Special Needs Solutions for Jewelry

Hands with Jewelry
Jewelry can be frustrating for people with arthritis or limited mobility in their hands and fingers. As a result, putting on a bracelet, earrings or watch can become very difficult, if not impossible. A few simple changes can make it easier, so that wearing jewelry is enjoyable once again. All the jewelry components pictured below are available online through FireMountainGems.com.

Toggle Clasps
Toggle Clasps
When selecting necklaces or bracelets, look for toggle clasps. A toggle clasp is larger and easier to manipulate than a spring ring or lobster claw clasp. Another advantage of toggle clasps is that they are easy to use and typically can be secured without the help of another person.

Lobster Claw Clasps
Lobster Claw Clasps
Many spring ring and lobster claw clasps are quite small, making them more difficult to secure. If a lobster claw clasp is the only option, ask for a larger size clasp and a larger jump ring on the other end. Regardless of the type of clasp, many people try to secure the clasp behind the neck, which can be very frustrating. You can always secure the clasp of a necklace in the front and then slide the clasp around to the back of your neck.

Extender Chains
Extender Chains
For necklaces, it is helpful to choose a length that you can put on over your head. If you don’t know what size you need, go into any store and try on several until you find the length that works best for you. Make note of that size so that you can be sure to buy that length in the future. Another option is an extender chain. This short length of chain, in gold or silver, can be added to a necklace to give you a few extra inches of length.

Stretch Watch & Stretch Bracelet
Stretch Watch & Bracelet
If a bracelet clasp is too difficult, you may be able to slip it on without opening the clasp. Another option is stretch bracelets and watches, which are easy to slide on and off over your hand.

Memory Wire Bracelets
Memory Wire
Memory wire bracelets are quite easy to wear. Simply wrap it around your wrist and it will resume its shape, which resembles stacked bracelets.

Fishhook Earwire & Leverback Earrings
Earwires & Leverbacks
Earrings come in several types. Pierced earrings are available with earwires, earstuds (also known as posts), and leverbacks. Earwires are available in many shapes, sizes, and vary in thickness. The aptly named leverback earring can be easily opened and closed with the simple flip of a hinged lever. Both the earwires and the leverbacks offer ease of handling and there are no small parts to secure.

Butterfly Clutch & Earnut with Comfort Clutch
Earnuts
Most post style pierced earrings come with butterfly clutches like the one shown above on the left. These are quite small and difficult to secure. How often have you dropped one and they’re impossible to find on thick carpet! A nice alternative is an earnut with a comfort clutch, which is a plastic disc that provides support from the back to prevent the earring from drooping and also gives you a larger piece to hold onto when securing the earring.

Flat Pad Clip-on Earrings & Slip-on Comfort Pads
Clip on Earrings
Clip-on earrings can be uncomfortable to wear. Choose flat pad clip earrings or add slip-on comfort pads to make clips more comfortable. If you have allergies, be sure to ask if nickel free earring posts or clips are available.

Ring Guards
Ring Guards
Do you have rings that you can no longer wear? If they are too large, a ring guard can be added to make it a smaller size. A jeweler can resize precious gold and sterling silver rings.

Rings on a Necklace
Rings on Necklace
Another option is to wear the ring on a chain or necklace. A custom beaded necklace can incorporate your favorite rings into the design. As a side note, if you lose a dangle earring, don’t throw away its mate. Many dangle earrings can become pendants on new necklaces.

Jewelry is such a wonderful expression of our personalities and everyone should be able to wear it. With a few simple adjustments, jewelry can be given new life in your wardrobe and more importantly, restore a little piece of your independence. If you lack the skills to make these changes, you probably know someone who makes beaded jewelry. I’m sure they would be glad to help.

Wear your jewelry in good health!  Happy Crafting!

Crafts of Love – Valentine’s Day Gifts

Frogs in Love
Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to show your appreciation for the people you love.

