What A Difference A Year Makes

    It has been a long year filled with tons of learning, development and gaining of experience. This past weekend’s show went very well and I’m very pleased in booth display. In looking at the booth photos, it made me stop and think how far we’ve come in booth display at shows.

    I found this early picture (above) from the same show a year ago; notice how cluttered and disorganized the tables look. The booth is in a “U” shape allowing customers to come into the booth; however there is no real flow among the jewelry for customers. This picture almost makes me cry to think it was so unprofessional, cluttered and in such disarray. There is almost no space for customers and us to walk within the booth; thinking back it was like everyone was bumping into each other!

    A year later……
    The booth is now inverted so that customer’s walk along the outside of the tables. We’ve found that displaying this way the customer’s don’t feel trapped or pushed into any sells and can look at the jewelry in a leisure fashion. There is an even flow of the jewelry from table to table and everything is displayed in a professional and organized manner. This week we received the final piece to our booth display, professional display table clothes in a natural complementing color. We can’t wait to use them this weekend, along with the new neutral colored necklace busts. With the holidays approaching, this weekend we are going to try something a little different and add touches of Fall or Holidays around the tables. The two pictures here show the booth before the jewelry was placed and the finished booth after placing all the jewelry.

    I'm sure there are a few things we will continue to 'tweak' as time goes on, but for now, I think we have finally found our 'booth'!!

Business Series - Marketing

    Disclaimer: Please note that I am not an expert in owning a Business. This series is meant to solely provide information to the reader.

    Business’s today face major challenges and opportunities in marketing, such as globalization and advances in technology. These both play major parts in the marketing strategy of a business. Marketing is not only a social process of how to get your products and services to the consumer, but it is also the process of planning and executing the concepts, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational goals.

    To look at marketing strategies for your business, ask yourself the following questions, keeping in mind the 4 major pieces of marketing: Product, Price, Place and Promotion.

    1) How can you spot and chose the right target markets?
    2) How can you differentiate your products and services from the competition?
    3) How far do you go to customize your products and services for each customer?
    4) What are the major ways you can grow your business or company?
    5) How can you build stronger brands in order to continue to grow your business or company?
    6) How do you keep your customers loyal to you, just beyond the first few purchases?
    7) How do you measure the payback from advertising, sales promotions, and public relations?

    Just thinking about these questions gets the ball rolling about your businesses marketing strategy. It is one of the main reasons a company will ‘make or brake’ it in their industry. Most businesses, unless they are very large, don’t usually consider marketing. But it is one of the most important ‘hats’ a business person will wear. Marketing your products or services just right will bring back customers and keep your business in front of the consumer. Keep in mind though; too much exposure could ruin your business or product, so try to keep an even marketing plan. Learn about your competition, their target markets and pricing strategies and capitalize on feeding what works into your business.
    Develop a marketing plan that works for you; set marketing objectives, determine what avenues and how you are going to market your product or service, set marketing budgets, check the competition and then develop and deliver your marketing message to your target market.

    Marketing is a challenging concept in any business…from print ads, to internet, to direct-mailings. Just keep in mind the 4 major pieces of marketing: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.

Brand New Web Site

    I’m so very excited to announce that I’ve gone E-Commerce!! I just finished developing and published my jewelry website – Timeless Designs! You will find an array of jewelry (necklaces, sets, bracelets, earrings), events (shows & markets we attend), general information (policies, favorite links, FAQs), and get to know the artist behind the jewelry (that’s me!). I can’t wait to begin developing more with the website and this blog, while bring some of my best and most unique jewelry designs to you.

    Please bookmark it and visit often to see what I've done, new jewelry designs and purchase jewelry items available on the website. I will continue to have this blog where I will direct more posts to industry news, business series, gemstone finds, and much much more. So keep continue to “Follow The Blog” for Timeless Designs and visit our new jewelry website!

    Thank you to everyone who helped makes this ‘dream’ a reality!

