Yes, Virginia, Fine Silver Does Eventually Tarnish (If you don't take care of it!)

...just not as quickly as Sterling.

Had a bit of an epiphany yesterday regarding selling in galleries vs. online or in stores. I've never LOVED the gallery route simply because I love meeting the people who buy my pieces. Sure, I send stuff away and get a check every few months, but it's just not what I aspire to. I was reminded why yesterday:

I have no control over my pieces!

I readily admit I am a control freak when it comes to my work. For example, I won't share a booth at a show because I want full creative control over my art and it's presentation:). (Shades of Don Draper?...Mad Men....get it???????)...btw, my Dad was a Don Draper look alike back in the day...VERY handsome man:)

Anyway, I knew I had a packet coming from the gallery that has carried my jewelry for a couple of years. They were sending me back my 'odds and sods' and requesting another hunk of new stuff. When I got the package I was horrified! The work seemed quite yucky to me. First of all, the gallery is a wonderful place, the people are lovely, and they do a roaring business. I know they are too busy to clean 1,000's of pieces of jewelry, but I looked at it and thought "Who would want to buy this in this state?".

Anyway, for those of you out there who tell your clients that fine silver doesn't tarnish AT ALL, do your research. This ring has been sitting in a gallery untended for about a year...slowly discolouring. No, not as drastic or quick as sterling because there is no copper in it, but still worth mentioning to customers.

BTW, the antiqued pieces that were protected with Nikolas Lacquer (just as my framed vignettes are) held up beautifully, except for the sterling findings...they were terribly tarnished.

I store my inventory at home in pouches with 3-m anti-tarnish strips, and usually include these when I sell an item:

My work stays beautifully shiny and tarnish free and I'm proud to present it to customers. BTW, the best way to keep your jewelry from tarnishing is to wear it. Yes, it's true. The constant rubbing and touching actually helps keep the tarnish at bay.

I think I assumed that stores and galleries generally use the 3m bricks in their display cases to ward off tarnish. This incident has just shown me that galleries are just not for me. I need to know that my jewelry is being presented in it's best possible condition at all times. It also helped re-affirm my move to my framed mini's. I will make a few small collections to sell at smaller shows and probably Etsy because I have loyal customers and I do like to make things when the mood strikes, but looking at this larger stash I realized my heart is just not into any type of mass production.

My framer also gave me some advice. I have been approached to sell my vignettes in galleries and stores on consignment, but she pointed out that since the frames are so fragile, they could get dinged, scratched, etc. She suggested only selling upfront. I really do value the advice of those in the know. I realize that consignment is usually the only way for small artists (not small in stature.....I'm 5'10"!!!!), but these are good things to know.

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