Valentine's Cake
Celebrate with a Lady Finger Torte, Layer Cake, Cherry Cheesecake, Cupcakes, or Cake pops. Anything homemade is always appreciated. And if baking is not your specialty, buy one at the bakery, put it on your own serving dish and it will be our little secret! (lol)

Homemade Candy
Candy making is an easy process for everyone, even beginners. Start by melting chocolate wafers, called candy melts, which come in a variety of colors and flavors. Pour the chocolate into molds and refrigerate according to directions. You might also consider chocolate covering strawberries, nuts, graham crackers, or marshmallows. Present the finished pieces in a heart-shaped box or container.

Decorated Valentine's Cookies
Decorated cookies are eye-catching as well as delicious. Whether you choose homemade cookies or plain store-bought, add icing details, candy, or sprinkles to complete your festive designs.

Roses
Fresh-cut or silk flowers can be arranged in a bouquet, vase, or heart-shaped wreath. You don’t have to go to the expense of buying roses because any type of flowers will be appreciated.

Bleeding Hearts Flowers
Live flowers in a hanging basket or pot are not only beautiful, but long lasting as well. The flowers shown have not been photo shopped. They really are heart shaped, hence the name “bleeding hearts.”

Glass Heart
A glass paperweight, suncatcher, or pendant is a beautiful option.

Heart Charm
You could also paint a wooden heart to be hung on a wall, included on a wreath, or as a charm on a gift package or handbag.

Jewelry
Beaded jewelry is easy to create. If you don’t have those skills, you can buy a readymade chain or cord and string over-size beads without the need for any tools.

Winged Heart
You could also buy a heart-shaped pendant and add it to an existing chain or choose a new one.

Love Song or Poem
If you have a gift with words, write a song or poem on specialty paper to suit the occasion.

Painting
Artwork, such as painting, drawing, and photography, is a personal way to share your talent and show your affection at the same time.

Photo Album
A scrapbook is a thoughtful way to commemorate family memories and special events.

Vision Board
Create a vision board or photo album with inspirational travel brochures, activities and scenic pictures to build excitement for an upcoming vacation.

Candle Making
Candle making is simplified using a kit. There are multiple options including colors, shapes, sizes, and essential oils scents.

Romantic Dinner
You can’t go wrong with dinner for two. This is the perfect venue for candles, printed napkins on a pink or red tablecloth, and creative place settings to set the mood for a romantic evening.

Heart Pillow
Sewing a pillow is a quick colorful project to coordinate with any décor.

Knitting
A knitted scarf, hat, gloves, or sweater will keep that special someone warm and cozy on a cold winter day, and it will be enjoyed for years to come.

Stuffed Animals
Who doesn’t love cuddly stuffed animals, especially teddy bears? If you are skilled with a needle and thread, you could make a bear with faux fur or buy one. There’s nothing like a big bear hug to brighten your day and chase away the blues.

Sunset at the Beach
It is said, “The best things in life are free.” Go to the beach, the mountains, a nearby park, or your own backyard. Any place will do to spend time together watching the sunset, enjoying a picnic or barbecue, or simply going for a walk hand in hand. Expressions of love don’t need to cost a lot, just a little creativity and a heartfelt message.

Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Crafting!

Why Do We Wear Jewelry?

Ancient Egyptian
Whether you are the ruler of a country or a household, you probably wear jewelry, which has been a fascinating part of human culture for centuries. The most obvious reasons to wear it are self-expression and personal adornment. Jewelry is art for the body. We express our individuality by creating the image we show to the world, including hairstyle, clothing choices, and yes, even jewelry. The Ancient Egyptians created some of the most recognized precious metal and gemstones treasures in the world.

Indian Bridal Crown
Many brides become royalty for the day as they don bejeweled crowns to celebrate their wedding days. All eyes will surely be upon the bride as they should be.

Triangle Ring
A signature piece is an item worn on a daily basis. Although it may have a significant meaning, the way it makes you feel when you wear it is the most important hallmark of such an adored piece of jewelry.

