Posted on

New Products, Photo Collaboration and Etsy Promotion

I have not done a blog post in three months because I have been extremely busy. First of all, I took the Venture School class through the Univeristy of Iowa. That class ran from March through the middle of May. It was very intense and I may have called some of you on the phone to do customer interviews for that class. Thanks to everyone who helped me with that. I learned so much that I am still trying to figure out what to do with all this knowledge. I have a million new ideas but it will take some time to implement all of them.

New Designs

I created a number of new products in the last several months. These were a combination of custom requests and some new ideas that I had. I have featured them in social media and in other places on this web site, but not in this blog.

Back in December, there was a convention for fans of the TV series Outlander. I did not know much about it, but I quickly learned. I was a vendor at the convention, and as part of that I designed this Outlander-inspired Key Ring. There are three versions of it – a nickel-plated steel version, a raw silver version, and a silver version with dark patina. After the convention, I designed a Scottish Thistle Ring, which is my interpretation of how the ring is described in the book. I also took the Thistle from that ring and modified it so it could be worn as a pendant.

Next I designed this new Braided Celtic Knot ring below. This is meant to look like the ring in the film The Fountain. You only get a brief glimpse of it a few different times in the movie, but I think this is pretty close. It is one of my favorite movies and the ring does have special significance in the film.

Finally, there are two new pendant designs. The first is just a variation of the Amulet of Mara pendant. Instead of a cabochon in the center, I made a version with prongs to hold a chaton, which is a crystal that is cut very similar to a round-cut diamond. The other new pendant is the Four Elements pendant. This was a custom request made from scratch. I took a Celtic knot I have used in one of my other pendant designs and modified it, so it divided a circle into four sections. Then I put a symbol for each of the four ancient elements (Earth, Air, Fire and Water), and a colored crystal. I then used liver of sulfur to darken the piece. Finally, I polished away some of the dark patina to make the Celtic knot and symbols really stand out.

Photo Collaboration

I did another photo collaboration with Local Pittsburgh magazine photographer Julie Kahlbaugh (Instagram: @julieanne514) and model Alicia Kozak (Instagram: @itsaliciakozak). I had previously collaborated with Julie last year. Once again, the photos they created were amazing.

Etsy Promotion

In addition to this web site, I also sell on Etsy. You can save 10% at the D&O Celtic Jewelry Etsy shop with the coupon code “summer10”. This promotion goes through the end of June.

 

Posted on

Custom Design: Platinum Mother-Child Knot Pendant

Platinum Mother-Child Knot Pendant

The Request

Recently, a customer contacted me on Etsy who wanted a custom design. He wanted a platinum Mother-Child Knot Necklace. His wife inherited a diamond ring. He wanted to take the diamond from the old ring and mount it into a pendant. He saw my version of the Mother-Child Knot Necklace with birthstones on Etsy, and wanted a version of it with the diamond in the center.

The Design of the Platinum Mother-Child Knot

Up to now, I had not designed anything with prongs. I wanted to be cautious about this because he also wanted the pendant made from platinum. Therefore, the pendant would cost quite a bit. Because of the expense, there was no room for error.

First, I had to figure out how to design the prongs. The customer got me the basic dimensions of the diamond. I took that information and created a rough 3D model of the diamond. Then I got a tip from a fellow designer on Shapeways. He recommended I check out a web site called Wizegem. From that, I got a prong model from that was very close to the correct size. I then downloaded it and brought it into Blender, and scaled it a little bit to make it the exact size I needed.

At that point, I shared screenshots of the first attempt with the customer to see if it looked like what he had hoped. He requested a couple minor changes. Once those were done, we ordered a plastic version of the pendant and it was sent it to him. He verified that the diamond fit in the prongs perfectly. Finally, we placed the order for the platinum version.

The Finished Product

The version in the picture attached to this post does not have the actual diamond. It has a Swarovski crystal, which is a bit smaller than the real diamond will be. I placed it there just to give an idea of what it will look like when it is all done.

Posted on

Onyx Claddagh Ring Custom Design

Onyx Claddagh Ring

Back in May, I got a request from a customer on Etsy to create am Onyx Claddagh Ring. It would be a Claddagh ring with Celtic knots on either side of a heart-shaped Onyx stone in the center. At that time, I was just starting to experiment with mounting stones or gems to my jewelry. I decided to take on the project knowing that if I messed up it could be expensive, but it would also be a learning experience.

