This blog has moved!

New handmade jewellery blog.After a major website redesign and overhaul the Simone Walsh Handmade Jewellery blog has now moved right here.

Some older blog posts have also been moved to that location, but the entire blog dating way back to 2006 will remain here as an archive with the previous design still in place.

All new content will be posted on the new blog. And you can visit the entirely new handmade jewellery shop while you’re at it!

So it’s goodbye from here for now!

Christmas pudding tokens

I’ve just relaunched my Christmas pudding tokens (coins or charms) for the 2012 festive season!

These are always one of my most popular items at this time of year, however, this year they’re being featured in the Christmas issue of House and Garden magazine, which is out in early November.

So if you’d like a set I suggest you get in early as I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up with demand, given the sets are all handmade!

Christmas pudding coins, charms or tokens in pure silver.

What the tokens are for

If you’re wondering what the tokens are for, in Britain and various commonwealth countries it’s been a long-standing tradition to put silver coins or tokens into Christmas puddings, which are then served to guests on the big day. The idea is that if you find one or more tokens in your slice of pudding, it will bring you good luck for the following year – especially in relation to money.

In my family we used silver sixpences and threepences when I was growing up. However, this tradition started dying out when real silver coins were replaced by modern coins made with base metals, which are toxic to use in cooking.

So I decided to make a pure silver set etched with vintage Christmas illustrations for my Mum to use in her puddings. I got a lot of great feedback about them, so decided to put them into production.

About my tokens sets

My tokens come in a set of six which are accompanied by recipes my family’s easy to make Christmas pudding and delicious brandy sauce.

View the Christmas pudding tokens.

20 years ago …

Butterfly pendant with ruby gemstone in sterling silver.As I celebrate 20 whole years of making jewellery I’ve been thinking about how things have changed since 20 years ago.

It makes me feel a bit old as none of this seems all that long ago to me, but of course 20 years is a long time!

So here’s a little rundown of what the world was like back then:

Back in 1992:

  • 1 and 2 cent coins were removed from circulation in Australia
  • George Bush senior was President of the United States, but Bill Clinton was elected President in November
  • Paul Keating was Prime Minister of Australia … happy days!
  • The High Court of Australia recognised native title for the first time in the Mabo decision
  • The former Yugoslavia began to break up
  • Russia and the United States stopped aiming nuclear weapons at each other
  • The European Union was founded … and, gosh, isn’t that going well!
  • There were fears about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq
  • The Bosnian War began
  • Apartheid formally ended in South Africa
  • The first Big Day Out music festival was held in Sydney, Australia – headline acts were Nirvana and The Violent Femmes
  • A tribute concert to Freddie Mercury was held in London, raising millions of dollars for AIDS research
  • The Olympic Games were held in Barcelona, Spain
  • Queen Elizabeth declares 1992 to be an ‘Annus Horribilis’ for her family
  • Prince Charles and Princess Diana announced their formal separation
  • The first extrasolar planets were detected
  • Marlene Dietrich, Isaac Asimov, Benny Hill, Francis Bacon, Brett Whiteley and Peter Allen died
  • Miley Cyrus was born
  • Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus was the Australian end of year number one single 1992 (and one I’d worked to promote, which probably is a clue as to why I wanted to leave the music industry!)
  • Jesus Christ Superstar by the Australian cast of the musical was the Australian end of year number one album (ditto on both counts!)

* * *

Don’t forget to check out my 20 years, 20 jewellery pieces, 20% off special for this month only, as well as the other celebrations for the 20th anniversary!

Stepping into 2012

Print by Kate Banazi.
Print in my hallway by Kate Banazi

A (slightly belated) happy new year to you!

Since Christmas I’ve been taking a little much-needed time out after the festive season rush – which was especially busy this time around.

But now I’m gently easing myself into the new year and am starting to look at what needs to happen.

Goodbye 2011

2011 was not the year I had planned for. It had both high points and low points, but by the end of the year I was not in a situation I had remotely expected when the year began! It was a chaotic and difficult year during which plans fell by the wayside.

The main high point was purchasing a house and creating a proper studio space in the garden. This big step forward wasn’t even on the horizon at the start of the year. And I certainly wasn’t even vaguely considering moving to South Australia to make this happen!

The low points included a close family member developing a debilitating mystery illness (which motivated me to make the big move), attending a couple of funerals for people who died unexpectedly and far too young … and more besides. So they were pretty low lows.

Hello 2012!

As for my plans for 2012 (assuming I get to actually stick with them this year!), well I want to attend to the finishing touches in my new studio and I also hope to get my garden more established and perhaps redecorate my office as a starting point inside the house.

However, I also want to finally get some new projects off the ground to grow my business and hopefully make me feel a bit more secure into the future. I’m sure I’ll be keeping you informed of those as they develop.

Thank you!

Finally, I want to say a huge thanks to everyone who supported my handmade jewellery business last year – and especially over the festive season, which was one of my most successful ever. It’s very much appreciated.

Christmas pudding tokens now available

Christmas pudding tokens, charms or coins.One of the most popular handmade items in my shop at this time of year are the Christmas pudding tokens I make.

I’m happy to say that they are back in stock ready for the festive season!

The pudding tokens are all etched with a variety of vintage Christmas illustrations and are made using pure silver, so they’re safe to use with food.

The tokens come in a set of six, along with a copy of my family’s Christmas pudding recipe (which can be made on the day!) and delicious brandy sauce recipe.

The tokens come in a padded box so you can keep them safe when not being used.

You can find the tokens here:

Currency survey results – and a winner!

Thanks to everyone who participated in my recent survey about currency and online shopping. The results are very helpful and have given me a lot to consider.

I’ve just used random.org to draw the winner of the $65 voucher to spend in my handmade jewellery shop and have emailed the winner to let them know. Congratulations to June!

