Buying the Best Fingerprint & Miniprint Jewellery: What Questions Should I ask?

Buying the Best Fingerprint & Miniprint Jewellery: What Questions Should I ask?

Buying the Best Fingerprint & Miniprint Jewellery:

What questions should I ask?

Not all fingerprint and miniprint jewellery is the same!

Are you thinking about investing in handmade fingerprint or mini print jewellery? Do you know what it is it that you are buying? Or do you feel a bit confused? You know you want to create a beautiful piece of unique jewellery and capture a memory, but you’re not sure of the right questions to ask?

Have you spent hours searching online? Searching websites, Etsy stores, Not On The Highstreet, Ebay sellers, Facebook pages…Why do they all look virtually the same…but they all have different prices?. How do you know what you are buying and which one is right for you?

Thinking about buying Keepsake Jewellery?

I’d like to share 5 tips that I think make a big difference and influence what you are buying. At Impressive Memories, my aim is to create high-quality products and make it easy for you to understand exactly what you are buying.

Price is usually an important factor – but why does it vary so much? Why are some charms £25 on Ebay and others are hundreds of pounds from a small business, but they look the same? Are you saving money or being ripped off? Have you ever wondered if it’s genuinely made with YOUR fingerprint and how can I tell? Can I order online or do I need to visit in person? Can it be engraved? Is it ‘real’ silver or silver plated? How long will it take to make?

Here are the 5 factors that I think are very important, and you should know about, before ordering keepsake jewellery.
  1. What will my keepsake jewellery be made from?
  2. The Firing Process – how important is this?
  3. Processes followed and why this matters
  4. How much should I pay?
  5. Longevity and Problems that can arise

#1. What is keepsake jewellery made from?

Fingerprint, Mini print & keepsake jewellery was predominantly made from pure silver, and more recently it became available in sterling silver. (Pure silver  (.999) is a relatively soft metal, bumps or scratches can happen. Sterling silver (.925) has copper added to strengthen it. Did you know – People who think they are allergic to silver – it is usually the copper that causes the allergy).

It starts in the form of a clay known as metal clay (sometimes precious clay or silver clay).  It is tiny particles of metal mixed with an organic binder and water that feel a little bit like clay. When dried and fired correctly the binder burns off and the metal particles form the solid metal.  

All Fingerprint & Miniprint jewellery at Impressive Memories is now made from Sterling Silver.

Decision 1 – What do you want your jewellery made from? Is the seller clearly telling you what you are buying?

#2. The Firing Process – and why this is SO important.

Once you make an item in silver clay, it has to be fired to become metal.  

There are three methods to do this –

1. Kiln fired

This is the professional method. A kiln is not just a hot oven it is a carefully controlled environment that guarantees your piece correctly sinters (becomes metal). Different silver clays need different and specific temperatures to fire correctly. Only a kiln can do this properly. I fire most of mine for approx 2 hours at around 800 degrees celsius. Kilns are an investment (approx £600-£800 for a small jewellery kiln) – has your seller invested in one?  I have two Paragon kilns – one is specifically for my jewellery, the other is much larger for ceramics and clay.

2. Torch fired

Some silver clays can be torch fired (Sterling silver cannot). Using a blow torch will burn off the organic matter and will turn the clay into metal (hopefully) BUT you have no control over the temperature, no idea whether the sintering has taken place correctly and it may ‘look’ like it has worked, but beneath the surface it might still be clay and binder with an outer coating of silver – this will not have the strength or longevity of kiln fired silver.

3. On the Gas Hob in the kitchen!

Yes, you can use your gas cooker!! The temperature reached on your gas hob is anybody’s guess and it certainly can’t create a controlled environment of 800 degrees for 2 hours…If keepsake jewellery is being offered cheaper, this may be why. It will be hard to tell by just looking. A reputable maker should be able to answer this question if you ask.

All Fingerprint & Miniprint jewellery at Impressive Memories are kiln fired.

Decision 2 – How do you want your jewellery to be fired?

#3. Processes – Do they matter?

Ok, so you know which silver metal you want your jewellery made from (softer pure silver or stronger sterling silver), and you’ve decided how you’d like it to be fired (kiln, torch or hob fired). This will have dictated part of your costs. The two processes that follow will determine the security and longevity of your investment.

1.Polishing

When your jewellery is fired it doesn’t instantly turn shiny and ready to wear – it needs polished. This can be done by hand with lots of very fine sandpapers until it has a mirror finish. This method takes time and effort and will achieve a good finish, but it won’t be adding strength to your jewellery. To do this your maker might have invested in a polishing tumbler. This machine will not only polish your piece but also surface harden it too. That means making it a little bit stronger and less likely to be scratched or damaged. This process again needs investment in the machinery and also adds to the completion time…BUT makes your piece last longer. I also invested in another polishing machine to finish my pieces to be highly polished.

2. Soldering

Your charm will need a little jump ring added to it. This ‘ring’ is how you would attach your charm to a necklace or bracelet. If the jump ring is an open link it is weak. Your precious charm could catch or fall off quite easily. Soldering the link makes it much stronger and safer.

