May 5, 2016

We Love Pets!

Filed under: Inspiration — Tags: , , , @ 10:30 am


In celebration of National Pet Month, Nina Designs is donating 10% of our sales from our Pet Love Charm Collection during the month of May! Our donation will be going to the Humane Society of the United States which is considered one of the nation’s largest and most effective animal protection organizations.

Shop our Pet Charm Collection to create your own personalized jewelry! For more ideas, check out our adorable Pet inspired Jewelry Designs. We think you’ll love ‘em!

pet love with border


Here at Nina Designs we love our four legged friends! They bring us so much joy, comfort us in hard times, and make us laugh! Lots of our staff members have either rescued animals themselves or adopted them from a shelter! Here are some of our staff members and their adorable furry pals!

Rebecca Pet New

Rebecca, Customer Service Rep

This is Hazel, being friendly and snugly is her game. She’s 13 years old, and I’ve had her since she was 2 months old. My best friend’s dad found her mom stuck on the median of the freeway. He rescued her. When he got her home he found out she was pregnant. I had her and her sister, Anabelle, for 12 years. Unfortunately Anabelle passed away last year. She loves to love and has absolutely the loudest purr I’ve ever heard. She makes friends with everyone she meets including deer, skunks, & dogs. Strangely she loves everyone except other cats. She adored her sister, but every other cat is a sworn enemy.

Since the day she came home to me everyone could tell she was special. She was the smartest and friendliest of her litter. She’s my baby!

Marcy Pet

Marcy, Associate Designer

This is Ban-Ki Moon (named after Secretary-General of the UN). Ban ki was a rescued feral kitten,  saved from being eaten by a Pitbull. He is 11 months old now. The silliest thing he does is stash his toys in our bed, in the couch cushions and in the water bowl. The most annoying thing he does is play with my jewelry when I’m trying to sleep and he stashes away just one earring! He is cute, friendly & playful. He always makes me smile, even when he’s being naughty! Ban Ki has recently discovered the joy of tissue paper. He loves to burrow under it and leap out of it.

Rose Pet

Rose, Customer Service Rep

My kitties names are Trouble (the orange male) & Moxie (the black female). I’ve had them for about four months! They are seven months old, and I adopted them from the Milo Foundation.

Trouble & Moxie both sleep on their backs with their limbs all over the place and it’s hilarious, especially since the longer they’re asleep the more tangled up they get. They are both very sweet (when they aren’t destroying things or running full-speed across the house). If you pick Moxie up she will lick your nose and make a little purr chirp noise. And Trouble plays fetch! I didn’t teach him how, and he’s already better at it than my childhood dog… who I tried to teach him to fetch for 12 years! They are both inside cats, but because they are so interested in the outdoors, my boyfriend and I put them on leashes and harnesses and take them in the backyard to explore. I’m trying to teach them to walk on their leashes, but at this point they’re mostly interested in eating grass and stalking bugs.

Signe Pet

Signe, Marketing Manager

This is Daisy! She is 14 years old and has been with us since she was a puppy. Daisy came from Animal Control. She was deemed un-adoptable because she is half Pitbull and showed signs of aggression. We rescued her from being put down and did extensive training with her for 2 years to make sure she would be a good canine citizen. I’m so glad we rescued her. She has been an amazing family member. My life is better with her in it.

Daisy’s silliest behavior is a trick that she does called “Surprise!” When one of us is sitting down, with one leg crossed over the other, she pops her head through the space created between the bend of the knee on the crossed leg and the leg below it. It always makes us laugh when she does it. Her most annoying behavior is that she will sometimes do it to guests when they visit – which is a little embarrassing….but usually it gets a laugh too, if the person likes dogs!


What kind of pet do you have?

Cat or Dog?

Fish or Fowl?

Pot Bellied Pig or Python?

Tell us a little about your pet! We love to hear cute and silly pet stories!

May 2, 2016

Mother’s Day is May 8th, need some inspiration?

