JewelryMonk Design Contest Winner Announced

JewelryMonk Design Contest Winner Announced


The winner of the 1st JewelryMonk Design Contest is Jillian Logue. Jillian will receive A finished piece in silver of her design set with the peridot stone seen above. Also the model and mold of her design to do with what she wants. Lastly a series of videos of the whole process from beginning to end.

(You might want to follow along with the updates along the process)

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Again, Congratulations Jillian !

I will keep y’all updated on the progress. Remember to follow along at for updates.  I will be starting the progress this week.


JewelryMonk Design Contest Info


Alright, the First JewelryMonk Design Contest Info:

(You might want to follow along with this Blog Contest)

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In a nutshell, here are the details:

I have chosen 5 stones for you to use in a RING design. Your job is to select one of these stones (there is a Pear Shaped, an Emerald Cut Stone, a Marquise Shape, a Trillion Shaped Stone, and an Oval Shaped stone. (Pictured below)

  • You design a SILVER RING with one of these stone.
  • You have a until November 27th at Midnight to submit your design to
  • The deadline will be Sunday, November 27th 2016 at Midnight EST.
  • My team and I will select 1 winner and announce it December 4th.  The winner will get their design created by myself. During this process, I will create videos of the whole process from:  Design – The Layout – Wax Carving and Cleanup – Casting – Metal Clean up – Rubber Mold Making – Wax Sizing – Casting the Production Piece – Grinding – Tumbling – Pre-Polishing – Stone Setting – and Final Polishing.

I will make this video series available for purchase when it is finished, BUT the winner will receive the series for free.

BUT WAIT!!!! There’s More!!! (I have always wanted to say that….. sorry….. )

The winner will also receive the finished design model, the mold, and the finished piece to own. This design and finished piece is theirs to do with whatever they want.

Also you all have MY PROMISE, that any design that is not selected, I will not use, create, sell, or produce. It will never see the light of day unless you request me to do so. It is your intellectual property, and I will respect that.

Now, don’t feel like you are not “Qualified” to submit a design. You do not have to be a designer to enter. If you can do a CAD drawing, a pencil sketch, or just a crayon sketch, that is all I need.  My career has been creating jewelry from complex designs, or “chicken scratch”. I have an eye for this. We will not make our decision on the design sketch quality, but criteria set up by our team for this project. So this contest is for EVERYONE!

Here are the stones to design from:

Marquise Blue Topaz: 12x6mm and 4mm Deep


Oval Citrine: 9x7mm 4.5mm Deep


Emerald Cut Amethyst 8x6mm 4mm Deep


Trillion Cut Garnet 8x8mm 4.75mm Deep


Pear Shaped Peridot 5x7mm 3.25mm Deep


So I have 3 things for you to do:

First, Look at the stones you have to work with and choose 1 stone to design a ring with. Take your time and think about it for a bit. REMEMBER, The deadline will be Sunday, November 27th 2016 at Midnight EST. And you only get 1 design to submit…..period (choose wisely my friend)

Second…. Create a design as simple or as complex as you want and email it to I will print out all these entries submitted and my team and I will choose a winner by December 4th, 2016.

Third and most importantly….. Suscribe for email updates! Along this process I will be releasing videos to highlight certain aspects of the creative process and I wouldn’t want you to miss out.
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Also, Leave a comment on the website. Let me know you are out there, let me know what you think, and most importantly…. encourage one another. Also check out and do the same there. Encourage one another. Don’t post your designs there…. You would be giving away your secrets, but say HI!, hang out a bit, and most importantly…..HAVE FUN!

There ya have it, the First JewelryMonk Design Contest/Video training series Contest Rules.

I am excited for me, but more importantly, I am excited for YOU ALL. I really look forward to seeing what you all are going to create.

Now…… go create something award winning!


