May 032011

We all love to create. We all love to SHARE our creations with others. And why not? We work had and we’re proud of our work! Right?

After spending hours creating and more hours taking photos, nothing is worse than uploading them only to find out they are out of focus, or dark, or there is too much glare. It can be very discouraging!

After receiving many many questions about what camera I use and the set-up etc. I decided to condense into 5 areas that *I* think are the most important


Jewelry Artists Network Photography Tips

Those little dials help!

Seriously, this is number one. Its the main deal here folks. Get to know your camera. Read the manual or just experiment, but KNOW what the dials and buttons are for. Understand what they do and use that to your advantage.

General tips –

  • set the ISO at 100 or less
  • turn off the flash
  • use macro setting
  • adjust the exposure

And yes, the type of camera matters. I know many people get great photos with relatively inexpensive cameras, so you don’t have to spend a fortune for a camera like the Rebel. After going through many cameras, I finally have one that I love and it didn’t break the bank. I use a Panasonic Lumix. Its a point and shoot but itsa great camera with some really nice features for jewelry, like the macro-zoom. I thought macro was great, but macro-zoom takes it to a whole other level!


It does’t have to be expensive. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be store bought!

But it really can make a huge difference in your results.

Jewelry is a difficult shot because of the light reflection – it bounces off the metal and stones creating glare and out of focus shots. For crisp clear images – use a lightbox.

When I started I made a lightbox from a semi-transparent plastic tub. (ok, when I FIRST-FIRST began, I used a plastic gallon milk jug top cut off and the bottom cut out) Any semi-transparent container will diffuse the light. You can be more creative and use some sort of cloth over a makeshift frame or tissue paper (just be careful with your lights!! they can get hot!)

I now use this lightbox – it was inexpensive and I like that it folds flat. Space is an issue for me, so this works well. (the price has gone up but its still worth it!)


This deserves its own heading because I can’t over stress the importance of lighting. You need to understand your lighting. Whether you  use natural light streaming in from a window (or if you take your party outside) or artificial light – halogen, daylights, whatever. .. . the DIRECTION of your light, any GLARE, etc will impact your photos.

I like to use lighting coming from all angles to reduce shadows.

If you don’t have enough light sources, use mirrors. Set them outside of the shot, opposite a light and they will bounce light back in the opposite direction!


Many people don’t realize what a colossal effect different backgrounds have on images. Again, it has to do with how the light plays off it.  I find that matte backgrounds work best. I don’t have a preference for light OR dark backgrounds but I can tell you that alter my camera settings differently if I am shooting on black rather than white. (refer back to #1!)


It pays to do all you can to reduce movement of the camera.

Jewelry Artists Network Photography Tips

Use the timer! Your finger pushing down the button to trip the shutter WILL move the camera, and even the slightest movement will have an effect on your images.

Don’t hold your camera – use a tripod or set your camera on a box or stack of books. Anything to reduce movement.

And finally #6 (I know I said 5, but I can’t hold back here!)

My best tip is to use a notebook. TAKE NOTES. Any time you alter your set-up, document it. Then compare the images against the set up. See what works best for you.

If taking notes is too cumbersome – take a photo. That’s right! Take a photo! Each time you change something, back up and get a picture of the set-up. When you load your photos on the computer there will be a photo set-up image prior to the new pictures. Delete the ones that don’t work – save photos of the set-up that does. It will make duplicating awesome photos very easy!


So those are the 5 (ok, 6) things that I often talk to people about. Next time I’ll share some of my favorite backgrounds, the use of props, setting up for illusions (floating jewelry anyone?) and more. I won’t tell you which way to go, as I think different situations warrant different set ups. I’ll just show you how to go about it. Then you decide what suits your purposes. 🙂

What are your best photography tips?

Jan 072011

Now that we’ve begun wrapping up all the festivities of the winter and we’ve rung in the New Year (YAY! 2011) ……

Its time for many of us to begin thinking about resolutions. Many people hate that word. Don’t like it? Then how about thinking about   goals, new skills, or new challenges ?

I shared here and here about some of my plans/goals for me and my business and also a couple of challenges I’ll take part in this year.

Sharing your goals and plans with others is a great idea. Very often it does at least two things:

1. It solidifies them in your mind.

Its no longer just a figment of a thought or some fuzzy idea that you may or may not commit yourself to in the near future. It causes you to think in terms of goals that are actually attainable.

2. It creates accountability.

Its unlikely that I’ll contact you in 3 months and ask you how you’re doing on those goals (unless you want me to do so, in which case, use the contact tab above) and I’m certainly not going to ream you out for not getting ‘xyz’ done in a certain amount of time. But just knowing that I could might give you a push to follow through. Seriously though, if you share your goals with some friends they just might come along side you and check in – and you could do the same for them too.

