Beautiful Thai Silver


 

bracelet_pearl_signature_detailI love using Thai silver beads and pendants, one of the first materials I experimented with when I started Pam Older Designs  . The Hill Tribes of Thailand consist of about 20 different tribes, including the Karen, the Hmong, and the Yao. The villages have a history of making their living through the opium trade. In recent years the Thailand government has helped them to develop their silversmithing skills to give them a new direction and a better life.

Entire families are involved with bead production. I visited some villager huts and saw the process firsthand. (Although some village men prefer offering you a “hard” drink rather than show you how the beads are made!). 

My friend and I visited one such hut that was also producing handmade primitive flutes and so we drank and danced. We found you could not  buy a variety of beads from a single family. Each home specializes in certain designs and they function through a bead collective through which they sell their wares. Many of their designs, especially their focal pendant charms come from the natural world, like flowers,dragonflies and shells. We ended up buying most of our silver from a bead dealer in Chiang Mai.

Thai silver contains 99.9% pure silver on average, but it can range from 92.5-99.9.  In that range it is considered fine silver which is softer than Sterling. To claim an item is Sterling it is required to contain 92.5% ore that is usually mixed with 7.5% copper to make it stronger.For this reason you will see sterling silver pieces imprinted with “925”. Unlike Sterling silver which can be dipped, polished on a polishing wheel or using silver polish, fine silver is more difficult to clean. The small oxidized silver beads made by the Hill Tribes, must be cleaned very gently using an anti-tarnish cloth. I use a Sunshine Cloth. I rub the strung beads very gently over and over until the non-recessed areas are restored to a gentle gleam. Be patient it takes a long time. You can also try a little lime juice but I think the cloth works the best. test the lime juice on a small area first. Other methods tend to remove the dark oxidation that gives Thai silver its rustic, handmade look. Never have it professionally polished to a high gleam- it will lose all its character. As with all jewelry, we recommend keeping it in an airtight plastic bag to keep it from tarnishing.

 

green-garnet-bracelet-retouched
Green Garnet Double Strand Bracelet by Pam Older Designs, Newburyport, MA

 

 

American Craft Week


bracelet_pearl_signature_detail

American Craft Week will run through October 12, 2014. All across the country, those of us that make and sell our unique handmade jewelry, metal work, pottery, woodwork and other crafts invite you into our studios and to festivals to see our work firsthand. American Made is important to keep our strong history and tradition of crafts alive.  Please support this week of events by sharing this with others.

Pam Older Designs will be selling at the Fall Harvest Festival in Newburyport, MA this coming Sunday, Oct 12th and Monday, Oct 13th from 10-5pm. The festival will be held on State St., Inn St. and Market Square but If you cannot make it my jewelry can also be seen at www.pamolderdesigns.com.

Creating a Website and Social Media 101


Blue Opal & Mother of Pearl necklaces by Pam Older Designs
Blue Opal & Mother of Pearl necklaces by Pam Older Designs

Need a website and want t get started marketing your jewelry? Building a website and developing a strong online presence takes time, patience and a budget. Here are the basics so you can begin to formulate what you can do yourself and what you will need to outsource or delegate to a team member. First of all you will need to register a domain name and sign up with a web host – a company that has many computers connected to the Internet. Once you develop your website, your web pages will be hosted on their computers so everyone in the world will be able to view your site. In essence it is your site’s home and you pay an annual fee to live there. The purpose and complexity of your website will determine the cost to build one. If you want to provide full e-commerce capabilities you will need to invest in a website that will support all that is needed for that type of site. Before you seek a designer/developer, look at lots of websites to see what other companies and artisans in your field are doing stylistically. Make a list of sites with features you like and communicate those to the graphic designer and/or web developer that you will choose. You need to be part of the process or you will end up spending more money redoing your site. After your research, you should begin the process of interviewing graphic designers and/or web developers so that you can see their portfolio of work and what other services they offer. You might want to use a designer for the appearance and a web developer for the technical implementation, or you may find a web developer with designers on staff. Through the interview process you will begin to understand what is possible in terms of design, features, expertise and the cost of your project. Look for designers that can incorporate great design with animation, video and simple navigation. It’s always a good idea to provide an incentive to the buyer on your home page or through out your site; perhaps a coupon offering 10% off for first time buyers, or a message like “sign up for our emails and receive 20% off your first pair of earrings”. Buyers expect and respond to promotional offers, so let the designer know about these needs upfront as well. Once you have chosen a designer, find the best web platform-to build your site upon. The days are gone where someone has to build a website from scratch. Today’s web platforms are really E-Commerce Content Management Systems (CMS) that come with hundreds of sophisticated features, many that you will use. Read the rest of my article – The Basics of Website Creation and Social Media- click here!

