Tuesday, November 23, 2010


About a month ago a couple came to me with an engagement ring they had custom created by a jeweler.  The ring was honestly a bit of a mess...not only was it poorly constructed but stones were loose and the bezels were soldered on crooked.  I felt so bad for them because getting engaged is supposed to be the most wonderful experience....you are supposed to put a ring on your finger that you will wear for the rest of your life!  I decided to take on the project and transform their ring into something that they would truly love  and wear forever.
Here is the design they gave me...

I worked with them to create some rough sketches of the design they had actually wanted when they started the process...
Then we moved the design to the computer and created photo renderings of the design....

From the computer file we cut a wax of the design and got to work creating the ring
 This is the final product...
Now they have a piece that is worth double what it was original valued. It is a beautifully constructed ring that will be wearable for a lifetime.  I am so excited to have been a part of this project and honored to be a part of the happiest time in this couples life!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Brides, Bridesmaids & Bobbles

If you didn't know already, Samantha Louise Jewelry has ventured into the wonderful world of weddings!  While I've been doing engagement rings for sometime now, I only dove into bridesmaid jewelry recently and it has been a blast!  New designs in each color suite are slowly finding there way onto my website, but the options for bridesmaids are endless.  It is amazing to design 8 pieces that all have a similar color, look, and feel, but are unique to each of the special girls in your wedding. You can check out my facebook page for a fabulous purple suite I did earlier this year!  My goal is always to design pieces that women will want to wear again and again.  Below are pics of the latest blue bridesmaid designs from my studio. As you can see stones are available in every shade...So send me a swatch and I will try to match your dresses exactly!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Contain Yourself!

On most days my tiny studio is filled with 2 big black pups, a busy one year old daughter, all of her toys, a computer, an iphone, a land line, a camera, lights, hand tools, big tools, magazine clippings, invoices, files and the list goes on.... When my husband walks in he literally has to search to locate our daughter in the rubble.  I try to be organized but I have a team of factors working against me and Miss Mia is leading the charge!  It is hard to imagine a work day where my business cards are not dumped from their container and sprawled all over the floor.  Its pretty amazing if she doesn't locate the ribbon bin and drape herself in spools upon spools of of ribbon. And its even more amazing if my relatively young pups don't shred her toys to pieces causing an all out riot.

BUT when it comes to the jewels I am all about organization!  I love containers, boxes, and bright colors!  My stones are always organized by type, size, and color. And my finished inventory is sorted by collection.  Keeping the stones organized helps me to stay focus and excited about creating jewelry on a daily basis. Plus it saves time and money to know what I have and where it is.

This months goal is to be as excited about the paperwork as I am about the product. I figure if I spend a month faking it maybe it will become a habit....Fake it till you make it!

ps- on the goal setting front-I am doing okay...2 great stores have bought into the complete collection! Their custom case set up are being made as I type and their beautiful orders have already been delivered. I am excited for several fall and holiday events over the next few months and particularly excited to continue placing my collection in some of the most respected stores in the country!  

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Diamonds, Diamonds, Diamonds

There are plenty of things to love about diamonds.  The sparkle, the romance, and the symbol of love everlasting to name a few.  I love diamonds of all shapes, sizes and colors.  As an artist diamonds are an awesome material to work with for many reasons.  First, is the wide range of colors they come in. Black Diamonds are some of my favorite...
Second is their sheer durability, which is why they are such a practical choice for engagement rings....

Shopping for a diamond can be both exciting and terrifying.  People don't know what they are looking at , who to trust and what they should be paying for a stone. 
Here are a few tips that may help you in your pursuit:

1. Do your research. Go to www.gia.edu and what their video on the 4 C's. It will give you a great deal of information about stones and how the 4 C's work together to determine the value of a stone.

2. Decide the shape, color and clarity you want for your stone. Don't be afraid of shape...something other than a round can be fun and unique! I recommend that my clients purchase stones no lower than SI1 in clarity and no lower than H in color.  

3. Work with a store you trust.  Get a recommendation, read reviews, etc.  You may pay a little more with a smaller store, but the level of service is worth the extra money.  So often mass produced goods, and diamond depot style companies may offer low prices, with no follow up, no creativity, and extra charges for sizing, repairs, etc.

4.  Finally Check out the Rapaport Price List for accurate pricing on stones. 

Hope this helps a little in your pursuit to buy a beautiful stone.  Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to create a custom ring from Samantha Louise Jewelry.


