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Beautiful and ethical jewelry made with care in San Francisco. Using Moissanite, classic 14 karat gold and sterling silver.

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Hear more about our stories on our blog | Sharon Z Jewelry | Shop Handmade Eco-Conscious Jewelry San Francisco

The Exciting World of Jewelry Care

Sharon Zimmerman

Jewelry Care

You want your jewelry to last you a long time, and so do I. A lot of heart and soul go into each piece and while some wear and tear are normal over time, treating your jewelry and giving it a little TLC can keep it looking great for a lifetime. 

The Basics Don'ts

Avoid wearing while swimming, working out (yes, even yoga), showering, gardening or when working with chemicals. All of these activities can stress your jewelry, scratch it, bend it or just generally gunk it up (ew).

Cleaning Oxidized Silver Jewelry

Oxidized silver has been given a surface treatment to create a dark black color. Over time, this color may fade to bright silver and is considered normal wear. Never fear though, this blackening can be brought back simply and affordably. Contact me if you would like the oxidized patina restored to your Sharon Z Jewelry piece - info@sharonzjewelry.com 

Storage

We know that you want to wear your Sharon Z Jewelry piece all the time, but when you aren’t wearing it, we suggest storing it in the box that it came in or even better, in a tiny plastic bag with an anti-tarnish strip.  The plastic bag trick works especially well for silver.

Eco-Friendly Tarnish Removal

Fun Science Project Alert!

Silver jewelry has a great luster and bright, white color, but over time, exposure to moisture and air can cause tarnish.  Here is a fast, cheap, easy, fun and eco-friendly way to restore your silver jewelry to a bright shine.

  • Boil water
  • Place a piece of tin foil in a heatproof bowl
  • Place jewelry on top of foil
  • Sprinkle baking soda and a pinch of salt over the jewelry
  • Pour boiling water over the jewelry and foil
  • The mixture will bubble (like you're a witch standing over a bubbling cauldron) for a moment and then your silver jewelry will be bright again.
  • Careful when removing jewelry-it will be very hot! (This seems obvious, but my lawyers recommended that I tell you this.)
  • Rinse with cool water

This method is safe for many stones, except for turquoise and opals.  Also, be advised that while pearls will be fine in this process, the epoxy that often holds them in place might come loose due to the heat.

PS - this works great on gold that has discolored too!

The Making Of - Custom Palladium Woodland Rings for a Sweet Couple

Sharon Zimmerman

The Woodland Wedding bands are some of my favorite rings to make. Each ring starts as a thick blank of metal. It gets rolled flat, heated, formed, heated again for soldering and finally, each ring is individually textured, making the rings unique and meaningful. Making the knots in the "wood" is my favorite part, and in this case the couple asked to customize their rings with only three knots in each ring. I love how each ring comes out a little different - your ring won't look like anyone else's.

"Thank you so much again for our Woodland bands. We love them. They are just the combination we were looking for of simple and understated yet unique and evocative. We were so happy to find a local artisan whose values and aesthetic resonated with us." - Ana
Soldering the rings closed

Soldering the rings closed

The tools of the trade

The tools of the trade

The finished rings. The bottom ring was created in a custom width. The top ring is available to order here.

The finished rings. The bottom ring was created in a custom width. The top ring is available to order here.

 

Ethical Gemstones Part Two- What is the Deal With Lab-Grown Diamonds?

Sharon Zimmerman

As promised from our last post, I’ll be talking about lab-grown diamonds in this post and asking--”how ethical are they?” There’s been recent hype from Leonardo DiCaprio, Silicon Valley, and millennials, all in support of lab-grown diamonds as a socially-responsible alternative that uses technological innovation to produce an identical and affordable option to mined diamonds. And I am totally effing on board! Lab-created diamonds aren’t tainted by the conflict of mined diamonds, and many are created right here in the United States with the highest labor and environmental standards. I’ve been proud to use lab-grown stones for the last four years, but I’m always concerned about where/how my suppliers produce these diamonds that we use in our engagement rings.

With the exception of the Diamond Foundry (a Silicon Valley-based business that uses solar energy with a zero carbon footprint), the labs that grow diamonds do not disclose their procedures and "proprietary information". They don’t have to. While the mined diamond industry has come under appropriate scrutiny, the lab-grown diamond industry, still a baby, doesn’t have a current certification, not even one as vague as the Kimberley Process. So some, playing off the label of “lab-grown” are profiting without having to meet consumer expectations.

