Things to know about designing and making a handmade jewellery collection

I thought it would be prudent and maybe helpful to a handful of other budding jewellers.... (but to be honest, mainly just for myself) to note down some reminders.

It’s been quite a steep learning curve. So, here is what I’ve learnt and think is worth remembering, about the process of creating the Windblown Collection: 


  1. The scribbles of ideas you first come out with, really can materialize into an actual piece of wearable jewellery. Who knew?!  
  2. You won’t need half as many of the designs as you initially came up with. Choose which you take forward carefully (or maybe just pick your favourites. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with them after all...).
  3. Once you’ve made a couple of pieces, some other ideas for variations (in this case a ring, some stud earrings, a bracelet, a bangle, an anklet) will also materialize. So don’t worry about not having enough initial ideas for a collection. It’s like you need to see them in actual 3D for the ‘variations on a theme’ to then trot out of the vaults of your brain.  

 Three photos: left showing extra designs that materialized after initial pieces were made; middle showing an earring that was pictured in the designs; right showing an anklet made, above the orthographic drawing previously sketched out

Practicalities and materials

  1. Think through the practical details of making each piece first: graph paper, a technical pencil (+ rubber!) and orthographic (technical) drawings will really help with this. Think about how each piece connects to each other piece, and what elements you will need for each stage.  
  2. On that note, making an initial demo sample is definitely worth it (especially, I imagine, if you are eventually working in gold).
  3. As well as your drawings, you need a list of every little last piece of material you need, down to jump rings and headpins (these littler details are the bits that will catch you out, and have you ordering at the last minute, last thing at night!). 
  4. Spend time going through your stockpile of unused or scrap bits of metal: you will find you don’t need to buy as much new stuff as you thought you did. However, this will take a considerable amount of time.  
  5. Get all the bits of material for each piece, together, before you start making. Bag what you need for each piece into separate bags and label!  
  6. Allow more than you need in case of errors and miscalculations.  
  7. Don’t forget about chain for necklaces, wires for earrings, thin sheet for butterfly backs (you can make this in your rolling mill with 4mm square wire!).

 Two sheets of lined A4 paper with lists of materials needed in pencil in grids and columns

Time and money 

  1. As you’re making your own pieces from scratch (ergo don’t have any orders or customers for them yet) you will need to make sure you have sufficient money to buy any materials you don’t already have!
  2. Remember that fiddly things like butterfly backs, any sort of beading and poles for earring studs take a lot longer than you’d think (especially cutting the notches into earring posts). Hopefully you’ll get quicker?!
  3. Add on another 50% (or maybe even 100%) extra in time, for making than you think you will need.  
  4. Add double what you think you need for polishing and finishing.  
  5. You probably need less time for the actual making (soldering etc) then you thought you needed. 
  6. The above does not apply to filing and sanding – this seems to take aaaages!  
  7. Once you’ve decided on a launch date, add on another 2 weeks and make that your launch date instead (if you want to stop some evenings, and you know...sleep sometimes). 
  8. Once you get going with submitting your consignment for hallmarking, its quicker than you imagined it will be (as long as you have already invested in the digital scales you need to weigh each of your pieces!). (NB: each earring is a separate item!)

Four photos showing the more fiddly part of the process: strings of beads on headpins 'Windblown #1' at the top, butterfly backs lines up on square black piece of rubber, tiny green and blue beads in lids to stop them escaping, box and bag labelled 'Collection Pieces'

Mental fortitude (!) and support

  1. On that note, it’s okay to just stop in the middle of making a piece. Just put it down and walk away, leave your workbench as it is. Come back tomorrow. This is particularly worth remembering when something is not going right, or it’s now 3am (!).  
  2. The Jewellers Academy community on Facebook (find it here) are sooo brilliant for helping with all things you’re not sure on, especially when you need a quick answer for (apparently a sharpie IS fine for marking where you want your hallmark to be placed onto your pieces, after all). 
  3. Keep in mind that all the dates you have set are your own and that they can be moved if they need to be. Adjust plans accordingly. Don’t sweat the small stuff. What’s another week in the grand scheme of things, if a curve ball comes your way? (read about mine here) 
  4. Remember to read this list before starting off on with your next collection!  

Three photos showing steps of the hallmarking process. Left, computer screen and scales as list items, middle bags labelled packet 1 and 2, and right box with label ready to post - collection pieces inside!

Browse the (now fully made!) Windblown Collection here!

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