Below is a quick rundown of some of the key results from the survey.

The local currency of survey participants:

  • 64.5% – Australian dollars
  • 18.4% – US dollars
  • 9.2% – Canadian dollars
  • 3.9% – British pounds sterling
  • 2.6% – New Zealand dollars

The currencies participants are comfortable paying in apart from their local currency:

  • 57.9% – US dollars
  • 28.9% Any currency
  • 23.7% British pounds sterling
  • 17.1% Australian dollars
  • 17.1% only comfortable paying in own currency

When asked if survey participants would be happy to pay in the local currency of the online shop if they were shown the exchanged value in their own currency first, 64.5% said they would be happy to do this and 5.3% said they would not. The remainder answered a variation on ‘it depends’!

And finally 82.9% of survey participants stated that they would be happy to purchase Handmade Jewellery by Simone Walsh in Australian dollars.

As for where this leaves me, well I do have quite a bit to consider before making changes, particularly in the very helpful comments that participants left in relation to this issue.

I do wish there was a very elegant solution to the currency dilemma, but at this point I’m looking at an imperfect one. However, it may be less imperfect than my current set up of operating two shops: one using Australian dollars and the other using US dollars.

Thanks again to everyone who participated – it is very greatly appreciated.

Currency and online shopping: what do you think?

Macro photograph of paper money.
Photograph by kevindooley

One of the dilemmas found in running an online business which sells products all over the world is which currency to use (or how to handle multiple currencies!).

At present I have two pretty much identical primary shops – one with prices in Australian dollars and another with prices in US dollars, with the intention of covering my two biggest markets.

This creates extra work (and extra fees!) for me and I’ve started to wonder whether or not it actually makes that much difference to my lovely customers to be able to shop in these two currencies.

As a result I’m considering moving to a single shop which would show the exchange value in the currency of your choice, but would require payment to be made in Australian dollars.

But before I do this, I’d love to know what you think. How critical is currency when you’re shopping online? Would you be willing to pay in a different currency to your own?

A survey!

Have your say in my currency survey!

The survey will close on 14 October and I’ll share the results here.

Win stuff!

The survey is anonymous, but if you wish to leave your email address at the end of the survey I’ll enter you into a draw to win a $65 voucher (either US$ or AU$) to spend in my shops.

Your email address will be kept private and will only be used in relation to the draw.

I will contact the winner by 17 October 2011. Good luck!

If you’ve ever bought or sold anything on Etsy …

… you should read this article on Ars Technica about serious privacy concerns:
Etsy users irked after buyers, purchases exposed to the world.

In case you’re concerned about purchases you have made from me via my Etsy shop, for some years now I’ve not been leaving any feedback on Etsy. This is partly due to privacy concerns as well as much broader concerns about how the feedback system works there.

So unless your purchase was made a long time ago, you won’t be found via feedback from me. However, your purchase history could now more easily be tracked if you’ve made other purchases and have received feedback – and through no fault of the seller you dealt with.

In addition you may – without your consent – be found by people searching for your real name or email address unless you have changed your account privacy settings.

These days I encourage my customers to shop from my self-run handmade jewellery shop instead, which most now do. You don’t need to register for an account and your purchases, name, etc. are all kept private. And I have no intention of suddenly turning my shop into a social networking site!

With any luck Etsy will finally decide to make the recent privacy changes on its site opt-out by default as most people feel they should. But for now if you have even a dormant account there I strongly recommend you login and check the new privacy settings for your account so you can opt-out if you choose.

You can find clear details on how to do this right here.

We have a winner!

Photograph of kinetic ruby ring.Thank you so much to all of my lovely customers who took the time to submit a testimonial as part of my recent competition.

Today I used www.random.org to randomly select a winner from the list of participants.

I’m very pleased to announce that Sheri is the winner of a US$75 voucher to spend in my handmade jewellery shop! I have contacted her by email.

Thanks again!

Welcome to my new blog!

A screenshot of how my blog used to look.Well, actually it’s just the old blog with a facelift! But it’s something I’ve been wanting to get done for a long time now and finally it’s up and running.

To the left is a screenshot of how the blog used to look before this redesign. This was the original design for my blog, dating all the way back to 2006.

The design is based heavily on that used in my main website and my shops, but with a twist to differentiate it.

Apart from just being a change in design, I hope that this will signal a fresh start for my blog. I’d like to be making much more use of it – writing more about what I do and how I do it, telling people about indie design and indie designers I recommend … and all sorts.

In the interim, if you’re seeing anything odd in the new design do let me know, including telling me which browser you’re using.

FINALLY!

Yes, I am finally finished the big web-related job I’ve been working on since late last year, along with another small one.

And finally I can get back to jewellery making and all sorts of other things for myself – until a couple of other lurking web jobs come to fruition, anyway! There is also the possibility that I’ll be moving up to the Blue Mountains in the next little while, which is exciting.

But this weekend and early next week I plan to spend a lot of time at my bench catching up with making work and attending to a whole lot of neglected bits and pieces. And once I’m caught up I’m keen to get to work on some new handmade jewellery!

If you’re interested in what I’ve been working on, the smaller project was for an exhibition of contemporary jewellery called Luminaries, which was organised by the Jewellers & Metalsmiths Group in NSW and shown from 2006.

There are plenty of photographs of some wonderful work by some of the luminaries of Australasian contemporary jewellery.

The much larger project was for the Corporate Responsibility Index in Australia. This was a complete redesign and rebuild of a site that I first created years ago and which was badly out-dated.

Although the front end of the site isn’t particularly complex, the new site runs on a content management system, which is what made it a much larger job to set up. But the good news is that most updates to the site can now be handled by the Index staff.