And the deceit doesn’t stop there. Since lab-grown diamonds are physically, chemically, and optically identical, they are being passed off as mined-diamonds and sold at those prices. These fake mined-diamonds are so believable that only trained gemologists, equipped with the most precise instruments, can tell the difference. In my opinion, it's shady when those that claim that lab-grown diamonds aren’t the real thing, bypass the experts in order to sell them as such. For those consumers interested in real lab-grown diamonds, responsible businesses will certify the quality-grade of their cultured diamonds.

With mined diamond production slowing down and becoming increasingly costly, I’m curious to see how giants like De Beers, who started manufacturing diamonds in the 1960s, will spin and sell lab-grown diamonds eventually. Right now, De Beers and friends are speaking out against cultured diamonds in defense of their workers. According to them, mining diamonds creates jobs for more than seven million of the poorest people in the world. But I think real concern for these communities might look like preparing them for the inevitable exhaustion of mined diamonds, using higher current wages and training in alternative work. Even Botswana, a country that has experienced relative stability with it’s own diamond trade, will likely exhaust their diamond mines by 2029.

Across the board, transparency and traceability for lab created diamonds haven’t become industry standards yet, but I’m super-optimistic that all of us conscientious consumers will demand it. I believe we’ve brought about the changes we’re seeing now and that lab-grown diamonds will continue to evolve to become a real solution for future shortage.

Next time, I’ll be talking about another option I endorse - traceable colored gemstones. Please tune in, join the discussion, and feel free to get in touch.

5 Ways to Find Out Her (or His) Ring Size On the Sly

Sharon Zimmerman

Find out her ring size on the sly
Find out her ring size on the sly

You're in love, you know you want to get married and you’re ready to propose. So you run out to get a ring, but how do you know that it’s going to fit them? A ring, unlike earrings and necklaces, isn't a one-size-fits-all piece of jewelry, so getting the size at least kinda sorta close to right is important.  Here are a few helpful hints for getting things right the first time.

Option #1 - Find a ring that he or she wears on their ring finger

This is probably the easiest shortcut to finding out their ring size, but it also assumes that your beloved wears a ring on their ring finger. Some women don’t wear anything on that finger before engagement or marriage out of tradition. Just keep in mind that there can be a significant size difference between the right hand and the left hand, so if you find a ring that they wear on their right hand, it may not be exactly the right size for their left hand.

Option #2 - Ask her friends.

There is always a chance that she’s dropped hints. Big hints. And by hints, I mean that she may have actually told her best friend (or sister, or Mom) what her ring size is. So...not really a hint. More like a giant clue that she’s left for you to find. And a pretty easy-to-find clue at that.

 Option #3 - Find out while they are sleeping

This will assume that you have super stealthy ninja-like skills. Your first step is to acquire a finger sizer. Then, while they are asleep, carefully and without being detected slip the sizer onto their left hand ring finger. Et Voilà! Ring size!*

Option #4 - Order a placeholder ring

Have they already decided which designer they’d like a ring from**? If so, then it's a good bet that your future betrothed would like something else from that same designer. Ordering something smaller and less formal is a lot less risky and can create a sweet memory for the two of you. Then you can plan together which "official" ring to get. It could even be a ring that can stack with their eventual engagement and wedding rings.

Option #5 - Well, you could just ask

Sure, it’s not exactly romantic, but maybe you guys are a couple of rule-breakers anyway. Or maybe you are both super-communicative.  Either way, if you talk openly about your future together, asking for their ring size won’t be a downer. Besides, you don’t have to tell them when you’re planning to propose.

*If they wake up and you get caught, just tell them that you were trying to hold their hand.

**OK, so let’s back up for a moment and say that you have no idea what kind of ring they would like. The best place to do your secret spy research is on Pinterest. Take a look at their boards and see what kinds of jewelry they pin. There is a great chance that they already have a board totally dedicated specifically to engagement rings. And when in doubt, ask their friends.

Turning Six and Giving Back

Sharon Zimmerman

Lots of styles have come and gone, but these have stayed constant

Lots of styles have come and gone, but these have stayed constant

My business turned Six in March! This business has been a roller coaster these last six years and I wouldn't have it any other way. Along the way, I've learned that staying true to my values is as important as making huge sales - one without the other feels so hollow. So it was an easy decision for me to combine the sixth anniversary month with Women's History Month and give back to a cause that supports women - The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. NCADV supports women (and men) leaving violent homes by providing resources, information and safety as well as a help line that you can call to get support. Thanks to my amazing customers, this business of mine was able to donate more than $200 to this cause. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. 

