John Shanahan


Articles and Videos by John Shanahan:

Settin’ Pretty

Ask any experienced jeweler, and they’ll tell you: it takes stones to become a gem setter. You literally have to put hundreds of stones in their place, time and time again, to be able to reach a point of consistent…

Techniques for Popular Finishing Touches

Precious metals are beautiful on their own, from the rich glow of yellow gold to the dense white of platinum—and everything in between. Take that as a starting point and add the kind of patterning and textural elements that come…

Plique-a-Jour Pictorial

This article Amy Roper Lyons offers two things: a Plique-a-Jour pictorial and three safety tips when handling or working with enamel. 1) Lyons has mixed her enamel powders with water and Klyr Fire (an adhesive), and they are now ready to…

Enameling Care and Considerations

The primary reason designer Amy Roper Lyons of Summit, New Jersey, began working in enamels is fairly black and white: her jewelry needed color. “My first line was made of sterling with other non-precious materials,” she says. “It was pretty…

MJSA Custom Jeweler – Brenda Smith

An Uncustomary Request – Creative freedom and some unusual pearls helped create an award-winning necklace by Brenda Smith. Let’s say you are given 27 of the largest freshwater, cultured, round pearls in the world, and told that you can make anything…

Ricardo Basta – Top Flight

Ricardo Basta Ricardo Basta Fine Jewelry Los Angeles First Place, CAD/CAM Distinction Ricardo Basta believes in melding traditional jewelry-making techniques with the high precision of computer design. Both sides of the equation are at play in his Vision Award CAD/…

Adam Neeley – Alluring Curves

Adam Neeley Adam Neeley Fine Art Jewelry Laguna Beach, California First Place, Laser Distinction Look back over the list of past Vision Award Laser Distinction winners and you’ll see that Adam Neeley’s name appears quite often. The Laguna Beach, California–based designer…

Tips & Techniques for Popular Finishing Touches

We asked a number of top jewelers to tell us their best practices, techniques, and tips for creating satin, brushed, and hammered finishes as well as patinas on jewelry. Take notes – you’ll want to test these popular finishing touches…

Victoria Lansford on the Art of Filigree

Victoria Lansford on the art of filigree—Russian or otherwise BOX: The Art of Handcraft Every jewelry designer can pinpoint the thing that first called her to the art. It may have been seeing something in a museum, or finding a…

CAD Repair Programs for Unprintable Files

Using CAD repair programs to save unprintable files You spend hours creating a custom piece in CAD for one of your favorite clients. The metal she loves, the colored stones she’s been wanting, a unique expression of her style. Now…

2 Successful Stone Setting Tips

Ask any experienced jeweler, and they’ll tell you: it takes stones to become a gem setter. You literally have to put hundreds of stones in their place, time and time again, to be able to reach a point of consistent…

Jewelry Companies Help Save the Planet

Green. What was once seen as a fringe-element rallying cry has grown into a planet-changing initiative that touches countless aspects of our daily lives. Jewelry Companies Help Save the Planet One Step at a Time From the simple act of recycling…

CAD Design Problems

Making jewelry is the perfect confluence of art and science. It’s where aesthetic and inspiration meet application and practicality. Computer-aided design (CAD) software is one of the tools that helps brings these two sides of the equation together. But although…

Successful e-Commerce Ventures

The ongoing debate over the necessity of e-commerce in the jewelry industry is coming to a close. From small shop artisans showcasing their custom work to major manufacturers providing their customers with the ability to place and track orders online, virtually every jewelry business has an Internet presence-or is planning for one. But getting involved in e-commerce is still not a simple proposition. Like any business decision, selling online requires research, testing, and refining; a simple Web site is no longer the sole requirement for success.

Faster, More Efficient Laser Welders

Since their introduction to the jewelry industry, laser welders have been lauded for their speed, accuracy, and convenience of use. Retail stores and job shops have made sizable investments in these machines, which are guaranteed to simplify day-to-day repairs such as fixing damage next to stones and cleaning up porosity in castings. But it has only been in the last few years that the technology has started to turn up in higher volume production settings. Now, however, as laser welders become faster, more user-friendly, and suitable for a wider range of jewelry applications, they are finding new homes as standard equipment on the manufacturing shop floor.

