Pearl Guide, Pt. 1

Janice Stiles
There are so many beautiful shiny objects called “pearls” these day, but it's easy to tell the real ones from the fake ones. To do so, gently rub the pearl against the front of your tooth; if it feels gritty, then it’s a real pearl, whether cultured or natural. If it feels smooth, then it’s not a real pearl regardless of the description. Be careful to not use the edge of your tooth, as you could scratch the pearl!

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Behind-the-Scenes: What is Patina?

Janice Stiles
Explore the patina technique behind the beautiful blue-green copper elements in our Patina Collection!

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Fine Art Behind-the-Scenes: Fold Forming

Janice Stiles

Fold forming is a metalworking technique in which metal is folded, alternately annealed and forged repeatedly, and unfolded. Following this process, each piece of metal assumes a completely different and unique three-dimensional form.

Forging is the process of shaping metal via hammering, rolling, or pressing.

Annealing is a heating process that softens metal to allow for reshaping through various techniques. No solder is used with the metal while it is being fold formed.

Fold forming begins with a sheet of metal—I typically use 24-gauge copper or silver. At this point, the metal needs to be dead soft, as it hardens quickly during the fold-forming process. Each hammer strike “work hardens” the metal, which makes it increasingly more difficult to work with.

Some tools used in this process include a steel bench block, on which to hammer, and a fine-edge rivet hammer, with which to form a nice edge once it's unfolded.

Fold forming lends itself well to combination with other techniques.

Patina is often used to enhance the texture of fold-formed pieces, as it gives it greater depth.

Reticulated sterling can be set atop fold-formed copper to add additional drama and flair.

Check out the Tres Elegante Designs Silver Fusion Pendant!

Reminiscent of Viking treasure with an air of modern sophistication, this pendant is designed for everyday wear. With visible evidence of flame torching, no two pendants are alike, but all are similarly reticulated in sterling silver over copper to create a rich fine art jewelry sculpture piece. This piece won't look out of place anywhere--in fact, it roots its wearer to both the distant past and the bright future, a perfect adornment for someone looking to make big plans.

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If you have any further questions about this technique, or if you'd like to work together to create a custom piece of fine art jewelry featuring fold-formed metal, reach out to me at!

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Fine Art Behind-the-Scenes: Mined vs. Lab Created Stones

Janice Stiles
The jewelry industry is erupting with necklaces, rings, earrings, and other unique items created using a rainbow of gorgeous gemstones. Some are created with natural stones, while others use man-made alternatives—some of which are superior in brilliance and appearance. It’s important to keep in mind that high-quality, man-made stones are not intended to deceive, and just because they are lab-created, they are not necessarily low-quality.

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"Is It Real?"

Janice Stiles

One of the most frequent questions I get, either at the gallery or art show, is: “Is it real?”

What they mean by that is: Are my metals, pearls, and gemstones authentic? And it’s a great question.

At Tres Elegante Designs, I use only authentic pearls, gemstones and metals. If it looks like a pearl-it is. Reach out to me at if you're curious about how to tell if a pearl is real!

It’s very important to read or ask for the description of a particular piece. I’ve seen websites that may tell you what the stone is, but then the ear wires are “sterling dipped,” just a fancy way of saying “plated!”  All my ear wires and studs are real sterling silver, and I say so!

There are a lot of concerns in the jewelry industry, especially online. Most customers are not looking for “cheap” but desire a good value-they want a piece that is “worth it” and is good quality for a great price. That’s exactly what I offer!

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