Lessons I Learned Making Jewelry - Great Teachers & Resources

Posted by Lisa Ramos on

California Jewelry Designer, Lisa Ramos
Since, I changed careers four plus years ago and started my business, MONOLISA everyday has had a teaching moment. My journey has taught many valuable lessons along the way and ironically just a few clicks away. In this article "Lessons I Learned Making Jewelry - Great Teachers & Resources" I am sharing some of my favorite online teachers, authors, useful tools and quality learning resources. I also share some of my personal experiences about starting a solo woman owned business.

The goal of this article is to provide valuable tools and resources to individuals interested in learning the jewelry making process - especially those just starting. 
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Resources For Learning How to Make Jewelry

 The Book: Soldering Demystified by Jeanette K. Caines

It all started with a book - Soldering Demystified by Jeanette K. Caines. It was the first book I purchased about soldering. I was new to soldering and anxious to start learning safe soldering techniques. Those flames get really big! Honestly I was scared. I found one online teacher who eased my fears by reading her soldering book and watching her online videos. 

Jeanette K. Caines - Jewelry Arts Inc. Instructor 

I just loved Jeanette’s approach to explaining soldering techniques - to the point with clear details. I was hooked by her teaching style and wanted to learn much more from Jeanette. As I researched more about her, I discovered she had done videos for Rio Grande Jewelry Supply and is a teacher at Jewelry Arts Inc. in New York. I started watching her videos on YouTube and Instagram. I couldn't get enough of such quality education. The videos were unique and had such value - good details, to the point, honest and funny too! She has been teaching since 1999, so she had a tremendous amount of experience - working with metals and students. Her humor brings lots of laughter while learning in the process. Who doesn’t love that? I am looking forward to reading her new book coming out about stone setting techniques.

Master Setting Tools for Small Hands by Jewelry Arts Inc. Tools  - Tool Set

Master Setting Tool Set 
 

Hard to Find Jewelry Tools

I searched high and low to find the right setting tools for my small hands. When I finally discovered the Jewelry Arts Tool Shop what a game changer. The list of tools I recommend below I have personally purchased and am hundred percent satisfied with. The jewelry tool collection is designed by instructor Jeanette K. Caines. Every month I visit the online tool shop to seek for newly released products. 

 

  1. Master Setting Tools for Small Hands - Set 

  2. Cleaning up metal - Cleanup Kit 

  3. Cutting Sheers - Joyce Chen

  4. Micron Paper - Green

  5. Sandpaper - Magic Sandpaper

  6. Shaping Round Metal - Wood Swaging Block

  7. Hard to Reach Spots - Electric Spin Flexible Wheels

Hard to Reach Spots - Cleaning & Filing Jewelry Pieces

Hard to Reach Spots - Electric Spin Flexible Wheels 

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Andrew Berry - Master Jeweler & Teacher

I was determined to advance my jewelry making skills and design more sophisticated pieces. This meant learning advanced skills I knew nothing about -  soldering, making rings and stone setting. While doing online research about these type of skills I found a teacher in the UK on YouTube, Andrew Berry a bonus, he offers online classes with support - atthebench.com.  

I discovered hundreds of videos. Plus Andrew had over 30 plus years of being a professional goldsmith and bench jeweler. Besides having the credentials, his videos were exactly what I needed - lots of details and appreciated that he didn't talk too fast (which can be a problem for me while I am learning something new). He covered every subject from - soldering, stone setting, equipment, annealing, tools, techniques and the list goes on. 

I knew that I had so much to learn and if watched even 30% of his videos I would learn a tremendous amount. So, that is what I did in my mornings and weekends- watched his videos followed by testing the techniques I learned.  It was a long process and challenging. I recommend doing Andrew's affordable monthly or yearly membership. As a member there is a library of valuable information at all levels - exclusive metalsmith videos, advanced stone setting, casting, charts, forming, sawing techniques, apprenticeship, forums and so much more.

"Thank you to all the teachers for helping me along the way"
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Soldering

Online Learning Resources - Jewelry Making

The five online resources below have added significant value to my jewelry craft and learning process. 

Ganoksin - The worlds largest resource for professional jewelry making. It offers free and paid membership options. The articles are well written by jewelry making professionals and teachers. The daily summary email of jewelry making questions and answers has a lot of useful information. 

IGS - The international gem society is my go to source for gemstones information. It is a paid membership with a bonus of listing your business. 

