Vineyard Sky ADVICE

I am often asked all sorts of questions regarding things such as the quality of materials, how to get the best fit and how to care for jewelry. This is where I will address many of these topics. If you have a question you don't find answered here, please call or e-mail me and I'll do my best to help you out.

Material Quality

It is important to understand a bit about the quality of what you are buying. I have often seen jewelry that looks pretty but made with inferior quality materials. I spend a great deal of time in the design and construction of each piece because I want the wearer to enjoy it for years to come. I use only fine quality materials. The metals I most often use are Sterling silver which contains 92.5 percent pure silver, or Turkish silver which has cadmium added. The addition of cadmium means that this has a brighter polish and is less likely to tarnish, these components are generally made by casting and are of a uniform size. I occasionally use Balinese silver which has pewter added lending a darker tone which gives emphasis to the intricate detail of these handmade beads. I also occasionally use Gold-filled beads and findings. All marked either 1/20 12K G.F., meaning that the piece is at least 1/20th 12K gold by weight.

As for beads, I again prefer to use those with a long-lasting quality. The handmade glass beads are properly annealed to ensure that they don't crack and break. Semiprecious stone or pearls are not dyed in some outrageous color that may wear off on skin or clothing. Do keep in mind that many semiprecious stone materials often have their color enhanced by various methods, usually involving heat. Freshwater pearl colors are also frequently enhanced by dying or irradiating. I deliberately don't buy pearls that are dyed in strong shades such as burgundy or blue. Even if they don't fade or change, I object to altering a pearl to that extent.

It is necessary to consider both the type of material and hole sizes when making strung jewelry. I most often use a threading material with a metal cable core such as Beadalon or Soft-Flex. Occasionally I also use silk or nylon thread especially if I'm knotting between beads or doing macramé. My choice of threading material is primarily determined to ensure longevity for the design as well as wearability.

While the need to have a well-loved and often-worn piece of jewelry restrung is not unusual, I prefer to choose materials that will last as long as possible. Bracelets or anklets are more likely to break than necklaces or earrings because they are worn on the end of a limb. Keep in mind that wearing any strung jewelry without taking it off subjects it to more wear and will make it necessary to repair sooner rather than later. If you like your jewelry, give it a rest. Over the years that I've been doing restringing I've found that the clients who are more likely to need their jewelry repaired often expose their jewelry to water, cosmetics, perfume, perspiration and sometimes hard-wear during sports or other vigorous activities.

Tips on Fit

When shopping on the website you'll note that I indicate lengths on all pieces. I tell you what type of necklace or bracelet closure (clasp) is used and whether it's adjustable. When your selecting something for yourself or as a gift, the lengths are listed to assist you in selecting the appropriate sizes.

It's most important to pay attention to the fit of bracelets because they are worn on the end of a limb where they are more subject to snagging on things. If you are unsure of your wrist size use any piece of string, yarn or cord to measure around your wrist then use a ruler to determine the number of inches. For a small bead design, such as those made with Austrian Crystal, you will want to add about a 1/2" of length to your wrist size. Add about 1" of length if the beads are larger in dimension, such as a double strand of vintage glass. If it is a gift you are after you may have to give the size your best guess. I'm happy to alter to accommodate. Even if a bracelet is on the large side it will be less likely to come undone if the clasp is a lobster claw or spring ring combined with a soldered (no opening) jump ring or chain. If the style you've selected has a toggle (bar and ring) type of closure it's especially important that it not be too big or loose. This type of clasp can come undone if the bracelet is too long. When a bracelet is fastened around your wrist you should be able to comfortably slide one finger under it. If there is room to slide two fingers underneath, or more, it is likely to come undone and possibly get lost.

Necklace sizes vary quite a bit but are easier to choose because unless it's a choker the fit is more flexible. Again to check to see what length you'd like, use a piece of string, etc. to measure around your neck, then check the number of inches on a ruler. It would be helpful to look in the mirror and if you are buying jewelry to go with a certain piece of clothing, wear that to see where the length will fall along the neckline.

Earring lengths can be as short as 3/4" and up to 3" long depending on the size and combination of materials. I most often use french hooks or lever-back earwires, and occasionally posts. The lever-back style is often combined with more expensive components because it is the most secure. All the earrings that I sell are packaged with a pair of rubber backs, if you use them they work really well. When selecting earrings to coordinate with a necklace, it usually looks best if you choose something that is not too long as it can have the appearance of being connected to the necklace. If you are coordinating with a bracelet, anything goes!

Jewelry Care

Your jewelry arrives in a small box accompanied by a zip lock bag that is specially treated to reduce tarnish. Using both of these will help protect them. If you are traveling with your jewelry it works well to roll necklaces and bracelets up in a soft cloth. That way they don't scratch one another. Keep your earrings from tangling by placing them in a small plastic vitamin box. These come in a variety of sizes and can easily found at most any drugstore.

Jewelry made with silver components rather than gold-filled is more susceptible to tarnish. This can be cleaned in a variety of ways. I often use one of the commonly found silver cleaners sold at the grocery store, such as Wright's. Use one that is made to clean silver flatware and follow their directions. If the piece has intricate detail you may find it helpful to use a soft bristle brush, baby toothbrushes or other tiny dental brushes work well. Rinse with warm water, avoid hot. To dry, I usually wrap or roll the piece in a soft cloth or towel and shake to help remove water from holes. The piece of jewelry can then be laid in a sunny window to further the drying process. To really restore the shine gently rub or buff with a soft cloth. For a quick fix you can use baking powder and a soft cloth to rub the surface of the silver. Be sure to shake all the powder off before wearing the piece again.
If you are unsure of the silver content of your jewelry, it's best to test in an inconspicuous area first. There are polishing cloths sold that are impregnated with chemicals, beware of using these on any jewelry which contains pearls or stones that may be soft, malachite for example. Avoid using Tarnex or similar products that will strip and whiten the silver, these are too harsh and may also harm other types of beads.

Please feel free to call or E-mail if you need help or have questions regarding fit, length or care of any of my designs.

Vineyard Sky Bead Design of Martha's Vineyard
PO Box 4322, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568
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