March 23, 2012

What Do You Want?

We need help! We want ideas from you on tutorials (skills only), articles, gemstones and anything else related to jewelry design and selling.

We would much prefer to write and research articles YOU want to hear about not just what we think you might want to hear about.

Leave a comment below so we can keep them all in one place and refer back to it.

We have a wealth of information on the website, fantastic articles written by jewelry makers and sellers. Everything from selling jewelry, making jewelry, care of metals and much much more.

Do you ever have questions about how to; price your jewelry, sell it, make it, generate more ideas, sell it online? You have come to the right place, we have a library of jewelry making information available right here at your finger tips and more articles and tutorials being added all the time.

With 20 years experience making and selling jewelry and with a writer who is not only professional but a stickler on good solid research you have discovered a wealth of information.

We need more ideas though, if you have a moment share with us what your burning questions or obstacles are.

Thanks, Szarka

Costume or Fine Jewelry?

Costume or Fine Jewelry? What kind of jewelry do you make? Is it costume jewelry, fashion jewelry, fine jewelry or jewelry by another name? If you create handmade jewelry is it fine?

A customer asked Magpie Gemstones about the term costume jewelry and we became curious. Yet, research on the topic didn’t net much information. Therefore, what follows is an educated opinion.

Costume jewelry became popular in the 1930s and was “meant to be worn with a specific outfit (Wikipedia).” What does the word costume mean to you? When I say “costume”, I think of the word temporary. For example, we see costumes on the stage in the theater and these are created for a specific show. I recall sewing costumes for my children when they had parts in theater productions. At the onset, I was advised that the costumes only needed to hold up for the production and didn’t require fine finishing for longevity.

It seems to me that costume jewelry is also made to last for an abbreviated length of time, not forever. Costume jewelry was and still is considered fashionable (Wikipedia), at least temporarily, whereas fine jewelry may be thought of as a keepsake or investment. This former type jewelry may be mass produced from less expensive materials such as synthetic stones, glass and plastic beads and base metals.

Fine jewelry, obviously, is made from gems and precious metals. Many jewelers advertise that they carry “fine jewelry.” Goldline Fine Jewelers, in particular, states that “fine jewelry is dedication to the highest possible standards, materials, quality and customer service.” Other “fine” jewelry stores advertise that they have an in-house jeweler who provides full service from that one-of-a-kind design to service and repairs. We wouldn’t expect this service and standard for costume jewelry.

This brings us back to the original query regarding what type of jewelry you make. My guess would be that most of us make a variety of types of jewelry. I enjoy creating some costume jewelry that I consider “faddish” and for which I use less expensive materials. Other pieces are made to show my personal design style and I mainly use fine materials. I also make keepsake pieces, like my daughter’s wedding necklace, and intend these to last as they are passed from one generation to another. Sometimes I design for a specific customer and often a piece is one-of-a-kind.

So, do I make costume jewelry or fine jewelry? I guess I think I’m somewhere in between. But at the very least, I want all my pieces to be composed with good technique and attention to quality. How about you? We’d like to know what you think, leave a comment below.

Karen Meador Dreamcatcher Designs

March 16, 2012


There have many many opportunities this week to go outside and enjoy the beautiful Spring weather. While some of you are still in the cold of the previous season, we know we are fortunate to live where the season arrives early. For us, it's gardening/landscaping season and we have to watch Szarka so she's not in the garden instead of putting new beads in the store for you. Don't worry, we've got that covered.

Actually, there are lots of new beads that went into the store in the last few days. Did you see the kyanite? I'm drooling over the beautiful cabachons and thinking they would look great with some of these rondelles. If you look in the kyanite section of the store, you'll also find other kyanite beauties to ignite your imagination. Why don't you take this opportunity to see what's there for you?

While you are online, you might also like to see the new ruby briolettes that are available. They're faceted and really pretty. Yet, if they aren't your signature color, take a peek at the emeralds. 'Tis the month for green!

I hope you are enjoying the opportunity to create and sell jewelry for the upcoming season. Magpie Gemstones certainly helps me out with this and I find just looking at the gemstones online brings me inspiration. If you are doing some shows, you might appreciate Szarka's response to a question she received about pricing pieces. We likely all have our own system of pricing jewelry, but it's nice to hear what experience has taught her. If you don't have a pricing system, you might want to consider the one described.

