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.

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 Double Strand Bracelet by Pam Older Designs, Newburyport, MA



A New Look!


Emily Wickersham modeling our turquoise leather necklace- we can make it for you in almost any color.

Emily you are too adorable!My website just got a new look! Take a peek at have more featured items on our home page for an improved shopping experience and a carousel sporting more pictures AND our model, star of NCIS, Emily Wickersham!

We have also added a new secure check-out.

All just in time for the holidays- handcrafted jewelry with a contemporary twist and quality guaranteed. And if you order now take 15% off your entire order! Use Promo THANKS and thank you!earrings_hoops_with_pyrite_rosette__04032.1375842170.200.285

Labradorite and pink will look fabulous with gray the big color for Fall 2015.
Labradorite and pink will look fabulous with gray -the big color for Winter 2015.

American Craft Week


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

Why You Should Add Handmade Designer Jewelry To Your Wardrobe

Some people are hesitant to start investing in handmade jewelry. You shouldn’t be. There are so many great reasons to add beautiful handmade designer jewelry to your wardrobe!

  1. These are pieces you’ll have for a lifetime. The quality of a handmade piece is unmatched, and unlike cheap pieces imported from foreign countries, they won’t fall apart after you wear them a few times. With the proper care, these pieces can be handed down to the next generation.
  2. You’ll have pieces to wear that are totally unique! Most handmade designer jewelry are one-off pieces that you won’t ever see replicated. That means when you show up to an event with your favorite piece on, you won’t see anyone else wearing the same thing.
  3. Purchasing handmade jewelry supports artisans here in the United States. The money stays here, and it gets spent here. You’ll be stimulating the economy while looking gorgeous in your new jewelry!
  4. It’s a boost to your self esteem. You work hard in your life, and between your family, friends, and work, you deserve to have a treat. Buying yourself a special piece of jewelry can be a reminder of your inner worth, and give you a self-confidence boost when you need it most.

What are your favorite reasons to wear handmade designer jewelry from Pam Older Designs? Drop us a note or leave a comment on this post and let us know why you make it a point to buy and wear unique jewelry like ours. We love hearing from you!


Creating Customized Jewelry

When browsing a jewelry website, sometimes you’ll see a piece and know it would just be perfect for your wardrobe…if only it were in a different color. Or maybe you see a piece you love but wish it included a certain kind of stone for sentimental or spiritual reasons. And sometimes you need a very specific look for your jewelry. We understand, and that’s part of what makes jewelry designing so much fun! There are endless options for each piece, and so many ways to combine them. To help you find that ideal piece you can’t wait to add to your collection, we offer customized handcrafted jewelry options.

While browsing through our website, you’ll see a button that says “Can’t find what you are looking for? Click here to customize your purchase.” Click on that blue button and you’ll be taken to an online form. Simply fill out the information, including your contact information and the specifics of your jewelry request. We’ll work with you closely either via email or phone to make sure you are getting exactly what you had imagined. We want your custom work to be perfect!

It is often by working with customers on their requests that we’re inspired with fresh new ideas for our own work. So fill out that form today and let’s get to work. Don’t forget to browse through our entire online store so you can familiarize yourself with the stones and styles we work with most to inspire you own requests. We can’t wait to work with you on your customized handcrafted jewelry!

Designer Jewelry Terms

When browsing through the jewelry selection on Pam Older Designs website, you may come across some terms you aren’t familiar with. That’s why we’ve created a Jewelry Glossary to help you understand some of the language we use to describe our jewelry. Read through the page and familiarize yourself with this language and you’ll be a jewelry expert while shopping on our site!

Here are some words you might come across:

Vermeil: This is pure sterling silver on the inside with an outer coating of real gold. Treat vermeil pieces gently so it doesn’t oxidize and crack. We recommend keeping in a ziplock bag to keep it shiny and never wear it in the water.

Briolettes: A faceted bead that’s oval or teardrop shaped. You’ll see briolettes in most of our pieces!

Cabochons: A gem that’s been highly polished, and is convex and unfaceted.

Have questions about anything else you see on our website but isn’t explained in our glossary? Just contact us! We are happy to answer your questions and ensure you are fully informed on the pieces you love. Just give us a call at 866-312-6859 or email us. We’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.

First time shoppers get 10% off of our handcrafted designer jewelry! Visit our website’s homepage You’ll find a 10% coupon code that you can enter at checkout to receive your discount.

