Working with Metal Clay  

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Keeping Your Metal Clay Moist:
There are few things more disappointing than sitting down at your bench and finding that the lump of metal clay you were about to use has dried-up into an unworkable, useless blob. Keeping your unused PMC or Art Clay moist is much easier with a package of Soil Moist granules from your local garden center and an empty film canister. Place 1 teaspoon of Soil Moist granules into the film canister (or other air-tight container) along with 1 tablespoon of distilled or tap water. Allow the granules to absorb the water, then pour off any excess. To use, simply place your metal clay (wrapped in plastic wrap) into the container. The Soil Moist granules will keep your clay from drying out and prolong its life indefinitely. And when the granules begin to lose their moisture, just add a few drops of water to the container. It's that easy!
Jewelry Tip by: R.E. Rourke

Jewelry Cleaning Tip  

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Jewelry cleaning tip brought to you by Jessi Clarke-White of Distinction Jewelry (This necklace is from her Stargate Collection-I thought it was so unique and creative. Be sure to check out her shop. She has lots of other fun jewelry.)

"Jewelry: It’s an unfortunate fact of life: silver tarnishes. Tarnish first appears as a yellowish tint, then shifts to gray and black. Some people like the “antiqued” look of tarnished silver, and in fact some jewelry designers deliberately apply a heavy tarnish to their pieces. You may opt to allow your jewelry to tarnish if you simply don’t wish to bother maintaining it, or if you like that look.

Removing tarnish: Silver polishing cloths are effective at removing tarnish, especially if used before the tarnish becomes too heavy. They are most useful on smooth silver; they lose their effectiveness on textured surfaces or small silver components. Chemical tarnish removers can be quite effective, but many need to be avoided or used with care around gemstones, pearls, and other jewelry components. I use Hagerty Silversmith’s Wash on my sterling silver and silver/gemstone jewelry. It is much quicker and easier to use than a polishing cloth, and it’s amazingly effective at removing tarnish quickly and easily. It also leaves Swarovski crystal with a lovely sparkle. It is relatively safe to use on jewelry containing gemstones, but repeated use can dull some stones, so when possible keep the wash off your stones, and wash it off quickly and completely.

Preventing Tarnish: Tarnish is caused by sulphur. Sources include sweat, wool, felt, eggs, leather, latex, and various other sources, so limiting exposure to them can help. Storing your silver in an airtight container with activated charcoal or commercial anti-tarnish strips is a good way to prevent tarnish when storing your jewelry. A simple storage method is to place the jewelry in a zip-locking bag with as much air squeezed out as possible.

Black silver: Rare black silver is actually silver that has been chemically tarnished to a rich bluish black. Tarnish removing products should not be used on black silver; they will not completely remove the finish, but they will discolor it. In pieces that combine bright silver and black silver, simply polish the bright silver with a silver polishing cloth, or apply cleaners with care to avoid contact with the black silver."

Jewelry Tip of the Week- Pricing your Work  

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Jewelry Tip of the Week:
If you are a jeweler and work with precious metals, accurate pricing can be difficult. This is a picture of one of my rings. The question is, am I pricing it correctly in a fluctuating silver market? Sam Kaffine of Sterling Bliss jewelry came up with this great pricing solution:

"Keep an index card for each of your production pieces, listing materials by piece or weight,and assembly time. Write a pricing formula, using "x" for spot market price and "y" for length of product - be sure to include your profit margin. That way it's easy to adjust prices when the market rises or falls, or for different lengths/sizes of that piece. For example: ((x+25+30)/y)1.3 In other words... Take the spot market price(x), add your hourly rate($25) and any additional materials($30). Divide that total by the length(y), then multiply by your profit margin(1.3/30%)."

I think this is a brilliant solution for the jewelry artist that works a lot with precious metals!