Danielle Miller Jewelry - BLOG
While silver, gold and platinum will always be the primary metals for jewelry construction, now there are more choices than ever when it comes to metal selection. Many of these have been introduced due to the rising cost of those aforementioned traditional metals, especially gold. Each have their own special attributes so before you jump on the new metal bandwagon; make sure you understand all the pros and cons.
Pure tungsten is very soft but when combined with a carbon alloy, the metal becomes more durable than steel. Generally carbide (also known as carbon) is used, producing a metal much darker in overall color than silver, white gold or platinum but with a gorgeous shiny mirror finish.
Tungsten is extremely scratch resistant and has a much greater overall weight than stainless steel or titanium. While you might assume a metal with this much heft is virtually indestructible unfortunately that isn’t the case. Along with its hardness, tungsten also has a brittleness that can cause it to crack or shatter depending on the impact velocity. Tungsten rings cannot be resized. Since it is not possible to cut and resoldered a tungsten ring, it is vitality important to ensure a correct fit from the beginning. Also it is crucial to note that in case of an accident traditional jewelry cutting tools will not work.
This metal is extremely durable, naturally hypoallergenic and resists tarnishing and discoloration. The one noticeable characteristic of titanium is its subtle medium gray shading without the sheen of traditional metals like gold or platinum. Because titanium doesn’t contain any additional alloys it is both hypoallergenic and bio-compatible. This lightweight metal has surprising strength, so much so that it is often said it has steel like strength with aluminum weight.
One of the oxymorons of titanium is even though it is an industrial grade metal, scratches and daily wear and tear do occur, though most can be removed through regular polishing. Rings constructed from titanium are not able to be resized and if they have to be cut off most can be removed with traditional jewelry removal equipment unless stronger aircraft grade titanium was used.
Just imagine a piece of jewelry created from the same metal used to build jet engines! Cobalt chrome is extremely durable, permanently retains its shape and is scratch resistance. Often compared in hue to white gold or platinum, this is cobalt’s natural color unlike other metals which are plated with rhodium. Frequently cobalt chrome is used when manufacturing surgical tools making it both hypoallergenic and bio-compatible.
This metal is shatterproof, fairly scratch resistant and incorporates a higher degree of ductility allowing for a greater level of design creativity.
Cobalt chrome is shatterproof and cannot be resized, so when this metal is used as a ring metal, a correct fit is imperative.
Ultra grade stainless steel looks exactly like platinum but is a thousand times more durable and much less costly. Stainless will not rust or stain but does need regular cleaning to retain its luster. Stainless steel brings an edgy contemporary look to a traditional piece of jewelry that is often hard to obtain when working with other metals.
Stainless is a strong metal but has very little pliability making it unsuitable when it comes to delicate or intricate designs. While stainless is hypoallergenic it can contain nickel which may cause a skin reaction in some people. Resizing can be done on a stainless ring but it is difficult and many jewelers aren’t comfortable attempting it.
Ceramic jewelry probably isn’t exactly what you think. Made from titanium carbide, it is commonly known as high-tech ceramic. Jewelry constructed from this metal is very long lasting and comes in a plethora of colors. One great advantage with colored ceramic is the pigment is actually in the metal, not coated on, so the color will never wear off or fade. Ceramic jewelry is lightweight, scratch resistant and will always retain its luster and finish.
Ceramic jewelry pieces will break or shatter if dropped and due to the unique properties of the metal cannot be resized or easily repaired.
These contemporary metals have many common characteristics, each with their own special twist. If you are contemplating one of these metals for your wedding band, choose one that is right for you and that will last a lifetime.
Due to the industrial nature of many of these metals I can only work with two out of the five metals reviewed, cobalt chrome and stainless steel. Have a unique and interesting design idea that you think either one of these new metals would be perfect for? Let’s chat!
After many years of making my popular Abacus line, it’s time to bid it adieu and introduce some new exciting designs. Some pieces are still in stock but when they sell out, no more will be available. In the meantime, I thought I’d share a bit of the history behind the abacus.
