Monday, 10 June 2013

Jewelry findings

Jewelry Findings

Findings is a group name for all the metal bits and pieces that you need to make your own jewelry

A typical self strung piece of jewelry needs the following items

  1. Beading wire
  2. Beads
  3. Crimps
  4. Jumpring
  5. Clasp

Additional items may include
Crimp covers and horseshoe wire ends.

Let us look at these one by one.

1. Beading wire

Beading wire is the wire that you use to string your beads on.

Here you can use

  • String
  • Leather
  • Chain
  • Ribbon
  • Nylon cord(fishing line)
  • Beading cable

This is personal preference.
If you want it to last longer you can use cable instead of nylon line. The downside to using cable is that cable can bend and hold a memory where it was bend. Nylon on the other hand may be cut with beads such as glass and gemstones. The heavier the beads the stronger the wire shouls be


Be creative and use whatever is at hand. Go to the hardware store and pick nuts and washers or drill holes in seeds or go to and buy affordable beads in our fast gemstone section  Mix and match. Use pearls with gemstones or gemstones with glass beads. There are no rules. If they look great together, string them up. You can make your necklace in many strings or a single string. Sometimes adding an extra 3 strings can just take something out of the ordinary to the extraordinary level


Your line goes through the end of a clasp or a jumpring and is then passed through a crimp and the crimp is then flattened(crimped) to hold the beads together. A quick tip here is to allow a bit of slack in the line to avoid the string breaking when you beand the necklace around your neck. There are a lot of great videos on youtube on the use of crimps.


You should use a jumpring on the end of your line on both ends. A jumpring is opened and closed with 2 pairs of flatnose pliers. Ballance the right thickness of jumprings with your creation. If it too flimsy it will not look right. Sometimes they use a pair of jumprings to make the bond stronger or you can use a splitring but these do not look as profesional as a single jumpring. If you have the tools and equipment you can solder your jumpring close to make it more permanent


Finally you will end your creation with a clasp. A clasp must be easy to open and close. The easiest item clasp here is the magnetic type. Elderly people love magnetic clasp necklaces. They open easily and just pops together when you bring the two ends together. A box clasp may be more secure. There are so many types. Use the one that will look the best with your creation.

Have fun and send us some feedback at

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Use social media to market your company.

Social media, such as twitter, facebook and linkedin, is transforming the way we communicate. Many of us now belong to one of these social media groups. If you have a smartphone, such as a Blackberry, you will be able to access all of these on your mobile phone.
The Blackberry phone has a blinking red light when messages come in. You can also set it to make a noise and vibrate when a new message is delivered. The platform will deliver messages as they come in. It is called pushing. It pushes the message to your phone.

Other smartphones can be set to check for messages at set intervals. Like every 5 or 10 minutes or every hour. The disadvantage of this is that more battery power is consumed every time the phone looks for a new message. The advantage on the other side is that you are not continually grabbing your phone in every meeting to see why the red light is blinking.

The larger our network gets the more we get involved with our phone. This in itself is not a bad thing. It just means that things can be done so much quicker. In China they have the QQ network that provides pretty much the same service. You can conclude deals in half the time it took to send emails. Sending pictures and files is just a click away.
The new communication platform is no longer the PC, it is now the tablet or the phone. I noticed so many people watching films on their tablets while riding the MTR (METRO) recently in Hong Kong. It is so cheap to access large databases of films in Hong Kong. WiFI is virtually free. In South Africa we still pay a high cost for our information. The whole city can be accessed via WiFi from anywhere at marginal cost.
Social media works well when you can add value to your customer’s life.

Grant Cardone says that we have to find our dream and pursue it with all we have. He talks about 10X energy. It means putting in 10 times more energy into your efforts to add value to your customer’s lives. He says that our biggest drawback is obscurity. According to him, people do not buy from you because they do not know you. How true is that. Our biggest problem is obscurity.

Use social media to get known. Find people that are worthwhile to follow and share their insights with others to add value. People will spend money with you if they have felt wanted and if they feel that you have added value to their lives. Forget about your own importance and start to live for others. The more you do for them the more your bank balance will grow.
Social media is divided into 2 sectors I believe. The one is personal. Even Mark Zuckerberg only allows people he personally knows unto his facebook page. Then we have the business platform. Make this as wide as possible. Spread your goodwill to everybody. I recently discovered the website. and I was surprised to discover such a wealth of info on this website. It has relevant information for successful entrepreneurs on this site. There are many websites like this out there.

