Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I love new technology.  Not a techno geek here, but I love technologies that help us do what we love:  preserve memories.  

We invested heavily in this technology, and it is a wonder.  This technology actually takes minerals and creates a print very much like the original.  Yes, minerals.  Isn't that something?  And these minerals are then fired on to the porcelain as has been done for centuries.

Best of all, it will last FOREVER.  It will not fade.  It can take some abuse.  It can be used outdoors or indoors.  Bottom line...I love it. 

Here is my sweet Grandma Fern on a porcelain charm the size of a dime:
I would like to think that my grandma would get a kick out of it.  She was a spirited lady at just 4'11" but she was 6'6" when she needed to be.

I got excited when her pic came out of the kiln and tried my hand at some other photos.  Here are some porcelain charms that I haven't set yet:
Left: Dawn kissing baby JD, Jr.
Center:  Gary B.
Right: JD, Jr.

These are my prototypes.  The top charm will probably go to one of my sisters (whoever speaks first!).  Another one like it will be made into a tie tack for my dad.

The ones in the second pic (L & R) are going to my sister Dawn.  Baby Joe Derek, Jr., her grandbaby,  sadly passed away so these will be momentos for her.  
And the center in the second picture will go to my Aunt Pam. It is of her brother who recently passed. She grabbed this photo from the net and I was able to get the quality good enough to make a charm.  I think it came out pretty good.  She doesn't know about it yet.
I can't wait to get them set!

We will have the charms with your own pictures available for purchase soon.  It is the kind of thing that makes people happy.  Memories are great even if they bring a few happy tears.  

You have permission to bug me, dear reader, if you would like us to do one for you!  Just drop me a line at and we will let you know where we are with this!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

It all starts here...

Want to see how it all begins in our cottage studio?  Well, it starts with pure and sterling silver.  Here is my latest buy of raw material.  Believe it or not, this is about $900 worth of silver. And that sheet on the bottom is a whopping 6 inches by 6 inches!

Choosing China

We get lots of questions from ladies about what china is best for Broken China Jewelry.  Well, it really depends on how you want it finished.  If you have a curved piece, it is really best to get an artist that does the copper foil method.  It's the same as what is used for stained glass windows.  There are lots of kits out there, too, if you want to do it yourself.  Be prepared, though, there is a learning/experimentation curve, but it is well worth it.

My favorite method requires a flat or near flat piece, like from a plate, that can be set in Sterling Silver.  I love this the best because it treats these little pieces of history as fine jewelry.   It just gives it an air of refinement and romance that you just can't beat. 

Since we create ours with a solid sterling back, it also makes the perfect canvas for engraving names, dates, or little messages.  Its really helps a gift stand out and gives it meaning.

Tips to help you find a good piece to have made into a Sterling set Broken China Jewelry charm:

1) The thinner the better.  Bone china is wonderfully thin and we do a lot of work with it (it also breaks easily so we find lots of damaged pieces to use!).  That is not to say that you can't use a thicker china (like semi-vitreous) , but it really can make the charm pretty heavy using a really thick piece. 

2) Take a quarter with you when you hit the antique stores and garage sales.  A quarter is your best friend.  You can use a quarter to see if the design will fit in space.  It can also tell you if the piece is pretty flat. You don't want the design to extend onto the "foot" of the plate (the lip on the backside) either.   Better yet, if you own the piece, lay your quarter on your plate and draw a circle around it with a magic marker.  Remove the quarter and look at the circle.  Is the design inside the circle pretty to your eye?  Trust yourself.  You know what is pretty and what isn't!

It's pretty easy and there are still a few more tips, but this post is getting a little long.  Tune back in for more tips. 

Still not sure if the china will work?  No problem, send us a pic (even one off of your camera phone) and we will be happy to help you out!

Antique Austrian Broken China Jewelry charm custom set in Sterling Silver

Saturday, July 3, 2010

It's an Honor...and Thank You very Much

Faces, beautiful faces ... young, full of life, determination, pride.  I opened my email today to see another warm, caring face of a young man. He is handsome, strong, with beautiful eyes and is wearing the obvious military green.  His name is Michael.  Michael.  What a proud name and it really seems to fit him.  Michael's mother  sent me his picture so that we could make a charm of her soldier son for her.

We do soldier charms for those serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.  You can see them at under 
A Soldier's Charm 
It is our small way of paying respect and expressing gratitude.  If you go to the page, you can see some of the ones that we have done through the years there.  It has been such a treasure to do these for wives and mothers of our finest citizens.    Often they generously share stories with me.  One wanted to get her charm for the day of her first anniversary.  She was spending it alone, and she wanted to sleep with it under her pillow.  Another had her three little girls vying to get to wear it around the house after she got home from work. (He has since come home and is surely enjoying those little ones along with his lovely wife.) And yet another lives 40 miles from us.  Her husband was in the next building when the Ft. Hood shooting happened.  These wonderful ladies (and gentlemen, too!) support our heroes.  For that I am forever in awe of them.

