Jewellery Shopping Online – Problems and Solutions (Part 3 of 5)

If you are looking to purchase a piece of handmade gemstone jewellery from an online source, such as Etsy, or are new to the world of online jewellery shopping, educate yourself here with my collection of tips, and help make your online jewellery shopping experience worry-free! Big Skies Jewellery Etsy Storefront

In Part 1 of this series we checked out Jewellery Photographs In Part 2 we looked at getting it right with Jewellery Sizing/Dimensions.  This week we are taking a look at Shop Policies.


I know its tedious, but it does pay off to read the small print!

Before purchasing a piece of jewellery, make sure you read the shop’s policies with regard to payment, shipping and refunds/exchanges.  In Etsy, you will find the shop’s policies in the left pane, under Shop Info:   Etsy Policies Section

Before you make your purchase, please read through the policies carefully.  Know how long your item will take to arrive – you don’t want to get caught short if you are buying a gift and need it by a certain date.  Find out how long from purchase it will take the seller to ship your item – some items are made to order, so it may take longer than you think.  Does the item arrive gift wrapped? If something is wrong with your purchase, what is your recourse?  Top tip: Do your homework, be an informed buyer! 


Before purchasing an item of jewellery online, make sure the shop has a full set of policies and that the following questions are satisfactorily answered:


  • Within how many days of ordering will your item be shipped?
  • How long is the delivery period? 
  • With whom will your item be shipped? 
  • Is there any tracking or traceability provided?
  • How will your item be packaged?

Exchanges & Refunds

  • If you are not satisfied with your item, what recourse do you have?
  • Can you return the item?
  • Will a refund be issued or an exchange provided?


  • What payment methods are accepted (Note: if you pay via Paypal you do not have to have a Paypal account, you can simply use it with your credit card)

At Big Skies Jewellery  I want my customers to be happy – if they are happy, I am happy!  When someone places an order with me, the first thing I do is send them a message confirming when shipment will take place and how long it should take to arrive.  I would like all of my customers to have read my shop policies, but just in case they haven’t, I give them a little helping hand 🙂

 PROBLEM: Why hasn’t my purchase arrived yet?  Where is it? I want my money back! Why is it taking so long?

SOLUTION: Read the Shop’s Policies not only regarding packing and shipping, but also payment and refunds / exchanges.  Be an INFORMED buyer!

Look out for the next part of Jewellery Shopping Online – Problems and Solutions here in my blog – containing more straight forward advice.  See Part 1 – Product Photography here and Part 2 – Jewellery Sizing/Dimensions here.

Feel free to share your online shopping experiences or perhaps you have some buying tips of your own!

Genuine Turquoise, onyx and crystal mixed media gemstone necklace, handcrafted gemstone neckalce

Funky Genuine Turquoise, Silver, Crystal and Onyx Handcrafted Gemstone Necklace


Rainbow Jewellery Design Inspiration (in the Rainbow Nation)

Did you know there are several different types of rainbow? Nope? Nor did I – or at least, not as many as 10 different types!

Rainbow Photo taken from my balcony at home, close-up of a rainbow

Rainbow photo taken from my patio at home – we get a lot of rainbows in Johannesburg, due to very sudden downpours on sunny days, but they are not normally as close as this – I almost felt I could touch this one!

Check out the beautiful rainbow pictures in this article and the descriptions of the different types of rainbow:  10 Beautiful Types of Rainbows   (I initially saw this article in a Tweet by Ana Benedicta – so big thanks to her for sharing.)  

Jewellery Design Inspiration

As always inspiration from nature gets incorporated into my jewellery designs.

Rainbow Multi Gemstone Chunky Statement Necklace, Handcrafted Gemstone Beaded Necklace

Rainbow Multi Gemstone Chunky Statement Necklace by Big Skies Jewellery, Handcrafted Gemstone Beaded Necklace

Rainbow Multi Gemstone Chunky Statement Necklace by Big Skies Jewellery  (only $23 + P&P)

This gemstone necklace includes turquoise, citrine, rose quartz, aventurine, black tourmaline, howlite, amethyst, carnelian, crystal, quartz, snowflake obsidian, agate and labradorite – every gemstone under the rainbow!!