Check Out What’s In Our Featured Selection of Designer Jewelry This Month

We love picking out which items we’re going to show off in our featured products section each month! These are our current favorites, or designer jewelry that has been especially popular recently. It’s a great way to get to know more about Pam Older Designs, and see the range of our products. So what are some of the items we’re featuring this month?

Diamond Feather
We cannot get over the beauty of this necklace! Pave diamonds set in darkened silver make this a gorgeous piece to wear daily on a 36″ chain.

18K Gold Tanzanite Stack Ring
Tanzanite is one of the prettiest stones out there! This one is set in an 18K gold twisted band. Stackable rings are a must in anyone’s jewelry box. This ring is a size 7, but sizing is available for $75.

Diamond Rosette Pave Earrings
These earrings are a wow piece. Three layers of diamond petals work together to add glamour to any outfit. This will be a pair that you reach for time and again.

Keep checking back month after month to see which pieces of our designer jewelry we’re featuring. Don’t forget that when you purchase from Pam Older Designs, you get free shipping on every order and a 30 day money back guarantee. We want you to love everything you bring from from our online shop!

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!

Give Her a Gift Certificate So She Can Choose Her Own Designer Jewelry

designer jewelryFinding the right gift for the woman you love can be difficult. Sometimes it’s just too hard to pick out the gift yourself. Did she say she likes opals or pearls? Did she say that she dislikes aquamarine but loves tourmaline, or was it the other way around? Take the guesswork out of your shopping and give her a gift certificate from Pam Older Designs. By giving her a gift certificate you are giving her the gift of being able to take her time and browse through our collection of designer jewelry to find the perfect piece. A gift certificate is a thoughtful, personal gift that she can use in our store to find something she loves and wants to wear day after day, thinking of you.

We’ll send her vellum gift certificate in a pretty box so it is ready to give to her right away. We have gift certificates available in $50 and $250 amounts, so you can choose the one that’s right for your budget. She’ll get free money on her order, too, so she won’t have to spend her own money to get her gift here. She’ll be delighted with this gift! Order yours today so you have it in plenty of time for the holiday season.


Delight Your Loved Ones This Holiday Season by Giving Handcrafted Jewelry

Gift giving is often one of the most stressful parts of the holiday season. Many of us feel like the list of people to buy for is never-ending. What should be a loving act of generosity becomes a task that we dread. We want to help you make gift-giving fun again this holiday season! Get your shopping done with Pam Older Designs. You’ll be giving a gift that will charm and delight your loved ones. You can pick out handcrafted jewelry that match their personality and style, and give them a piece that they’ll be wearing year after year. Our handcrafted jewelry is not only fun to give, it’s fun to shop for!

We make finding the perfect pieces easy on our website. Simply browse our selectio of necklaces, earrings, and bracelets using the navigation at the top of our website. Our pieces are great for everyday wear, or you can select a piece that perfectly completes a special holiday outfit. Check out the Labradorite Dangle Necklace. This understated, cool piece has 15 labradorites wrapped to a silver chain. Or check out our earring selection, including pearls, gold, silver, and semi-precsious stones. Looking for earrings that make a big impact? Try the Cognac Pearl Earrings. We have customers that say they get compliments on these richly-colored earrings every time they wear them!

Don’t forget to check out our spiritual pieces, which incorporate lotus charms, Oms, elephants and buddhas to remind the wearer to seek beauty and peace in nature, in others, and within themselves. These pieces are sure to be cherished by the recipient. The Buddha Wrap Bracelet is a great piece that can be worn everyday, and works as a necklace, too! The 24kt gold Buddha charm is a delicate reminder throughout the wearer’s day of peace and love.

To make your holiday shopping even easier, we’re currently offering 15% off all purchases with the promo code 15offsale. Now you can get our amazing pieces at a discount, and get something for everyone on your shopping list. Don’t forget to add something for yourself, too. If you ever have questions about our pieces, just give us a call. We’re happy to answer your questions and help you make the best decisions about your gift-giving purchases. We’re excited for your to discover how wonderful giving handcrafted jewelry is–for both you and your loved ones! These are gifts they’ll treasure for years.

Pam Older Designs has a brand new website and a great promotional offer- 15% off unique handmade jewelry


Pam Older Designs has a brand new website and a great promotional offer going on from now until November 22nd- 15% off most items and free shipping! Always 100% guarantee on all workmanship- all done in the USA in my studio.

We hope if you don’t know us, you will vist and see our unique handmade jewelry and our two new catagories,  Kids & Teen Jewelry and  Custom Design Jewelry!

Thanks for liking us on Facebook too!