Katy Beh Jewelry

What does handmade actually mean?

Katy Beh Handmade 22k Jewelry

Is the handmade jewelry you are buying as handmade as you believe it to be?

You’re totally into supporting artists and small businesses – you might even be gung-ho and invest in your local designers. Yay you! Thank you!

Handmade is vital these days as we find a balance in technology. We are humans. We crave connection, intimacy and meaning. Handcrafted...does it add more value than "handmade?" Artisan is clever variation now being used. Artisan-made bread, beer and furniture. This awesome video made by Chris Kelly ingeniously pokes fun in his Maker Series: Artisanal Firewood.

The Differentiation

My colleagues and I are all over the place trying to differentiate our work from the Etsy masses. Jewelry makers are a dime a dozen these days!  Check out this Portlandia excerpt.

Jewelry, by nature of its size and complexity, at some point always requires human hands in its making.

I think we’re all on the same page agreeing that “handmade” is a process of making something by hand, or with your hands.

But, does it mean the piece in question is made entirely by hand?

Or, is the maker assembling components using their hands? Did they make those components or purchase them?

These points makes the term “handmade” so ambiguous when used as a means of adding value. It’s like the terms “natural” and “pure”. It’s relative.

Consider this (from Julie Teeples):

“...so you receive a jigsaw puzzle for your birthday and put it together using your hands. Did you handcraft the puzzle or was the puzzle handmade by you? What if you actually drew out a picture, cut it up into hundreds of pieces then put it back together again, is it handmade or handcrafted? You actually made the puzzle didn’t you?”

While researching this blog post, I found this on Pampillonia’s website:

Handcrafted Jewelry
Jewelry can be considered handcrafted if at any time in its production process hand labor was employed. In fact almost anything can be called handcrafted. There is no legal definition. Handcrafted jewelry is generally made up of cast or machine-made components and hand assembled. In most cases this requires considerable less skill, effort and time.
Handmade Jewelry
To be called handmade the jewelry must be entirely hand shaped and formed from the raw materials used.  Quite simply in order to be described as handmade the metals must be manipulated by handwork only.
Federal Trade Commission definition:
23.3 Misuse of the terms “hand-made,” “hand-polished,” etc.
(a) It is unfair or deceptive to represent, directly or by implication, that any industry product is handmade or hand-wrought unless the entire shaping and forming of such product from raw materials and its finishing and decoration were accomplished by hand labor and manually-controlled methods which permit the maker to control and vary the construction, shape, design, and finish of each part of each individual product.

So what do you do?

Ask questions.
Talk to the artist and learn how the jewelry you're completely ga-ga over was made. Jewelry making is fascinating!  For example, the process I use to make my one-of-a-kind jewelry is centuries-old! I MAKE MY OWN GOLD!

At the end on the day - handcrafted or handmade - both terms mean that someone was super hands-on when making their art.

Gemstones and gold on silver for cuff bracelet.

"Someone who has put their heart and soul into the product hoping someone out there will appreciate their work and purchase the item.

If you like it and it makes you happy, by all means purchase it. After all, it was made by hand for someone special; you."

Julie Teeples

Much love,

Katy Beh Jewelry