Fill your mind with good thoughts and potent ideas and you will start to live more successful.
Do not talk too much about yourself and try to push your business at every Tweet or post you do, you will tire your customers.

Rather do the following:
  • Add value by pointing them to interesting articles,
  • retweet info that you have found useful,
  • participate in discussions,
  • write articles and post them all over the web,
  • become known as an expert in your field,
  • write a book and get it published,
  • ask questions and be genuinely interested in others,
  • make many Youtube videos that will teach others about things that matter.

Enjoy the ride! We only have limited days here on earth. Make the most of it.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Tigers Eye

Tigers eye

Chatoyant Quartz as it is also known.

There are three varieties of this type of quartz. It is the inclusion of croicidolite (blue asbestos) that causes a cat's eye effect known as chatoyancy.

Each stone will display different colors according the exact nature and amount of the inclusions. Grayish yellow, semi translucentappearance of the cat's eye is due to inclusions of croicidolite and , less commonly hornblende, it has quite a silky luster.

Tiger's Eye is black with iron oxide staining that gives the yellow and golden brown stripes. Hawk's Eye forms when the croicidolite changes to quartz but the blue-gray or blue-green color of the original material remains.

Mohs Hardness of 7 with a trigonal crystal structure.

This Tigers eye in its natural form.

This quartz composite gemstone begins as a fibrous blue mineral called croicidolite, which is comprised of iron and sodium. The transformation begins as clear quartz becomes imbedded between the fibers of crocidolite, and the completed process will result in one of two gemstones; a blue stone called Hawk’s Eye or the golden brown stone called Tiger’s Eye.

As the gem is created, the iron and sodium are completely dissolved, the quartz takes on the fibrous formations as well as the blue color of crocidolite. This creates the parallel lines within the gemstone giving it the liquid luster and light movement the stone is so loved for.

Even though the iron and sodium dissolve, traces of hydrated oxide of iron are left behind between the crocidolite and quartz, creating the yellows that are common to both Hawk’s Eye & Tiger Eye. How much of this mineral is deposited will determine how red, yellow or brown a Tiger Eye will be. The rarer blue Hawk’s Eye will have only the slightest amounts.

As soon as Tigers eye are being polished, the shiny gold bands become beautifully visible.

South Africa is the only place Tiger Eye forms, very near many of the country’s diamond mines. Just outside of Griquatown there are mountains that are made up almost entirely of tiger's eye. At one time tiger's eye was as controlled and costly as diamonds, until two competing traders glutted the market.

Tiger's Eye is the Planetary stone for Gemini (May 21-Jun. 20) and the accepted gem for the ninth wedding anniversary.

Tiger's eye is a member of the quartz group of chalcedonies. It is one of the chatoyant gemstones. Chatoyancy exhibits a changeable silky luster as light is reflected within the thin parallel fibrous bands. This effect is due to the fibrous structure of the material.

Tiger iron is composed of tiger's eye, red jasper and black hematite. The rippled wavy bands of color often resemble a scenic view.

Marra Mamba is a form of tiger iron found in one area of Australia near Mount Brockman. It is a very rare type of tiger iron that contains shades of red, green, yellow, and blue. This area has been mined out for many years so very little of the "true" marra mamba is available today.

This is a large, rough piece of the Marra Mamba found in Australia.

The exceptional looking piece of marra mamba tiger's iron rough from Australia looks like the evening sun setting behind a mountain range.  It has a greenish cast with shades of brown, golden yellow, red and blue veining.  Because the minerals in this stone are of varying hardness, it is difficult to polish without under cutting.

Many legends about quartz say that wearing tiger's eye (which is a form of quartz) is beneficial for health and spiritual well being. Legend also says it is a psychic protector, great for business, and an aid to achieving clarity.

This is a spectacular piece carved out of Tigers eye.