Rainbow Multi Gemstone Chunky Statement Necklace by Big Skies Jewellery, handcrafted gemstone beaded necklace

Rainbow Photo taken from my balcony, double rainbow photo Johannesburg south africa

Double Rainbow Photo – Johannesburg, South Africa

You can just make out the secondary rainbow to the left of the primary one if you look very closely….this is known as a double rainbow.





If you like this post, why not pop on over and become a fan of the Big Skies Jewellery Facebook page where I upload interesting news and links, photos, articles, jewellery information, sneak previews, work in progress, funnies, etc. on a daily basis.  I would love to see you there!

The Bold & The Beautiful – Statement Jewellery

At Big Skies Jewellery I create distinctive gemstone jewellery to celebrate who you are – my goal is to help you express your individuality through quality handmade gemstone jewellery.

These are my latest designs – eye-catching, attention seeking possibly, pop-out-at-you statement necklaces to complement your personality.

Latest Handmade 2013 Jewellery Designs by Big Skies Jewellery

Top of the pops in the statement race is this chunky triple-strand beauty in coral and turquoise. Rich, luxuriant, opulent, colourful…. coral and turquoise is a match made in heaven.

Coral and turquoise statement necklace, chunky triple strand gemstone necklace by Big Skies Jewellery

Coral and Turquoise Triple-Strand Statement Necklace (listing soon for $58 +p&p)

2013’s colour of the year, Emerald Green, is seriously starting to grow on me. It’s creeping into my wardrobe and accessories, and into my jewellery designs. It’s an amazing colour and it really seems to suit everyone. Turn heads with this modern emerald green imperial jasper and silver triple strand stunner, and you’ll be turning others green with envy!

Triple Strand Green Imperial Jasper and Silver Statement Necklace, Chunky Green Gemstone Necklace by Big Skies Jewellery

Triple Strand Green Imperial Jasper and Silver Statement Necklace (listing soon for $45 +p&p)

If your taste is a little more tribal, but you are still in love with green, what about this double strand necklace in green ruby in ziosite with wire wrapped green agate pendant.

Double-strand green ruby in ziosite and silver necklace with green agate pendant

Green Ruby in Ziosite and Silver Gemstone Necklace with Green Agate Pendant (listing soon for $38 +p&p)

If bright colour is not your thing, you can still be bold – go au natural with beautiful natural mixed Jasper polished chunks. Each stone is a work of art in itself.

Mixed Polished Jasper Statement Necklace, Chunky Gemstone Necklace

Mixed Polished Jasper Statement Necklace – $30 + p&p

Shimmer in this geometricTiger’s Eye design.  Geometric is one of Spring 2013’s trends – this necklace shows how runway trends can be incorporated into handcrafted gemstone jewellery – with this necklace you can have the best of both worlds!

Tigers Eye Chunky Geometric Statement Necklace

Chunky Geometric Tigers Eye Statement Necklace – $40 + p&p

So turn heads, celebrate your personality, express yourself – go big, bold and beautiful!!!

Make a statement!

Mother’s Day Gift Guide – Handcrafted Jewellery

Mother’s Day is just around the corner – hopefully you have Sunday March 10th already marked in your diary (it’s only 2 weeks away!!).

Turquoise Howlite and Indian Kashmiri Bead Handcrafted Gemstone Bracelet

Turquoise Howlite and Indian Kashmiri Bead Handcrafted Gemstone Bracelet

Gemstone jewellery makes a very personal and thoughtful gift for any occasion. Mother’s tend to put everyone else’s needs first and leave themselves at the bottom of the list when it comes to treats and luxuries, so jewellery makes an ideal  Mother’s Day present as it is an indulgence and an extravagance – something that many moms deny themselves or feel guilty spending money on. So give the gift of thoughtfulness with a piece of beautiful jewellery – your mom will love you for it 🙂

Turquoise Howlite, Peach Aventurine and Silver Filigree Bead Handcrafted Gemstone Necklace

Turquoise Howlite, Peach Aventurine and Silver Filigree Bead Handcrafted Gemstone Necklace

Handcrafted jewellery is an extra special gift because the pieces are unique and there’s nothing like owning a piece of beautiful gemstone jewellery that no one else has. Make your mother feel special this Mother’s Day!

Turquoise Howlite and Black Rhinestone in Silver Gemstone Drop Earrings

Turquoise Howlite and Black Rhinestone in Silver Gemstone Drop Earrings

A lot of people who buy jewellery from Big Skies Jewellery are buying pieces as gifts for their mothers (what nice customers I have!!).

