November 7, 2014

How-To Video :: Make A Multi-Strand Silk Bracelet

Silk cord and ribbon have numerous uses when it comes to making jewelry. Pair silk cord in any color you wish with silver or gold charms for a fun, layered bracelet design. Create a theme of your choosing with a combination of your favorite tiny charms for a personalized look!


This bracelet making technique is simple to re-create, and the layered look gives the illusion of wearing multiple bracelets, when it’s actually only one piece to easily put on and take off at once. Join the trend of stacking and layering bracelets with this fun tutorial and how-to video on making a multi-strand silk bracelet with charms!

Shop our wide variety of silk cord, and browse the rainbow of colors to choose from! We offer leather, tiny charms, and the other findings you’ll need to create your fabulous design. See the parts list for this design here.

What colors or charms will you choose to make this look yours?

August 27, 2014

Beautiful Jewelry is as Easy as 1, 2, 3!

Our wide variety of silver, gold, and bronze charms, links, and jewelry findings leave you with endless opportunities to create your own jewelry, personalized keepsakes, and gifts for friends and loved ones. Sometimes it can seem overwhelming to pick just one favorite, or how to pull everything together for do-it-yourself jewelry, but simple, finished jewelry designs are quick and easy to assemble and complete.

Unique and elegant jewelry can be as simple as hanging a charm or jewelry link from an earring top. Adding a single wire wrapped gemstone can dress the look up with a colorful touch of sparkle. Mix and match any findings to fit your taste, and as soon as you see how quickly you can make beautiful jewelry, you will surely be hooked on making more and more! Don’t fret, if you having jewelry-block, we have tons of jewelry design ideas on our website with parts lists and tips for making the designs to get you started. We also have a classroom, and handfuls of how-to videos to teach you everything you need to know to make your own collection of jewelry!


Simple necklaces make great gifts for friends or to yourself, and personalized keepsakes can be as easy as picking your favorite charms, and sliding them onto a finished chain! Our jewelry links, some even equipped with jump rings, can quickly be turned necklace or bracelet by adding chain, silk, or leather to either end. A piece of cake! Watch this free and quick how-to video for tips on how to make quick charm necklaces to impress.

earrings bracelets

Use similar techniques for bracelets as you do for necklaces. Make multiple bracelets to create a trendy, stacked look, add color with leather cord or silk, and personalize a bracelet stack with our adorable initial charm bracelet links! Create stunning earrings too by choosing an earring top, and hanging a charm or unique jewelry link, and you’ll have a lovely pair in no time. If you want a slightly dressier feel, adding pearls or gemstones to your duo is just as quick and easy. Watch this quick how-to video on how to wire wrap a gemstone, and you’ll be on your way to embellishing all of your jewelry creations.

Here are some resources for you to get inspired, and become a jewelry guru:

Have fun, experiment with new ideas, and enjoy wearing something you made yourself. Happy jewelry making!

July 24, 2014

A New Appreciation for Handmade Jewelry

Nina Designs carries an extensive variety of sterling silver, bronze, and gold charms, pendants, and findings. The majority of our jewelry making supplies are made by skilled silversmiths in both Bali and Thailand, and are either handmade or cast and finished by hand. Every piece has a great deal of work put into it, and production is at a very large volume to keep up with demand. Staff members at Nina Designs were given the opportunity to take a metals class at a local art studio in Oakland, California, Studio One, to see what the process was all about, and to try and re-create some of the same techniques used to make our jewelry components.

All of the Nina Designs employees have a love for either making jewelry, or wearing it, so an opportunity to get our hands dirty and create our own pieces from start to finish was quite appealing! The metal-smith class many of us enrolled in covered all the basics in how to work with metal and make jewelry; soldering, sawing, stone-setting, etching, polishing, and more. Within the first hour of our first class, I remember getting familiar with a jeweler’s saw when cutting out ring bands, and also breaking handfuls of blades before making a single, straight cut. Our teacher, Anthony, said it was normal, and an initiation of sorts, to break and re-string blade after blade your first time. It didn’t make it any easier, but once your first piece was done, your pride showed when you could sport your new ring.

As the weeks pass, you feel more comfortable, and the skill sets you gain stack up, as well as your collection of new things to wear! You do run over quite a few speed bumps along the way, and it can get discouraging when a vision in your head doesn’t make it’s way into a finished physical piece, but when you problem solve, practice, and learn from mishaps, you can make some beautiful and unique pieces of jewelry!

Here are some of the techniques worked on in class, and the beautiful pieces produced as a result of gaining new jewelry-making skills:

In-class action shots from the metal lab at Studio One


After lots of practice with saws and saw blades, the cutting possibilities are endless!

saw cutting

Adding texture with different sized and shaped hammers: loud, but beautiful!

hammer finish

Making and adding rivets is functional while adding interest and detail


Setting beautiful stones to make stunning, one of a kind rings!

stone setting

More creative work from the ladies at Nina Designs


Marcy, one of our designers, even made her own wedding bands in the class!