Pietersite was discovered by Sid Pieters in 1962 while he was prospecting farm land in Namibia, Africa. After his discovery, he registered the find in the mineral records of Britain. His discovery was published in 1964, and the material was named Pietersite.

There has been some confusion on this stone as it is often called the Tempest Stone, Eagle's Eye, and said to truly be a mix of blue and gold tiger's eye quartz which has then been folded in the earth.

Pietersite gemstones crystallize in the form of masses, the structure is a result of inclusion in jasper. The Pietersite stones mineral exhibits an energetic quality like the quartz.

Mohs Hardness of 5 with a trigonal crystal structure.

Currently there are only two known sources of Pietersite; China and Africa. These two forms of Pietersite, are similar, but still somewhat different from each other. The Chinese Pietersite's fibrous mineral is a magnesium-rich alkalic amphibole. The African (Namibian) variety is mainly crocidolite.

Rough China Pietersite

The China form of Pietersite is said to have been discovered in 1993 but did not come to market until 1997. This China Pietersite exhibits slightly different color variations from Mr. Pieter's original mineral, but both are beautiful and are now universally recognized as Pietersite.

This cross were carved and polished out of African Pietersite. Note the amazing blue fibres!

The material found in China was formed from a mineral very similar to crocidolite, named torendrikite. Chinese Pietersite has striking combinations of gold, red and blue color segments which sometimes also includes a deep golden brown color.

Regardless of the source, Pietersite will always have brecciated, fibrous bands of blue, gold and/or red tiger eye type fibers in quartz.
The fibrous structure in pietersite has been folded, stressed, even fractured and/or broken apart via the Earth's geologic processes.

The fibrous materials have then been reformed and naturally recemented together by quartz. Stones and crystals that go through this process are referred to as brecciated, creating a finished product with multiple colors, hues and superb chatoyancy.

While Pietersite has the lovely chatoyancy of tiger eye, it is not found in continuously structured bands or fibers, more in swirls, swathes and fibrous (sometimes linear) segments. Thus the structure of the fibrous streaks in Pietersite may appear rather chaotic, and can flow or exist in many directions side-by-side like bold paint strokes.

This Pietersite has a variation of the blue, gold and red colors all together

Colors include various blues, golds and reds, that may appear together or alone. Blue is the rarest color, followed by red.

The blues range from a baby blue to dark midnight hue. Golds can be light to very deep and rich, sometimes having a reddish hue.

All fibrous color variations will have a superb and striking chatoyancy, the bright and subtly changing shimmer of color that moves along the surface of a gemstone as it is viewed from varying angles.

I hope that you enjoyed reading this article and that you now know a little bit more about Tigers eye.

Feel free to comment!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Zambia citrine

August 2011
We returned from France with an order for citrine and dioptase. The dioptase mine belongs to us. We have marked the coordinates in the Zambian mining authority and have permission from the local chief to mine in the area. This process takes a couple of months. So the mine belongs to us. You will only be able to get these exotic stones through Silver Hills Gems

We decided to go by truck and trailer because we were in a hurry to get our goods. Early Tuesday morning we set off for Zambia. It is actually only as far as Cape Town but you have to pass through two borders on the way up and drive through Zimbabwe.

We got to Beitbridge border post by midday and it took only minutes to pass through the borderpost on the South African side. On the Zimbabwean side we got our first hick-up. The line was about 3 hours long and we decided to use 'agents' to help us speed up the process. This is a mistake, listen to me, never use these touts. They will cheat and rob you. We quickly found this out. Fall in the back of the line and wait your turn and smile at everybody and say yes sir, thank you sir.

Buying banannas
We only took one and half to pass through but we were minus R1700. They robbed us blind. We quickly found out that the promised insurance document was also missing in the papers. So we set off for Zambia with no vehicle insurance. We just prayed that we will not be stopped and asked for it. We decided to sleep in Masvingo. Once we reached Masvingo we pushed on to Harare. We reached Harare around 11 o'clock at night and started looking for fuel, food and bed. $300 US later we had all 3. The hotel belongs to a well known chain and was fine but a bit jaded around the edges. It is a fact that everybody is still waiting to see what happens in Zimbabwe before investing more money there. They are exchanging the Rand at 1 to 10 to the US dollar there. It is better to have a stash of small denominations of US$ in your pocket when travelling there.