Depending on your age, you might remember using or at least playing with an abacus in grade school. It was fun to slide the beads up the bar and then bet your classmate that yours would race down faster than theirs. And maybe after playing around you even learned a little something about arithmetic.
Before numbers came into being, counting was done using fingers and toes and if necessary, rocks were added if digits weren’t sufficient. Rudimentary counting boards were then created and used until numbers came into existence. Whether defined as a counting board or an abacus, this device was nothing more than a physical aid to help the person as they figured the calculations in their head.
The first counting boards were thought to be pebbles placed between lines drawn on the ground. Soon after, wooden tables filled with sand were created and then for portability, smaller wooden boards with wooden discs were designed. Then for more lasting durability, these were replaced by marble or bronze frames with metal or polished stone markers. Depending on what century and empire an abacus was made determined how many decks were included, how many markers were used and if the board was designed vertically or horizontally.
During the ages, even though it seems unlikely, the abacus continued to evolve. In fact in 1958 Lee Kai-chen invented a modified abacus complete with instructions for multiplication, division and figuring square and cubic roots.
Presently I have a limited selection of Abacus designs remaining in my collection. If you see something you’re interested in, please order now so you don’t miss out: Monthly Trunk Show.
I would like to send a big THANKS to Tryon Art and Craft School!
Two of my pieces were included in their juried exhibition and one of them won 3rd place! If you are in the Western NC area, stop in and browse this beautiful exhibition. The show runs from April 25th through May 30th. Gallery hours are: M-F 10-4; Sat. 10-1
This brooch is one of the pieces in the exhibition. It is fabricated in sterling silver, 18k gold, peridot, amethyst and blue topaz. It is made from 46 pieces of metal and contains 51 solder joints!
FYI: I teach Intermediate/Advanced Silversmithing at Tryon. If you are interested in classes, please visit their website here.
Last spring I participated in an amazing Indie Wedding and Celebrations Fair in Asheville, NC called The Big Day. I am happy to announce that I will once again be participating in the second annual Big Day event! The fair will take place at the Asheville Art Museum on Sunday, April 13th from 1 - 6pm.
Take a look at this a lovely video of the 2013 The Big Day shot by Grae Skye Studio! *BLUSH* I show up in the video around minute 1:20 and then again around 3:35 in the background waving my arms around while I talk. LOL!
Looking to get hitched and living in the Western NC area? Come out and join the fun this Sunday!
No, your eyes haven’t been deceiving you, there has already been an explosion of lilac in stores and online and for this you can thank Pantone for naming Radiant Orchid their 2014 Color of the Year. Pantone describes it as a “modern and surprisingly versatile shade” and sassy Radiant Orchid inspires one to explore their inner creativity with its warmth and beauty.
While Radiant Orchid is the leader of the Pantone Spring 2014 pack, the remaining hues were all chosen to form a colorful equilibrium either singularly or in pairs. Three calming pastels, all drawn from Mother Nature are included this year. Placid Blue, a tranquil azure sparkles. While Dazzling Blue, vibrant and strong, is reminiscent of the Caribbean. Violet Tulip is the yin to Radiant Orchid’s yang. And Hemlock is a softer, richer green than seen in past spring shadings.
Every seasonal palette scheme must have a complementing neutral and this spring the winner, Sand, was taken right off the beach. In fact, when paired with Dazzling Blue or Placid Blue, you immediately are taken back to those carefree summer days at the shore. Then Paloma, a cool yet sophisticated light gray is more of a primary neutral and can easily transition from spring to summer to fall.
Providing warmth and energy to the overall collection are Cayenne, Freesia and Celosia Orange. These scintillating and vivacious shadings all add a dash of energy and optimism to any wardrobe or room makeover. Bright and bubbly, Cayenne is a fiery red and mixes well with the buttery daffodil inspired Freesia while Celosia Orange brings a softer offering to the table. Its peachy coral hue pairs perfectly with the other two prominent colors without clashing or becoming too overpowering.
Nothing like the introduction of the latest spring Pantone colors to remind us all that warmer weather is right around the corner!
For the past several years, I have participated in jewelry design challenges that were organized by my fellow EtsyMetal members.
