Margaret Donnelly’s Artisan Jewelry

What is Handmade Artisan Jewelry?

Margaret Donnelly designs and makes all her Artisan Jewelry in her New Hampshire Studio. Much goes into the design and creation of an original piece of jewelry. But have you ever seen all the steps?

The following slideshow depicts the steps required to create one of Margaret’s pieces, “Circle of Love.” This piece is, in fact, one of the less complex in Margaret’s line. Many of her handmade pieces require a great deal of thought and planning (and trial and error) in the engineering and construction of the piece.

The Jewelry-Making Process

Margaret Donnelly jewelery sketch
It begins with an idea
Everything starts with a design. This often happens on Margaret's iPad sketchbook.
handmade pendant copper wire
Start with raw materials
First, I coil some 12 gauge copper wire.
copper wire coil rings
Saw the cooper coil
Using a jeweler's saw, I cut through the coil to make individual rings.
copper wire rings
Align cut edges
I prepare the rings for soldering by filing and then aligning the cut edges.
solder jewelry
Solder the ring
One of my favorite parts...torching and soldering to create a solid ring! The solder melts to join the cut edges.
quench hot metal
Quench the hot metal
Metal gets red-hot when soldering. After the solder melts, I drop it into some water to cool the metal.
cleaning soldered metal
A little pickle
I drop the piece into pickle--an acid bath--to remove the residue and oxidation from soldering.
round ring mandrel
Round the ring
Another favorite step...I pound on the ring with a rawhide hammer to round it out.
metal forming
Flatten the ring
Yay! More hammering! I use a steel block and hammer to flatten the sides of the ring.
Sand the ring
Using progressively finer grits, I sand the ring to remove excess solder and tool marks.
one component
Ready for the next step
The first component is now ready to be used in the final piece!
Select final components
I select and gather the rest of the components for the final piece.
Add texture
Using different forming hammers, I add texture to the copper heart.
Solder the heart
Yay! More fire! I solder the heart to the ring.
File a channel
I use a round file to create grooved channel. This provides a larger surface area for soldering the setting onto the ring.
Solder the bezel
I solder on the sterling silver tube bezel that will hold the stone.
Pickle the pendant
I cool and pickle the entire pendant to clean off the oxidation.
File and sand
I file off the excess solder and sand the piece to remove the file marks.
I polish off the scratches and gouges.
And finally, I buff the metal to a high shine.
Add a patina
I treat the heart with a solution to add a patina to the piece.
Remove excess
I polish the heart to leave the patina in (and to highlight) the textured recesses.
Seal the patina
I lightly seal the heart to preserve the patina.
Set the stone
I carefully hand-set the stone in the sterling silver tube.
Burnish the setting
I then burnish the setting to remove any scratches and to bring the silver to a high shine.
Create necklace
I use copper chain, jump rings and a lobster claw clasp to create the necklace.
Attach the pendant
I attach the pendant to the center of the necklace.
Finished masterpiece
Voila! The piece is complete and ready to wear!

Jewelry on the Donnelly Arts Etsy Shop

Visit the Jewelry section on the Donnelly Arts Etsy shop to see all the latest available handmade jewelry by Margaret Donnelly.

Copper Artisan Jewelry

Circuit Board Series

Polymer Clay Jewelry

One-of-a-Kind Pieces

Are you looking for a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry? Contact us and find out more about our commissioned work.