Bring some warmth and serenity to your Mother this Mother’s Day by adorning her with beautiful Rose Quartz and Chalcedony Gemstones. Rose Quartz is associated with all things love and Blue Chalcedony, “the speaker’s stone,” removes negativity.  Inspired by the Pantone hues, Rose Quartz and Serenity, your Mother will be a Trendsetter on this special day! Combine these beautifully faceted gemstones with our stunning charms and pendants in different finishes, for a personalized gift your Mom will always cherish.  For a truly unique and inspired look, accent your designs with our supple leather cord in luxurious colors and sizes.

Mothers Day Blog New

Mother’s day is May 8th!

How are you planning on pampering your Mom?

April 25, 2016

Diving with Dolphins

Filed under: Greening,Inspiration — Tags: , , @ 4:30 pm

IMG_0445 - Edited

The ocean can feel like an alien environment, with few reference points to our familiar habitat. It is hard to believe that in our deep past we emerged from this watery world to forge lives on dry land. The creatures of the ocean are mesmerizing and exotic precisely because they are so different from the plants and animals we interact with in our daily lives. Floating in a sea of endless blue can feel like being suspended in outer space, and then dolphins appear, changing everything. These intelligent mammals are playful and curious. On a recent dive trip to Honduras, four dolphins swam with us for at least 10 minutes. They circled us, dove away, chatted in high pitched squeaks and came racing back from the depths to play some more. As they wove between us, they made purposeful eye contact and we all felt a keen sense of connection and kinship. Interacting with these remarkable creatures was a highlight of my trip and a powerful reminder of how important it is for us to safeguard the ocean and all of its inhabitants.

Dolphin Love Collage

Click Here to read more about our commitment to the environment. Click Here to see our Ocean Collection of Silver Charms.

All underwater photos by Nina Cooper.

March 15, 2016

Superstars Literacy Receives 2015 Donation from Nina Designs

Filed under: philanthropy @ 10:12 am

At Nina Designs we design and sell silver charms and jewelry supplies and our social mission includes caring for people and the planet. To honor that commitment we fund a variety of programs including tree planting and micro loans. Every year we also choose one nonprofit to support with a large donation. In 2015 we wanted to make a contribution to our local community.

The Public Policy Institute of California issued a report documenting the fact that almost 50% of the children in California live at or near the poverty level. They note that, “Because economic hardship is associated with a host of adverse outcomes, particularly for children, policies that can give children a better start in life are especially important.” In an effort to support improved outcomes for underprivileged children, we decided to donate $2,000 to Superstars Literacy.


superstarsliteracy1Since there is almost a 90% chance that children with poor reading skills at the end of first grade will still have poor reading skills at the end of fourth grade, Superstars Literacy works with 500 K-2nd graders at nine high-need schools in the East Bay to improve their reading skills and improve outcomes. “Super Stars Literacy provides extended learning time intervention services to under-performing K-2nd grade students, helping them develop the literacy and social skills that are the foundation for future learning.”

Thank you for helping us support this wonderful organization!!

March 1, 2016

Get Lucky with Fun and Festive Jewelry Designs!

They’re always after our lucky charms! Good luck charms and good luck jewelry are a perfect way to accessorize for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day holiday, but good luck jewelry is also something everyone loves to wear year round. We offer a wide variety of clover charms, horseshoe charms, wishbone charms and more to help give your jewelry that extra special touch! Simple charm necklaces never go out of style, and tiny clovers and fortune cookie charms make delicate and darling designs. Combine charms for adorable and simple mixed metal earrings too. Click here to browse our gallery of good luck jewelry design ideas!

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January 27, 2016

Make Adorable Jewelry for that Special Someone

Jewelry always makes the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day. Make that gift of jewelry even more special by turning our adorable charms and pendants into unique and personalized jewelry that is sure to put a smile on that special someone’s face. Heart charms, quote charms, infinity links, and charm bracelets come together to form beautiful and memorable designs to make this Valentine’s Day as memorable as can be! Click the images below to see our gallery of cute and fun design ideas!

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vday 4

January 21, 2016

Shop Nina Designs in Person at GJX in Tucson!

