Saturday 29 November 2014

Gift guide for men

As promised, my latest handmade gift guide is for the men in your life. I find the men on my list so tricky to buy for. My husband doesn't like "stuff" and I think (but might be wrong), that it's a fairly typical male trait.

Sterling silver cufflinks - Becky Pearce Designs

I spent years when we moved in together persuading R that cushions are essentials for a comfy sofa and not just unnecessary soft things that clutter up the living room. Seriously.

So, with that kind of tricky male psyche in mind, I enlisted some help from the wonderful Folksy sellers, and came up with this list of goodies that would go down pretty well with all of the men-folk of my family.

All are practical as well as beautifully made and designed. With the exception of the lab print, which can't really be called practical, but IS Man's Best Friend? And it's gorgeous.

football journal ipad sleeve

mens scarf glasses case

leather journal choc lab print

1 - Recycled football journal
2 -  Ipad sleeve
3 - Charcoal scarf
4 - Specs case
5 - Leather sketchbook
6 - Chocolate lab print

Of course, some gorgeous silver never goes amiss either. The silver bark cufflinks at the top of the page are always a big hit. Practical, subtle and gorgeous. 

Silver ring - Becky Pearce Designs
This chunky sterling silver ring is also a bit hit. Understated but meaningful. I've had people stamp a special date on the inside. This ring can be personalised with letters or numbers.

Thursday 27 November 2014

Last order dates for Chrismtas

As I sat here working on Christmas pressies, it occurred to me that I hadn't actually let you know my last order dates for Christmas this year (or...ahem.... actually decided them myself).

So, after a quick scan of the calendar I figured out that the last dates to order from my folksy, etsy, Becky Pearce Designs shops are:

  • AUSTRALIA - 27th November (eek - today!!!!)
  • USA and WESTERN EUROPE - 6th December
  • UK - 16th December

I often close my shops at this point, so that people don't order "just in case" and then get disappointed. But this year I will leave the shops open throughout the Christmas period.

Monday 17 November 2014

The five reasons I buy handmade.

Regular readers of this blog (or my facebook page) will know that I am a bit of a handmade junkie.

And I get particularly excited about the handmade world at this time of year. I love a bit of gift hunting. Obviously, I could make everyone I know some jewellery, but I think they might just get a little tired of that after a while. So instead I go browsing. Usually online,  from the comfort of my old sofa, with a nice glass of wine in hand.

Labradorite earrings - Becky Pearce Designs

There are so many reasons to buy handmade, especially at Christmas... and here are my top 5!

1 The items are generally much higher quality - each item has been given 100% individual attention, and has been finished and quality checked by a real person. Even the materials are sourced individually. The maker wants their items to last, and takes pride in their quality and longevity - there's not that " how quickly/ cheaply can we make it" mentality. No maker is going to let a substandard piece go out of the studio with their name on it.

2. Each item is individual. There won't be anyone else who has an item exactly like that. And usually there'll be lots of "wow, where did you find that it's perfect" comments flying around.

handmade bag
Messenger bag by Sail

3. Speaking of "perfect" another top reason is that you can often have your item customised or even commission a custom item  That means getting just the right size, colour, material, shape. Most makers are people you can contact directly to discuss getting your item made to your specification.

4. Buying handmade is more ethical and environmentally friendly. Your items won't be made in a wasteful factory and flown half way around the word, with the huge carbon footprint that brings. And you won't find child labour involved. Though my littlest is a very keen helper, given half the chance - hmm.

Handmade items are made with limited waste, and are much more eco friendly. Buying handmade means you support local artists, designers, craft people, makers. You support them, and that helps their local economy, and community. And we all know that supporting and buying local is a good thing. Who needs things shipped over from China, when we have such a fabulous supply of handmade wonderfulness on our doorstep?

Set of 4 stoneware bowls by Stoneware Studio UK

5. As well as that there is that connection you have with the maker, and the item being made. I often post work in progress pictures on my facebook page, which I really love to do, and I also love it when other makers do it. I don't know about you, but I think there is something really amazing about seeing your own items being made.

6. You get more value! You don’t have to pay the person at the till, the supervisor, manager, and the supplier and the designer and the manufacturer, because just one person is all those things! Your items may not be cheaper, but they have have that intrinsic value because of all the above reasons.

Okay, okay, there are six reasons not five. But there are just so many reasons to support handmade that I really couldn't stop at five!

I would encourage everyone to go out and buy handmade this Christmas. Go to a local craft fair, or gallery. Go online at wonderful market places like Folksy and Etsy and have a browse around. There are hundreds of fantastic makers and hundreds of thousands of perfect items - just waiting to be matched up to the lucky recipient.

Sunday 9 November 2014

Gift guide - Teens and tweens

Gifts for teenagers

Tweens and teens are so tricky to buy for at Christmas. They're often too old for toys, and everyone else will be stuck for inspiration too, so will get vouchers - so what else is there?

