Can You Tell the Difference Between Truly Handmade Jewelry and Manufactured Jewelry?

by John Brana January 02, 2019

Can You Tell the Difference Between Truly Handmade Jewelry and Manufactured Jewelry?

Look at How the Piece is Constructed

Copper Fold Formed Leaf Earrings

Handmade jewelry is typically not identical to other pieces of the same design or collection. It is very rare to find an identical matching set of earrings. If the piece has been hammered or a texture is present, usually there are slight variations that the eye can pick up. This isn't so with manufactured jewelry. It is often easiest to examine jewelry that has considerable decoration -- many aspects. Start by looking at how the piece is constructed. Look at the components, findings, prongs, earwires. Machine made jewelry allows today's manufacturer the capability to routinely produce uniform quality jewelry designs while keeping jewelry affordable than most hand-casting and fabricating processes would allow. Casting machines now quickly process into uniform molds such components as metals, plastics, and resins, allowing even elaborate jewelry designs to be created with speed and uniformity for many jewelry manufacturers. Mechanized punch presses and forges are also employed by many jewelry manufacturers to simulate a handmade effect. Hand-hammered texturing is one of the more "handmade" looks generated by this method, making the production consistent and highly profitable to the manufacturer.

Look for the Designer's Hallmark

Fluted Nu Gold Brass Bangle Bracelet

Some handmade, traditional-style jewelry appears less perfect than machine-made jewelry, although high-quality handmade jewelry should nonetheless be made to last, and this should be apparent in the details. Perhaps surprisingly, machine-made jewelry often breaks more easily than well-made handmade jewelry. Much of the mass-produced jewelry sold today as "handmade" may indeed be handmade, for example in department stores, but that does not necessarily mean it is of the highest quality.

More often than not, most mass-production jewelry facilities operate on a quota system that incentivizes speed, resulting in short-cuts and lower quality jewelry. Look for handmade jewelry that is not mass-produced -- not available in large quantities. If you are looking for high-quality handmade jewelry in San Francisco, look for the artisan's name attached to the piece. This represents both reputation and quality. The careful observer will always be able to appreciate the uniqueness and quality of a handmade piece of jewelry. With handmade artisan jewelry, quality and uniqueness are typically are apparent to even the most casual observer.

Handmade Jewelry Reflects Your Personality!

Apple Green Patinated Copper Lily Pad Earrings

Handmade jewelry offers the pleasure of unique, often rare designs, that are not-identical, typically made by a true artist, with great love and passion. Crafting well made and designed jewelry is an art form. This love of one's work and the art of design comes across in the finished piece. Mass-produced jewelry is just "soulless." One's personalized style, taste, individuality, and identity can be conveyed by and is better reflected by wearing jewelry that is handmade.

If you purchase mass-produced, your "look" can look mass-produced! Mass-produced jewelry can certainly be less expensive to purchase, as it is definitely less expensive to make, but it's not necessarily less expensive to purchase. Regardless, mass-produced jewelry usually brings with it no special meaning or history -- no story, no life. When you wear beautiful handmade jewelry, it is a pleasure to be able to explain to admirers the actual story or history behind what you are wearing, or information about the artist, which is often possible with handmade jewelry bought from individual artisans or their representative galleries. Simply put, handmade jewelry is a joy to wear!

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John Brana
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