The Handcrafted Jewelry Design Process

Pam Older Designs custom Diamond and Yellow Gold Bangle Bracelet

After 15 years of making jewelry, I’m still obsessed with creating new designs everyday. I still love the process of design whether it is a room or a building, a sculpture or a graphic but particularly when it involves my jewelry. The question that is asked of me all the time is “Where do you get your inspiration?” I think the answers to this question are fairly universal but I will share my personal experience.

Let’s start with the basics, I am inspired by old or new materials like silver, unusual chains and charms and gemstones. Materials are to me like an artist’s paints. The play of color is probably the most obvious beginning of creation, so how the colored stones look next to each other is usually the starting point for me. I also look at the textures, shapes and metals along side the stones to enhance the colors or the design. For instance I love Labradorite and I think it usually looks best with silver, but sometimes a slice of gold next to Labradorite looks amazing! I came across some pale pink stick keshi pearls recently and paired it with silver faceted nuggets and a bright sterling chain and together the random pearls became a gorgeous confection.

Being a practical sort, there are other inspirations of a more personal nature. A new outfit that I need to accessorize gets me playing with materials and styles. A look or fashion trend will find me experimenting and improving a good idea. A person on the street wearing a fun piece of jewelry gets me thinking. All of these factors fall in the inspiration category.

Very very often, the inspiration for a new design comes from a customer. I can easily latch on to a good idea and run with it. The the design challenge is to surpass the original idea, making it even more beautiful and exceeding the customer’s expectations. Experience is why people come to a designer. The bracelet on the top of this article was an antique diamond broach that a customer brought to me for ideas. The design inspiration for this piece came quickly. I proposed keeping the setting in tact, making is horizontal and marrying it to a yellow gold bangle.  Both the customer and I loved the idea of combining the platinum setting with yellow gold, but many people might have opted for a white gold band. Either way, it was a great re-purposing of the ring. Now the piece is out of the safe and worn often.


Creating for myself has always proved a good litmus test. If I like it others usually do too. I usually wear a new design for a couple of days to see how it looks, how it moves, lays, and feels. Is it comfortable? Is it versatile -I love it more if you can wear more then one way. Does it look better in gold or silver? Should the finish be shiny, matte, or oxidized? Would many customer wears this and pay the price for it? What if I changed the stone? These are all common considerations in the design process, probably as true in jewelry making or as in any art form.The process is not simply a matter of an inspiration but rather many inspirations, artistic preferences, practical considerations and experience. And most importantly, the love of beautiful objects.

Pam Older Designs Opens Shop in Downtown Newburyport!

My  new shop Pam Older Designs is finally OPEN! It has been a long cold snowy winter but we did it!
Here are some fun before and after shots of the store. Hope you will drop by and see our wares! Selling my favorite handcrafted jewelry pieces plus wonderful bedding and things I just think are fun and pretty!

A paint job and some tender loving care.
In dire need of a paint job and some tender loving care.
Blue paint and flower boxes & clean windows!
Blue paint and flower boxes & clean windows!
Before we moved the door and built the display shelves.
This used to be a sub shop!
This used to be a sub shop!

2015-05-18 08.26.22

Raw space- so glad I kept the brick natural, it looks so much better now with the light gray trim.
Raw space- so glad I kept the brick natural, it looks so much better now with the light gray trim.



Shop- Opening Day Image
The store is stocked and ready for business!


Getting Ready for Holiday Jewelry Sales

imageIt’s true, most artisan jewelers make most of their sales and profit during the last two months of the year! So how do you capture those free wheeling holiday buyers?

Sadly, times have changed and the term free wheeling buyers is a thing of the past!Most customers are looking for moderate pricing and value this time of year too. But they are also looking for something special, so that ‘s where you come in.

Think of ways you can promote your jewelry like the big retailers do.Promotions often attract customers that in the end, find something else they like better and pay full price for. In all your messaging emphasis the nature of your work. Buyers of handmade items understand their intristic qualityand uniqueness.

Start early and prepare to get as much exposure as possible. Find time to talk to all your store buyers. Schedule your calls to say thank you for their business all year. Make sure they are well stocked with your merchandise.If you do craft shows, make sure they were booked last August,and if not,create your own events or partner with local retailers and friends to have jewelery parties in their homes. Look for pop-up store opportunities too!

Use Constant Contact of Mail Chimp to broadcast a newsletter with your holiday schedule so people know where to find you and make sure it is linked to all your social media sites. Always use great photography in your emails.if you have banners or a schedule of events page on your website, update it.

I do feature my more expensive pieces around the holidays since men often are looking to fufill their wives’ desires and many women pre-shop! In addition, I keep an abundance of moderate priced items for the “other” people that might otherwise get a gift card! A wide variety of prices will help your sales since no one wants to go away empty handed. As always, my site is updated and features new items. Think Christmas, Hanukah, New Years Eve and Valentines Day now!

I just moved to Newburyport, MA and will be opening a store in 6 months, however, sadly construction is just beginning and the shop will not be ready for the holiday season. To take advantage of my windows, I am covering them with brown paper and twinkly lights. A handwritten message will say, “We aren’t here yet…but we are online at and follow our progress on Facebook”. I am confident this message will attract some new customers in time for the hoildays, but if you have any ideas- chime in!

Artisan Jewelry For Your Wedding Day

December may be a busy holiday season, but it’s also the time of year many brides begin planning their spring or summer wedding in earnest. If you are a bride-to-be, one of the items on your checklist of to-do’s is your wedding jewelry. Picking out the jewelry you want to wear when walking down the aisle is a big decision, and you’ll want to make sure you find something that’s unique, personal to you, and captures the feeling of the day. Unlike many elements of your wedding, these are pieces you’ll be able to hold on to for years, and even pass down to your own daughter one day.

We have the artisan jewelry you’ll be excited to wear on your big day! Visit our bridal section to see our carefully chosen selection of bridal jewelry, like this piece:

artisan jewelry The Bridal Bouquet Crystal Necklace 
The delicate natural quartz crystals are arranged to mimic the bride’s beautiful bouquet. This is a delightful necklace that will look good with any bridal gown! The necklace is adjustable from 16″ to 18″, and you can specify if you prefer silver or gold in the comment box.

Make sure you look at all of our bridal offerings and find the right pieces of artisan jewelry to wear. Don’t forget your bridal party, either! They’ll love standing by your side in support while wearing a special piece you’ve picked out just for them.

Don’t forget Pam Older Designs offers free shipping on all orders, so you can start shopping today for your wedding jewelry!