- 2010 was the RAD challenge: Ring-A-Day
- A group of international artists accepted the challenge to create, photograph and upload (to a flickr photo group) one ring per day for the entire year. This was a wildly successful challenge which also inspired an exhibition and a book! Sadly I could not finish the entire year, but I made it through 100 days and had several of my rings included in both the exhibition and the book!
- 2011 was the RAW challenge: Ring-A-Week
- A similar challenge to the one above but weekly instead of daily. Once again, I could not finish the entire year and only made it through 18 out of the 52 weeks.
- 2013 was the BAW challenge: Brooch-A-Week
- I don't know why I thought I could manage enough time to make 52 brooches. It sounded like a good idea at the beginning but I only made it through week 5! LOL!
Despite the fact that I have never been able to fully complete any of these challenges, I still feel like they were successful endeavors. They are always a great source of inspiration, rejuvenation and motivation. I believe they help me grow as an artist and a jewelry designer. So-----Despite my lack of follow through in the past, I have decided to participate in yet another jewelry design challenge this year.
- 2014 is the Rx3 challenge: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle from all the stock in the studio.
- I will attempt to create one jewelry piece every week for the entire year using old stones, pieces-parts, half finished projects, old sketches, etc. Below are my first two pieces of this year's challenge:
Stay tuned to see how this challenge continues...
|Turquoise cabochons from SouthSouthWest|
With all the holiday hustle and bustle, you might want to stock up on traditional turquoise. Said to bring a sense of calming serenity to the wearer, lore has it that turquoise can also bring happiness, good fortune and prosperity, properties we can all use more of and wish for this time of year.
While zircon is naturally found in a wide variety of colors, the one associated with December is the starlight blue stone. Regular naturally shaded zircon is heated in an oxygen free environment, turning the drab yellow, green or brown stones into a gorgeous sky blue. Zircons are also good jewels for the holidays since they are said to protect travelers and guarantee a deep sound sleep.
Another gem that is often heat treated to achieve its rich violet blue color is tanzanite. In the past, tanzanite was frequently substituted for sapphire. But since being named a December birthstone alternative, they are now standing on their own as a popular gemstone valued for their beauty and brilliance.
|Tanzanite and diamond ring by Danielle Miller Jewelry|
|14k gold Chiseled ring with Imperial Topaz by Danielle Miller Jewelry|
Blue and light golden are the two most recognized colors, but topaz is also available in red, pink, orange and even black which is really interesting since pure topaz is a colorless stone. Coloring occurs when the stones experience element substitutions, chemical bonding and heat through tiny cracks and defects.
For those wanting the beauty of imperial topaz without the cost consider citrine instead. A yellow variety of quartz, citrine can be a pale lemon to deep orange-gold and is likely named from the French word for lemon "citron" or the Latin word "citrus."
|Citrine Charm necklace by Danielle Miller Jewelry|
Citrine gained popularity during the Art Deco period and became quite popular with many of the Hollywood stars of the day like Greta Garbo. In the late 1980’s the world’s largest citrine was mined in Brazil. Coming in at over 20,000 carats it has exceptional color and clarity and is presently part of the Programa Royal Collections of Spain.
Topaz and citrine both bring so many unique properties to the table with their clarity, fire, durability and plethora of shades. Consider having a brooch, bracelet, ring or necklace designed for yourself or that someone special since the holidays are right around the corner.
|Photo courtesy of Opal Auctions ("How to Buy Opals on the Internet")|
Brought into the birthstone family in 1952 as an October alternative was pink tourmaline; but over the years all the tourmaline colors have become acceptable. Some of the most popular tourmaline gemstones are bi-colored or tri-colored, with clear color distinctions. For example, watermelon tourmaline, when cut, features a pink center, a white ring and a green outside edge. Some of the even more unusual ones include tiny black specks that resemble watermelon seeds.
|14k gold Chiseled Ring with Pink Tourmaline by Danielle Miller Jewelry|
The richness and variety of both stones give those born in October a huge variety of options and look fantastic set in a wide range of metals and designs.