Our Feature in the San Francisco Chronicle

Sharon Zimmerman

It's been a roller coaster year, but we were thrilled with our recent feature in the San Francisco Chronicle. It shows Sharon in action - drawing down wire to make a nose ring, soldering a wedding ring, and basically showing you all the work and effort and love that go into each and every piece we make here.

Sharon Zimmerman draws down wire for a nose ring in her San Francisco studio

Sharon Zimmerman draws down wire for a nose ring in her San Francisco studio

Soldering a wedding ring in 14 karat gold. Image by Liz Hafalia

Soldering a wedding ring in 14 karat gold. Image by Liz Hafalia

Article by Carolyn Said, photos by Liz Hafalia.

Read all about it here.

The Good Karma Sale, Giving Back and a Coupon Code for you

Sharon Zimmerman

After the year that we've had, I am determined to be more committed than ever to giving back to organizations that are near and dear to my heart. I'm starting with this Holiday Season by participating in the Good Karma Sale - November 21st-30th, 10% of all sales made through the website and at the SF Etsy Holiday Emporium will be donated to the International Rescue Committee, an organization co-founded by Albert Einstein that is dedicated to assisting and resettling refugees escaping from violence around the world. Helping refugees takes on many different forms and includes providing water, food and shelter and ensuring that refugees are safe and cared for. Follow the hashtag #goodkarmaisthenewblackfriday to see all of the vendors participating in the Good Karma Sale!

Throughout December, 5% of all sales made through our website and at shows will be donated to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. NCADV works to create a culture where domestic violence is not tolerated; and where society empowers victims and survivors, and holds abusers accountable. 

And lastly, as promised, is your coupon code. Take 15% off any order on my website November 21-28 with coupon code Karma2016 *. This is my thank you for your support, enthusiasm and for helping to give back this holiday season. Enjoy, and I hope to see you soon.

Lastly, sign up for our mailing list to enter to win a pair of sterling silver spear huggies! The winner will be announced on November 28th.

 

*This code is good through Midnight Pacific Time on November 28th.

Transitioning Jewelry - when to remake antique and unused jewelry

Sharon Zimmerman

What can you do with unused jewelry?

Sparkle-Ball-ring-recycled-diamonds-14-karat-gold

Jewelry is powerful. Serving as a reminder of loved ones, connecting us to our past and grounding us in the present. But sometimes jewelry no longer serves us or it no longer serves it’s original purpose. Maybe your jewelry reminds you of a painful moment or transition in life; maybe you inherited jewelry from a loved one that isn’t to your taste; maybe your jewelry just needs a different look. If so, then it’s time for an update. The diamonds in these rings once symbolized a different life, but have now been refreshed, updated, made new. Rings (and earrings) that symbolize a change and a transition through to a new time in life. A jump start, a renewal; hit the reset button.

In the rough studs with recycled diamonds in rose gold

Interested in custom and bespoke jewelry using your existing stones? Contact me to find out what's possible, but first, fill out this little questionnaire and find out a little bit more about the process here.

recycled diamond 18 karat gold setting oxidized silver ring

The dos and don'ts of putting in a new nose ring

Sharon Zimmerman

C'mon baby, let's do the twist! You've purchased a brand new solid gold nose ring (or you've been keeping your eye on a new nose ring here) and now it's time to give it the care that it deserves.

Left image: the right way to open your nose ring. Right image: makes puppies cry.

Left image: the right way to open your nose ring. Right image: makes puppies cry.

Did you know that there is a right way and a wrong way to open a nose ring? Here is a quick list of the dos and don'ts when it comes to opening a nose ring (or a tiny hoop earring for that matter):
 

Do: Wash your hands. With soap and water, like a regular human.

Do: ABT - Always. Be. Twisting. Twist open the ends side to side, which keeps them in line with each other and makes it easier to get a tight closure. 

Do: Only open it the minimum amount needed to slip it into your piercing.

Do: Gently twist it closed. You can use your fingers, but thicker gauges might require a pair of needle-nose pliers. 

Do: Feel free to ask a friend for help. It could be a bonding experience for the two of you.

Don't: Open the hoop laterally. This not only makes the ring harder to close, it also stresses the metal in the wrong direction and could weaken the ring.

Final Note: You might feel a small amount of irritation after changing a piercing. This is pretty normal since you have been roughing it up a little more than normal. It can also happen if you are gauging up. Try rinsing your piercing with a saline solution or soak to soothe the irritation.

The yellow gold nose ring in the top picture can be found here and the rose gold nose ring in the bottom picture can be found here

Have a question? Post it in the comments!