JewelryMonk Design Contest


Hey everyone! I have a great, fun RING DESIGN CONTEST coming up! I will launch it soon, so start thinking about this, and spread the word. SHARE THIS!
YOU will submit YOUR DESIGN using a stone I select, then I will create a finished piece from that design! I will record every step along the way from: Design – Layout – Wax Carving – Casting – Clean up – Mold Making – Wax Sizing – Casting again – Tumbling – Prepolish – Stone Setting – Final Polishing.
You get the piece, AND the mold for manufacturing, it is your design! Keep watching here and at
SHARE THIS and get the word out.

Make sure to subscribe to this blog so you are kept up to date on this cool contest.

How to Make a Sizing Gauge

Sizing Gauge Header

Hey all,

Most of you know, I am a tool and gadget junkie. I like things that make my jobs quicker and easier. In the next few posts, I am going to cover ring sizing, both sizing up and sizing down. If you have been making jewelry for any amount of time, you have friends and family that bring you their jewelry that is broken, bent, bruised, dirty, or that doesn’t fit correctly.

So in the next few blog posts, I will show you an example of sizing a ring down first, then sizing up. First though, I am going to show you how to make a quick tool that will make this job a little easier. We are going to make a sizing gauge that you will make once, mount on your bench, and have and use forever.

I have mentioned to you before, I don’t really work in sheet metal gauge, I work in mm.  People ask me all the time “What gauge sheet or wire did you use on this”….. well, I broke down and purchased a Sheet Metal Gauge so I can reference the thickness from time to time for you.

I started this project with a 0.8mm (20 gauge) piece of brass that I had laying around. Feel free to use whatever metal you like.

General gauge Sizing Gauge-1

Next, cut and file to size, in this example, I used a piece that is about 1.25 inches (31.75mm) x 0.5 inches (12.75mm). I filed the pieces and sanded the edges a bit, just because I like things that are finished looking.

Sizing Gauge-2 Sizing Gauge-3 Sizing Gauge-4

The next step I did was to trace a line down the center of the piece with a Fine Sharpie and a 6″ Steel Rule, because I want this to look nice and even since I am going to have this on my bench for a long time.

Sizing Gauge-5

Starting from the center of the brass piece, I scribe a point at the center mark with a Scribe or Awl, and along the one edge, then joined the dots with my scribe.  With a 3 Inch Divider I measure the distance of the opening of the dividers at 2.5mm, and make a series of marks (dimples) along the center line and along the edge. 2.5mm is the measurement for 1 ring size. I am going to scribe a line in the brass from the center points to the edge points. I could scribe all the way across from the top to the bottom, but that isn’t necessary, I like the look this way.

 Sizing Gauge-7 Sizing Gauge-6

Sizing Gauge-8 Sizing Gauge-9

 Now what I did next was to scribe another line, half the length, in between the scribed lines. This is for 1/2 sizes. You will be dealing a lot with 1/2 sizes and even 1/4 sizes (but I don’t find 1/4 size marks necessary)

Sizing Gauge-10

The last thing I did was to drill 2 small holes into the gauge and mounted it to the front of my bench. Oh, I also rubbed the surface with 600 Wet-Or-Dry Sandpaper to give it a satin look, and give a contrast between the face of the brass and the scribed lines.

Sizing Gauge-11

Many Ring Mandrel have a sizing gauge engraved into them, but most of them don’t, so if you make one of these handy dandy gauges you will have it for years and it will always be right in front of you. In the next blogpost, I will show you what to do with this.

As Always,  if you find value in this content, or if you like to keep up to date on the goings-on here, make sure to  Subscribe to the JewelryMonk Blog Via Email (link in the upper right corner of  also if you know someone who makes jewelry, tell them about this site or The JewelryMonk Podcast.  That means the world to me!

You can also follow JewelryMonk on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat,…. we are all over the place.

Now go make something useful!


015 Jewelry Back Health Soldering Mini Saw Frame

JewelryMonk Podcast #15

Podcast 15

In todays episode, we cover my work-life balance struggles, back injury and back health, soldering techniques, and I introduce a new tool I use.

Harney Peak

Harney Peak, is the highest natural point in South Dakota and the Black Hills and the highest summit in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains at over 7200 ft.