Hands Love
We wear jewelry to celebrate love – New love in engagement rings, and commitment in wedding bands.

Eternity Bands
Anniversary rings, also known as eternity bands, signify love, which has stood the test of time. The love between BFFs is reflected in friendship rings.

Sapphire Heart
The human heart has inspired many books, poems, songs, and works of art. Heart-shaped jewelry is the most popular choice for expressing love.

Wedding Bands
Jewelry or the lack of it can assist us in the search for a mate. The first thing most singles look for is a wedding band, or a tan line, or that mysterious indentation on the ring finger of the left hand. (lol)  Of course this method isn’t fool proof. Not all married people wear wedding rings, and not all cultures wear them on the left hand. Another more subtle custom is wearing an ankle bracelet to indicate relationship status: wear it on the left ankle if you are in a relationship, or on the right ankle if you are unattached.

Fashion Jewelry
Fashionistas wear jewelry to complement their ensembles, attract attention, and to keep up with the latest trends. Fashion and beauty have become worldwide aspirations and jewelry plays a very important role. The right piece of jewelry can take an outfit from attractive to absolutely stunning.

Olympic Medal
Accomplishments are often celebrated with jewelry. Upon graduation, alumni often wear a school ring. Military personnel receive pins to indicate commendations and even rank. During the athletic competitions, the winners wear medals around the neck, or expensive rings like those awarded to the winners of the Super Bowl.

Dog Tags
Jewelry can be worn for identification, such as ID bracelets and military dog tags. People with certain medical conditions or allergies will often wear medical alert bracelets.

Star of David
Faith is expressed in crosses, the Star of David, and other symbols. Clergy wear rings to indicate their position within the religious community.

Silver Necklace
Collectors see jewelry as a unique art form. They appreciate the design, the materials used, and the handcrafting that goes into each piece, making it a work of art.

Valentines Jewelry
Jewelry is often given to commemorate special occasions such as Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, or a special birthday. The “key to my heart” is a popular love theme.

Mardi Gras Beads
Mardi Gras beads are highly sought after in New Orleans during this multi-day celebration. Many people hang those beads from their car’s rear view mirror as a reminder of the wild parties and the promise of good times next year.

Claddagh Rings
Different cultures wear jewelry for traditional reasons and to express pride in their heritage. The Irish Claddagh rings, signifying love, loyalty and friendship, are often worn as wedding bands.

Hawaiian Leis
As part of the warm Aloha spirit, Hawaiians welcome guests with necklaces called leis, made from flowers, seashells, or nuts.

Crown
In many countries, such as England, the Crown Jewels are worn by the monarchy, however those jewels belong to the people.

Gemstones
In the past, people wore precious metals and gemstones to promote healing, and for protection from things real or imagined. Carrying or wearing a particular gemstone often countered superstitions.

Wristband
Silicone or rubber wristbands started out as a popular way to express charity support. Today, they can be custom made to represent anything from an inspirational quote, song lyrics or whatever has personal meaning for you.

Lord of the Rings
Who could forget the One ring? Although it is a fictional story, “The Lord of the Rings” is a haunting tale, demonstrating what some are willing to do, good or bad, to gain power or to protect and save their world. There have been many examples throughout human history in which the wearer of a special ring is empowered with privileges and authority over others.

Cameo Necklace
Family heirlooms are worn in remembrance of our ancestors, and to remind us of where we have come from and how that helped bring us to where we are today. Starting new traditions gives us an opportunity to contribute to our family histories for the generations to come.

Whatever our reasons, wearing jewelry will continue to play an important role in our future. What does your jewelry mean to you? How does it make you feel? If you’re happy and empowered, good for you, and if not, there are plenty of jewelry options out there. You’ll find the right one made just for you.

Happy Crafting!