The next morning we set of early for Zambia and stopped on the way to have a look at the Chinhoyi caves. The Chinhoyi Caves are a group of caves near the town of Chinhoyi in Zimbabwe. They are situated about 8 km north of Chinhoyi itself, and 128 km north-west of the capital of Zimbabwe, Harare. The caves are named after a local chief who used them as a refuge from Ndebele raiders.
The cave system is composed of limestone and dolomite, and the descent to the main cave with its pool of cobalt blue water is very impressive. This pool is popularly called Sleeping Pool or Chirorodzira (Pool of the Fallen).
Divers have discovered a submarine passage leading from the Bat Cave, a subchamber of the Dark Cave to another room known as the Blind Cave. Diving is fantastic in the Caves all year round, with temperatures never below or above the 22 - 24 Degrees Celsius marks with zero thermocline. Visibility is fantastic too, 50 metres and above is not unusual.
These caves are the most extensive cave system in Zimbabwe that the public can access. The caves were designated a National Park in 1955 and as such are managed by the Department of National Parks. There is a campsite run by the National Parks and a quiet hotel located there.
 The caves are 345 meters deep and extemely blue. Yes it is the correct colour on the photo. Our legs were very sore for 2 days afterwards due to the steps down and up to the waterhole.

Sitting at the border post taking random photos
At the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia we discovered that we lacked the neccesary paper work to enter Zambia. We have now travelled 1300 km and  we needed a police clearance paper for the vehicle and a letter from the trust saying that we are allowed to use the bakkie. The letter was faxed to me by my office but we had to bribe the corrupt officials to allow us entry into Zambia. We came so far and decided that it is worth the bribe just to be able to buy our stones.

In Zambia we encountered the worst potholes. If you think that the South African potholes are bad you should see the Zambian ones. A vehicle can loose itself in one of these holes. We made it to Lusaka by nightfall. Lusaka was designed with 200 000 cars in mind and now there is 800 000. It is one of the most congested cities in Africa. The infrastructure is not designed for the amount of cars and taxis.

At the Ministry of Mines
It took us a full day to get export papers for the stone. This was done in record time. It can take up to two weeks to get your papers. The person doing your papers must have all their money paid up and taxes up to date otherwise you will not get your papers. My Zambian partner was up to date. This is one of the things that makes it difficult to do business in Zambia. It is just getting the stuff out of the country. It is easy to buy material but very difficult to get it out of the country. It will cost you. In the end our cost were R25 000 to Zambia and back. This has to be added to your goods before you calculate your prices. In many ways it is easier to go to a trade show and buy your goods. You never know if there is stock available in Africa. It is like a huge gamble. You just go and hope for the best.

We were shocked to find out that the diopside mine had a fire and almost 2 tons of specimens were destroyed by fire. This placed great stress on us and we had to mine new stock in a hurry.

The last day we went to town to buy drums. In the centre of town we picked up someone to show us the way to where we can buy drums. We then went back to town to drop the guy and that is when it all happened. Someone opened the drivers door and slammed it shut a couple of times. At the same time they opened the back door and stole our rucksack. Luckily Geran saw it from the corner of his eye and jumped out after the thief. They set off down the street and half a block further the thief saw that he was going to be caught. He dropped the bag and we were fortunate to get our bag back. Our export papers and original vehicle papers were in the bag. This was very stressful.

We bought 960 kg of citrine and stored this at a house in the suburbs of Lusaka. When we weighed the citrine at home we discovered there was only 800 kg. That is Africa. They stole 160 kg at the place where we stored the material.

The citrine will be a new line for wholesale from Silver Hills Gems. We negotiated with the mine owner to buy all his production every month. The next consignment of crystals and citrine will be here at the end of September.

Serious conversation with a miner. Gerdus himself
Going back was uneventful. But I must tell you it is a long and arduous trip to Zambia and back. At every border they will test you to the limits. In Zambia itself you have to know your prices. They will take your money and laugh at your stupidity if you do not know your prices.

We have already sold all 800 kg of the citrine and the diopside we brought along. Thank you for all of you that bought from us wholesale. Please enquire in time and place your order for the new stock before they come. We have been doing some marketing to customers overseas and I can tell you that many of them have placed orders already.