First Version Of The Onyx Claddagh Ring

Version A of the Onyx Claddagh Ring
The first version of the Onyx Claddagh Ring

The customer had an old ring that had broken. They wanted the new one to be similar to that one, but with some changes. Based on the pictures she sent, I estimated the gem to be 6mm tall. So I designed a ring with a place for a gem that size and ordered a 6mm Onyx gem from Africa Gems. When the design was done, I ordered a plastic prototype and had it sent to the customer. I also received a plastic version myself so I could take a look at it and make sure the gem fit the mounting correctly.

It turned out that I had underestimated the size of the gem by quite a bit! The customer got their plastic prototype and explained that it needed to be a lot bigger. After that, they sent me an impression of the old ring so I could compare it. I was able to measure the impression and get much better dimensions. I made another version, this time for one with a 10mm gem.

Second Version

Version B of the Onyx Claddagh Ring
Second version of the Onyx Claddagh Ring

So I redesigned the ring for a 10mm gem. At the same time I ordered the new 10mm gem. We had another plastic prototype made and this one was much closer to what they were looking for. I again got a plastic prototype for myself, too. This allowed me to verify that I liked the appearance and that the gem would be a good fit into the area that I designed for it to mount. The gem ended It eneded up being a very good fit. I only had to make two minor changes to it. The “crown” part of the ring was a bit thin compared to the rest of the ring. So I made the crown a bit thicker to match the rest of the ring. I also reduced the ring size a bit. The customer said the last plastic version they received was a a little bit too big. Once those changes were done, I ordered the final silver version.

Final Silver Version

I just got the silver version this week. I’m very pleased with how it turned out. The gem is a very good fit. I shared pictures of it with the customer and they also liked it. I shipped it to them and they should have it shortly.

With the iterations we went through, the whole process took about four months! We started it in late May and finally completed it here in late September. It took me some time to design each version, and then each time we order prototypes, it took about 2 weeks for them to arrive. So 6 weeks of that time was just waiting on the three different versions to arrive.

The platic prototypes though were key because they allowed us to make changes to make sure the customer got exactly what they wanted, and that the ring was the correct size. Plastic prototypes are only a few dollars plus shipping, so they are well worth it. Thankfully, the customer was very understanding since this was a pretty challenging project.

Silver Version of the Onyx Claddagh Ring
Silver Version of the Onyx Claddagh Ring

After this experience, I decided to make new versions of my own Claddagh rings with crystals. I should have my first prototype of one of those soon. If all goes well, I hope to make them available for ordering soon.

The Claddagh Ring has been around for hundreds of years. About halfway down this page is an explanation of the meaning behind the Claddagh symbol.

Contact me if you would like to order your own version of this Onyx ring.

Posted on

New: Four-Point Celtic Knot Pendant Design

Amulet of Mara Celtic Necklace

I got a request from a customer to create a pendant that they were unable to find anywhere else. They had a photo of a similar four-point Celtic knot pendant, but it was not in silver. They found me through Shapeways’ Designers For Hire project. They chose me because they had seen that I had created similar pendants already.

Designing The Pendant

This was a challenging piece for a couple reasons. First, they wanted a gem in the center. I have not worked much with gems, although it is something I want to practice and learn. Second, they wanted the piece to be only slightly bigger in diameter than a quarter. Cramming the details into that small of a space would be a challenge. Third, it had a series of four infinity knots that had to be at a lower depth than the four main points that were out front.

After studying the picture I created an initial version of the design with Blender. I knew the first version was not perfect, but I uploaded it to Shapeways anyway. This allowed me to use their model checking tools to see what areas might have problems. I found that some of the details were were being treated as “walls” which were too thin to be made with 3D printing. To address those issues I put a “backing” on the thin wires that come out of the outside of the circle. This basically made it so they would be treated as details coming off of a wall. “Details” have a different set of design guidelines than “walls”. Making the piece larger also helped, so that I could make everything a bit thicker and easier to 3D print.

The customer had picked out a 5mm diameter cabochon to put in the center, and the initial version did not have quite enough space in the center for it. So that was another reason to make the pendant a bit larger. With those things in mind I created a second version of the pendant. This time it passed Shapeways’ model checks. I then shared pictures with the customer to make sure they liked the design. Once they gave their approval, I ordered the piece in silver. I already had the cabochon on hand, so when the pendant arrived I was able to put everything together.

The Final Product

Overall I’m happy with how it turned out. I had done a design or two before with a four-point Celtic knot, but what makes this piece really eye-catching are the four infinity knots that are in the background. Those really add another level of complexity to the design.

After doing this, I’m interested in doing more designs with gems and especially cabochons now. The cabohon was easy to work with since it has a flat back. They are much easier to mount than a princess cut gem would be, for example.