Feel free to ask me any questions. If I don’t know the answers I can get you in touch with someone who does!

Packaging Artisan Jewelry


My graphic designer/daughter, Lia Strasser designed my logo!

Very important aspects of the wholesale/retail jewelry process that many artisans may not focus on are presentation, branding and packaging. When you are starting out or have been in business for years,a new logo or package design will call attention to your brand.  How many times have you gone to a craft show where the artist gives you their work in a plastic or paper bag? As unbelievable as this seems, it’s happened to me on more than one occasion.

A well designed logo is the basis for your brand identity. It should be printed on your business cards, order sheets, gift boxes, jewelry display cards and labels, shipping boxes and packing slips, and your artist cards. These small touches will provide an organized look for your beautiful handmade jewelry and spread brand awareness. Get the design right the first time and you will save yourself time and effort by being able to print all these components up front.  If you are new- trust me, they are all necessary.  If you use Quickbooks you can even upload your digital logo so that your invoices, statements and emails  generated by the system will include your logo. Needless to say you want it displayed on your website and included in advertising as well. This is an inexpensive way to tell the world about your existence!

Your personal emails should also include (in your signature) a logo or tag line and perhaps a miniature picture of your work. Follow through on your banners and signage that you use for retail and trade shows.

Although there are many resources my gift boxes and pouches are produced at Packaging Specialties in Newburyport, MA. I love their service, quality, product design and print capabilities as well as the low minimum requirements for ordering. My new boxes have a two line version of my logo (I have two versions for spatial design problems that arise), a silver foil box and a magenta metallic imprint.  It’s a simple design but is looks “SPECIAL”. I am sure someone that gets a gift that includes my jewelry, a pretty artist card telling them about the jewelry designer and the box tied up in a silver bow will remember Pam Older Designs and return to buy more!  For many years I had ordinary packaging- an uncoated box with a label affixed to it.  It was fine for someone  just starting out, but it was ordinary and not professional and certainly did not convey “SPECIAL”. Recently I got a package from India in an uncoated kraft box with leaf pattern printed on the top. It was all wrapped with hemp and a little wooden elephant charm. It was memorable, but there was no logo and no personalized packing slip- I have no idea what company sent it!  This company took the time to come up with an adorable package but missed the opportunity to sell to me again.

Neatness counts- buy  plastic bags of all sizes to protect your jewelry when shipping out orders to your wholesale accounts and always include artist cards for the galleries and boutiques that want them.  Try not to reuse old boxes, even your wholesale packages should be SPECIAL and to convey quality.

What have you done to spruce up your packaging and to spread brand awareness? I would love to hear from you!

Visiting my Indian Sister in Jaipur


stone cutters in Jaipur India

The Stone Cutting Factory

Last February,  I went to Northern India and Nepal and stopped in Jaipur to visit my friends Nidhi and Ranjan at their home and stone cutting factory. Nidhi and I connected right away in person as we had  gotten to know each other through our extensive email correspondence over the years. We had gone through a divorce (mine) and a death of  a loved one (hers) and she was my Indian Sister as soon as we hugged each other at the airport.  They met me with roses and gifts and I was overjoyed to finally be meeting her and Ranjan. Later I met their two children and his parents and was shown how their 8 year old son could preform complex mathematics using an abacus. Two feasts were prepared in my honor. The second could not be served because I was still so full from the first one and from the mid morning samosas & chai, one of the culinary highlights of my life.  I was so sorry, they had gone to such extreme measures to prepare, but I could not possibly eat another bite! After our meal, more gifts were bestowed- a lovely book on India and a traditional painting adorned with stones.