Filed under: Inspiration,Tradeshows @ 11:46 am

Looking to shop beautiful silver, gold plate, and bronze charms and findings? Nina Designs will be at the GJX show in Tucson, from February 2nd through the 7th. We will have a selection of some of our most popular sellers, and some of our favorite classic designs. Come by and see us at booth number 435, we look forward to meeting you!

GJX does have specific buyer requirements. Please click here to get more information.




December 23, 2015

Find Us on Instagram for Even More Design Inspiration!

Filed under: Behind the Scenes,Inspiration @ 9:00 am

If you are looking for fresh and new jewelry design inspiration, look no further! Our Instagram community is growing and we want you to join too. If you aren’t familiar with what the app Instagram is all about, it can basically be summed up as visual storytelling. You can post as many photos as you would like to create your story or journey, and follow others to view theirs as well.

We’re inviting you to join us on our journey through Instagram for continuous jewelry and design inspiration. We make posts daily that include finished jewelry design ideas, sneak peeks of new and exciting styles on their way, and behind the scenes looks at our design process, and what life is like around the Nina Designs office. You must have a smartphone to use Instagram, since you are only allowed to post photos from your phone. If you do have a smartphone, the app is free and easy to download if you don’t already have it! When you are logged into the app, just follow @ninadesignsjewelry to join in on the fun! We also will be offering exclusive sales and discounts through Instagram, so get following!

instagram blog

Insta Footer

December 9, 2015

Jewelry Photography – Part Two: Lighting

In this second segment of our 3 Part Series on Jewelry Photography (see part one here), we will focus on the most critical part of the process, lighting your creations. Achieving success in photographing jewelry is reliant on having good, natural lighting.

Part Two of Three: Lighting Options for Jewelry Photography

It is always best to use indirect natural light when photographing your creations.  Artificial light can dull the reflective surfaces and give a yellow cast to the photo. And direct light, even if natural, is far too is harsh for jewelry with its metallic and faceted surfaces. It can create “hot spots” (areas that look bright white) and deep sharp shadows. There are many options for lighting and each has pros and cons. Choose what is right for your budget and experiment with it to get the best results. Take LOTS of photos. This is definitely a process where you have to “break a few eggs to make an omelet.”

stacking rings

Sunlight Outdoors

Shooting outside on overcast days is great but when it is full sun you need to create diffused, indirect light. Possible ways to achieve this are to place your photo surface under a tree or other large item that is creating shade, working under a large umbrella (white or cream colored would be best) or suspending a piece of white fabric such as a sheet over the area that you are working.  If you do trade shows or art fairs, you may own a pop up tent. The light shining through the top of a white tent canopy creates a giant light box! Set up your photo surface under it and you’re ready to go. You can also build your own light box that you can use indoors or outdoors which we’ll go into later.

Pros: Working outside offers natural light that is surrounding the piece creating a soft even tone when diffused, instead of the light coming from one direction or source.

Cons: Weather and time of day dependent, can be too harsh if not filtered properly, can be too uncomfortable (hot, cold, buggy, windy, etc.)

Sunlight Outdoors

Image Source

Sunlight Indoors

To harness natural sunlight as your light source while inside your home, try photographing your work right next to a window. To diffuse the direct sunlight, tape a large piece of tracing paper or white vellum over the window. It also helps to lay a large piece of opaque white paper on the table you are working on to reflect the light back up (you can also use this to set your white balance on your photo but more about that later!) You may need to use a “Fill Card” to bounce the light back on your piece to create sparkle on gemstones or reduce shadows. The fill card can be a piece of bright white cardstock or one that has a silver metallic surface such as Cresent Matboard 1020 Thin Silver Foil, available at many art supply stores.  Be sure to turn off the artificial light sources in the room.

Pros: Inexpensive, homemade solution.