In my mission to spread the word about handmade goodness here's some of my top handmade picks that would make perfect gifts for teenagers (and tweens) this Christmas.  

notebook Girls chalkboard
emoticon cushion fairytale zine
iphone case football girl box

1 - Upcycled postage stamp notebook
2 -  Girls chalkboard
3 - Smiley emoticon cushion
4 - Fairytale Zines
5 - iphone cover
6 - Football girl box

Of course, I've got some rather lovely pieces of jewellery that would be perfect for teenagers too. Often schools allow girls to wear earrings as long as they're discreet and small. These fine silver stars are a great option. 

Fine silver stars

 My birthstone rings range are also a lovely option. Choose their birthstone for a gift with extra meaning, or their favourite colour. My soon to be 10 year old has requested one for her birthday in a couple of weeks.

Turquoise birthstone ring
These delicate vintage glass necklaces are something a little bit special, and something no-one else will have. The monochrome colouring is a teen favourite.

Vintage glass pendant
I'd love to know what you think of these; and if you have any other great ideas to share please put them in a comment below. 

Monday 3 November 2014

The Birthstone for November - Citrine

Or topaz...! 

Citrine ring by me! Click pic for more info.

Both citrine (a form of quartz) and topaz are recognised birthstones for November. And I use both in my designs. Although topaz comes in a huge range of colours, it's the browner (imperial topaz) hues that are traditional for the November birthstone. 

Citrine on the other hand can be found in shades of yellow ranging from pastel to a deep brownish orange. I must admit, in smaller stones I prefer the deeper shades, but I have used gorgeous pastels for rings before and they were just lovely. 

These shades just fit the time of year perfectly. Everywhere I look at the moment the lush green is giving way to yellow, gold and brown.

Sunny dog walk at Denbies Vineyard

Some citrine themed goodies I found recently....

Skydancer on Folksy

Amber wisp oil lamp (CatMacKGlass)
So gorgeous for this time of year.

I particularly like how citrine works in a stack of birthstone stacking rings.

I appreciate I'm not the best model with my sausage fingers, but doesn't the citrine just make the other colours sing.

I'm completely won over by it. My eldest is a November birthstone, and I admit, I haven't made a birthstone stack yet, but once the Christmas rush is over, I'm definitely on it!

Wednesday 15 October 2014


Just browsing through Pinterest as you do, for a couple of minutes (hours) and I came across Zultanite and nearly fell off my chair.

I have never even heard of it before, and it is STUNNING.

I mean..... well, just look at it. There are lots of other lush examples on the jewellery editor website. And believe me, I don't use the word "Lush" lightly. In fact, I can't remember ever using it before unless referring to that rather overpoweringly smelly soap shop.

Zulcanite is apparently, an incredibly rare, and recently discovered, colour changing gemstone; changing from canary yellow to raspberry pink, depending on the light source.

I haven't seen it "in person" yet, but am feeling the need to go and seek some out. Is it just me?

Saturday 11 October 2014

Opal - The birthstone for October

Opals are unlike any other stone out there. I was struggling when listing some opal birthstone earrings items recently, to describe the colour properly. Because of course they are white, but also, blue, red, green, aaaah. How can that be?

Opals possess an internal structure which diffracts light, so depending on the conditions it can show flashes of white, grey, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, magenta, rose, pink, slate, olive, brown, and black. Of all of these hues, the reds against black are the most rare, whereas white and greens are the most common. 

Galaxy opal from Jundah Mine - Australia

I found this amazing site with lots of opal eye candy, including this chart detailing the different types of opal out there. 

However, for me despite it's obvious beauty and variety, natural opal does have some problems in that it is relatively easy to damage, plus a good quality stone can be very expensive. I tend to use white synthetic opals, which are lab created. They take nearly 18 months to create and can be quite stunning. These are imitation opals - the chemical structure of the stone is different - which is a positive in some ways as they are stronger as they don't contain water.

Oxidised opal earrings

However, I have used and am always very willing to get use a more expensive stone if preferred - just contact me for a quote and I'll jump at the chance!

As they change with the light around them, you'll notice that when the silver is oxidised as in these opal earrings above, the stone looks very different to when the silver is left shiny....(like in this opal and sterling silver ring)

Opal birthstone ring
Opals in olden times were thought to symbolise love and hope. Nowadays they are said to symbolise happiness, faithfulness, loyalty and confidence.

Friday 10 October 2014

Hand stamped Jewellery

I reckon all jewellery is special; handmade jewellery is that bit more special but handmade personalised jewellery, well that is off the scale in my opinion. 

If you've been onto my website you probably know by now that I've got a bit of a thing for birthstones, but being able to inprint a name, phrase, or special date onto jewellery just adds that extra wonderfulness. And hows about combining the two, personalised birthstone jewellery. Excuse me while I have a little sit down.