After our meal Ranjan and his number two man brought in satchel upon satchel of beads for me to look at and buy for my handmade jewelry business. They had called in their local bead contacts who sent in valise after valise of bead strands for me to inspect and buy. I bought rubies, chalcedony, apatite, citrine, and my favorite- tanzanite.  One of my new handcrafted hoop earring designs for the Sundance Catalog features these stones- take a look http://www.sundancecatalog.com/product/code/56585.do!

After the buying was done, I met the men that cut the premium calipered semiprecious stones that I order for my creations! The crew was so kind – they came in on a holiday to meet me and to show me the sorting, cutting and polishing process that goes into their work. Here is a picture of the small room where they work the top floor of a residential building (Ranjan and Nidhi live below on two floors and renters below that). The center core of the building is open to the sky and on that day we got a wet.  Outside were cows and camels and a man taking a bath in a bucket. This is still Jaipur in 2012.  Go to http://www.pamolderdesigns.com/lemon-filagree-drops/  for an example of the beautiful lemon quartz briolettes they made for us.


Romancing the Stone: Westchester Jewelry Designer, Pam Older in the WAG


Pam Older

I just met with a writer named Mary Shustack.  I had met Mary 7 years ago when she interviewed me for an article about Westchester jewelry designers exhibiting at The New York Gift Show.  Mary called me for a new article that just came out in the December 2011 WAG. The new piece is about Westchester and Southern Connecticut residents who are passionate about what they do. I am honored that she included me in the mix!

The WAG is under new ownership whose goal is to increase readership by expanding coverage of local news and personalities, making it more of a consumer magazine. The magazine is available at retail locations in Westchester and Southern Connecticut.  Click here to read the article and thanks Mary! A small handmade jewelry business is grateful for publicity!

St John Holiday Bazaar in Larchmont, Sat. Nov 19th


We are going to be at St Johns Holiday Bazaar this Sat. Nov. 19th from 10-3pm. This has become a wonderful tradition for me, seeing all my friends and neighbors and helping them choose gifts! Please come out and come early and get the best of the used books, toys, sports equipment and the best white elephant items offered in Larchmont!  Come and bring the family for a great time and– let’s not forget the delicious home cooked chili and scrumptious Pam Older handmade earrings and necklaces!

silver tourmaline necklaces
Handmade Tourmaline Necklaces

The Daily Muse & Saatchi & Saatchi Celebrate Women Who Create!


The Daily Muse and Saatchi & Saatchi are sponsoring SheMakes, a holiday pop-up festival in NYC to celebrate women who create. Pam Older Designs will be attending this unique holiday event with a special line of beautiful necklaces created just for holiday giving. Please come support all 30+ female designers and entrepreneurs! From artists to food entrepreneurs, the event is to help holiday shoppers discover emerging talent and find unique gifts from female- lead companies. The pop-up festival will be held on Dec. 3rd,  12-5 pm, at Saatchi & Saatchi, 375 Hudson St., NYC.

Labradorite Ruffle Necklace

Festive Jewelry! That time of year at Pam Older Designs Jewelry!


White Topaz Vermeil Pendant on Nugget Chain

These sparkly necklaces are just waiting for a party! The short briolette necklace is tourmaline & pink topaz, a gorgeous mix of stones is $350.00.

The sparkling vermeil (silver with 22k gold microplate) pendant on a long nugget chain can be worn long or doubled, without a pendant, as versatile as it gets at $650.00.  The circular pendant is set with white topaz replacing the diamonds I used in a more serious 18k pendant sold through the Sundance Catalog for $6,000.00! My friend tried it on with a beige cashmere sweater and it looks elegant! These are both limited edition items. If you are interested email me at Pamolder@mac.com! http://www.pamolderdesigns.com/lemon-quartz-ruffle/