Cons: Weather and time of day dependent, can be too harsh if not filtered properly, light coming from only one the side. Only works if you have a window that gets enough sunlight!

sunlight indoors

Image Source

Here is a great link that covers this process with photos: A 6 Dollar Solution to Photographing Jewelry 

Soft Box or Tight Tent

This cube shaped, white nylon light tent is widely used to produce e-commerce web images, professional catalog images and online auctions. A typical light tent or “soft box” has a front velcro door flap which has a slit in the center made for your cameras lens to shoot through in order to produce even lighting. Can be used indoors with external spot lights with daylight bulbs or outside to diffuse sunlight.

Pros: Easy to set up and transport, light weight, excellent for table top use, affordable.

Cons: Lights not included.  Enclosed space can be hard to maneuver inside to adjust products.

Soft Box

Professional Light Box

If you take lots of photos for your jewelry business you may want to invest in professional level lighting equipment. There are a wide range of options. At Nina Designs, we use a Flashpoint Light Box to photograph our products. It is very easy to assemble and the unit comes with a 70 watt flicker-free fluorescent, spiral bulb, and is rated at 5500 degrees Kelvin meaning it is “daylight balanced.” This long lasting “cool” light emits very little heat and can stay on all day long without a problem. We always use “fill cards” or “reflectors” to help bounce the light back onto the pieces.

Pros: Use any time of day, portable, allows you to create different effects by controlling shadows and highlights, height adjustable, built in light.

Cons: Can be expensive.

pro light

You need three parts to make up the light box that we have at Nina Designs. Below are the links to the equipment at

1. – Flashpoint Softbox

2. – Extension Grip Arm 

3. – Grip Head with Socket 

Homemade Light Box

Feeling ambitious? There are many ways you can create your own light box.  Most can be built for under $20.00!  Basically, you need to create a frame that has openings for filtered light to come through on the sides and top. You can use a cardboard box, a clear plastic storage tub, wood, PVC pipe…the possibilities all endless. After you build your frame you’ll need some “diffusion material” to secure over the openings such as white tissue paper, interfacing fabric, thin white poly/nylon fabric, cut up men’s white undershirt material…again, those possibilities abound! Next, secure a long piece of white poster paper from the top of the back wall as the backdrop, being sure to let it curve at the bottom as it flows out towards the opening for a nice soft backdrop. Always use “daylight/sunlight” bulbs in your light fixtures to create soft natural light.

Pros: Use any time of day, portable, allows you to create different effects by controlling shadows and highlights, inexpensive, can use indoors and outdoors.

Cons: Can’t think of any!

homemade light box

Image Source

Here’s a link to video instructions for building your own light box. Come on, get CRAFTY!

How to Build a Photo Light Box for Under $10

I hope you found these lighting tips helpful. For more information, here are the 3 videos I have personally watched and found beneficial. They are available for purchase through Interweave, and feature professional jewelry photographer Jim Lawson.

How to Photograph Your Jewelry

How to Photograph Your Jewelry – Beyond the Basics

Shoot Share and Sell – How to get the Best Jewelry Photos from your Cell Phone

Achieving great jewelry photos takes patience and practice but it is also a lot of FUN! We’d LOVE to hear about what lighting technique or equipment you like to use for photographing your creations. Please share your tips in our comments!

Coming Soon: Part Three –  Jewelry Photography Tips & Tricks

See Part One Here – The Right Camera for You 

December 2, 2015

Gift Cute & Personalized Charm Necklaces This Year!

Looking for the perfect holiday gift? Silver and gold charm necklaces make adorable and personalized keepsakes your loved ones and friends will wear for years to come. We offer a wide selection of charms from initial charms, to birthstone charms, and charms to fit everyone’s hobbies and interests too! Match a zodiac charm with an initial, or string on a minimal and modern dangle for a simple and sophisticated look. The possibilities are endless!

rtw necklace 2

To make these elegant and beautiful gifts, all you need is a charm, and a finished chain. Our charms come fitted with finished, soldered jump rings, so all you have to do is slide the charm on! Personalized gifts in under 5 minutes. Does it get any better? You just need a pair or pliers to build your necklace, and voila! These precious keepsakes will make a lasting impression, and make the perfect gift for anyone special this holiday season. Shop now!

necklace how to

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