I am trying to find that balance between Work – Health – Family life

Evaluating my day,….. not by productivity, but by Soul-care and “Health-care, both physically and mentally.

Learning….. When I say yes to something, I also have to say NO to something else.


One quick tip is the 25/5 rule, have a timer. If you have an apple watch, smart phone, or just an egg timer, while you are at the bench, set it for every 25 minutes, have something blink or beep at you and say, “Hey, get up and do something.” Do at least ten reps of something: walk around, stretch, get some water, run to the bathroom, take a five-minute break and then go back.

That means you have ten minutes of break every hour which keeps you moving and flowing. You can do lunges, do squats, or if you get a resistance band…. Keep it at your bench, and every 25 minutes, work on your back muscles, because of the posture we have as we sit at the bench, we tend to “Hunch” over the bench pin.

Cool Tool of the Week

Mini Saw Frame

Anderson Mini Saw Frames

Links for tools:

Rio Grande:



Deskercize: Upper Back Stretches

Written by Ron Evans

Here are four simple upper back muscle stretches that can be done just about anywhere you find yourself seated — in the office, on an airplane, or even at the kitchen table. Just remember to take it slow whenever you begin a new exercise routine.

Neck Rolls

Begin by sitting upright, relaxing your shoulders, and placing your hands on your lap. Carefully lean your right ear over your right shoulder. Slowly move your chin down and let it drop toward your chest while keeping your back straight. Bring your head up until your left ear is over your left shoulder. Gently roll your head back and around to your right shoulder once more.

Even out the rhythm, keep your breathing calm and smooth, and repeat five to 10 times in each direction.

Shoulder Shrugs

Think of these as something akin to pushups for your shoulders. With your feet flat on the ground, straighten your back and allow your arms to hang down at your sides. Inhale and hold your breath while bringing your shoulders straight up as high as possible, then squeeze them tight for about two seconds. Breathe out and just let your arms drop back down. Do about eight to 10 shrugs per set.

For a bit more of a challenge, consider adding some lightweight dumbbells to the mix.

Shoulder Rolls

This one starts out like a shoulder shrug. But after pulling your shoulders up to your ears, move them back and down in a circle. Repeat the same movement in the forward direction as well. Five rolls both toward the back and front should do the trick.

Butterfly Wings

This stretch makes a nice compliment to neck rolls and helps to strengthen the rhomboid and pectoral muscles. Sit up straight and touch your fingertips to your shoulders with your elbows pointed out to the side. Keeping your fingers in place, exhale and slowly pull your elbows together in front of you until they touch. Breathe in and allow your arms move to their original position.



I have been a little active on Facebook, SnapChat, Pinterest, Twitter,….I have been using them as an opportunity for me to add a little Entertainment, some Character, and Life lessons as well. Some of these platforms let you get a glimpse into my life outside jewelrymaking, and see me and my “Quirkyness” sometimes.

Leave you with a Quote

“Everything New will kill you.” Author….. Fear

So that is the 15th episode of The Jewelry Monk Podcast

If you find value in this podcast, tell a friend about it and the website. That means way more to me than an iTunes review or anything. But if you go to itunes and leave me a review, I will be grateful. The more people hear about it, and the larger the community becomes.    And make sure to leave a comment on the website, I always respond.

Take Care of yourself,


Pre-Polishing Tips (Finishing)

Pre-Polishing Tips (Finishing)