Learning to solder is a skill in itself. More investment and again adds to the time needed to create your piece. The process requires various stages not to mention hot acids and flames – I LOVE soldering! I solder all my work. (A soldered link also assures you that it is a genuine precious metal, not a cost cutting base metal).

All Fingerprint & Miniprint jewellery at Impressive Memories is fully soldered and tumble polished.

Decision number 3 – Do you want your precious charm to be as soldered and polished?

#4. How much should it cost?

Hopefully, points #1,#2 & #3 have shown that the price you pay depends on the process and time your jewellery has gone through to be made. As well as this the weight of silver used can vary greatly. Do you want a lightweight piece or a chunkier charm? (Jewellery under 7.78g doesn’t legally require hallmarking).

Another cost factor is how your imprints are being taken. Did you receive a kit? Are the prints reusable in the future? Who is storing the original prints? Does your finished piece need posted to you and is this included? Will it arrive beautifully gift wrapped?

When you buy a handmade piece of jewellery from a small business you are not just buying the item. You are supporting a business – costs, marketing, advertising, insurance, industry standards, skill, experience, future investment…not to mention profit!

Fingerprint & Miniprint jewellery at Impressive Memories starts at £44.50.  You can buy online or visit me in person, I store your prints for 12 months (usually longer) and you can keep the original prints if you wish. I offer an all inclusive postage service and an express delivery too, also if you need a kit in a hurry – this is not a problem. All jewellery is gift wrapped.

Decision 4 – What level of service are you willing to pay for?

 

#5. Longevity and Problems that can arise

1. Longevity

Keepsake jewellery is usually made to mark an important event or memory. It isn’t a piece of costume jewellery to wear and discard. A piece made on a gas hob is less likely to last long term than a tumble polished, kiln-fired piece. That unsoldered bargain might fall off and never be seen again – still think it was worth saving a few pounds?

2. Problems that can arise

  • If your piece hasn’t sintered properly it might break or snap.
  • If your jewellery is made from pure silver, it might be more prone to scratches
  • Bracelets get a lot of wear and tear, necklaces not so much. Sterling silver might be better in the long run.
  • All silver tarnishes – don’t be alarmed if you open a charm that’s been stored for a while and it has gone black! A silver cleaning cloth will remove the oxidation and it won’t damage or harm your jewellery.
  • Take care with chemicals – if you get bleach on your charm it won’t like it!!
  • Other than that, you should be able to wear your jewellery all day, every day. Keep your jewellery shiny by polishing it regularly with a silver polishing cloth, or dipping it in a cleaner made specifically for silver.

If you bought your jewellery from me I’m more than happy to give it a new lease of life and polish it up for you – just ask! If you’ve scratched or damaged your piece don’t suffer in silence! Give me a shout and if I can help, I will!

Decision 5 – Now you’re an expert! The best decision – What do you fancy having made???

 

Summary

Phew! Well done if you got this far! You are now an expert in fingerprint and miniprint jewellery production!  I hope this article will help you make the right choices to make an impressive memory worth holding onto. Top Tips to get Impressive results?

Remember these simple questions –

  • What will my charm be made from?
  • How was it fired?
  • How was it polished?
  • Is it soldered?

More FAQ's

Thinking about ordering Jewellery from Impressive Memories?

Now you’ve learned all that interesting background stuff – it’s time for the fun! What jewellery will YOU choose to have made? Lots more answers here to help you decide which design is best for you.

Can my baby make fingerprint jewellery? How long will it take? Will it fit my Pandora bracelet? Can it be Gold?

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Interested in Impressive Memories Jewellery?

Would you like to know more about having jewellery made by me at Impressive Memories? You can order NOW by heading to my ONLINE SHOP or you can MAKE A BOOKING and pop along for a visit and we can design your jewellery – you can have a coffee while you’re here too if you like. You’re welcome to get in touch, have a chat, message me here.

If this article helped you – it might help a friend too!  – please share! 

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Did you learn anything new reading this? Have you any other questions? Let me know below.

Hope you have an Impressive Day!

Jen x

DIY Life Casting Kits -The problems with life casting kits & why they are a waste of money.

DIY Life Casting Kits -The problems with life casting kits & why they are a waste of money.

Should you use a DIY life casting kit?

So many parents have told me they attempted to cast their baby using a casting kit, not one of them continues to tell me it was a success, or that they were happy with the results.  The promise is to create a beautiful 3D cast of their precious child’s hand and feet, creating a keepsake to treasure, making a memory.  New parents think it is their fault that the results are not what they hoped for. They are left disappointed and often with a large dent in their wallet and nothing to show for it.  I believe that casting kits are selling a box of expectation, but deliver an expensive disappointment.

 

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO CREATE SUCCESFULL BABY CASTS?

  • Practice
  • Skill
  • Knowledge
  • Materials & tools
  • (A baby)

 

WHAT DO YOU GET IN A KIT?