Metalsmith Society
 - Tips, tricks and resources for making jewelry. It was started by Jeweler Corkie Bolton in February 2018. It is a great community of sharing information - where to take classes,  information about metals and jewelry making information. Contributions via Patreon to the metalsmith society and storefront are very much appreciated. 

Resource Center - If you are looking for quality information about stone setting, polishing/finishing, ring sizing, metal thickness, saw blade specification chart, safety data sheets, enameling and much more this the place to start. It is published by Rio Grande and is a real online asset. 

Podcasts

For the Love of Jewelers: A Jewelry Journal Podcast - This is a quality produced podcast hosted by master jeweler and founder of Creative Side Jewelry Academy, Courtney Gray. The interviews are wide range from various master jewelers, authors to Saul Bell Award winners . One of my favorites - S1-05: "Jo Haemer, “The World Doesn’t Owe Me a Thing”. The entertaining podcast is great for passing time, getting inspired, hearing from other professional jewelry makers and ideal while driving in the car. Subscribe to the podcast by going to iTunes, Spotify or searching podcasts on riogrande.com or direct online.

The Independent Artist Podcast - Hosted by Douglas Sigwarth and Will Armstrong is a hidden gem I recently discovered. The hosts cover topics affecting the lives of professional art show artists. This entertaining podcast is ideal when I am on the road - which is a lot. I really enjoyed listening to the podcasts with watercolor painter William Kwamena-Poh and glassblower Amber Marshall. The podcast content is relatable and valuable to artists selling at outdoor festivals.

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    MONOLISA Jewelry Studio

     

    Equipment and Supplier Recommendations

    There are a lot of jewelry equipment and supply companies in the US. It can be a challenge finding companies that offer great customer service, quality equipment and supplies. Let's not forget securely packaging those expensive tools and equipment. The list below are companies I have had positive experiences with. 

    Favorite Jewelry Tools, Supplies & Equipment - RIO

    Below is a list of my 20 favorite tools and equipment I personally purchased along the way of my business journey. Some of the tools are inexpensive while others are expensive. I continue to invest in quality tools, because in the long run I end up saving money and time. My all time favorite tool is the Foredom Micromotor because it is light-weight and offers great ease with lots of power while working on each jewelry piece....just love it and wish I discovered it during the beginning of my journey! These specific tools and equipment listed below can be found at www.riogrande.com (insert the number in their search bar to view each specific tool). 

      1. Optivisor - 113214
      2. Jewelers bench - 113800
      3. Stack Drawer - 11380
      4. Smith Torch - 500105
      5. The Foredom Micromotor - 117543
      6. Outside wood ring - 113968
      7. Wrap pliers - 111107
      8. Needle chain nose pliers -111330
      9. Flush cutters - 111297
      10. File with handle -  114922  & 114940
      11. Pliers - 111370, 111180
      12. Stone setting system - 118962
      13. Leica Microscope - 118291 
      14. Work Apron - 113231
      15. Mounted Sandpaper Cartridge - 337062, 337063 plus others
      16. Fretz hammers - 112699, 112475
      17. Bur sets - 342084, 346116, 341600
      18. Mandrel Snap with sandpaper disk - 333127, 337820, 337821
      19. JetSet - 118226
      20. Center punch - 113912

    Bezel Mandrels from Pepe Tools
    Jewelry Supply Company & Shipping Perks - PMC Supplies

    I am stickler for saving money on shipping. I recently discovered PMC Supplies online for jewelry supplies. I like the company because they have great customer service - free shipping on over 10,000 of their products with $20 minimum spend requirement, they carry brand names such as Foredom and GRS. Another bonus, living in California I don't get charged sales tax. One of my latest purchases from PMC Supplies is this Foredom Bench Lathe with Filter Hood - K.3280 and a variable speed benchtop mini drill press. The delivery went smoothly and packaging was great. Thank you David Tamburro from the PMC Team who is patient whenever I call with questions. 

    Tools & Equipment + Great Service - Gesswein

    Gesswein is a forth generation owned company and they treat their customers like family. I was looking for a specific GRS Microblock and when I called, Roger immediately helped. My many questions were clearly answered and Roger assisted with setting up my business account. Great online source for tools and equipment from reliable brands. Thank you to Roger Gesswein for such great customer service. 


    Tools and Equipment Made in USA - Pepe Tools

    Pepe Tools is a reliable online shop for made in the USA tools and equipment. The ring bending tool and small bezel mandrels for stone setting are a must for jewelers. They have great customer service and their equipment comes properly packaged - not always the case when purchasing equipment online. 

