October Newsletter 2018 and Christmas Order Prep

Thank you so much for reading our newsletter, it’s great to get a chance to tell everyone our news. After taking a week off unplanned for my father-in-law’s funeral last month, this month we’re all busy planning out our Christmas orders. A big thank you to my mum who is planning on visiting every week to help the process! Mum has been busy making up packaging boxes

Memorial jewellery prep
Nikki’s mum Chris helping out by folding 200 shipping boxes for our holiday orders

Holiday Order Prep and Deadlines

Our order deadline for memorial jewellery in time for mid December delivery was the end of September. This gives us the whole of October and November to make every order on our books, starting with those who’ve waited the longest. Our jewellery takes longer to create than any other keepsake artist because of the amount of work involved in every piece. Take our 14ct solid gold lock of hair rings, for example. First we have to send you a kit to post back the hair and Joanna, our admin manager who sends the kits, has a new baby. Joanna wanted to still help out part time so this new mum sets aside a little time every week to organise a batch to send. We’ve just replaced the plastic bags in our kits with plant-based clear bags, by the way, to be more eco friendly. We can send out a ring sizer in your kit and wait till we know your ring size to buy the solid gold wire from the USA. Once we receive the kit back, the order is labelled with the style, colours and birthstones requested and given to one of our resin artists. Once the cabochons (lock of hair “stones”) are made, we usually email you a picture with a couple of variations to check which one you prefer. Meanwhile, I’ll make the ring and send it off for hallmarking at the Birmingham Assay Office Which takes a week or so. I try to send a few items at once to keep the carbon footprint lower (and there’s a minimum charge), then the ring might be sent off for engraving (see below). Once it’s back we finish it with various polishing equipment like our new buffing wheels. Once the cabochon is set, we can’t really polish it any more and we like to avoid sending precious elements such as ashes away so it all has to be done in that order.

hair ring birthstones, two locks of hair and two birthstones unicorn white resin sparkle mix on shiny solid 14ct gold hallmarked band. Handmade solid gold memorial jewellery by Tree of Opals
hair ring birthstones, two locks of hair and two birthstones unicorn white resin sparkle mix on shiny solid 14ct gold hallmarked band. Handmade solid gold memorial jewellery by Tree of Opals

We have always struggled with a backlog of orders for various reasons. First of all, I’m a mum and my kids always come first in my life; if that’s not ok I would ask someone to order elsewhere, but I think my clients appreciate how important family is. I get a lot of help from my mum and hubby Hákun, The Viking, so it works both ways. I struggle with depression and so many of you guys are a fantastic support. Seeing good reviews and getting lovely thank you cards has always done so much to boost me. Even the odd complaint, when constructive, can help me learn and improve. Sometimes the unavoidable happens, like a few months ago the ngraver I was using turned around and told us they didn’t want to do any more work for us, despite some of the orders had been with them for three months. I don’t want to name and shame this person who would no doubt have their own side of the story (some of the orders were still awaiting the images to engrave), but I took it all very personally. They wouldn’t even consider helping us with the engraving we had on the books, handwriting from people who passed away etc. I would have remortgaged my house if I could have to buy the machine I needed to laser engrave those pieces. In the end, someone who holds a lot of respect in the jewellery industry and runs our insurance company, was able to help me out. We ended up making a loss on those pieces but they were done within the maximum lead time and we had some wonderful feedback.

Other issues have been losing artists, and I guess that’s a problem for every business but it’s not something I can hire someone for. Making resin keepsake and memorial jewellery is a very niche art so new artists have to be trained from scratch. For me, when I’m struggling with chronic fatigue/ME, training a new artist is like swimming through treacle! It’s been super rewarding training Nadine with resin and setting, though, in preparation for learning to make some resin pieces and set pieces from other artists ready for sending. I also plan on training Gail in silverworking soon in a one-day intensive training session. We will start off with basic bubble wire rings (watch out for the sale!) and I’m looking for courses she can go on down in Bournemouth. Meanwhile we’re also working on developing glass cabochons for cremation ash rings and cufflinks. Because Gail’s babies are all grown up and moved out (or four-legged rescue pups), we’ve put an extension on the Chrismas deadline for glass memorials. In fact you can order directly from Gail over at Pain In The Glass on Etsy if you’re looking for an inexpensive gift and don’t need solid silver and gold.

New Engraving

So, we’ve found a new image engraving service from GETi. They use powerful lasers to put a deep engraving into metal for us with the most perfect, gorgeous results. Now you can choose to have handwriting, handprints (and footprints, fingerprints, paw, nose and hoof prints), scan photos and portraits, special fonts. Here are the galleries with text and image engraving I’ve created! Click here for more info on engraving.

It’s so nice to share all of this with you all and can’t wait to post new photos as we send out orders x

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