Our staff is so creative, and I’m so impressed with everyone’s eye for detail, and making their jewelry dreams a reality! Along with gaining new skills, the class gave us all a new perspective on the time and effort that it takes to make beautiful jewelery, and even more so, a serious appreciation for our talented silversmiths in Bali and Thailand. They produce consistent, high quality work, and in large volume. I know I wouldn’t be able to keep up with demand, or make two pieces that looked identical! Here is what some of the Nina Designs ladies had to say in regards to what they took away from the class:

“After cutting out and filing my small oval silver button, I grabbed a torch to heat it up and soften the metal before hammering.  Lo and behold, my button turned into a small puddle of silver right before my eyes!  This class increased the huge amount of respect I have for our skilled silversmiths, and I can finally appreciate why the smaller version of an item often costs more than the original larger version!” – Leah, Vice President

“Taking the metal-smith class has given me a deep appreciation of the work our silver smiths put into all of our Nina Designs components.  I have a lot of fun cutting, filing, soldering, setting and polishing, but I easily spent three hours or more on one piece of jewelry.  I now see what our silver smiths go through, and it takes a lot of skill to assemble little components.  Seeing Nina Designs’ consistency from piece to piece is amazing!” – Veronica, Customer Service Manager

“While taking the metal jewelry class at Studio One in Berkeley, it became abundantly clear how difficult the metalworking process is and how incredibly skilled our metal-smiths are at Nina Designs. After the experience, I have an even greater respect for their work and process.” – Signe, Customer Service

All of us encourage you to take a class at a local studio if you haven’t tried your hand at it already, and broaden your creative horizon with new and fun ways to make jewelry. Who knows, you may find yourself addicted to metals, and wanting to take your career in a entirely new direction! Have you ever taken a class? What have you learned from working as a metal-smith? Share with us your experience!

November 7, 2012

Budget-friendly Jewelry You Can Make in Seconds Flat

Does this sound familiar?  Your friend’s birthday is coming up, but you’re out of time and low on funds?  If so, do not fret.  Here are some jewelry designs to the rescue –  three necklaces and three pairs of earrings you can make in a flash.  Just choose one or two designs and get started.

Click on the images above to find the parts list for these necklaces and earrings.  The techniques required for these designs are basic to really, really basic – like just slipping the charm(s) on a silver chain or silk cord.  The most sophisticated technique is wire wrapping side-drilled (aka briolette) beads.  Find detailed instruction on wire wrapping briolette beads.


September 15, 2012

Gold Plate vs Gold Filled Jewelry – What’s the difference?

Figuring out the difference between gold fill and gold plate can be a little tricky, because there are some misconceptions floating around & because there are different kinds of gold plate products.  Most people wonder which one is higher quality.

Gold Plate, Sterling Silver, and Gold Fill

Here’s the definitive answer that you can quote us on:

Gold Filled Findings have a core of base metal (typically brass) that’s covered in a layer of 14 karat gold. The gold is “filled” with a base metal.

Industry Standard Gold Plate is typically a base metal core (brass, copper, nickel) that has a thin wash of solid karat gold. This type of plating has a layer of gold that is typically 7 micro inches thick.  We do not sell this low quality plating.

Nina Designs Gold Plate Sterling Silver is sterling silver plated with a thick layer of 98.5% pure gold (24 karat).  Our gold plate charms and findings have a layer of gold that is 40 micro inches thick and is considered a gem quality plate.  They’re of the highest quality and are far above the industry standard.

For this reason, we offer much more gold plated jewelry parts than gold fill.   While we do sell a selection of Gold Filled chain and jewelry findings, we prefer to carry gold plated charms and findings because there is a lot more precious metal in our gold plate than there is in gold filled items.

August 23, 2012

3 Surefire Ways to Make Jewelry Like Pros

Remember years & years ago when you wouldn’t be caught dead mixing silver chains with gold charms?  Well, a lot has changed – and these days mixing silver & gold elements is where it’s at.  So if you want to stay current keep reading.

Mixing metals is not a passing fad. It is here to stay.   To make jewelry like a pro you have to take chances.  Here’s how:  Let go, throw caution to the wind, and have fun!  Mix silver charms with bronze charms, or gold vermeil & oxidized silver.  The effect is absolutely magical.

For Subtle, Rich Hues – Mix Metals

Here are 3 easy tips for mixing metals to make instant hits:

1 – Layering!  It’s easy to find complementing shapes in alternating metals to layer for a stunning effect.  I made these earrings in less than 5 minutes.  Just clip the jump rings off the silver mandala pendants and loop them onto bronze hook earrings along with hammered bronze circles.  There you have it, glowing circles of gold and silver hues that will turn heads.

Black Silver goes with anything!

2 – Anything goes with black.   Just like you can match anything with black denim, you can match any metal charm to oxidized black silver, including sterling silver, gold vermeil & bronze jewelry parts.  And, any type of gemstone can be mixed with oxidized black charms & jewelry findings – pearls, rubies, peridot – seriously, anything goes with black!