Sneak Peek

    I’ve been busy at the studio making new designs for the upcoming fall shows. These designs incorporate some of nature’s real beauties, most exotic gemstones. Everything from Amazonite (right), Zebra Opal(bottom center), Moss Opalite,

    Black Onyx & Jasper (below left), Red Jasper & Aventurine (below right), and China Mountain Turquoise (upper right). Most have been incorporated with either handcrafted wire links or wire wraps, copper or silver spacers, Tortoise glass, topaz smoky glass, and seed beads.

    These are available for purchase via the upcoming shows (check the calendar below!) or you can email me directly and I’ll send a price, including shipping.

Lapidary Natural Gemstone Rough Slabs

    I found a really great website for those who are looking for rough slabs. Natural gemstone slabs can be cut, drilled and polished for making your own beads, pendants, cabochons, and lapidary items. The site is called Great Slabs, offering a huge selection of rough slabs; some very hard to find and some that are very common. They offer either slab assortments or you can browse thru their wide selection of individual natural gemstone lists. Whatever you are looking for, check them out. Their front page displays a new material from Uruguay, Dendritic Agate, and a beautiful almost transparent agate from the quartz family.

Gemstones In Agate Turquoise Ivoryite

    Natural gemstones in navy blue Agates, Turquoise and Ivoryite (white buffalo Turquoise) make up this beautifully bold piece. I was lucky enough to come across the Ivoryite on the Tucson adventure and is not a common gemstone to find.

    A little about Ivoryite; Ivoryite with the Silicate present, is a bit Ivory in color, hence the name. In addition to the opaque material in slabs, it can also be found in crystalline form, and can be faceted into a clear stone resembling a white Zircon. The stone is often referred to by Native Americans as White Turquoise or White Buffalo Turquoise, and it should not be confused with white Howlite, a more common found gemstone. So many geological chains of events must synchronize to create just one thin vein of turquoise that the mineral Turquoise can rightly be envisioned as a fluke of nature, so the white is considered by most to be impossible.

    So what is called White Buffalo Turquoise, which should be correctly called ‘Magnesite’ or better yet ‘Ivoryite’ which forms near Turquoise deposits, but as a totally different chemical compound. Magnesite will be a pure white or creamy white in color, opaque and normally without any veining. It is so rare to find, that only a couple of dealers in the United States are allowed on the Shoshone Reservation where it is found to dig the material. Similar material can also be found in smaller quantities and size in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Nevada. Magnesite and Ivoryite however are not the same as Howlite, yet another gemstone meant for another educational lesson!

    This necklace is a longer length than I usually design, it is 26.5” long and has matching hoop earrings. Some of the Turquoise has been caged in silver wire; then accented with beige lined seedbeads. The design will make a huge statement for anyone…causal with a jean blazer, t-shirt and jeans or dress up for an evening with a dark blue or beige dress. Any way you look, it’s a great piece to be adding to your natural gemstone jewelry collection!

    This lovely set is available for purchase in my Etsy shop.

Sun Zodiac Gemstones

    Everyone knows what their Birthstone is; but how many know their Sun or Zodiac gemstone? According to the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA), “Most gem scholars agree that the tradition of birthstones arose from the Breastplate of Aaron: a ceremonial religious garment set with twelve gemstones that represented the twelve tribes of Israel and also corresponded with the twelve signs of the zodiac and the twelve months of the year.Because ancient people did not always classify gemstones by mineral species like we do, there is some debate about which gemstones were set in the breastplate and why. Because of this, different cultures around the world have developed different birth stone lists. The modern day list that you know is only the most recent list: some older lists still exist. Some also argue that the proper way to assign gemstones is according to astrological sign and not month.”
    Below is a list of the Sun/Zodiac Signs and their corresponding gemstone or birthstone. If you’d like to choose yours based on your actual birth date, you can go the ICA website and use their Gem-o-Matic to discover your actual or preferred gemstone for your birthday, anniversary or any other date you like.