Friday, 1 July 2011

June 2011 visit to the Gemshow at Sainte Marie Aux Mines

We had the privilege to take part in the Sainte Marie Aux Mines mineral show in France. It was a last minute decision to go. And boy are we glad that we went. I was washing our new diopside from Zambia when I came accross a stunning specimen. I walked through our office and made a declaration. I am going to take these specimens to Sainte MArie Aux Mines. It was an inpromptu decision. I went down to town and bought two tickets for me and Geran my son. We then went in to Johannesburg and applied for the Visums for Europe. The Visums were issued on the last day before we were suppose to leave for Europe. This was rather scary.

We landed in Amsterdam and spend the day there.

We took along 30 kg of specimens and had to pay R700 at the airport for excess babage. This I did not like.
In France we had no problem at the airport and breezed through customs.

I hired a small Renault Twingo. Driving on the 'wrong side' of the road at night with scanty map details is scary. We lost about 1 hour of aimless driving through the backstreets of Strasbourg.

The next day we reached Sainte Marie Aux Mines after visiting the postcard towns of Riquewihr and Ribeauville. Visiting these places is like food for the soul. It is sooo pretty.

At the show we set up our banner and packed out our 'new find' stones.
It was great watching the buyers and their reaction to the stones. Competition at this shos is fierce. There are 1100 exhibitors. It is the 3rd largest mineral show of it's kind. Literally everybody with something to show is at this market. It is a feast for the eyes. You can see the type of specimens I brought back on our website.

We picked up a few substantial orders but realised that the material is more commercial in nature. We are now selling the diopside in lots of 100 kg at $1000 per lot. You will get a mixed parcel for this price. This is dirt cheap. I have stacks of enquiries that I need to follow up. This translates to around $2 to $3 per specimen. You can make a huge profit on this. Please write to us as soon as you read this to place an order. Stocks are limited.

We will be marketing this worldwide and will have no problem to sell such a well crystalized mineral at such a good wholesale price.

The secret to making a success selling wholesale is to give your customers such a good deal that they keep on coming back for more.

We are very excited about our prospects. A friend of mine in Zambia said that when you go and hunt the Impala and encounter the Kudu you are welcome to divert your attention to the Kudu. We are going to Zambia this week and hope to get a few more exciting things to add to our arsenal.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Improve customer satisfaction

We all want to increase our turnover. This article will give you some tips on how to do ten simple things that will help you to increase your turnover.

1. Make your customers feel welcome right away. If possible greet them by hand. Learn their names and greet them by name. You only get one chance to make a good first impression. Greet everybody even if they do not greet back. My local Woolworths has a doorman that greets people as they enter. I am sure this does not go unnoticed.

2. Conduct customer surveys. Ask the customers what they want, this shows customers that you care about what they think. If you pick up problems you must address them immediately. You may even get back lost customers by fixing the issues.

3, Follow up to inquire about satisfaction. When was the last time you just called a customer to follow up on his or her experience? This is not a sales call. Just call and ask them if they are happy with your service. If they bought an expensive item you might ask them if they are still happy with their purchase.

4. Learn to listen. It must be the most difficult thing in life. Listening. To truly listen is an art. You must listen to what they say because by connecting with you emotionally they become loyal. If you do not listen there will be no emotional connection and thus no loyalty.

5. Build on online presence. Open a Facebook page for your shop or start a blog. Many customers might hear about you and want to visit your store and will Google your name. If they fail to get a web presence you might miss out on their business. Also do not forget to be in online directories.

6. Keep in touch with E-Newsletters. Create a newsletter and send out a monthly newsletter. Do not bug the people too much or they will unsubscribe. If you keep in their thoughts they will come back to you again and again. You add value to their lives and this is important. Always ask yourself what you can do for your customers.

7. Make the purchasing process an experience. If you can you may give beading classes in store. Show people how to use your products. Give advice. Become an expert, read up as much as you can but remember not to crowd your customers give them advice if they need it.  The truth is that you must earn those customers by giving them an extraordinary experience every time. Just last week I went to Vodacom to sort out a new contract. They gave me a coffee voucher and a disc that flashes when it is your turn to see the customer representative. This was a good customer/client experience for me.

