Artisan Jewelry – Creativity, Craftsmanship and Materials
The Miriam Webster dictionary defines an artisan as one that produces something in limited quantities often using
traditional methods. We have seen artisan bread, artisan cheese and artisan beer in recent years. The term has come to
connote something unusual and of high quality.
Artisan jewelry is designed and created by an artisan and either made as one-of-a-kind or limited edition presentations.
It is not enough, though that it is hand crafted or one-of-a-kind. The jewelry customer should still expect a high level of
creativity and craftsmanship using the best quality materials.
A piece of artisan jewelry should stand out from the crowd. Artisan jewelry is not a stone set in a purchased casting or a
collection of purchased charms on a purchased chain. It is a piece of jewelry that is designed and created by a skilled
An artisan piece may use an unusual combination of materials or interesting juxtaposition of techniques. It may be an
utterly simple, fanciful, concept or extravagantly detailed piece of jewelry. Frequently we see an artisan’s jewelry
evolve over a period of time as he or she pushes the techniques and materials to another level and explores the
possibilities for an innovative expression of his or her vision.
The piece should be well finished with no burrs, plier marks or rough edges. Any ends of wire or stringing material should
be tucked in or covered so they do not catch on anything or become damaged.
The piece should be sturdy enough to stand up to the rigors of being worn. This sturdiness has to do both with the
construction of the item and the materials used. A substantial weight for the size of the piece is an indication that the
designer planned for wear ability of the piece.
Any solder joints should be smooth, well fitted and secure. Solder should match the metals it is securing. Any prongs
should be sturdy, well placed and in good condition to hold a stone without damaging it or catching on your clothing.
If it is wire jewelry, the wires should be parallel, not damaged and fastened securely with the ends tucked in and filed
Artisan jewelry is created one piece at a time and that gives each step a chance to be inspected and adjusted before the
next step is taken. This should provide you with a quality, long-lasting piece of jewelry that is unusual and appealing.
Artisan jewelry can be fine jewelry, bridge jewelry or fashion jewelry. Any of these three classifications of jewelry can
be artisan made, individually designed and created by a skilled artisan. Fine jewelry is generally made of precious metals
and precious or semi-precious stones. Bridge jewelry is normally created with semiprecious metals and semi precious
stones. Fashion jewelry is composed of base metals, fibers, plastic or other synthetic stones and components.
Today's artisan jeweler has access to an almost unlimited supply of unusual and interesting materials to work with in
creating the jewelry. While artisan jewelry may not always hold intrinsic value just from the materials, an artisan made
piece has high value due to a unique and individually created combination of the artisan's creativity, craftsmanship and
choice of materials. If the piece is signed, that is a plus. You never know what "name" may break away and become
valuable as a collectible.
Louise Coulson © 2007
You may reprint this article as long as you leave all of the links active. Do not edit the article in any way. Give the author
credit. Louise Coulson is a jewelry artisan who works with Kingfisher Designs. She is webmaster for Kingfisher Designs
and Jewelry Spectrum.
1. Store your jewelry individually wrapped or in a box with compartments so they don't scratch each other
2. Use an Ionic cleaner if you can find one even on opals, pearls and emeralds
3. Use a soft cloth to clean porous gems like lapis, turquoise, jade and malachite.
4. Avoid heat and strong light on your Opals because it can dry them out.
5. Put a ring holder next to the sink to catch your rings while washing your hands so they don't wander down the drain.
1. Use a sonic cleaner on anything but diamonds, rubies, sapphires, gold and silver.
2. Get lotion, perfumes, oils or other chemicals on your jewelry
3. Wear your jewelry when it might be subject to sharp blows or chemicals as in cleaning, gardening or playing sports
4. Wear Kunzite or Zircon in sunlight as it could cause them to fade
5. Use paper towels for cleaning as they can scratch your gold or silver.
Clean your earring posts and wires with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.
Try a Water Pik® to clean imbedded materials in chains.
Diamonds are brittle and can be chipped, so wear them with extra care.
Check with your jeweler to see if your stones are treated and what special care must be given to treated stones.
Your stones can crack if subjected to sudden temperature changes.
Care for Gold Filled Jewelry
Don't wear your gold filled jewelry while bathing. Soap film will dull your piece
Ultrasonic cleaners can be used on gold filled jewelry
Ionic cleaners are superior in that they can eliminate tarnish and can be used on almost all stones.
Chlorine might damage or discolor your gold filled jewelry
Rubbing alcohol will remove grease from your gold jewelry
Louise Coulson © 2007
You may reprint this article as long as you leave all of the links active. Do not edit the article in any way. Give the author credit. Louise
Coulson is a jewelry artisan who works with Kingfisher Designs. She is webmaster for Kingfisher Designs and Jewelry Spectrum.