Benchtop Hydroflux Welders

Connections are an important part of jewelry manufacturing. We make them with suppliers, with retailers, even with the people who buy and wear our jewelry. But some of the most important connections are those we make between metals. Whether creating custom one-offs or producing in volume, jewelers must constantly make physical connections between metal objects ear posts to earrings, clasps to chains, and jump rings to nearly everything.

The TAO of Bur Goodtip

Bur Goodtip, a legendary bench jeweler shows how sometimes a tool is not just a tool… We are taking a break on the back porch of his home and studio. I have spent the last five days up here with Bur, one of the great-but-largely-unknown repositories of bench jeweler arcana, and in that time I have found that Bur takes upward of a dozen breaks during his six-hour daily work routine.

Working with White Gold

White gold jewelry is a hot fashion trend that does not show signs of cooling off any time soon. Manufacturers are producing it, retailers are buying it, and consumers are demanding it, but none have a clear definition of what alloys can truly be called “white” — until now. A White Gold Task Force led by MJSA and the World Gold Council, comprising members of the supply, manufacturing, and retail components of the jewelry industry, has established a definition of white gold. After measuring more than 70 samples of 10k, 14k, and 18k white gold jewelry using the CIELab and ASTM Yellowness Index, the Task Force defined “white gold” as a karat gold with a Yellowness Index value of 32 or less. It also proposed a three-tiered grading system in which to categorize white gold as Grade 1, Grade 2, and Grade 3.

The Orange Necklace by Chihiro Makio

One of the more difficult challenges Chihiro Makio of 314 Studio in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, faced when creating her Orange Necklace was getting the citrus-themed elements to sit properly on the wearers neck. The piece comprises roughly 30 three-dimensional elements, some shaped like oranges and others like leaves, and deciding how to best get them to sit in harmony with one another took some doing.

The Work of Lisa Jenks

Eighteen months ago, New York City-based designer Lisa Jenks began a partnership with Origins, the well-known skin care products store. As the venture has progressed, shes created everything from compacts to pomanders for potpourri to votive candle holders, all in her signature style — and expanded the reach of her business at the same time.

Practical Approach to CAD/CAM

Once more the realm of engineers and number-crunchers, CAD over the years has become more user-friendly and artisan-intuitive. Similarly, small-shop, multi-axis CAM systems allow more jewelers to experience the technologys potential and create innovative, award-winning contemporary designs. However jewelers prefer to design and whatever their visions, CAD/CAM can make it easier, faster, and more efficient. While these technologies can speed the journey from concept to completion, jewelers must always keep that core knowledge at hand, and keep an eye on creating designs that are practical for manufacturing. Its one thing to create; its another thing entirely to create for successful production.

Leila Tai – Plique-a-jour Delight

Leila Tai of New York City will be the first person to tell you that in order to take on the ancient technique of plique–jour enameling, it helps to be a little crazy. But looking at the delicately shimmering scrollwork that brings color and life to her Spanish Garden bracelet, theres no doubt that there is a definite method to this jewelers creative madness.

CAD Craft In Ron Litolff’s Ring

To create a new ring to showcase the beauty of a customer’s sentimental diamonds, Knoxville, Tennesseebased jeweler Ron Litolff of Gemstone Designs blended old-world craftsmanship with 21st-century technology. Hand-engraved finish work augments the precise beauty of CAD design in this two-tone ring embellished with intricate scrollwork. ‘quot;Our client requested a remount for her major diamond,’quot; Litolff says. ‘quot;She was also excited about adding some smaller diamonds from her parents’ rings.’quot; In Litolff’s design, the sentimental diamonds found a home in the side of the setting, accented by small bead- and bright-cut diamonds along the shank, as well as Gemstone Designs’ trademark placement of one stone on the inside of the shank. But it’s the scrollwork that really makes this ring stand out.