I've had some stamps for stamping letters onto metal for a few years, but these were 4mm so not ideal for many of my smaller items. So, I thought it was about time I invested in some dinky little 2mm stamps. 

I got these ones from Cookson (I know a few people were interested in my suppliers), but Palmer Metals also have them, and I think they also have a few different fonts.

I'm hoping to get some items listed soon... like this secret message ring...

...but in the meantime, if there's something you fancy having stamped, do get in touch. It'll take me a while to add that option in the shop.

Such a gorgeous way to remind you of special people, or times. 

I'll be stamping me a couple of birthstone rings for the girls, with their names and birthdays on the inside, and I'll hand them down to them when they're older. 

Friday 5 September 2014

Tools and finishes.

I love getting new tools to play with.

Recently I invested in some new polishes to give my jewellery an extra high shine finish with (hopefully) a little less mess than the standard rouge polish I normally use.

I got the luxi range (mainly because they were doing a starter pack on Cookson) and I'm so glad I did; they are great to use. Because they are water soluble, they clean up so much more easily than rouge. Definitely one to continue using!

But just as exciting as the ridiculously shiny shine appearing on lots of my goodies, is the satin finish i'm playing with too.

There's something very lovely about the soft matt shine you can achieve on silver, that satin finish. In the past I've used a very fine sandpaper or wire wool to put the sheen on the metal. But I splashed out on a couple of fancy tools for my pendant motor, and am loving the finish that I'm able to achieve. A scotchbrite attachment is great for a very subtle effect, but I've found the finish isn't particularly hardy. The other option is a flick wheel....

It sounds a bit violent, looks a bit scary and is also pretty expensive, so I've put off buying one for a while, but I'm glad I made the investment.

(high shine finish - initial pendant)

(satin finish initial pendant)

What finish do you prefer? I think I'm still undecided.

Sunday 24 August 2014

Summer fun.

And so the summer rolls on.

Last week we went off on our hols. A good old fashioned seaside holiday in Guernsey.

I can't quite believe how beautiful the island is. Have you been? It's so completely and utterly unspoilt. Beautiful (mostly empty!!) beaches. Gorgeous countryside. I can't wait to go back.

And now, we're back and we only have a week and a half of the summer holidays left. Autumn seems to be knocking on the door already. They even said on the weather forecast this morning that there might be a frost over night! A frost! August!

Wednesday 13 August 2014

The birthstone for August - Peridot

There's something so special about wearing jewellery with a special meaning, and birthstones are a great example of this.

The birthstone for August is Peridot. I'm still never sure how to pronounce it.... do you know? I always assumed it was a french word and pronounce it with a silent 't' (a la merlot) but I have heard by people who should know these things that it's actually not french and should rhyme with "hot". Who knew!? A google search didn't help me much in deciding either way, so my internal jury is still out but I'd love to know what you think.

Peridot is unusual in that it is one of  the few gemstones that occur in only one colour - olive green. However, the intensity of that green varies depends on how much iron is contained within the stone. The colour of the individual peridot gems can therefore vary from a yellow green through olive to a deep brownish green.

I favour the lighter zingy yellow green; shown in these rose cut beauties...

Rose cut peridot stud earrings by Becky Pearce Designs

I must admit I don't really believe in the "talisman" effect of birthstones. You know, when the wearer supposedly gets special protection, or energies from wearing their birthstone. BUT I do love the extra thought that goes into a birthstone piece.

Peridot, symbolizes strength. It is formed deep in the magma from the upper mantle and is brought to the surface by volcanic activity. And because it is therefore found in volcanic ashes, it was believed that peridot crystals were the tears of the volcano goddess, Pele.

Wednesday 6 August 2014

July roundup (just a wee bit late)

Usually for us jewellery makers things slow a little in July and August; which to be honest is quite welcome for me as the girls break up for school, and I have less time to play work anyway.

But this year I've had more orders than probably the last four Julys put together. And now that the girls are older, (and spent the first week of the school holidays doing a drama and dancing summer school!) I've managed to keep up and it's all worked out well so far. Whoop.

So what have I been up to?

July saw a delivery of more rose cut stones...

(swoon - I am still a little obsessive about these)

I nabbed some of these blue chalcedony stones for me....(mine, mine, they're all mine)

But you can still grab your own pair if you're quick!

Some of my favourite other July makes were:

This moonstone and sterling silver ring. Moonstone is the alternative birthstone for June and I just love that blue flash as it catches the light. Apparently it's called moonstone because the Romans believed it had moonlight held within it. 

I also made quite a few other birthstone goodies. As you may know by now I do love jewellery with has that extra meaning...such as birthstones. This lovely ruby (July birthstone) set was particularly nice to work on, and I'm hoping to offer this across all the birthstones soon....

I've also been working on some druzy earrings. Remember that druzy ring I made recently? But more on all that in another post soon.

Hope you're all enjoying your summer!
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