The "why" behind slow-made jewelry – Le Chien Noir Jewelry

The "why" behind slow-made jewelry

becoming a jeweler choose handmade handmade jewelry why handmade

In a world filled with mass-produced goods and fast fashion, I love being able to make jewelry by hand, using traditional tools and techniques. Jewelers like myself usually take the slower route, working step by step, hour by hour, bringing our visions to life. For the most part, we use the tools that have always been used to create sterling silver and gold jewelry, or ones similar to them. Meticulous attention to detail, the personal touch of our hand, and time-honored traditions all go into creating each piece. These are some of the elements that make handmade jewelry a statement of sustainable craftsmanship and artistry. 

I was first bitten by the jewelry-making bug from my first class, 46 years ago (!!!). There's something so addictive about sawing, manipulating, shaping and altering metal. And being able to incorporate beautiful gemstones is even more exciting! It's definitely a journey to acquire the skills and knowledge to make jewelry from start to finish, in a safe and sustainable way. It takes many, many hours of practice. Basic skills to master include sawing, bending, filing, forming, hammering, soldering, creating settings, setting stones and finishing/cleaning your jewelry. In my experience, repetition is key to building your skills at the bench.

It also requires a certain investment in basic tools and equipment, as well as the materials you choose to use. There are ways to keep costs down, though, such as looking for second-hand jewelers' tools and recycling your metal scraps. You can also learn and practise on less pricey metals, such as brass, copper and bronze. When I got back to jewelry making about 14 years ago, I bought a lot of used tools and equipment from a woman who was closing her small studio. That allowed me to get going on a reasonable budget.

In jewelry making, there's always something new to learn. Today, we have the luxury of being able to access tutorials for just about any technique, skill, or information on the internet. We can also connect and learn from other jewelers all over the world, which makes for a wonderful community of likeminded people. I'm lucky enough to be part of an international, juried jewelers' collective, the Etsymetal Team, which has been an absolute joy and so supportive and educational. I continue to learn from the other members and we often help each other address common issues and challenges. 

As far as I can tell, the business side of making and selling jewelry is often the toughest for many of us. Especially those of us of a certain age. I speak for myself here, but I know I'm not alone! It's a continuous learning curve, which also has its benefits. I plan to keep learning new skills for the rest of my life! 

Finally, I choose to make jewelry by hand to support the things I value -- sustainability, ethical sourcing and originality. Making handmade jewelry is slow, expensive, challenging, inspiring, hugely fulfilling and I wouldn't have it any other way! I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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