A subject near and dear to my heart. Quality control, otherwise known as "exposing my pieces to all kinds of trauma in order to ensure best practices". Can't remember if I've blogged about this before, but it bears repeating.
Everyone already knows how I've destroyed a number of rings in order to feel comfortable selling them. I usually rock the top attachment to see how quickly I can snap it right off. Over time, I've developed a few techniques (see post below) to ensure that they are as strong as can be, but I still make sure to let people know that they should not be gardening in my rings. I'm annoyed that there are many metal clay makers who let people believe that the finished product can take as much abuse as Sterling, which is what most people are used to. However, we can still create pieces that are robust in design and fabrication to make them as strong as possible.
Retaining a liver of sulfur finish is something I spent so much time on. When I finally settled on Nikolas Lacquer I subjected it to all kinds of tests to see what would happen. I heated the sprayed piece, dumped it in jewelry cleaner, soaked it in nail polish remover, etc. This was all important to me as I don't want someone to buy something and have it look completely different in a few days. I even spray my miniatures that will be framed behind glass, because in 10 years the colour may change somewhat. Most metal clay artists don't care, and are under the impression that the colour will be fine. I URGE you to carry out tests before you sell. The more you know, the better the end product. Even with the fabulous Nikolas, I have learned to take the LOS off of the back of pendants as rubbing against skin will eventually wear away the even the lacquer then the colour. This looks awful, so it's best to leave that part plain silver.
FYI, I was on the phone to the manufacturer in the States for 2 days straight trying to find out how to get Nikolas lacquer into Canada, as I feel there is no better product. It costs me about $50.00 for 1 can (2.5x the US price) as it falls under all kinds of hazmat regulations. Anyway, there was no way I was going to use an inferior product. If you've found a product that is as good and you have tested it thoroughly, please let me know. I'd be happy to find something else.
In between shows I place my pieces into a tiny zip lock bag with a 3M anti-tarnish strip. This keeps the LOS nice and the piece shiny. I always ship my items with the 3M strip as well with a little note to the customer letting them know what it is.