    Sun Sign = Birthstone
    Capricorn 12/22 – 1/20 – Ruby, Agate, Garnet
    Aquarius 1/21 – 2/19 – Garnet, Moss Agate, Opal, Amethyst
    Pisces 2/20 – 3/20 – Rock Crystal, Sapphire, Amethyst, Bloodstone
    Aries 3/21-4/20 – Bloodstone, Diamond
    Taurus 4/21-5/21 – Sapphire, Turquoise, Amber, Blood Coral, Emerald
    Gemini 5/22-6/21 – Agate, Chrysoprase, Pearl
    Cancer 6/22-7/23 – Emerald, Moonstone, Pearl, Ruby
    Leo 7/24-8/23 – Tourmaline, Sardonyx, Onyx
    Virgo 8/24-9/23 – Jasper, Carnelian, Jade, Sapphire
    Libra 9/24-10/23 – Opal, Lapis Lazuli, Peridot
    Scorpio 10/24-11/22 – Aquamarine, Topaz
    Sagittarius 11/23-12/21 – Sapphire, Amethyst, Turquoise, Topaz

Purchasing & Selling Jewelry Online

    Buying handcrafted jewelry isn’t always easy and can be a challenge. People like to touch, feel and try on the jewelry, looking over every aspect of the piece before making a final purchase. To sell and purchase jewelry online here are some questions to keep in mind:

    *What makes people buy?
    *What makes people shop with the same jewelry artist again?
    *What designs and price ranges would fit best into a potential buyer’s budget?

    One of the main reasons that people purchase online is for the love of handcrafted jewelry. It has become much easier to acquire fabulous and unique pieces that you normally might not see in a traditional brick-n-mortar store via online websites, blogs, or shopping venues. Some people see handcrafted jewelry as a wearable form of art, often reflecting their own personalities with individual custom designs. One comment I’ve heard lately from buyers is “If it’s one thing I don’t want is to see my jewelry coming and going.” Meaning, they see the same jewelry they have purchased everywhere they go; home, office, church, and general outings.

    Many buyers are drawn to handcrafted jewelry because of the way it feels. This refers to the level of skill it took to craft the piece along with the creativity and how the entire piece (necklace, earrings, bracelet, etc.) all work together. This gives the buyer the ability to purchase from a variety of specialty artists with unusual talents and designs.

    Other reason is the ease of shopping online. When shopping online, the prices and policies are well visible to the buyer. Nothing is hidden, no missing tags or not priced all together. Online, prices are reflected with ever piece and they know what to expect. There is also no ‘pressure’ from a sells person hover over them to make a sell. It gives the buyer an opportunity to shop around for jewelry and prices from many different artists, rather than the single mass produced pieces found in brick-n-mortar stores.

    Shopping online offers the benefit of less stress; especially to those who don’t live close to any major shopping venues. It gives the buyer time to browse around the internet at any time of the day or night, at their favorite online shops from the comfort of their home or office. Most buyers will admit they will do anything to avoid driving and traffic, long lines and crowds to the easy and convience of shopping from home or office via the internet. Buyers will continue to purchase from the same artist because of craftsmanship, fair pricing, and unique designs. For these reasons, keep these things in mind when selling your jewelry online:

    *Make sure you have quality craftsmanship; check all findings, settings and fittings to make sure they are all tight.
    *Price your jewelry accordingly; we all want a fair price for our works of art. However, be fair and price jewelry pieces according to the market and consumer you are targeting.
    *Retain your own personal style and let it be reflected in your jewelry making. Don’t be afraid to try different techniques and styles, even beyond your tastes. Never know when it might catch the eye of a potential buyer!

    Above all be unique and unusual; offering what others may not and you will keep the buyers coming back. Handcrafted jewelry is coming back in, especially if designs reflect the personality of the individual that no one else can!

Black Onyx Re-Design

    Sometimes a design just doesn’t work and I take the time to redesign it. This particular set looked like the first picture, a nice design with small links in different shapes.