rubber wheelHey everyone, I have been absent from the site for a bit, but I am doing good, staying healthy, and still making jewelry every day. I thought I would post a tip from the past, just to let y’all know I am still here. I will get back in the “groove” soon. Give me a comment to let me know you are all still out there as well. 
Today we will touch on a couple of pre-polishing tips. A few technical details in your pre-polishing will make a huge difference in the quality of your finished jewelry. Polishing “Prep” will make your finishing job easier always. spending a few extra minutes with attention to detail will save time later, and give you a much better product. Depending on what your piece is like to begin with will decide how you approach this. If you do not take time to prep your pieces before polishing, you will polish harder and more aggressive than you need to, and lose most or all of your detail, making your pieces look overworked and washed away.First, tumbling, if you are working with a casted piece, you will have a casting surface that is a little rough. If you have a Vibratory Tumbler, I would recommend a 2 stage tumbling process, the first stage I usually tumble in a Ceramic Media overnight for 8 – 12 hours. I have my tumbler hooked up to a timer, set it up overnight and get it in the morning. This will remove the casting surface and give you a consistent surface. Then I place the pieces in the same vibratory tumbler with Stainless Steel Media Mixed Shot for 1-2 hours.
Tumbler1media ceramic media steelWhat the Steel does is “burnish” the surface and give you a shiny finish in those hard to get to places. A Magnetic Pin Tumbler also works great for this operation, and will do the job much quicker. Magnetic tumbler media is a lot “finer” and will get into those hard to reach places, like between prongs and fine detail, much better. If you are not dealing with casted products and the surface is a little better to begin with, you can go right to the steel shot or magnetic pin tumbler.Tumbler2 media pinIf you do not have a tumbler, then work in “stages”. If your piece has scratches in it, you will have to remove the scratches before you start polishing. depending on the size and depth of the scratches will determine how aggressive you will work the piece. if you have deeper scratches, start with a file. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my favorite go-to file is a #4 cut Barrette Needle File, it has a good cut to it, it has “safe sides” meaning you can place the edge or side of the file against en edge of the piece, and it won’t leave a mark. If you get one of these files, I suggest you modify the sides of your file. The teeth of the file do hang over the side a little bit, so I rub it on a Whetstone to remove the burs or teeth that hang over, then polish it on a piece of paper with Yellow Rouge on it, the same way I polish my graver blades. (see day 3 lesson)Filing File sandpaperFile sandpaper2

file prep file prep2

After I file the scratches or defects out, I cut a small piece of sandpaper (400-600 grit) and wrap it around the end of the same file and sand over the area I filed. You can also attack the areas with Sanding Abrasive Discs. These discs come in different grit and work wonderful. They snap on and off quickly. I would suggest a variety of these as well. The aluminum oxide ones do a great job as well. Also rubber wheels and knife edge Cratex Wheels. You can also get these in different grits.

sandpaper hand sandpaper dics rubber wheel

One thing I am trying to show you is there are different ways to go about getting the same results. you will develop your favorite processes, I am giving you some ideas to go about it, but if you skip the preping process, you work might suffer. Use some or all of these processes to prep your pieces before polishing and you will have a much better polishing experience, and a better looking piece in the end. I will go over some polishing tips soon, so stay tuned.

Now have a Great Day!


014 Younger Next Year, Soldering, Prongs, Ventilation

Workout Episode 14

Good To Be Back

It has been a couple of months since I sat down behind the microphone for an episode of the JewelryMonk Podcast, and you know what? It feels really good to be back. I apologize for rambling on in the first part of the show, but I just wanted to let y’all know what has been up with me. In this episode, I touch on some health benefits of exercise, answer a couple of questions about soldering and flux, describe prong layout for stone setting, talk about ventilation, and last but not least, Boaty McBoatface…..ya.


In the health segment, I highlighted a book that has had an impact on my outlook on life lately called “Younger Next Year” by Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge. It is a book about learning how to live longer and live well. It addresses the issues of living a healthy lifestyle, and I touch on how “life as a jeweler” can be a pretty sedentary life, but there are actions we can take to reverse this.

Listener Question

Soldering Pick Header

I also answered a question from Tamara about soldering and flux. She had some problems with flux bubbling and splattering when soldering and losing her solder. She also asked about how to solder a wide shank and had some problems with solder flow. I gave her some tips and suggested some tools I use in soldering:

Handy Flux

 Titanium Solder Pick

Sheet Silver Solder

Smith Little Torch

Stone Setting Layout for Prongs 

I attempted to do something that “might” be the last time I try this….. I gave a semi-quick lesson involving a lot of numbers. I understand this is an audio format (podcasting) and I probably lost a number of you with measurements, percentages, and circles. Please give me feedback if you followed along, or got lost. Here are a number of pictures that go a long with the lesson which I promised in the podcast. Hope this helps:
Layout 02  Layout 03 Layout 04 Layout 06 Layout 08 Layout 09 Layout 010