One minor problem is that the prongs for the cabochon got polished down so they were shorter than I had hoped. I had planned to use glue to mount the gem anyway, in addition to the prongs. So, the prongs are not doing much to hold the cabochon, but they did locate it nicely in the center of the pendant.

Meaning Of A Four-Point Celtic Knot

I’m not sure if this symbol has any special meaning to the customer, but a four-point Celtic knot can symbolize a few different things. It could symbolize:

  • The four directions North, South, East, West (in fact the piece looks a bit like a compass)
  • The four seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter)
  • The four ancient elements (Earth, fire, wind, water)
  • The four phases of life (birth, growth, death and transformation)
Posted on

D&O Celtic Jewelry 2015 Recap

Claddagh ring - from Instagram

I started out in the summer of 2012 not knowing really anything about 3D printing or jewelry design or internet marketing or anything really. I try to remember that I basically started from nothing and keep a humble view of this business. I do these year-end recaps more to keep myself motivated than to try to brag. However, 2015 was a really good year so it’s hard not to brag a little.

New Designs

In 2015 I did not really have to think very much about what I should be designing next. I had a steady stream of customers reach out to me to ask me to design something for them. I then could take these designs and list them and try to sell them to other customers. A couple of them have proved to be pretty popular. Here are the new pendants that I designed on request for customers this year:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Outreach

I made a conscious effort this year to reach out and collaborate with others in a mutually beneficial way. I reached out to other jewelry designers and people getting into modeling. I would send them jewelry. They’d post pictures of themselves wearing it to social media or web sites. Then I’d also post the pictures to my various sites to return the favor and gain them a little exposure. This got my jewelry in front of different audiences. Many of these people I collaborated with provided me with great, great pictures that I could use on my own web sites and social media. This was something I think I sorely needed. Before this year I just didn’t have many pictures of people wearing my jewelry.

A lot of this interaction and outreach happened on Instagram. I just joined Instagram in January of this year. Through outreach and interaction I was able to gain over 2,100 followers. It’s hard to know how much traffic was driven to my site from Instagram, but it had to have helped. It was also a source of some new ideas. A few of the custom pendants came from customers I met on Instagram.

One really neat moment from this year was I was searching Instagram for topics related to Celtic jewelry. I came across someone who had posted a picture of one of my Claddagh Ring designs. It turned out that it had been used as an engagement ring.

Here are some pictures of people who were awesome enough to share pictures of them wearing my jewelry in 2015:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Site Traffic

At this time last year I spent a lot of time trying to optimize my web site for search engines. I settled on the WordPress layout that I currently have. The Yoast SEO plugin has been indespensible for this effort. I did a lot of keyword research at the same time which I think helped in some regards.

Another thing I did during my outreach was building some backlinks to my site. I think that probably had a big impact on where I ranked in searches. I also tried to blog on a somewhat regular basis, although that proved to be hard at times. It’s hard to know though which of these SEO tactics worked, or if it was a sum of all of them. The biggest traffic driver to this site are people searching for the meaning of various Celtic symbols.

In any case, the traffic to this web site nearly tripled in 2015 over 2014. Some of that is to be expected since in 2014 this site was still in its’ infancy to a large extent. In January and March I did a couple giveaways that drove a ton of traffic. After doing those giveaways my traffic hit kind of a bottom in April. The thing that surprised me though was that traffic increased every single month after that this year. By October, I was getting more organic traffic than I did in January or March which were boosted by giveaways.

Sales

My total number of sales increased by 42% over last year. To me that is really important but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Last year I did a lot of craft fairs that really contributed a lot. About 40% of my sales last year were at those craft fairs. This year, I only did one craft fair and barely made any sales. I focused all my energy on online sales. My online sales increased by more than double (237%!). So this more than offset the lack of sales at craft fairs.

The main reason for this was that I opened an Etsy shop. Last year I was not on Etsy at all, which was probably an oversight. I tried Etsy back in 2012 and 2013 and did not make a single sale. So I gave up on it for a while. Someone recommended I give it another shot. I got on Etsy again in January and started to make some sales. In all, Etsy accounted for a little over half of my online sales this year.

The number of sales through my Shapeways shop was up only slightly, but my revenue from Shapeways was up 83%. People were buying more expensive items. A big chunk of this increase was due to three ring sales where the customers purchased the rings in solid gold.

Finally, the number of sales from this web site was still pretty modest. It only accounted for about 15% of all my sales, but I did double the number of sales from my web site over last year. This shouldn’t be a surprise since traffic increased so much. My ultimate goal is to keep growing sales through this site.

Coming In 2016

One thing I came across during all my interactions were bangle bracelets. I’ve already made three of my designs available in a bracelet version and if it proves to be popular I may offer more.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.