Some tips for goals or resolutions


Make them reasonable. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Baby steps might be small, but they ARE steps.And if you conquer them you will be more likely to


Don’t write a goal that uses words like ‘better’ or ‘some’ – examples:

I will lose some weight = BAD

I will lose 10 pounds 🙂

I will get better at setting stones = BAD

I will bezel set stones that have crisp clean bezels with no puckers or solder blobs or showing solder seams. 🙂

Set goals that you can measure – make sure there are actual objective points that you can measure (A pound vs ‘some’ — bezel setting specifics rather than ‘get better’)


Once you come up with a goal – break it down into steps

For instance

Lets look at the goal “I will lose 10 pounds”

The steps might be something like :

  • lose 1 pound a week
  • drink 8 glasses of water a day
  • exercise 3 times a week
  • create meal plan with daily calories of ‘abc’

Then you can simply follow the steps –  check your progress – AND  modify the steps as needed.

Now its your turn – share your goals with us – or a tip about goal setting  – just leave a comment below.

HAPPY 2011!

 Posted by at 3:49 pm
Sep 172010

While conversing with some wonderful artist friends, the topic of blogging and RSS came up.

Most people are now familiar with a blog – a web log – shortened to blog. Its an online journal of sorts.

When people subscribe to your blog, they are getting a ‘feed’ — the blog is coming to their email or to a reader.

It comes via ‘RSS’  which is ‘really simple syndication’.

A reader is a service that allows you to get all your blogfeeds in one place. You can read the content right there for the most part.

Wiki can explain it all better than I can -> RSS ON WIKI

People use different methods of tracking favorite blogs, there is the google connect gadget, there are bookmarks, RSS, email subscriptions, readers, etc.

I like to corral not only my favorite blogs, but also my favorite websites, Etsy shops, etc. with a ‘reader’. With a reader you can add not only blog feeds, but a ton of other web content feeds.

Anywhere you see the now familiar RSS icon, you can ‘grab’ the feed and receive updates direct to your reader whenever there is a content update.

But what if you want to respond to a blogpost? No worries, your reader will have a live link you can use to get there.

I use Google Reader, its very user friendly.  Here are some screen shots to help you see how I do it.

I’ll use my Etsy shop as an example.

First, find the little RSS icon.

click it.

That should take you to a page that looks like this:

When you are there, you will have a drop down box that allows you to select how you would like to subscribe. (I use Google Reader, so I would select that.)

Making that selection will add the feed to my reader and also take me directly to my reader.

Once in reader, if there is another website or blog that I know I would like to subscribe to, I can do it right from the homepage of my google reader (if I have the web address or url). Google will import the feed.

You want to find where it says ‘add subscription’.

click that.

Then you will get a pop up where you can enter the url.

you can try this with any url, the worst that will happen is that google will tell you it can’t find a feed for that url or it can’t find content. Sometimes it will offer to create a feed for you. So nice. 🙂

*~* NOTE: I did this in mozilla firefox — it may look a little different in different browsers. *~*

The Jewelry Artists Network feed can be obtained on the sidebar, or just grab it here.

RSS and feeds are obviously helpful to you, you don’t have to run around visiting all of your happy places to stay up to date. You can do it from the comfort of one home page.

But how is it helpful to your business? What can RSS do for your business?

Stay tuned for the next post to find out!

Questions? Leave in the comments section or use the contact tab above. We’re not computer whiz kids here but we’ll try to help!

Sep 022010

One thing that we all deal with is scrap. Whether its botched work, or filings, or those little wire snips and bits; we can accumulate a lot of ‘scrap’ metal.

Some people use their scrap for sand, broomstraw, water, or other casting at home. A bit of the scrap metal can often be used as embellishments on new pieces of jewelry, but at some point, most of us will end up with a bag, box, or even bucket full of metal.

What do you do with it?

One consideration is to send it in to a refiner and have them either give you ‘cash back’ (a check) or a credit on a subsequent purchase of metal, tools.

How do return programs work?

Basically you are going to package your scrap and send it to a refiner and they are going to either give you cash back – or a credit on future purchases.

You will need to separate your scrap. Remove any stones, organize it by metal type, and in some instances, remove any soldered parts. Each refinery has their specific instructions, read carefully or call to find out how best to ‘clean’ and package your scrap.

Then you send it in, usually with a form specific to their company, but sometimes with a note. They will log, weigh, assay, weigh, check current spot/market prices, and then do some math to calculate your return.

Who has the best prices?

That seems to be the million dollar question.

Return prices vary from company to company and then each one usually has different prices within their own system which are determined by the amount you send in, whether you want cash or trade, and how quickly you want it turned around (rush or standard?).

In addition, some companies have refining fees, surcharges, etc that will affect your return. It is in your best interest to ask before hand about any and all charges/fees.

To help get you started, we have researched a few companies and have created a list of their current scrap return/refining rates.

These are listed alphabetically and do not necessarily include the surcharges or refining fees. If you have another company to recommend or someone you want us to check out, please use the contact tab above to let us know!

