants, charms, and other jewellery components.

Plated bails are loop findings that connect a pendant to a chain. Some clip onto the pendant, some have mounts to glue the pendant to, and some attach to a ring on the pendant. The bail helps the pendant to lie flat when worn. 
Gold Plated Bails
There is a huge range of plated earring findings at International Craft, from ear screws to flat pad ear clips, ear clips with drop, safety ear wires, fish hooks, ball ear wires, French drop studs, flat pad studs and scrolls – great choice for the jewellery maker.

The findings at International Craft are not confined to gold and silver plating – there are sterling silver, 9ct gold, gold filled and silver filled pewter, Steampunk and Vintage findings, giving a versatile range for all tastes.

For the whole range of jewellery findings at International Craft, click here.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Photo & Mixed Media Jewellery Inspirations

Jewellery Making Project - Using Photo Jewellery Products
By Nicky Townsend

Use Altered Art techniques along with our Photo Pendants range to create a multitude of fabulous pendants and jewellery with a vintage look or even a fresh, modern feel.  You can use scrapbook papers, copyright free images or even family photographs to decorate.  Finish off with charms or, for a steampunk style, add a scattering of tiny watch components which are also available on our website.  You can use glass cabochons to complete the pendants or set charms inside using a super product called Glossy Accents, which sets clear and hard and holds the charms in place.

Bezel settings - see full range here
A selection of images, photos or fancy paper
Glue ‘n’ Seal  - see here
Glossy Accents (see here) or Glass Cabochons - see full range here
A selection of Charms (see here) or Watch parts (optional) - see here


Choose a photo, image or paper that you’d like to use as the background in your piece.  Place a Glass Cabochon onto the paper and move around until you’re happy with what you see through the glass then draw around the glass to create a template.

The next step is to seal the paper or photo to lock in the colours and prevent any ink from bleeding out.  Use Glue ‘n’ Seal for this.  Paint a thin coat over each of your templates; you must seal both sides back and front.  Leave to dry and then paint on another coat and leave that to dry completely.  It’s easier to do this before cutting out the template especially for smaller templates

Cut out your sealed paper templates.  Take a small dab of the Glue ‘n’ Seal on a paint brush and paint into the base of the Bezel setting.  Press in one of your paper sections and use a dry paintbrush to smooth down from the centre outwards this also removes any air bubbles that may have got trapped underneath the paper.  Don’t forget to pay attention to the edges.

In my design I used a simple striped background paper and decided I’d like to embellish this with some detail.  I picked out some tiny images from a scrapbook paper; these also need to be sealed with Glue ‘n’ Seal and cut out once dry.  I then painted an extra layer of Glue ‘n’ Seal onto the background paper and placed the images inside the Bezel.  To finish, coat with another layer of sealant and leave it to dry thoroughly.

To finish with glass cabochons squeeze a thin and even coat of Glossy Accents over the back of the tile, let it spread out naturally to cover the whole area and press firmly into the Bezel.  You will need to press firmly from the centre out to the edges to squeeze out any air bubbles that may have got trapped underneath.

To set charms or watch components into the bezel place your chosen Charms into the Bezel and arrange them.  Now squeeze Glossy Accents  into the Bezel starting close to the charms and working your way out to the edge.  Fill the whole recess, completely covering the charms with Glossy Accents .  Once the recess is filled take some time to prick out any air bubbles which may have appeared.  Use a pin or gently tap the surface of the bubble with a dry paintbrush.  Leave to set completely, this usually takes around 24 hours to set to a hard clear finish.  Once dry you may notice that there are some areas that have appeared unfilled, simply squeeze on another layer of Glossy Accents  and leave to dry.  You can repeat this as often as needed.

TIP - When using Glossy Accents  it is important that the bottle isn’t shaken at any time as it creates air bubbles. These air bubbles will then pass through the nozzle and appear in your finished piece, which you don’t really want. 

I finished my pendant with a tiny resin rose cabochon from my own bead stock to add another dimension to the finished piece.  If you don’t have any of these available you can simply use a charm attached with a jump ring to finish or one of the Lucite Flowers which are available on the International Craft website.

All materials available at

Nicky Townsend

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Swarovski – How a Crystal Empire Began

Swarovski Round Facet Bead, Emerald
Swarovski is a brand of crystal glass that is renowned for its ability to reflect light into a rainbow of colour.  Swarovski is easily recognised by the Swan logo and is used for sculptures, miniatures, chandeliers and many types of jewellery. Specifically, a brand under The Swarovski Group, Swarovski Elements produce the coveted Swarovski beads designers use in their jewellery making.

Swarovski BiconeBead
To create the distinctive Swarovski crystal glass, Swarovski coats some of its products with special metallic chemical coatings, the most popular being the ‘AB’ or Aurora Borealis – this gives the surface a rainbow appearance.  Others include Crystal Transmission, Aurum, Dorado and Volcano.  Some crystals are only partially coated and others coated twice, where a 2X is added to the coating name.

Where did it all begin?

Daniel Swarovski (1862 – 1956), son of a glass cutter, served his apprenticeship in his father’s glass factory in Bohemia (now Czech Republic).  He quickly acquired the skills needed and in 1892 Daniel patented an electric cutting machine which advanced the process of crystal cutting to a higher and more efficient level. 

Swarovski Crystal Heart
 In 1895, with the help of two financiers, a company was formed, A. Kosmann, Daniel Swartz & Co with a factory set up at Wattens, Austria, due to its accessibility to hydro power, a source of energy they needed for the intensive grinding processes.

Originally the logo was a traditional edelweiss flower, replaced by an S.A.L logo, finally replaced by the recognisable Swan logo in 1988.  The company, now The Swarovski Group, includes Tyrolit (makers of abrasive and cutting tools); Swareflex (reflective and luminous road markings); Signity (synthetic and natural gemstones) and Swarovski Optikm makers of optical instruments such as binoculars and rifle scopes.

Swarovski Peardrop Pendant
At the Wattens site is The Crystal Worlds Centre created by Andre Heller in 1995 to celebrate 100 years of Swarovski.  The building is an indoor crystal theme park/exhibition centre, featuring a giant head with colour changing crystal eyes and a fountain coming from the mouth.  The building features many crystal related exhibitions within its 14+ subterranean ‘Chambers of Wonder’.  Definitely worth a visit.

Worldwide, The Swarovski Group now employ almost 31,500 people, 26, 140 of whom work with the crystal.  Production has expanded to eight different countries and Swarovski is the company leader in cut crystal, genuine gemstones and created stones.

International Craft  enable you to use the finest Swarovski crystal beads, along with perfect findings, to create your very own distinctive and beautiful Swarovski bracelet, necklace, earrings or cuff links.  CLICK HERE to see our premium range of the Swarovski brand.