I trust that we are all open to opportunities. One good piece of advice I was given by a veteran jewelry maker was to always have pieces ready to wear, give or sell. When opportunity knocks you wouldn't want to be "without". I try to keep plenty of pieces made and on hand and I also keep a good supply of Magpie Gemstones' strands near my work area so I can create when opportunity comes in the form of inspiration. I just can't be "without" beads!

If you are in the area of Alpine, Texas, take this opportunity to go by and see Kateri at the Big Bend Gem and Mineral Show, April 20-22. This event is being held at the Alpine Civic Center and is sponsored by the South Central Federation of Mineral Societies, Inc., the Chihuahuan Desert Gem & Mineral Club, and the City of Alpine. Alpine is in a very interesting part of the country and many artists live and work in the area. You could make it a trip and see some Magpie Gemstones as well! I'm wondering if this is my opportunity to stow away in the van and go with Kateri. Do you think she'd notice me?

Helping provide design opportunities for you, we are Magpie Gemstones.

Karen Meador, Ph.D.
Magpie Gemstones writer

March 4, 2012


Magpie Gemstones has been extremely busy since the last blog entry. We certainly hope that our efforts are helping you find the products you want as prices that work for your budget. We also hope the free information we are working so hard to get out to you is useful. It would be super if you could write to us and let us know what you have liked seeing us do in the past few weeks. Is is the newsletter information, the Super Sales, the tutorials, or . . . ?

Szarka has given us another great free wire wrapped ring tutorial. This one shows the neatest way to make wire rings with a long undrilled bead.  It's fun to make and although I was at first skeptical about how well the ring would hold a bead, I've found it works great. This tutorial was a combined effort in which 10-year-old Magpie, turned photographer, Tera, captured and edited all the photos for the tutorial. Then I wrote the directions using Szarka's idea. I think that little Magpie shows great promise in this arena. What do you think?

Kateri has been busy with shows and is already preparing for the one April 20-22 in Alpine, Texas. This will be the Big Bend Gem and Mineral Show. If you haven't previously been to that area of Texas, this might give you a good excuse. There are many artisans who make it their home. Did you know that you can get a 10% off coupon from the website for use at one of the shows? If you happen to need more gem show information.

Magpie's newest employee, Shannon, is running a little Spring event through Facebook. She's hoping to get us all excited about creating those Spring designs and offering us a reason to make them. You can find a posting of the guidelines in the Jewelry Makers and Bead Lovers Fan Page and more discussion in the Jewelry Makers and Bead Lovers Group. To read more about Shannon go to our About Us Page and scroll down to the bottom.

Watch the "Daily Newsletter" for information about Flash Sales and Super Sales. These are basically times when, for a limited time, Magpie slashes the prices on one or two selected items that you may want for your jewelry design. For example, there's a Super Sale right now on strands of a specific pearl. This expires at 3 PM on Monday, March 5.  If you want to stay up-to-date on happenings such as Flash Sales and Super Sales, subscribe to the "Daily Newsletter". When I went to this link I thought it was just for the weekly newsletter which I already receive, but if you put your email address in the "join" blank, the website will direct you to the page where you can change your profile to get both the "Weekly" and "Daily" Newsletter.

No blog is complete without pictures of some of the new beads that went into Magpie Gemstone's online store this week. How about these?

Szarka would probably call this Amazonite "sweet"! I tend to agree. These are great gemstones.

Are you wondering about the title of this entry? (I thought you'd never ask!) Isn't there something traditional about flying a kite in March? When I taught school we always made kites during this month.

There are at least three aspects in kite flying. One has to do with holding on to the kite string and paying attention to how you let that string out so the kite will rise higher and higher. Another has to do with watching the kite soar in the air and keeping it from running in to something. A third aspect has to do with looking up and enjoying the beauty that kites can create in the sky.

We, here at Magpie Gemstones, have been flying our kites just for you. As we plan more and more things to help you, we are carefully letting out the string on our kites. We're also being very careful that we monitor our kites (sales and events) so that they fly successfully (don't run in to any problems).

The last part of our flight depends on you. We need someone to look at our high flying efforts (providing new beads, sales, tutorials, etc.) and enjoy them. Will you do that for us?

. . . making better kites for you, we are Magpie Gemstones.