How to Protect and Clean Precious Metal Jewelry and Flatware

With the holidays quickly approaching, it’s time to polish your silverware and your jewelry. With a few easy steps, you can make those precious metals shine, and keep it that way so you won’t have to clean it again next year.
Tarnished Silver Jewelry & Spoons
Tarnish is the enemy of your gold and silver jewelry, flatware and serving pieces. There are many products on the market for removing tarnish, but they typically consist of very toxic ingredients and the fumes can be overwhelming. Fortunately there are safer alternatives. As with most things, prevention is the best initial method.

Tarnish Prevention for Silver, Gold and Plated Jewelry:
Silver & Gold
Most people know silver becomes tarnished, but did you know gold becomes dull and brassy? The best way to keep your jewelry looking its best is by protecting it from the start. When you buy a new piece of jewelry, store it in a jewelry box with an anti-tarnish lining.

3M Anti-Tarnish Sheets and Strips
3M Anti-Tarnish Strips
As an alternative, you can use re-sealable plastic bags and place a piece of anti-tarnish paper inside the bag. Be sure to press the excess air out before closing the zipper. Several companies, such as 3M, make anti-tarnish paper, which comes in 1” squares, strips and sheets. FireMountainGems.com sells jewelry storage bags with anti-tarnish coating inside. Before putting away your jewelry, be sure to wipe gemstone jewelry gently with a soft cloth, and wipe precious metal jewelry with a polishing cloth. (Note: Pearls should not be placed in plastic bags. Wrap them in tissue paper.)

Tarnish Prevention for Silver Flatware and Serving Pieces:
Silverware
When not in use, keep your silver flatware in a silver chest and place serving pieces in drawers or a china cabinet with anti-tarnish paper to prevent tarnishing.

Jewelry Cleaning:
Beaded Jewelry
Beaded Jewelry: can be wiped gently with a soft cloth only. Do not use any other cleaning methods. Many beaded items include metal accent beads. You may be able to shine them up with a polishing cloth. I find it’s easier to restring the necklace or bracelet with new metal beads, and be sure to keep it in an anti-tarnish jewelry box or bag to keep it shining like new.

Gemstone Jewelry
Gemstone Jewelry: can be wiped gently with a soft cloth only. For a bracelet similar to the one pictured above, you could carefully use a polishing cloth on the edges of the silver, but avoid touching the gemstones. If additional cleaning is required, take it to a jeweler. Caution: Water and or chemical solutions can dissolve or damage many gemstones, including but not limited to opals, Marcasites, and pearls, as well as enamel finishes.

Gold Silver Jewelry
Precious Metal Jewelry: Sterling silver, silver-plated, gold and gold-plated can be cleaned with a polishing cloth.

Polishing Cloth
This polishing cloth has two layers. The white shines and polishes as it removes tarnish. The green layer completes the shining process as it removes polish or tarnish residue.

Tarnish Removal for Silver Flatware and Serving Pieces:
Tarnished Tray & Pitcher
We have all seen heavily tarnished silver items like the ones shown above. Tarnish removal can present a great challenge, but all of that was resolved with the invention of the Speedy Pate shown below.

Tarnish Removing Speedy Plate
Washing Soda Dish & Plate
When it comes to removing tarnish on silver pieces, the Speedy Plate is a lifesaver. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. The process is very simple. You will need the 6”x8” Speedy Plate, a large 9’x13” glass or plastic container, hot water, and Household Washing Soda. Most people use this product with great success. Occasionally reviews say it doesn’t work, but this is most likely a failure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure you buy Washing Soda, which can be purchased at most grocery stores.

Please Note: Washing Soda IS NOT the same as baking soda.

Additional Jewelry Tips:
Shower
Should I wear Jewelry in the Shower?
No. To protect your jewelry, it should be removed before showering. Precious metals, gemstones, and jewelry components can be damaged by exposure to water, hair care products, soaps and body washes. When getting dressed, put your jewelry on last to avoid exposure to cosmetics, perfume, hairspray, and body lotion. The same precautions should be taken before swimming or using sunscreen.