  • A bag of casting material (This will run out long before you have had any chance to learn enough)
  • A bag of plaster (Most probably be of a very low quality and totally unfit for purpose)
  • A frame (This is just a cruel way of raising your expectations…)

 

The kit will often have attractive packaging with pretty pictures, but sadly not much else.  The box won’t tell parents what is involved (because then they’d never buy it) so that information is kept for inside the shiny box of hopes and dreams.

 

The reality is this. Expecting a person with no skill or experience, to work with low-quality materials, no tools, no machinery and very limited instructions, with unrealistic images and expectations – leaves parents feeling like they have failed. They’re out of pocket and with either no end result, or at least a disappointing one (they still have that pretty frame – just to remind them of what they’d hoped would display a cast).

 

The instructions provided will likely be very brief also.  Each situation is different, as is each baby you cast.  There are so many variables that it is just impossible to write a brief set of instructions. Life casting can become fairly scientific. Asking a sleep deprived new parent to read a manual is not a good idea!

MY STORY

My passion, nae obsession, for life casting started after I bought a kit!  I saw an advert in a magazine that showed a beautiful, high definition cast of a baby’s hands and feet.  I have always been artistic and loved being creative and crafty, I reckoned I could do this.  The kit was expensive, but it promised great results. So I bought it.  I ended up with a screaming child, half a foot cast, a hand with no fingers and a LOT of mess!  But I was determined not to give in…I kept buying more and more products, I borrowed other peoples babies (when mine had learned to high pitch scream as soon as she saw mummy and the pink goo approaching!) I experimented, I read, I learned, I practised. Over and over and over again…I did manage to make a set of my daughter’s feet as a gift for my mum & dad, but I never made anything worthy of a frame for a long time, and regret to this day that I don’t have my own child’s casts proudly on my wall.

CASTING KITS “YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR” Or do you?

Several companies offer casting kits. I have chosen to look at Mothercare as an example. They are a highly successful company, they are a name that parents trust and their kit is easily accessible to purchase.

 

Mothercare 3D Casting Kit – Review

All images relating to this review are taken from the Mothercare website & links to the original provided.

“Create a lasting memento of your little one’s first few months with this lovely impression moulding kit.”

mothercare DIY life casting kit

Kit contains – moulding material, plaster and a frame (no mention of whether paint is included or framing adhesives, so assume it isn’t)

The box measures only 26cm so the frame can’t be any bigger.

Price is £45.

Problem 1

Expectation – You would expect to create something similar to the images shown.

Reality – You are paying predominantly for marketing and producing a kit – ah and a frame.  The materials provided could be minimal in quantity, with no guarantee of quality. That makes it an expensive frame in a pretty box!

DIY life casting kit 2Problem 2

Expectation – “I will have a framed cast of my baby’s hand”

Reality – Firstly, casting a baby hand is not an easy task. Many experienced life casters struggle to do this, so to expect a new parent to manage this is unfair. PLUS – Babies do not hold their hands as shown in this image…that hand cast is taken from a much older child. This in itself is not an issue, the kit doesn’t claim to be only for babies, but if this frame is less than 26cm in size, and you look at the dimensions of the frame, the mount and the hand, the dimensions appear impossible…Could that hand cast and that frame have never met?  Could this be a combination of two separate images, merged using technology?

 

 

Problem 3DIY life casting kit 1

This picture is better.  If you zoom in on this image on the website, you do get a truer indication of the end result you’d hope to create.  This cast has virtually no definition, the big toe is damaged and there are several very noticeable lumps and bumps, also flattening to the sole of the foot.

At least this image is a more accurate representation of what you MIGHT achieve.  But £45 for a single foot cast is not much cheaper than many life casters charge – is doing it yourself worth the extra time, effort, stress & mess?

 

 

 

 

Is £45 a fair price to spend to end up with a low quality, low definition foot cast of your baby?  If you think so, then go ahead and buy the kit…but perhaps read some reviews first –

Screenshot 2016-07-18 12.45.03

Good to see that Mothercare responded…but still choose to keep selling a product that is failing more customers, than it is serving…

Screenshot 2016-07-18 12.44.42

Not everyone is unsuccessful – but be realistic. If only one customer in ten has managed, will you? Do you mind if it doesn’t work out? Is losing £45 an issue or not?

Screenshot 2016-07-18 12.45.21

Unfortunately, the reality is that kits can be a false economy.  Yes, they are cheaper than paying a professional life caster, but the chances of ending up with a final product worthy of hanging on the wall is far less likely. So you could be paying a lot of money to end up with the possibility of having nothing to show for it.

life casting feet

Life casters have experience, they have the skills, the correct materials, and the knowledge to keep your precious baby safe, content, relaxed and at ease – giving you the very best result.  Of course, differences between life casters also varies hugely too…so again…research is important.  I wrote a blog about this too…it’s HERE. Also check out my Q&A web page full of hints and tips on how to get the best life casting results for you.

 

Still fancy getting creative? by all means, have a bash! Try making some foot impressions in salt dough. Paint those little fingers & toes and make some gift cards. Sprinkle your child in glitter and have some fun. But when it comes to life casting – use a pro.

 

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