Shared Prong Illustration

Prongs01 Prongs02 Prongs03

Inline Ventilation for Bench Fumes

In my Cool Tool “Pick of the Week”, I highlighted the need for good ventilation at the bench that I was reminded from a fellow jeweler Shoshana Kaliski from

I chose to suggest the: Apollo Horticulture 4″ Inch 190 CFM Inline Duct Fan with Built In Variable Speed Controller

Inline Fan

This little fan is quiet, powerful, and can be a healthy way to vent fumes away from your bench……

Just add adjustable flexible venting.

There you have it, the 14th episode of The JewelryMonk Podcast. 

If you would like to come along side me and help out in my vision, I have created a way to do that. I have a Patreon site You can go there and help me finance this goal of helping as many jewelers as I can. If you would give a few dollars per month, per podcast episode, whatever, I would be so grateful.


If you would commit to pitching in $10 per month towards this effort, I will give you a huge shout-out one of my upcoming episode of The JewelryMonk Podcast. Mentioning you, your business, your website, your Facebook page…… whatever you desire, Just like Rob from Bovar Jewelry does. Rob is a great up and coming jeweler that I have come to know well, and you are sure to hear great things from him in the future. Check out his awesome collection at  Stop by and say hi to Rob for me. (BTW, his hair is amazing) 🙂

AND….. don’t forget to subscribe to this website (upper right section) so you don’t miss a thing.

Until next time…… Go make something GREAT!


How to Anneal Sterling Silver


If you have done much silver work, then work hardening the silver is something you are probably familiar with. Work hardening is when you have beat, bent, stretched, folded, etc the silver so much that it has lost its flexibility or workability. One example I will give here is I have a piece of shanking material that is too thick, I could solder it as is, but then I would spend a lot of time filing and grinding the metal to size, so in this instance, I roll the piece through my rolling mill to thin the metal to the size I want.

Rolling 1

Great! Now I have the shank to the size I want, but for some reason it is very stiff and hard to work. What I have just done is “Work Hardened the metal. Here is a quick science lesson….. What has happened to the metal is the molecules in the silver, which used to be uniform (and happy), have now been flattened and deformed (and stressed). What must be done now is a process called annealing. Annealing is heat treating the metal and rearranging the molecules in a way that makes them less stressed and happy again. (ok, so I am not real scientific).

Here is quick illustration of what I am describing.

Happy Molecules:


Stressed Molecules:


Happy Once Again:


So here is a quick way to anneal your stressed metal

Use a nice “bushy” flame. (Smith Mini Torch)

Bushy Flame1

You will want to turn off your bench light so you can see the metal change colors better. Apply your nice bushy flame to the silver and watch it. Do not get it too hot too fast. Move your flame back and forth and watch the metal for changing color. You want to try to get the silver to change to a very dull pink color. Try to keep that color for 30 seconds or so by moving the heat away and brushing the flame over again. DO NOT get the silver to a glowing red color. If you do this, quench the silver in water and start the process over again.

Heat 1Heat 2

Now quench your silver in your pickling solution.

Pickle 1

Leave it in your pickling solution (I use Sparex) for a few minutes, remove with Copper Tongs (or plastic tongs). Never use steel tools to remove metal from pickle, it will destroy the solution and you will notice your silver will start to turn pink….. the solution will start to react with the copper alloy in the sterling, turning your silver pink. If this starts to happen, change your pickling solution.

Copper Tongs 1

After a few minutes, remove the silver from the solution, and dip in a mixture of water and baking soda( available at your local grocery store. (approx 1 oz. (shot glass) to 2 cups of water)

Soda Water

The baking soda will neutralize the acid from the pickle and keep from getting on your hand, tools, bench, etc. Always use baking soda/water after your pickle. After that, then dip in clean water.

Finished Happy

Now you have happy silver again.

