Tasks-At-Hand

This week went by much faster than last week did. For me, at least! Hopefully this less-draining week will result in a more productive weekend. I know that I have been falling short of my promises to you guys lately, and I am not proud of it. This weekend, however, I have high hopes for. There is absolutely nothing on my schedule, which means I won’t be “anticipating” and “recovery” from anything in my spare time.

So, here goes nothin’:

  • Make a necklace
  • Make a pair of earrings
  • Photograph necklace and earrings
  • Price necklace and earrings
  • List necklace and earrings on Etsy
  • Make bracelet*

*This last item is a combination of business and personal. The bracelet I’m making is for my sister, who has already paid for the materials. That’s the personal part. But of course, I can use it as a sample on my Facebook page. And, it’s free advertising for me!

Wish me luck as I dive into the weekend ahead!

Luck of the Irish Bracelet

Seeing as how St. Patrick’s Day is only a week away, and I am a strong supporter of all things Irish, I decided today would be a good time to tell you about the “Luck of the Irish Bracelet”. Like the rolling hills of Ireland, this bracelet features varying shades of green. And come on, admit it, even if you’re not Irish, it’s always fun to show a little green on St. Paddy’s day. :-)

This bracelet has a slightly “boxier” look to it than others because of the small stretches of beading wire. Normally, there is no problem with the flexibility of beading wire in a bracelet when strung correctly; but because the strips are so small, they are not given much breathing room. Never fear, however, the bracelet still wears like a dream!

Each 1 inch section of green cubic zirconia beads are strung on gold-plated beading wire. If you remember in my post on sterling silver vs. silver plate, I urged you to stay away from all things plated. Well, I should probably make an amendment to that. Stay away from all chain, half-hard wire, and findings. Beading wire, however is a different story. Plated versions of this can sometimes be a better quality than their plain counterparts. When it comes to beading wire, it’s the stainless steel thread count that, well, counts. Plating just makes it look nicer.

Okay, now that I have cleared that all up, let me continue telling you about the “Luck of the Irish Bracelet”. The small sections of beading wire are attached to gold filled chain using gold filled crimp beads. On the ends of the outside two bead rows, I attached a gold filled spring ring clasp and a gold filled soldered jump ring to each side.

And, there you have it, the “Luck of the Irish Bracelet”.

Chunky, Funky Necklace

I love how different this necklace is from my other pieces. You can definitely “see  me” in it, but it is definitely outside of the box for me. I found myself with bits and pieces of different chains and a few, varied beads. Not really sure what to do with any of them on their own, I thought, why not put them all together in one, fun necklace? And that is just what I did!

The small, faceted green beads between the different pieces of sterling silver chain are cubic zirconia (cz). There are also Thai silver spacer beads, both with the cz and on their own. The beads are on sterling silver half hard wire, using wire wraps to connect everything together.

I decided on the lariat design, because I wanted to have a dramatic end for the large, faceted green briolettes. Sadly (and slightly embarrassingly for  me), I do not know what kind of stone they are. I do know they are a stone, but that it is. They were purchased in my early days at the bead shop, and I did not think to write down the name. If any of you knows what they are, please, let me know! The green stones are attached to the sterling chain with wire wraps, using sterling half hard wire.

Think of how much fun it would be to wear this very unique necklace to your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations!

Into the Ocean Bracelet

 

Previously named “Blue Cubic Zircon Bracelet” (incorrectly, I might add!), it was time to update this cute little’s bracelet’s image. I went with ocean “imagery” because the different hues of blue made me think of the ocean. Depending on the day, location, weather, etc. the ocean can be a variety of different shades. Plus, I’m starting to get spring fever, which automatically launches me into summer fever. Summer is my favorite season!

So why did I say that this bracelet was previously incorrectly named? You may know from my last post that cubic zirconia and zircon are two different things. Well, until yesterday, yours truly did not know that. So glad I will never make that embarrassing mistake again!

By this point you may have figured out that these blue beauties are cubic zirconia beads. I simply love cubic zirconia. The colors can be so vibrant, and the sparkle is so brilliant. To connect the beads, I created wire wraps using 26 gauge half hard sterling silver wire. To one end, I slid a sterling soldered jump ring in before closing off the wrap. To the other, I added a sterling spring ring clasp. And, there you have it! The “Into the Ocean Bracelet” by Thinkin’ About Diamonds!

This bracelet is available for $15 at http://www.thinkinaboutdiamonds.etsy.com.

Cubic Zirconia vs. Zircon

Well, wouldn’t you know, the moment I started doing research, I learned something! I love it when that happens. It means I am becoming more and more knowledgeable about what I do and what I’m working with; which really, is the ultimate goal in all of this :-) Since I started beading a few years back, I have been using cubic zirconia and zircon interchangeably. Turns out, however, that they are completely different!

Let’s start with cubic zirconia, see as that is what I set out to write about. Cubic zirconia is actually man-made.  Although it can be colored, its most basic form is colorless. It is relatively inexpensive, very durable (less hard than diamonds, but more so than other gemstones), and flawless. Because of this, it is a big competitor to diamonds.

How is cubic zirconia synthesized, you ask. Let me tell you…or at least attempt to! Cubic zirconia is made in a skull crucible, which is kept cool with water on the outside, and heated with radio frequency coils on the inside. The coils heat up as zirconium oxide powder is poured into the skull crucible. The coils begin to cool once the powder is heated. The outside of the skull crucible is kept cool to allow the outside of the crystals to harden quicker than the inside. As the coils cool, everything inside the crucible cools and the crystals form. Once the skull crucible is completely cooled, the large piece of zirconium oxide is removed. The outer shell is chipped away to reveal the cubic zirconia crystals. These crystals are then cut and manufactured.

Okay, so now that I have told you a little about cubic zirconia, it’s time to fill you in on that other mineral I mentioned: zircon. Unlike cubic zirconia, zircon forms naturally in the Earth’s crust. Zircon can also occur in a variety of colors, in addition to colorless (which is the only way cubic zirconia “naturally” occurs): red, hazel, pink, brown, yellow, and black.

Cubic zirconia and zircon are not completely different, however. Because zircon has a high refractive index, in its colorless form, it too is a relatively inexpensive competitor to diamonds. Like cubic zirconia, it is also a very hard mineral.

So, how do you tell the difference between the two? Because cubic zirconia is man-made and zircon is naturally occurring, cubic zirconia is generally going to be less expensive than zircon. But to really be sure, you would want to bring your pieces to a qualified jeweler for an appraisal.

I hope I have shed a little light on both cubic zirconia and zircon for you.