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Sunday, July 12, 2009

How to Make a Jewelry Jig - Example, Ear Wire Jig

Jewelry jigs are very easy to make, if you have wood, a saw and a drill. Jigs make duplicating a wire design very easy. I prefer the home made variety jig since the pegs are stationery and do not wobble when bending the wire.

Materials needed:

4"x4"x2"thick piece wood
1/8 x 1" brad nails
1/4" diameter wooden dowel
20 gauge practice wire
1/4" drill bit
wooden or rubber mallet
anvil or pounding block
graph paper
file or burr cup
round nose pliers
flush cutters
sharpie pen

To begin, find a piece of scrap lumber at least 4"x4"x2" thick. A thinner piece of lumber can be used, but the 2" thickness gives more weight and stability to the jig. This size should be large enough to make several jigs on the same wood block.

Draw the design on graph paper with a soft pencil.

Mark with dots the places to put brads or dowels(for large curves) for bending.

Turn the paper over on the wood block and draw over the design. This will make a light tracing. Another method to duplicate the design (if you have a prototype) is to trace around the piece on the wood block.

We are going to make an ear wire jig as an example.

To place the dowel, drill with a 1/4" bit 1/2" into the wood block. Set a drill press to this depth or mark this depth with tape on the drill bit. Cut the dowel piece 1 1/4 -1 1/2 inch in length. Sand or shave off the edges slightly on one end. Insert the shaved end of the dowel into the hole and use the mallet to wedge it tightly into the wood block.

Mark a cross on the top of the dowel to divide it into four equal parts. (Some designs might use a cross marked on the wood block.) At the 3 o'clock position 3/16" away from the dowel, mark a dot (position 1). At the 6 o'clock position 7/16" away from the dowel, mark a dot (position 2). 5/16" below the last dot and in a parallel line adjacent to Position 2, mark with a dot (position 3). Position 3 gives a slight bend in the end of the ear wire. The tops of the brad nails should be filed or ground to make removing articles form the jig easy. Drive the brad nails in 1/4" at each position. For other designs, smaller dowels can be used with matching diameter drill bits.

To conserve expensive wire when making an ear wire or any prototype, mark 20 gauge practice wire with sharpie in 1 inch increments. With round nose pliers make a loop large enough to fit the brad at position 1. Put loop over brad at position 1 with the loop opening toward the dowel, bend around dowel, then bend between dowel and brad at position 2, then bend to position 3. Cut the wire at position 3. Remove ear wire or prototype from jig.

To flatten the ear wire or prototype, place on an anvil or pounding block, hitting it several times with a rubber mallet. This hardens the metal making it brittle. Never pound where wires cross since the wires might break. Smooth the ends of the ear wires with a file or burr cup.

Determine from the sharpie marks the length of wire used. Mark a line the length plus about 1/4" on the wood block. This will facilitate measuring wire for future projects.

Jigs can be made to make ear wires with beads, a variety of shapes or longer tails. With imagination the possibilities for duplicating jewelry designs pieces made by bending wire are endless.

Although the finished jig looks rough, it works very well.

Peggy Barnette, self taught jewelry designer, webmaster Gemstone Bead Jewelry [], blog [], life long participant in various crafting hobbies, designed, produced and coordinated wardrobe for state beauty pageant participant, BS Institutional Management, MS Nutrition

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Argentium Silver - How Silver is Meant to Be

Argentium Silver is composed of pure silver, copper and germanium. This composition gives Argentium its unique qualities: it is purer, whiter, stronger, harder and more versatile than traditional silver and is highly tarnish resistant.

It will stay bright and beautiful for longer, eliminating the onerous task of regular cleaning and polishing. Silver has been prized for its wonderful lustre for centuries; only now, thanks to the discovery of Argentium, can owning beautiful objects created in silver be truly hassle free.

Argentium Silver has a rich natural lustre that is always evident. Many traditional silver products on sale around the world are surface plated in an attempt to hide the rapid discoloration caused by tarnishing. The problem with this approach is that plating usually consists of the thinnest of coatings that can be easily removed in use thus exposing the ills of traditional silver. Furthermore, the types of plating commonly used create a surface finish that is closer to chrome in looks. This destroys the appearance of silver's otherwise fine lustre. Argentium Silver does not require plating treatments and therefore objects created in this wonderful precious metal retain their distinctive natural colour and warmth.

In the past, traditional silver has presented craftsmen with numerous challenges because of its inherent softness. Through a simple and unique process Argentium Silver can be made harder and stronger than traditional sterling silver. This opens up a world of new possibilities for designers and Silversmiths. Stone set jewellery can be manufactured with the confidence and knowledge that settings will be strong enough to withstand the rigours of everyday wear. Additionally, new and largely unexplored categories for silver goods like wristwatches and interior design are now accessible as a direct result of the argentium's superior hardness properties.

Silver has attracted man's fascination for many thousands of years, marking important historical milestones throughout the ages and serving as a medium of exchange. Today, Argentium Silver is setting a new standard for the way in which silver is manufactured and appreciated in the 21st Century.

Argentium Silver marks the beginning of the Silver Revolution.

Adam Hunter - E-commerce Marketing Manager of Cookson Precious Metals offer a choice of jewellery making supplies from over 10,000 products including gold and []silver findings jewellery tools, precious metal clay, gemstones and gold and silver sheet - gold, []argentium silver platinum and palladium plus technical information for jewellers, jobbers, designer, craftsmen, artisans and students.

Adam Hunter
E-commerce Marketing Manager
Tel(DDI): +44 (0) 121 212 6491
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