Why Make Jump Rings When You Should Be Designing

Why Make Jump Rings When You Should Be Designing

Your time is money; why make jump rings when you can buy them below your labour costs?

A few years ago I was asked to be part of a panel of ‘experts’ on an episode of Style By Jury.  For those not familiar with this syndicated reality show, someone who is in dire need of improvement with their physical presentation is chosen and is given free dental work and a complete make over.  Viewers see the before and after effects, with a whole lot of drama. I’m quite embarrassed to have participated, but it was a great learning experience, and I came away with whole new perspective on reality shows, which I hadn’t expected.  By the way, they didn’t have hair or makeup for panel members, which I was hoping to have, so that’s my excuse if you ever watch the re-run about the aspiring jewellery designer.

The three other members of the ‘expert panel’ were all graduates from George Brown College’s Goldsmith Program.  One was the editor of Canadian Jeweller Magazine, one was a well-known fine jewellery designer, and one was the owner of a gallery which featured designer collections.  I was there as the token jewellery wholesaler because at the time I was selling and wholesaling finished jewellery to the Shopping Channel, as well as national chain stores. Their frame of mind was very different from mine, obviously. Aside from the fact that I did not have formal training, I was also not a silly purist who believed one should make one’s own sterling silver jump rings.

The makeover candidate suffered from anxiety disorders, depression and low self-esteem. She didn’t know she was going to appear on camera, or be ‘helped’ by a room full of people.  We didn’t know this either. We thought we would be critiquing a designer’s collection. Nonetheless, the evil was unmasked shortly upon our arrival.  However, the most interesting part of my experience was chatting with the other experts and learning what advice they had to offer. The boutique owner asked this woman why she wouldn’t be making her own jump rings and chain. I found this question ludicrous because the pieces she had were priced at $15 retail. Why in the world would you make your own sterling silver jump rings when they can be bought well below your labour cost? And how much fun is making jump rings anyway? Where is the creativity in that?

The ‘expert’ continued to stress the importance of making and soldering one’s own cable chains. Did she not know how time consuming it is to solder? Cable chain is cheap and already comes in many shapes and sizes and you can manipulate the patterned chains, stretching links to create unique segments of chain. Soldering sterling silver jump rings to create chain is a huge waste of time unless there is a compelling reason to do so, and masochism shouldn’t be a reason. Use thicker guage sterling silver jump rings, and they won’t come apart.

Incidentally, this reminds me of a boy named Joe who sat in front of me in my grade 13 physics class. He showed me his term paper. He was very proud of his paper because it was neat and had a thick pink border on each of the pages, he made an effort to mention how proud he was of the border and the time it took him. I like fancy borders as much as anyone else, and maybe more than the average physics student, but I noticed that he had used a fine 0.5mm pen to make the 1cm border! Needless to say, he was very disappointed and confused when he got a C- for his paper, which he had worked so many hours on. He didn’t realize that it’s not how much time you put into something, but rather what you put your time into. Work smart, not hard. And in the case of designing jewellery, be creative and don’t get stuck with restricted vision of making your own sterling silver jump rings.