3 – Don’t just layer silver charms with gold pendants, but make sure to mix your chains too.  Layering silver chain on top of gold chain is super chic, bohemian, and rockin’ roller all at once.  Throw a leather cord in there too – if you dare.  Be bold.  Go for a look that’s layered and luxurious, but it’s important to look like you didn’t even try.  Like that’s what you wear everyday – even when you’re sleeping.

BONUS: Mixing metals also keeps your costs low without sacrificing style.  Our natural bronze styles are as warm and inviting as 14KT gold.


July 3, 2012

How to Make Summer Earrings

In these warmer-than-normal months, you may find yourself wanting to spend more times outdoors with family and friends.  In this post we offer you 3 high impact earrings that are easy-to-make & fabulous, so you can spend more time this summer  at picnics & barbeques, cocktail parties & art openings.   Make these earrings and you’re friends will think you’re a jewelry design rock star!

Double Mandala Happiness

LOOK ONE:  Double Mandala Happiness

Time It’ll Take:   5 minutes.  We love this for last minute invites!

Best for:  Picnics.  BBQs.  Weekend Getaways.

What to Do: 

1 – Get Mandala Pendants & Earring Findings in Bronze.

2 – Cut-off jump rings from Mandalas.  Slide mandalas onto hook earrings & you’re done!



Radiating Droplets

LOOK TWO:  Radiating Droplets

Time It’ll Take:  15 minutes.  If you’re a wire wrapping whiz – less than 10!

Best for:  Fiestas.  Beach Weddings.

What to Do:

1 – Get circle links, earring findings, and headpins in vermeil.  Gemstones of your choice.

2 – Thread gemstones on headpins; form loops but don’t close.  Cut off jump rings from circles.

3 – Connect 3 circle links together with 2 headpin loops with gemstones (loop has to be big enough to fit two circles).

4 – Thread top circle link and third gemstone onto hook earring




Silver Sea Anemone

LOOK THREE:  Silver Sea Anemone

Time It’ll Take:  5 minutes or less & you’ll be fabulous!

Best for:  Beach Party.  Art Openings.  Everyday.

What to Do: 

1 – Get Oval Pendants & Earring Findings in Sterling Silver.

2 – Cut-off jump rings from Pendants.  Slide pendants onto hook earrings & you’re done!

Note: One side of this pendant has a 925 stamp, so flip top to bottom to get mirror-image.


June 28, 2012

Making Leather Necklaces with Large Hole Beads

These three jewelry components – leather for jewelry making, large hole beads, and jewelry charms – are power horses when it comes to making necklaces.  Especially colorful summery necklaces in different lengths!  Try wearing two to three at once.   And using leather really keeps your costs down, as does choosing silver plated jewelry charms.

Easy-to-Make Leather Necklaces

To make these necklaces:

  1. Pick up some different color leather, large hole beads, and jewelry charms from Nina Designs.
  2. Cut leather cord to whatever length you’d like, accounting for knots.
  3. Thread charm onto leather.  Pull both leather ends through large hole bead.  Add a pretty spacer (optional).
  4. Tie a knot.  And we finished these necklaces with sliding knots so you can adjust the length.

If you are a visual learner, watch this
 quick video that will show you how to make these sweet necklaces in 5minutes or less.

December 6, 2011

Making Leather Necklaces

Learn easy techniques for making leather necklaces and finishing leather cords with silver clasps. Making leather jewelry is a breeze with step-by-step instructions and photos by Marcy Kentz. Marcy works here at Nina Designs as a customer service rep and on her free time she makes extraordinary leather jewelry. As you can imagine, we were thrilled when she offered to share her inventive techniques in our FREE online classroom.

You’d be surprised how easy her techniques are. And, you don’t need to buy specialized tools for working with leather. As you’ll see, besides the jewelry supplies, Marcy just uses a hammer, thumbtacks, scissors and glue! The lessons on making leather necklaces will start out easy and become more sophisticated as we go. After offering all the ways she can think of for finishing leather, Marcy plans to offer new design ideas for the front of leather necklaces and bracelets, so stay tuned.

Currently in our jewelry classroom, find lessons for finishing leather cords with a toggle bar, an S-clasp, and a silver box clasp. You can also find a three strand pearl and leather necklace and an imaginative steampunk leather bracelet. Enjoy!

Beautiful Leather Cord Necklace by Marcy

Finishing Leather Cord with Box Clasps

Finishing Leather Cord with Toggle Bars

November 10, 2011

Making Necklaces with Silk Ribbons and Charms

With just a bit of silk ribbon, jewelry charms, and large hole pearls, you can make easy, budget friendly necklaces this holiday season. In fact, this gift idea is so quick & affordable, you can make multiples. Perfect for holiday stocking stuffers, party gifts, and hostess gifts!

Quick Gift Ideas!

To make silk necklaces choose colorful silk ribbons, match them to your favorite bronze jewelry charms, tie a knot at the top, then string on a large hole pearl. The pearl has a dual function, as a design element at the front, or as a way to adjust the length of the necklace at the back.

Voila! A thoughtful, handmade gift idea that doesn’t cost a bundle or take a lot of time. You could even make these in the car on your way to the party! Happy Holidays!

Older Posts »