Beach Jewelry
Jewelry and the Beach Don’t mix.
That’s why you see so many people with metal detectors roaming the beaches at the end of the day. Rings can easily slip off of wet fingers. The combination of water, salt, sun, sunscreen, and sand can damage and weather chains and clasps, causing breakage. In most cases you won’t even realize it has fallen off. Your favorite piece of jewelry will inadvertently become someone else’s treasure.

There is so much beauty and artistry to be appreciated in objects made from silver and gold. With the proper care, they will last a lifetime, and can be passed down from one generation to the next.

Happy Crafting!

Gemstone Healing Traditions

Gemstones
Gemstones have been admired throughout history. They have been worn for their beauty, carried for protection, and ground into powder for use as pigments in makeup, dyes, and paints. Gemstones have been used for healing since ancient times. Below is a list of gemstones and their associated healing properties, followed by a list of Birthstones, Zodiac signs, and the Feng Shui Bagua with corresponding gemstones.

Gemstone Healing Properties
Agate – strong healing, good fortune, balances body mind & spirit, calming, nature

Amazonite
Amazonite – calming, improves sleep, intuition, creativity

Amber
Amber – success, decision-making, achievement

Amethyst – calming, protection, restful sleep, self-confidence, intuition, meditation
Apatite – intuition, meditation, energy
Aquamarine – balances body mind & spirit, nature, water, calming, purifies body

Aventurine
Aventurine – balance, optimism, relaxation, purifies mind, nature

Azurite & Malachite – stress relief, intuition, creativity, heaven & earth, energy
Bloodstone – healing, energizes, purifies, strengthens heart
Calcite – mind, body, & spirit, nature, energy, harmony, healing

Carnelian
Carnelian – creativity, energy, protection

Chrysocolla – balance, stress reduction, intuition, calming, heaven & earth

Citrine
Citrine – abundance, confidence, hope, energy

Diamond – abundance, clarity, fidelity, deflects negativity
Emerald – dreams, healing, balance, protection traveling, prosperity

Fluorite
Fluorite – healing, concentration, grounding

Garnet – passion, remove negativity, hope, purifies
Jade – prosperity, dreams, healing

Picture Jasper
Jasper – balance, healing, attaining goals, nature, nurturing, relieves stress

Kyanite – optimism, healing, creativity, loyalty

Lapis Lazuli
Lapis Lazuli – intuition, balance, inspiration, protection, creativity

Malachite – healing, abundance, relationships, dreams, reduces stress
Moonstone – fortune, protection for traveling, compassion, female power

Mother of Pearl
Mother of Pearl – female power, nurturing, motherhood

Nephrite – creativity, protection, attain goals, dreams
Onyx – intuition, dreams, protection, achievement, endurance
Opal – balance, harmony, spirituality

Pearls
Pearl – female power, truth, heaven
Peridot – prosperity, harmony, relationships, intuition

Clear Quartz
Quartz – spirituality, harmony, creativity, prosperity

Ruby – love, self-awareness, renewal, spirituality
Sapphire – clarity, intuition, protection, soul mate love, fidelity, meditation

Snowflake Obsidian
Snowflake Obsidian – balance, concentration, repels negativity

Sodalite – delegation, intuition, creativity, calming, protection
Sugilite – calming, healing, reduces stress, spirituality

Tigerseye
Tiger’s Eye – confidence, healing, concentration, grounding

Topaz – creativity, self-expression, spirituality, renewal
Tourmaline – healing, spirituality, energy, renewal, protection

Turquoise
Turquoise – protection for traveling, strengthens, verbal communication

Unakite – feminine, abundance, harmony

Birthstones
Birthstones

Signs of the Zodiac
Zodiac

Feng Shui Bagua with Gemstones
Bagua

Mother Nature has produced a remarkable collection of gemstones. Cultures around the world have created and shared their gemstones traditions throughout the ages, and will continue to do so in the future. Each stone has a unique story. When choosing a gemstone, hold it in your hand and ask yourself: How does this gemstone make me feel? If your answer is “empowered,” “inspired,” and “amazing” – you have found the perfect match. Wear it in good health!