Turquoise and Tiger's Eye Colourblock Gemstone Bracelet - Best Seller!

Turquoise and Tiger’s Eye Colourblock Gemstone Bracelet – Best Seller!

Two popular choices shine through – necklaces with pendants and all turquoise (howlite) jewellery.

Onyx and Dragon's Vein Agate Pendant Handcrafted Gemstone Necklace

Onyx and Dragon’s Vein Agate Pendant Handcrafted Gemstone Necklace

So if you are looking for ideas, the photos used here in this blog post are pieces of handcrafted gemstone jewellery that I know have been purchased specifically for customer’s mother’s – perhaps it will give you some ideas if you are still looking for a gift for your mother.

Turquoise Howlite and Labradorite Handcrafted Gemstone Necklace

Turquoise Howlite and Labradorite Handcrafted Gemstone Necklace

Visit Big Skies Jewellery for more jewellery ideas; and whilst you are there have a look around on Etsy for hosts of other handmade gift ideas. 

Check out the lovely handmade soaps and bath products at Cafe Primrose or browse through the handmade knits in natural fibres at the Simple Knit Shop.

 Happy shopping!!

Just Because It’s Friday Photo

As a jewellery artist I am constantly inspired by what I see.  I take great inspiration from my travels – the different sights, sounds and smells all firing up the senses and the imagination!

Living in South Africa gives us access to some of the best wildlife on the planet (I may be a little biased!) This week’s inspirational picture was taken whilst on holiday at Etosha game reserve in neighbouring Namibia – a beautiful place with a fascinating landscape.  So here it isa cool photo to make you smile…….just because hey it’s Friday!

This week: Lion at Etosha Game Reserve, Namibia.

Young male lion at Etosha Game Reserve in Namibia

Isn’t he beautiful? If you like it, share it and help brighten up someone else’s day!

(Have a look at some other cool pictures here.)

Personally, I think the fashion world has finally gone bonkers….certainly no man that I know would wear anything seen here (and I hope the make models were paid handsomely!!). Thoughts…?

The Newest Wrinkle

JWanderson featured imageImagine shopping for a dress. You finally find a cute one you like. You are about to try it on when look up only to see a guy in the next isle holding up the same one. Awkward. As mentioned in our previous post “Gender Trender”, it would not be long before fashion became so unisexual that men would start wearing dresses and skirts. However, seeing the prediction come to life in a runway show just one month ago shocked the fashion world. Not only was one model wearing a dress- he was wearing a minidress reminiscent of the early 60s. The dress was, in fact, so short that it would not be school or work appropriate for women. The mini dress was not even the most scandalous outfit of the night. Each model brought a new surprise. The show started with bulky tops and matching loose mid-thigh length shorts…

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Learn About Jewellery – What is Karen Hill Tribe Silver?

Who are the Karen Hill Tribe?

I have to confess that until recently I wasn’t sure what the term Karen hill tribe or hill tribe actually referred to, other than the fact that it was a type of silver.

Hill Tribes Woman Sitting in Village

Hill Tribes Woman

Hill tribe refers specifically to silver which is handcrafted by the hill tribes of Thailand, Laos and Burma (Myanmar). These hill tribes can be traced back to the 12th century; originating in Tibet.

The largest of the 20 or so hill tribes is the Karen tribe, who number approximatley 7 million members.

Around 400,000 Karen live high up in the forested mountains of  Thailand and Burma (Myanmar), at an altitude of between 800m and 1800m – totally remote from Thai civilisation. Their simple houses are made of teak or bamboo and are usually constructed on stilts to provide space and shelter for livestock.

Typical Hill Tribes Village with Wooden Homes Built on Stilts

Typical Hill Tribes Village with Wooden Homes Built on Stilts

The Karen villagers have few possessions and little if any furniture, sleeping mostly on floor mats. They live very simply – cooking on open fires, and drawing washing and drinking water from local rivers. They are predominantly self-sustaining agricultural produce farmers and are often referred to as ‘the farmers of the forest’.  Languages spoke include the ancient Karen language, whilst others speak Thai.

What makes Karen Hill Tribe Silver so special?