8. Offer Birthday specials. We give off R100 to every person that has a birthday. I am now going to extend this to be used any time in that year. What do you do for your customers on their birthday? Do you send them a card or do you phone them? My birthday wishes are send out with a cron job. Please ask me and I will show you how to do it.

9. Hold special events. Have a special exhibition and invite your customers with finger food and wine. Have a special sales night. Make a calendar of special events and tell your customers about it so that they can bookmark that day. Arrange a flea market and give out balloons with prizes.

10. Volunteer for a good cause. Do something in the community. Go to the old age home and give a free beading class. You'd be surprised by how many new customers you can gain by reaching out.

Good luck with your business and please use the comments section to give more tips on building customer satisfaction.


Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Some ideas on buying

This article I will share some ideas on how to buy and what kind of markup will work for you.

I started off in manufacturing and ran my own pottery factory for 15 years. I was the designer, maker and marketer of the pottery. This taught me many skills of which I am grateful today. The limitations as manufacturer were many. Time was the biggest limitation. I only had 24 hours a day and I can only make so many pots a day. My kiln also limited the amount of items I could fire.

When I started a buying and selling business I was liberated from these limitations.

I realized that the the only limitations are the ones I set myself. It is like a farmer who goes out to sow a field. If the farmer sows a field of 1 hectare he will reap a harvest of 1 hectare. He can fertilize aggressively and get a slightly larger crop. On the other hand we get a farmer who plants 100 hectares. His returns can be 100 times bigger.

So the bottom line is in the size of your thinking. If you limit yourself by planting just a hectare you will reap what you have sown. We have a limit of R300 to avoid the low order fee of R150. Some customers complain about this and say that R300 is too much for them to spend. I have often wondered about this statement. If you use a markup of 100% you will sell this stock for R600. If you use a 200% mark-up you will sell the items for R900. I do not recommend such a high mark-up. It will be detrimental for future business. Customers are clever and they know how to look up information. If they buy something for a high price and later discover they could buy it for much cheaper elsewhere they will feel cheated and avoid your store in the future.

I recently shopped around for a remote control. I found one priced at R150. I decided to look further and found the same remote control for R59.00 at the steel merchant. I needed 4 remotes. This is a savings of R396.00. I have very negative feelings about the store where I saw the more expensive remote. I have told about 4 people of my findings and they are also negative about this store.

So how do I avoid this negativity. Use a standard mark-up. If you buy an item cheaply you must mark it up cheaply. We often make the mistake to think that an item has an unlimited price. To give you an example. We sell a single pearl bracelet for around R10 plus VAT. The same item was seen at a market for R120.00. Imagine where the people will buy next time. You have to keep close records on your best sellers and buy these all the time. Many of us get caught up in buying from reps that pressurize us into buying. And so our cash flow goes out into dead stock that sits on our shelves. I keep very precise reports on sales and know at any given time how many of each items sells per month. If it sells well I make sure that I stock it again. Money is made between supply and demand. If an item is in demand you will make money when you can get supply. We just struggle because our supply period might sometimes be too long apart. I stock up every 3 months. We try and buy only items that we know moves fast.

So let us get back to some predictions. If I need an income of R30 000 per month I need to buy R60 000 worth of goods if I have a mark-up of 100%. This means I will get in R60 000 and I will make a profit of R30 000 and still have R30 000 to buy more items. If I only bought items worth R10 000 and have a mark up of 100% I will only make R10 000 and be short R20000 to pay all my bills and have quality of life. You must spend money to make money. Set a larger target and get enough funds to make your business healthy.

So let us summarize.
  • Buy enough quick sellers
  • Use a low mark-up
  • Set yourself targets on how much to buy
  • Force yourself to buy enough to make the business viable
  • Say no to the wrong products
  • Source your own products from suppliers with a good track record
  • Work on turnover rather than profit to avoid long term harm

Good luck.

PS: Avoid buying one of a sort. Buyers do not take you serious when you only have one of an item on the shelve. Discount all items that gets to ones and twos. Rather stock less but stock deeper. (buy more of each item)