    In discussing this necklace with someone, she noted that it needed a ‘chunkier and black’ look. So, after spending time working through different necklace designs, this is the new design with Black Onyx. The new design still has the Dichroic pendant as a focal point, then accented with black Onyx gemstones, brass non-tarnish wire links in heavy 16g wire and Swarvoski crystals. I also expanded the necklace from it's original length of 19.5" to 24.5"

    Let me know what you think, it is available for purchase in my Etsy shop along with many other designs!

Spiked Mother-of-Pearl

    Brand new from the design board and studio! This lovely bold piece is made from natural creamy white spiked Mother-of-Pearl, mixed between greenish/black glass seed beads and highlighted by two brass wire caged Prehnite gemstones. At the bottom of the necklace are several non-tarnish brass wire spikes, as a mimic to the mother-of-pearl. Inspired by the ocean and nature, it is available in my Etsy shop along with many other of nature’s delights!

Gemstones in the Raw

    Looking to add to your gemstone collection of raw material or want something new to add in those photographs? New listings in my Etsy shop for gemstone material in the raw. These particular pieces are chunky small sizes and come from Arkansas and Arizona. The chunky bunch consists of Petrified Wood, Green Fluorite, clear crystal Quartz, and a sandy/peachy/pink crystal Quartz. The single teal piece below is Chalcopyrite from Arizona. Each piece has been identified and categorized by a Registered Gemologist here in San Antonio, Texas. For any questions, please contact us.

    Visit my Etsy shop; we’ll be adding more loose raw gemstone materials and loose faceted gemstones for purchase.

Turquoise Gemstones

    Turquoise is another of my favorite gemstones to design in my jewelry collection. Discovered by Crusaders in Turkey, for which is it named, it has long been considered a holy stone by American Indians. It is believed to have magical powers to provide protection against harm. Later discovered in Egyptian and Greek tombs, Turquoise was considered a protective stone in antiquity; to protect both horse and rider on long journeys. In the Middle Ages it was thought to give women a sense of happiness, contentment and guarantee success and power to men.
    Mystical powers of Turquoise symbolize beauty, virtuous and loyalty; linked to Aquarius as a star sign. It can be found in Arizona, Mexico, Tibet, Myanmar, China, and Israel. Turquoise colors range from light blue of a robin’s egg to deep matrix greens. Today the traditional gemstone properties of Turquoise are spiritual attunement, cleansing, healing, protection, valor, soothing, peace of mind, guidance through the unknown, and romantic spontaneity.

    Visit my Etsy shop for more designs in Turquoise. And if you prefer a custom piece, please contact us!

MAUstudio Anniverisary Blog Giveaway

    Timeless Designs is one of 20 shops that are participanting in the MAUstudio 3rd Anniverary Blog Giveaway! Come check out MAUstudio for their 3rd Anniversary and blog giveaway. She will be giving away items from all the shops that are participating!
    Visit and post a comment for each shop, giving you 20 chances to win. The shops are a variety of artists from Etsy, DaWanda, and their own websites. Check everyone out and get a chance to win some pretty great prizes!

    These two lovely earrings are from Timeless Designs and are part of the giveaway!

Agate Gemstones a Worldwide Beauty

    Agate gemstones are one of my favorite and most versatile gemstones to design many of my jewelry pieces. Agate is the Mystical birthstone for September, the birth stone for the Zodiac sign of Gemini and the accepted gemstone for the 12th and 14th wedding anniversaries. Agate, a hard stone can be found in all colors of the rainbow, though green and blue are quite rare. It is a variety of chalcedony formed from layers of quartz which usually show varicolored bands, usually occurring as rounded nodules or veins. Some of the beauty of an Agate comes from the tiny quartz crystal formations within the stone, each one causing a uniqueness and individually to every stone. These pockets of crystals are called drusy and lapidaries often cut the drusy from the agate as cabochons to accent with stones in jewelry designs.
    Common varieties of Agates include; moss agate, eye agate, plume agate, and Mexican lace agate. Some named varieties are: banded agate, blue lace agate, Botswana agate, crazy lace agate, fire agate, turretella agate, and Indian agate, just to name a few. There are literally thousands of localities worldwide where agate specimens can be found and mined. Many of the agates are named for the localities from which they are mined. Most common places are Africa, Asia, Brazil, Egypt, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Napal and the United States.
    Agate is believed to discern truth, accept circumstances, and is a powerful emotional healer. Legend says that Agate improves memory and concentration, increases stamina and encourages honesty. Agate is said to be particularly beneficial to people born under the sign of Gemini as it helps them to remain calm and focused
    It is believed to prevent insomnia and insure pleasant dreams, to enhance personal courage and protect one against danger. Agate provides a calming influence, improves perception, concentration and helps to develop and increase one's analytical talents.