Karen Hill Tribe silver is between 99.5% and 99.9% pure silver.  It has a higher silver content than Sterling silver which has a silver content of 92.5%. It’s only the solder used to fuse the silver components together that makes up the last fractions of a percent. Consequently, Karen Hill Tribe silver has a weight, bright satin sheen, and feel, all of its own.  It is instantly recognisable to the naked eye.

Karen hill tribe silver faceted lentil beads

Beautiful lustrous Karen Hill Tribe Beads

How are Karen Hill Tribe Beads Made?

Every piece is handmade and individual. The hand-hammered and chased details are beautiful and you can see that each piece has been painstakingly formed by the hands of a skilled artisan.

Karen Hill Tribe Silver Artisan at Work

Karen Hill Tribe Silver Artisan at Work

Silver jewelry is part of the hill tribe culture. Young hill tribe women save their money to buy silver beads to add to their dowries.

Radiant Hill Tribe Bride Adorned with Silver

Radiant Hill Tribe Bride Adorned with Silver

To see how the silver is handmade, watch this fascinating video.

Discover This Amazing Colour Palette Generator

Have you ever looked at a photo and thought  “wow, what beautiful colours“?

I have just discovered a website called Big Huge Labs, courtesy of an article in the Beading Daily, which has a colour palette generator that creates a colour palette from any photo that you upload.

Here are some examples of colour palettes generated, using colourful photos from previous blog posts:

Colour palette generator


Photo from Just Because it’s Friday blog post


Leaning Tower of Pisa


Photo from Try a New Perspective blog post




Photo from Poppy Love blog post



It’s so easy to use and a great way to create colour palettes for use in crafting projects, art projects, website design or home decor projects – and its just plain fun!  (You can also download the colour swatches in Adobe Swatch Exchange (ASE) format for Photoshop or compatible applications.)

Try it out for yourself:  

Have fun!!

Gemstone Folklore & Legends – Amethyst

According to Greek mythology, Dionysus, the god of wine, celebration, intoxication, and joviality (what a great thing to be a God of!!), one day became enraged with the mortals and decided he would take revenge by letting his two fierce tigers devour the next mortal to cross his path.

Dionysus immediately spotted a beautiful young virgin maiden named Amethysta who was on her way to Diana’s temple to pay homage to the goddess. The wrathful god detained Amethysta and unleashed his hungry tigers upon her.

Chunky amethyst nugget statement necklace, handmade amethyst necklace

Chunky Amethyst Statement Necklace

Amethysta cried out to Diana for help. When Diana saw what was about to happen, she turned Amethysta into a statue of gleaming clear quartz, thereby protecting her from Dioniysus’ tigers. When Dionysus realized the ruthlessness of his actions, filled with remorse, he began to weep tears of wine over the statue. The tears stained the quartz statue purple, thus creating the stone Amethyst.

Read more Gemstone Folklore & Legends here

New 2013 Jewellery Design – Turquoise Howlite & Silver on Black Leather

My jewellery designs constantly evolve – I am always trying new ideas and styles.  My jewellery design ideas are very often prompted by the many metal findings and gemstone beads scattered in front of me – when I look at them all, they begin to combine and form patterns in my mind.  Where others possibly see chaos on my workstation, I see endless possibilities……

This turquoise howlite and antiqued silver on black leather necklace design is brand new. It is quite different to my signature tried and trusted jewellery designs. I completed the gemstone and silver portion first and just for fun, I then asked my Facebook fans what they thought I should string it on – and they all re-inforced my first thought that black leather cord was the right choice for this design.

Turquoise, silver and leather necklace

 Turquoise, silver and leather necklace 4

One of the Facebook comments was that this design would also make a lovely bracelet.  Absolutely! Whilst at one of my suppliers last weekend, I was lucky enough to find smaller antiqued silver tubes, so  I was able during the week to design a matching bracelet to make this a set.

Turquoise and silver bangle 1

Turquoise and silver bangle 5

I now plan to work with the same design using different coloured gemstones – red coralblack onyx, cherry quartz…..

What gemstone do you think would look good in this new design?

(Find both these items in the Big Skies Jewellery Etsy Store)


Become a fan of Big Skies Jewellery on Facebook – simply use the Like Me on Facebook feature in the sidebar – nice and easy, just one click!  🙂

(If you read this post you will find a 10% OFF DISCOUNT COUPON CODE which is valid in the Big Skies Jewellery store on Etsy for the remainder of February 2013.)