  • G&S Metals

  • Silver Scrap buy – 90% – credit acct. 90%
  • Silver/Bars/Coins – 95%
  • Gold Bars/Coins – 95%
  • Platinum and Pd – 90%
  • Argentium Silver – 90%

  • Hausser and Miller

< 150 oz 81%

> 150 oz 98%

  • High Tech PMR

gold – 98%

silver – 92%

platinum – 92%

you need their patriot act form to open an account

and they have a shipping form that is downloadable on their website

you can send both at the same time with your first shipment and then just the packing slip for future shipments.

  • Hoover & Strong
will accept mixed material, however, separating scrap is recommended.

NOTE: there are refining fees of anywhere from $1.00 to $1.25 an ounce.


> 90% fine silver  65 – 85% depending on weight and return time requested

<90% pure silver 65-70% depending on return time requested


> 25 % fine gold  94-98% depending on quantity and return time requested

10-24% fine gold 94-95%

<10% 89-90%

Platinum or palladium

> 90% 89-96% depending on weight and return time requested

  • Midwest Refineries

sterling scrap  90% of pure sterling assay

  • Monsterslayer

Sterling/Fine Silver Sheet, Wire & Precious Metals Clay (PMC) Scrap:
75 % of the current Silver Market in Trade or

we will pay 60 % of the current Silver Market in Cash.

Soldered, Brazed, or Melted Silver Scrap, Clean Filings, Chains, and Old Jewelry with quality marking:
55 % of the current Silver Market in Trade or

we will pay 45 % of the current Silver Market in Cash.

12k-14k Gold Filled Findings, Sheet, & Wire Scrap:
1.2 % of the current Gold Market in Trade or

we will pay 1.0 % of the current Gold Market in Cash.

Example: 1.2 % of a $ 1,000.00 Gold Market = $ 12.00 per OzT.

  • Rio


Fine silver and cadmium-free sterling silver*75%

Cadmium-bearing sterling silver (requires special refining) 65%

Silver dust 40%

Minted fine silver coins and bars from Rio Grande 98%

Minted fine silver coins and bars not sold by Rio Grande 92%

Gold-filled ( at least 12/20 ) 1.89% total weight

24K gold ( Jeweler’s karat gold scrap )**  75%

Minted 24KY gold coins from Rio Grande 98%

Minted 24KY gold coins not sold by Rio Grande 92%

Platinum*** 60%

Palladium**** 60%


Fine silver and cadmium-free sterling silver*65%

Cadmium-bearing sterling silver (requires special refining) 65%

Silver dust 40%

Minted fine silver coins and bars from Rio Grande 98%

Minted fine silver coins and bars not sold by Rio Grande 92%

Gold-filled ( at least 12/20 ) 1.89% total weight

24K gold ( Jeweler’s karat gold scrap )**  65%

Minted 24KY gold coins from Rio Grande 98%

Minted 24KY gold coins not sold by Rio Grande 92%

Platinum*** 60%

Palladium****  60%

  • Thunderbird Supply

unsoldered silver

80% of the for trade or

60% for unsoldered silver for cash

scrap jewelry or soldered pieces:

60% for trade

fine silver coins and bars

90% for trade or

85% for cash.

For gold-filled scrap
cash or trade 1.45%
[$900 gold market, ($900 x 0.0145 = $13.05) gold-filled scrap would be worth $13.05 per ounce.]



Handy & Harman Precious Metals Group

800.463.1465to speak with a Scrap Recovery Specialist

[note, I called and could not get through – press 3 for refining dept. then 1 if you are a new customer. The extension went into voice mail which said not to leave a message but to try another number which is – 416-419-3114 – I didn’t call because I’m not local! ]



Cookson Gold

Has a scrap metal chart similar to a live market chart – updated frequently but may not be accurate…


Download list as a PDF document


If you have other refiners we should add to the list, please use the contact tab above to let us know, we’ll verify and then update!




May 112010
  • Are they ever finished?
  • Should I have more than one set up depending on the type of show I am doing?
  • Do I really need a tent? If so, what kind and where should I buy it?
  • My display is b-o-r-i-n-g. How can I spruce it up? (especially on a tight budget?)
  • Just where am I going to STORE all of this?

Setting up a booth for a show can be an overwhelming task and truly, for some people, it is a never ending task as different elements are added or taken away or as the artists’ needs change.

Join us for a series on “Show Booths and Displays” where we will try to answer some questions, wade through the information, talk about resources, vendors, pricing, what works and doesn’t,  and we will track the evolution of the booths of several artists.

If you have specific questions or tips regarding booths and displays, please use the contact tab above or the comments below. The more input we receive, the more beneficial this series will be for all of us. 🙂

 Posted by at 2:00 pm

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Mar 052010

Part of our goal is to provide articles on a wide range of topics – business pratices, shows, selling online, etc.

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 Posted by at 9:06 pm