I was just telling my husband Sam how sweet  the emails are.  I am so struck how softly, humbly each one comes requesting a charm.  They are so grateful.  And yet, our efforts are such small, insignificant tokens in the scheme of things.  What these soldiers and their families do is immeasurable.  Yet they are grateful that we would do such a thing for them.  Let me tell you, everyone I know is so thankful for our soldiers and their families.  We don't always express it well or know how to let our bravest know, but we do.  So God Bless each and every soldier and military family!

Well, I had better get back to work.  Thank you for letting me share this passion with you.  I have to get going on this next batch of charms as each one is many stepped production.  We try to wait until we have many requests so they can be done at one time due to the process.  But this time it will be a small batch.  It has Janet's daughter, a local soldier, and Michael among them.  Janet has waited long enough and Michael's must be done now.  I don't want his mom to wait at all. You see, Michael is a Fallen Hero.  He was killed in Kandahar at the age of 20.  I am sure that Michael would appreciate  us taking care of her in that respect.  It is the least we can do.  Yes, this is a special batch as they all are.

I will sign off with a hearty thank you to all soldiers, past and present, and their families.  Without you, the 4th of July would be just another day.

And now you know, dear reader, what we mean when we say in our tagline..."Where charming is just half of the story..."

Saturday, June 12, 2010

What a find!

I have to confess that I have a large fascination with carved Mother of Pearl buttons. I bet you know the feeling about little obsessions. They inspire us to collect things that we find important. It was not a surprise to anyone here at the RBCottage that I would find a way to share my admiration for these little iridescent orbs.

After a little research, I found that these wonderful little pieces of history have a very interesting history that led me to Iowa. Iowa? (Yes, really!) Did you know that there is a Pearl Button Museum in Muscatine, Iowa? This small town harvested freshwater mollusk shells from the Mississippi after a German button maker, John Frederick Boepple immigrated to the area. The button factory opened in 1891 and by the end of the 19th century, the area produced 1.5 billion (with a B!) buttons. Of course, later the plastic button, depletion of the mussel beds, and environmental pollution of the Industrial Age, led to the decline of production of these beautiful pieces.

Thankfully, many of these buttons have survived for over 100 years. And the carving on some are phenomenal. In the first pic, you will see my finds from The Roseberry Cottage. The other pictures are from antique stores, ebay, and sweet customers that send me little bits and pieces. The next to the last picture has a bracelet we finished not too long ago.

Needless to say, our collection of these beauties is quite extensive and growing. I have been thinking that it is time for me to do a necklace. I actually want to do two different button necklaces: one that has buttons all the way around and another that has chain on a little less that half of it. There is also this really neat button (last picture) that will make a beautiful design for a bracelet. Something with a double strand of freshwater pearls coming from each side. Stay tuned. I can't wait to get them done to share them with you and see what you think.

Oh, I almost forgot one of the most important things about this post...You can win one of our a Sterling Antique Mother of Pearl bracelets at the's Christmas in July. Very easy to sign up and easy to get in to win. Let us know if you sign up!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Decisions, Decisions.

Isn't this divine? We had the honor and pleasure of working with Angie from Tennessee. There was one Broken China Jewelry charm that she just adored and it was sold out. Could we do another? Why, sure we can. Of course, china is one of those things that you can run out of and can't exactly order more of. Fortunately for both of us, we did have enough for Angie's favorite charm.

She was as charming as her bracelet to work with through a phone call and emails. Angie made me laugh when she said that she was wearing out going through all the charms to put together her bracelet. I love the little girl that comes out in all of us when we are inspired. It's so refreshing.

Sometimes I actually think that we want lots of choices, but it may be closer to the truth to have a few good choices than scads of them. It kind of muddies the water, you know. With charm bracelets, there is always the classic base bracelet. The double rowed silver or gold link bracelet. Since Angie loved pearls and would be adding to her bracelet, it made sense to go with the pretty Flirty Pearl bracelet.

After making that decision, Angie was trying to decide what color pearls. It was important to her because she wants to wear this bracelet a lot. I suggested that she look at the clothes in her closet to see what the predominant color. Angie chose Swarovski cream (excellent choice, I think!).

After sending her a picture to approve the bracelet, we added a few Swarovski crystal suprises. I love a little bit of sparkle, don't you? Teardrop crystals and pearls are such wonderful fillers if you are adding charms slowly.

Every girl should have at least one charm bracelet. They are timeless chronicles to remembering wonderful moments in life. I think what she came up with was absolutely worth effort and thought. And she thinks that her daughters will love it, too. Do you have a piece of jewelry that inspires you?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Amanda's $35 Bedroom Furniture Makeover!

Look what Amanda from Colorado did for her daughter's bedroom with $200 (the cost of the bedroom set) and some furniture appliques (about $35) from! We got an email from Amanda this week and think that she says it best:

Thanks again for a wonderful product! The appliques look like they are carved wood and part of the furniture. I bought this entire set for under $200 and it was yellowed, scratched and cracked in many places. You can't see it in the photo, but the nightstand oval was plain and had four large cracks going from the outside to the center. I sealed the cracks, sanded & painted it, then put on your applique, and finished it with new knobs. Thanks again- I will be sure to order from you again for my second daughter's bed also!

Amanda, you are really an inspiration! In this economy, projects like this remind us that we can have pretty things without charging up the credit card or mortgaging the house! We love your project and pictures, Amanda, and look forward to your next project.