Saturday, 7 May 2011

A - Z of How to Make and Sell Handmade Silver Jewellery

Letter B
  • Process
Bangle Mandrels

When creating a hand hammered cuff bracelet, if you were to have the correct length and width of silver sheet to start, then as soon as you hand hammer the sheet it changes shape.This results in having to re cut or re file the bangle to the desired shape.  As any silversmith knows - this can result in hours of extra work!
Bangle mandrels are often available in metal, however if you find one in wood then you can avoid the need to reshape the cuff bracelet.
First of all shape your cuff bracelet and then wrap it around a wooden bangle mandrel.  Using a metal planishing hammer you can then create the hand hammering without affecting the shape of the cuff bracelet.  It does take more hammering because you're not hammering metal on metal, so you do need a very large planishing hammer - but the results are most definitely stunning!
Take a look at some examples of my  hand hammered cuff bracelets:

  • Tools/Equipment

The bible for silversmiths is Oppi Untracht - Jewelry Concepts and Technology.  How much does it cost? Well a quick search on one of the leading sellers of books on Google shows a second hand, hardcopy fully illustrated copy of this selling for just over £230. Phew!  What a price - but it is most definitely the best book a silversmith can own.  (the non illustrated hardcover version is considerably cheaper).
I own the fully illustrated hardcover copy and I found it at an antique fair a few years ago.  It's definitely worth checking book stalls if you attend car boot sales/flea markets or fairs because you never know what might be there.  I had just started silversmithing and was intrigued to see a pile of silversmithing books - 6 in all. A couple I've still only flicked through, but Oppi Untracht was amongst the selection.  I didn't know at the time how invaluable a reference book this was (and certainly didn't know how expensive it was!) , but I asked the stall holder how much they were charging for the 6 books.  I struggled back to my car with these 6 books for a mere £15.
There really are bargains to be had - lots of people start silversmithing as a hobby and just give up - so keep your eyes peeled!

  • Selling your products / How to sell your handmade silver jewellery /  how to sell your jewellery

Believe in your own product.  If you don't believe how good it is, then no-one else will!  It's hard to stay confident when you're sat behind a craft stall and someone is stood in front of you saying something like "Oh, I don't like that!" or "that's expensive, I bought a silver bracelet in Tibet/India for a quarter of the price when I was there last year" or  when the person next to you is selling imported jewellery at a fraction of your price.

Has this happened to you?  What did you do? Email me and let me know:

What should you do in these circumstances?  If someone doesn't like your jewellery - ignore it!  After all, think of Marmite - love it or hate it  - that's how they sell it!

If someone's bought an item abroad very cheaply and are happily telling people who are looking at your stand about it !*! grrrr... Ask them all about it.  Needless to say when they describe it, it'll be completely different from what you're selling and highly likely it'll be machine made.  However if,  for instance they describe a hammered cuff bracelet (which could be similar to yours), then explain that the depth of the silver you use/width of the cuff bracelet for STERLING silver determines the price as well as the craftmanship that goes into the making of it.  Gently say, that silver isn't all the same as there are different grades of silver and sterling silver is the only silver that can be sold as such in the United Kingdom. (As an example - for your information only - not to totally upset the person who's standing in front of you.... Indian silver is generally less pure than sterling silver and Tibetan silver can sometimes have a low content of 30% rather than sterling which has 92.5%!).  It's also probably not worth getting involved with discussions on poor working conditions that some people suffer abroad/ or about 'handmade jewellery' where it's highly likely been produced by a machine!  If they want to argue a point though, then why not show your knowledge?  It might make the people around them realise that you are actually an expert as well as a designer/maker.

If someone next door to you is selling machine made imported jewellery and selling it as hand crafted.  Unfortunately, there's not a lot you can do except when people visit your stand greet them and tell them that you make everything yourself.  If they look at an item in particular, start explaining just what has gone into the making of it.  The person next door can't do that, can they?  Plus, don't forget - the person next door will be selling jewellery that's availabe everywhere the world over.  So, whilst talking to your customer explain how lovely it is when you see people wear your jewellery, because you know they've bought something that's unique and no-one else could ever have the same as them. Each one you make is completely individual.  Chat a bit about how you like to buy direct from craftspeople yourself (think of an example of something you've bought) and go on to say about how lovely it was and how you felt as if you'd bought something truly special.

1 comment:

  1. It's really a good idea to make your own design for your jewelry. You can be of full control on everything you like.

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