    Visit my Etsy shop for designs that include the Agate gemstone.

Thoughts of a Starving Business Artist

    I was an Artist vendor at a very well known and established craft show over the weekend. I saw new faces and reconnected with good friends. My overall experience was less than mediocre, unsuccessful and leaves me questioning whether to give it all up or continue for the ‘long haul’ to weather the current economic storm. Many of the returning vendors stated that attendance was down about 20%, with sales down some 20-35% compared to previous years, including last year. As I go from show to show this season, I’m seeing some emerging trends and common threads.

    Some of the new vendors that are appearing in shows are not always ‘new hobbyists/crafters looking for a quick buck’, but are well established gallery artists coming back to the craft show and festivals because ‘times are tough and they need to make ends meet’. I myself have turned down many shows recently due to the overwhelming number of jewelry vendors. While I’m all for challenging competition, I’m also a business person and know the buying public will be turned off by craft shows and festivals who dominate their shows with one particular industry vendor. In a lot of cases, this has turned off not only the consumer, but also the loyal returning vendors. Many of whom are replaced by hobbyists/crafters and mass producing overseas industry vendors. Time will only tell if this type of constant vendor turn-over will ruin and tarnish the reputation of good-standing, long running shows or not.

    The most common comments at shows have ranged from ‘I’m just looking’; ‘Your work is so original and unique’; ‘I’ll come back, I want to see what everyone has’ to ‘Is this the best price you can give me’. Times are tough for the business person just as much as it is for the customer. But asking a business artist “Is this the best price you can give me?” right after stating, “This is such unique and original work” is telling me, the artist and business person, how worthless and ignorant I am. Maybe next to my business sign and cards I need to post my Bachelor’s degree in Business & resume of 20 years experience, the book I’ve been published in and class certifications. Is this enough ‘Creditability’ to the buying public to be taken seriously as a business person and artist?

    Handcrafted original work is not cheap by any standard; there are raw materials, tools, time & labor, insurance, taxes, and many other aspects of overhead, too many to list in one post, which goes into the pricing of each and every piece produced. The buying public fails to consider these factors; and has left me with the impression they are more interested in getting the cheapest price they can get on quality handcrafted jewelry pieces. They want the over-seas cheap labor & materials price; not a high quality uniquely handcrafted American made price. So the question is, has the state of the economy caused this ill-mannered effect or has the true nature of the buying public gone unnoticed and overlooked until ‘times got tough’ for everyone? The economy is definitely pinching everyone, including the small business person and enough that many will not weather the storm of the current economic state of this country.

    So, back to my original thoughts….do I passionately continue perfecting my craft; get certifications in silversmith, jewelry, teaching and continue to attend advanced classes, conferences and symposiums to better myself and my craft; building the business and artist OR do I try to have faith in the consumer and continue to build that relationship OR do I just give it all up, cut my losses and get out before it’s too late. Again…time will only tell.

Chocolate & Cherries – New Design

    This brand new design created this week, is a little classy and a little sassy. Made from a combination of natural gemstones in Chocolate Jasper and Cherry Quartz; each Jasper stone has been accented with pewter filigree end-caps and I’ve captured the Cherry Quartz in silver toned wire cages. Between each section are triangle shaped seed beads in a pink lined color. This fun classic is 23” (58cm) long with matching earrings dangling at 1” (2.5cm). This is a one-of-a-kind piece and if you are interested in purchasing please contact me.

    Check out my online Etsy shop for more designs available for purchase.