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    The Art of Jewelry Making - Books

    I have purchase a variety of books regarding jewelry making and techniques, but the the list of books below are my personal favorites. The books are packed with fine details and valuable education about the art of jewelry making - working with metals, stone setting, soldering, bench tools, charts, and jewelry projects. You can purchase these books online in hardback or Kindle. 

    The Complete Metalsmith, Professional Edition - by Tim McCreight
    Professional Stonesetting - by Tim McCreight
    Professional Jewelry Making - by Alan Revere  
    Soldering Demystified - by Jeanette K. Caines
    Stone Setting - by Scott McIntyre 
    Designer Lisa Ramos using a Micro Motor

    Jewelry Facebook Groups

    I enjoy these Facebook groups and am currently a member of each. In these groups people share their designs, ask questions, problem solve, support the makers and showcase videos about the jewelry making process. 

    Argentium Silver Artists - If you design with Argentium silver and want to learn more about this amazing metal or have questions about working with this material the group is ideal. One of the moderators is Ronda Coryell who is a certified master bench jeweler. She is also one of the few world regarded experts who teaches others about Argentium silver and was a First Place Winner in the prestigious Saul Bell Awards.

    Lets Make Jewelry - The group started in 2017 with the goal of helping beginning to intermediate bench jewelers and metalsmiths. It covers learning basic techniques, repair and sharing a variety of jewelry making skills. 

    Lets Learn Stone Setting - This group is ideal for the stone setter beginner, intermediate and professional jeweler with interests focusing on techniques and furthering their education. Some of the members in the group are highly skilled and have decades of experience who share detailed steps for their intricate design process. 

    At The Bench Stone Setting - Designer Lisa Ramos Blog

      The Art & Craft of Jewelry Making - YouTube Channels

      The list of eight YouTube channels below provide quality tutorials covering jewelry techniques, stone setting, details about tools and equipment reviews. Many of the publishers are teachers with decades of experience. A lot goes into making YouTube videos and these are really top quality.

      Andrew Barry
      GRS Tools 
      Jewelry Arts
      Joel McFadden 
      Lucky Walker
      Melissa Muir
      Pepe Tools
      Rio Grande 

       

      Jewelry Making Tips - Instagram Accounts to Follow

      I don't spend too much time scrolling my Instagram account, but when I do I appreciate learning something new. The four mentions below are great for jewelry tutorials, tips, tricks and getting inspired to try new skills. The content is supreme and lots of teaching moments along the way. 

      Jewelry Arts - @jewelryarts
      Lucky Walker - @luckywalkerjewellry
      Metal Smith Society - @metalsmithsociety
      Miguel Monzon - @miguel.a.monzon

      Jewelry Designer Lisa Ramos  

      What I Learned About Starting My Business

          1. In business you get what you put into it.
          2. I have learned to be comfortable being outside of my comfort zone.
          3. A big part of a solo business is being a great salesperson.
          4. There is more than one way to do a skill. 
          5. Stone setting has taught me the art of patience.
          6. Buy quality tools and equipment - my cheap stuff now lives in the garbage can.
          7. I wear many hats as a business owner - metalsmith, designer, bookkeeper, web developer, writer, marketer, sales and customer support - thats only a partial list.
          8. The majority of my business comes from in person sales at shows and repeat customers. 
          9. Continue learning, watching and practicing - the payoff will come and the learning never stops. 
          10. It is never too late to start a business - I started mine in my fifties
          11. Support other small businesses and makers. 
          12. Try and have fun - don't beat yourself up too much!
          13. Fear of failure continues to be part of the expedition, but I keep at it and say during the hard times – “Just keep trying, don’t give-up”. So, that is what I do… keep going.
          14. Some days are easier than others. What they all have in common is keeping my eye on the clock and working at being efficient.
          15. Each day is interesting, challenging and rewarding all wrapped up like a present.
      "Tomorrow is a new day."
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      California Handbag & Jewelry Designer, Lisa Ramos
      This blog post is written by California Designer, Lisa Ramos. “My mission is to design beautifully handmade limited edition pieces that add a touch of elegance to any personal style. Each design is an extension of who I am. I fell in love with the creative process because of the unlimited possibilities. My inspiration comes from exploring new ways to improve my designs and creating pieces that require a new skill set...during that process inspiration is born."

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