Posted By Claire on July 6, 2011
If you remember, a few weeks ago I introduced you to Steve Millingham, the jeweller who makes our gold-plated B necklace, and now I’d like to introduce you to Daniela who designs and makes our “The Tudors” range. Over to Daniela…
While I was working as an insurance agent I started watching the Tudors and that’s when I fell in love with all things Anne! I wanted the jewelry that I saw in the show and since I couldn’t find it for sale anywhere, I decided to teach myself how to make the items. I enjoyed making the jewelry so much that I decided to start selling the jewelry on Ebay. I probably had about 6 items for sale when Claire contacted me through Ebay to see if I wanted to sell my items through her website. I’ve been with Claire for about 2 years now and have over 200 items for sale and design new items each month.
My hobby has now turned into a full time job and every aspect of it is done by me in my home office. I have to give some credit to my husband Josh who makes the trips to the post office, goes with me to my local jewelry suppliers, and helps me design items when I get stuck and can’t think of what to do. He even fights the post office when they lose my packages. It can be very long and hard hours, especially during the holiday seasons, but I enjoy every minute of it. This is just a small example of what work goes into making an item.
- To choose an item that I’m going to make, I go through my archive of Tudors pictures and choose an item that I want to start working on. Once I choose an item, I search for more pictures to show different angles and views of that item to get as much detail as possible. That process alone of searching for pictures can take anywhere from 2-3 hours depending on how readily available the pictures are.
- I make a rough sketch of the item and get a general idea of what size and shape filigrees and stones I would like to use. I have a group of about 40 main vendors that I use. I search their catalogs to find the filigrees and stones that I need. This step is probably the longest of all the steps in my jewelry design. It can take anywhere from a few hours to a week to find exactly what I’m looking for.
- I make sure I use only reputable vendors/manufacturers. I look for gold and silver plated filigrees and settings (preferably 14k, 24k and sterling silver plating). I only use high quality Czech glass stones and pearls and all my crystals are Swarovski. All the findings I use (jump rings, head pins, etc.) are all gold or silver plated as well. I will be using only hypoallergenic (nickel free) items in the near future so that people with allergies to certain metals won’t have an issue. Every component of the piece will be hypoallergenic from the filigrees and settings to the jump rings and other small parts.
- I then decide how many of each item I need and what color options I would like to have available to the customer. For custom quotes that I receive, this is the point in the process when I have to estimate how much parts will cost and how long it will take to make the item. If it is not a custom quote, I don’t do pricing until after I’ve made the item in case any adjustments in the design have to be made to make it look more like the original item found in the Tudors.
- Upon ordering parts, it can take up to 2 weeks for me to receive the items. Once I receive the parts, I have to put them into my computer inventory system and then sort the parts into my storage.
- Then I have to make the item. I have a picture of the item from the Tudors up on my computer while I’m making the item so I can use it as a reference for how I should build it. I have my sketches next to me so I know what parts I need to use and how they should be used. I use only jewelers’ grade glue but sometimes soldering is required. I also have professional hand tools such as pliers, clamps, cutters, etc.
- On average, when making necklaces and earrings, I will glue all stones into settings and filigrees on one day, let it set for 24 hours to make sure the bond is secure, and the next day I will assemble the item which can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the complexity of the item. When it’s complete, I package it, weigh it and mail it to the customer. The process of packaging and shipping can take up to 15-20 minutes per order.
- When making a headdress, depending on the complexity and size of the item, it can take me up to two weeks to find the correct parts. Once I receive the parts, the longest I’ve usually spent making a headdress was about 1 week. I usually have to hand wire each item to the base and glue or solder other parts to it. Each part might have a different drying time or setting time so I can only work on certain sections of it at a time.
- Once the necklace or earrings are complete, I make a note of all parts used in case the design changed during the process of building the piece. Then I take pictures of the item on whichever mannequin suits the piece I’m photographing. I have to make sure my camera settings and lighting are right to capture the different features of the item. Taking the pictures can take me up to 30 minutes to an hour to make sure they look right. Once the pictures are taken, I upload them into a Photoshop program and spend another couple hours making them suitable for being listed on the website – resizing etc.
- I then have to make a folder of the item on my computer that includes all the pictures and parts used so I can have it for reference when I need to make the item again. This is when I price out each individual piece that went into making the item and add in how much time I spent making the piece. Then I send all the information (pictures and description) to Claire and she gets it listed in the shop.
It’s a full-time job but I love every minute of it and it’s great hearing from customers who love the jewelry they receive and seeing photos of them wearing it.