Now, have a “Happy” Day and go make some “Happy Jewelry”!


How to Use a Burnishing Tool to Polish


How to Use a Burnishing Tool to Polish

Today I want to talk about a simple polishing and finishing technique that has been around for a long time, longer than polishing machines, electricity, and even the internet…… yes, even the internet. It is called BURNISHING.

First, let me direct you to a Blog Post I did over a year ago on how to make a burnishing tool out of an old bur. This post will show you how to make, finish, and polish your own burnishers out of worn out burs. I always say, NEVER throw out your used burs, you can always use them for other projects and tools. I have many, MANY, shapes and sizes of burnishers. Here is a link to the Blog Post.

The process of burnishing is to take a smooth, polished tool, that is harder than the piece of jewelry that you want to polish, and rub with pressure. No Foredom or spinning motorized tool needed. This action will smooth out the piece that is softer than the steel or stone burnisher that you are using. (For instance gold or silver)

There are many types of burnishers to purchase:

Tungsten Carbide Burnishers are made out of a very hard steel that will keep it’s polish for a long time.


Another Tool you can use as a burnisher is a Steel Scribe.


A cool tool to use in your burnishing is an Agate Burnisher, a burnisher made out of stone.


I also use a scribe, shaved down and sharpened, to scrape and trim areas that are hard to get into.

smBurnisher4  smBurnisher5

I then burnish the hard to get into areas with the sharp end of a rounded point of a burnisher.

smBurnisher3 smBurnisher6

Again, the burnishing process it to rub an area with a polished object over and over to smooth and polish an area. The tool can be polished with Yellow Rouge on a piece of paper.

Texturing2 (2b) Texturing2 (3) Making a Burnishing Tool (6)

This is a great way to detail your jewelry, it is actually meditative and soothing for me. You can watch the polishing process happening slowly and have great control over your finishing work.


As Always,  if you find value in this content, or if you like to keep up to date on the goings-on here, make sure to  Subscribe to the JewelryMonk Blog Via Email (link in the upper right corner of  also if you know someone who makes jewelry, tell them about this site or The JewelryMonk Podcast.

You can also follow on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and Periscope…. we are all over the place.

Now go make something Shiny!


Gemstone That Can Take Heat and Ultrasonics

Gemstone That Can Take Heat and Ultrasonics


Gemstones that can generally take heat from soldering and casting in place are: Diamond, Ruby, Sapphire, Garnet, Cubic Zirconia and Various lab grown colored gemstones. As a rule of thumb, I always remember the adage “Reds, Whites, and Blues”. You still need to protect these stones from heat as much as you can with heat shields and heat sinks, but if you are careful, you will have success.

Gemstones that can NOT take heat from soldering and casting in place are: Emerald, Opal, Jade, Amethyst, Topaz, Peridot, Coral, Aquamarine, Tourmaline, Topaz, Pearl, Lapis Lazuli, Turquoise and Onyx as these gemstones may burn, crack or discolor when exposed to high heat.

For soldering or casting in place, gemstones should be high quality, dimensions are accurate, free of flaws and inclusions that can turn milky, frosty or crack when heated.

Ultrasonics and Stones

For Ultrasonic cleaning, here is a general guideline worksheet that is not “gospel” but will give you a pretty good idea of how stones react to the action of ultrasonics in a cleaner. Some Ultrasonic Cleaners are stronger and more violent than others and you will get away with cleaning some “Risky” stones and feel lucky. Then when you least expect it, your luck will run out and you will destroy a stone. Good Luck.

Ultrasonics and Stones

To DOWNLOAD an excel version of this chart, click here —> Steam or Ultrasonic Clean

Thanks for stopping by and coming on this journey with me.

Thanks for being part of this community with me as I share. I have said it before, The daily information on this site is all over the spectrum of jewelry making. It won’t be for everyone, but it will be for someone Every Day! …..And you might just get hooked!

If you like what you see, subscribe to the blog by clicking “subscribe” in the upper right section of this website, but just as important, tell a friend about this site and The JewelryMonk Podcast as well.

Now go have a Great Day!