Happy Crafting!

Mother of Pearl – A Gift from the Sea

Mollusk
Mother of Pearl comes from mollusks, and is naturally a blend of tan, cream and white, with an iridescent finish. It can be bleached white, or dyed and color of the rainbow. Mother of Pearl beads come in an amazing range of shapes and sizes, while the thicker pieces are carved into cameos and pins, or cut into squares as mosaic tiles. Let’s turn a few round beads into a lovely pair of earrings.

How to Make Natural Mother of Pearl Cluster Earrings
Mother of Pearl Earrings

These 1-1/2” long Natural Mother of Pearl earrings swing and shift with your movements, and they’re a neutral color, which coordinates with whatever you’re wearing. In this design, five beads orbit around a dangling two bead central core. These earrings are a little challenging in Step 6. At times you may feel like you have fumble fingers. If you are looking for an easy pair of earring for beginners, please click here.

Required Beads & Findings:
MoP Earring Supplies

Supplies:
To make this pair of earrings you will need:
12) Silver plated Head Pins – 1” length,
14) 7-7.5mm round Natural Mother of Pearl beads,
2) Silver plated Surgical Steel Fishhook Earwires with ball & coil

(Please note: Head pins are the foundation of these earrings. They are inexpensive and come in big packages. Be sure to have several on hand just in case. Craft stores carry jewelry making supplies, including beads, accents, and tools. If you get hooked on jewelry making and yearn for the ultimate selections, look no further than FireMountainGems.com)

Required Jewelry Making Tools:
Round Nose Pliers
Round Nose Pliers – the smooth, round tips on these pliers make it easy and safe to manipulate wire, pins, and small jewelry metal pieces known as findings. Please don’t use standard pliers, which have teeth that will damage delicate precious metals.

Jewelry Wire Cutters
Jewelry Wire Cutters – a sharp pair of wire cutters makes jewelry making so much easier. Do not use them for other crafts, such as floral arranging, which can damage the blades.

Earring Making Instructions:
Beads on Head Pins
Step 1: Slide the beads onto head pins as shown.

Grasp Head Pin with Pliers
Step 2: With the round nose pliers in your right hand, grip the wire just above the Mother of Pearl bead. Hold the pliers in this position for the next step.

Bend Head Pin
Step 3: Grasp the end of the head pin with your left thumb and index finger, and bend the wire toward you. Continue bending the pin over the tip of the pliers until it touches the Mother of Pearl bead.

Beads with Partial Loops
The reshaped pins will look like the photo above.

Cut Excess Pin Length
Step 4: Cut off the excess wire. Leave enough wire to form a small loop above the bead. This may take a few tries. Don’t worry if you cut it too short. Simply use a new head pin and repeat the steps.

Beads with Trimmed Pins
This photo shows the beads with trimmed pins.

Attach Earwire
Step 5: Hook the double bead pin onto the loop on the bottom of the fishhook earwire, and close the loop using the round nose pliers.

Core Beads Attached
The earring will look like the above photo.

Close the Loop
Step 6: Attach the first “satellite” bead to the earwire in the same way.

First Bead Attached
The earring now has a center core and one satellite bead. Repeat this step for the remaining four beads. If you have trouble getting the beads to lay correctly, remove the dangling two bead central core. Shift the five satellite beads with your fingers until they form a circle around the earwire, and then reattach the two bead central core.

Finished Earrings
Congratulations! You have successfully made a pair of Mother of Pearl cluster earrings.

Black Onyx Version
Here’s the same pair of earring made with Black Onyx beads. Note how the color dramatically changes the look. You could also experiment with different gemstones, glass or wood beads.

Jewelry making is a great way to explore your creativity. There are so many options available that it’s hard to choose. After making several items for yourself, keep in mind that people love receiving jewelry as gifts.

Good Luck & Happy Crafting!