Monday, July 26, 2010


Super cool... This month I was named 5280 Top of the Town Jewelry Designer.  I am pretty sure my dad got on and voted from every email address he could come up with because he is pretty much my number one fan! Either way it was a great honor to be chosen. As a result, this month has been filled with all kinds of buzz about my jewelry. All good things and I am really thankful.  I got on my google analytics this morning and realized that I have had almost 600 visits to my site in the last three weeks and more than 6,000 page views.  It's really cool to track how people are coming to the site and I am constantly looking for new ways to direct them there.  My jewelry has come such a long way over the last year and getting it out there in front of people is the only way to show that off.  July was all about events.  My August goal is all about getting more stores and individuals to the Samantha Louise website...Let's see if I can do it! Let me know if you have any tips!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Getting Help

One of the most important lessons I have learned in creating jewelry, running a small business and life is where and when to get help.  I am not always that good at it because... lets face it I think I am superwoman, however since I started making some decisions about what I can and cannot do I am less stressed and more productive.  Its really an amazing and liberating lesson to learn.  Now I get to focus on the cool stuff and organize the other stuff so that other people can do it!  
Here are some of the great things I've gotten to make since I took a step back.


I love the summer, the warm weather, being outside, and all the summer activity that seems to fill the streets.  One of my favorite parts of summer is pulling out the boxes filled with summer clothes and putting them away filled with winter sweaters.  Its like christmas!  All the great summer items that I forgot about over the winter are instantly made new.  I love putting together the perfect seasonal woredrobe--the perfect sandals, a great pair of cropped white jeans, all of the staples that make my look completely unique to me.  You are probably the same way... certain "go-to" items are essential to making you feel put-together each season.  We often forget that building our jewelry waredrobe should be thought about in the same way. Certain pieces of jewelry are the "go-to" items that will make you feel put together not just this season but for a lifetime.  Building a jewelry waredrobe that will last a lifetime takes time, but if you invest in the right pieces you will have jewelry that can be worn for any occassion.  When you are buying fine jewelry there are certain items that are a must.  I always look for pieces that can be added to---a great gold chain that you can attach pendants to,  a classic pair of studs with interchangeable jackets, a set of stackable rings that can be added to over the years.  Samantha Louise Stackables, Studs, and Strands are great verstile items that will keep your jewel box looking fresh for decades.  I also love the SL signature halo necklace, it can be worn alone, layered, or with an enhancer.  It is a perfect piece that will provide endless solutions for any outfit.  What pieces do you love and cherish? What are your jewelry go-to items?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Elevator Pitch

Yesterday I attended a BNI meeting with a friend who invited me to join.  I had no idea what to expect.  I have never attended that sort of an event.  Half way through the meeting I had to stand up and give my 30 second commercial.  A couple of weeks ago I talked about forming my elevator pitch as one of my goals.  I had no idea that after weeks of procrastinating I would be forced to come up with it in about 5 minutes.   As I listened to members go around the room I got more and more nervous. What was I going to say that would define what I do and who I need a referral from?  I stood up (still had no idea what I was going to say) and it just came out.... "I am Samantha Larkins representing Samantha Louise Jewelry.  I design, create, and sell jewelry to individuals and stores nationwide.... Currently I am launching a line of bridesmaid jewelry.  This week my perfect referral would be brides interested in giving a unique gift to their attendants or bridal stores interested in adding a jewelry line to their dress colleciton."  If you have ever seen the movie Old School I felt a little bit like Will Ferrel during the competition for their fraternity house.  It was like I blacked out and it just came out.  It may not have been perfect, but it was way better than I hoped for.  It made me realize that its not as scary as I make it out to be.  After the meeting I got two referrals! It is amazing how putting yourself out there can actually pan out.  In general people want you to succeed and they are excited if you are excited.  There are so many aspects of running a small business that I never imagined would be part of my daily routine.  Networking is an important one. Surrounding myself with other businesses that want to see me succeed and are willing to point me in the right direction is a new concept for me. It is a powerful tool that I can wait to use.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Falling Out of Love with Jewelry

When I first moved to Colorado I was determined to take the jewelry industry by storm.  My internship with William Travis Jewelry had me jazzed about being out on my own.  I took on everything and thought I knew how to do everything!  I soon learned that building a business that is respected and successful takes lots of time, dedication, and hard work.  Its not that I wasn't willing to put in the work, I just believed it would come naturally. I worked really hard for about a year before I hit the wall.  Throughout that year the speed bumps were incredibly discouraging.  I was selling, but my technical skills were being challenged everyday and my lack of business experience was evident.  I was starting to hate it....I guess hate is a strong word,  but it was causing me a huge amount of stress.  On top of that I was lonely.  I had moved to a new city and I worked at home.  Besides my dog, Carolina, I was alone most of the day.  When my husband got home from work I would get in his face and chat chat chat chat...Mainly because I had no one to chat with all day long.  

By the end of my first year I was ready to throw in the towel.  Instead, I found a part time job in a totally different industry.  I helped a restauranteur open a restaurant.  It started out about 15 hours a week but, quickly increased to 40 or 50 hours a week.  It was fun, different, and I got to meet tons of people in my neighborhood.  The best thing it did for me was help me to look at my profession with new eyes.  I realized that starting any business is loads of hard work, but it is easier when you are passionate about what you do. I realized that I will always be passionate about the jewelry industry--The creative process, the freedom to make my own decisions, and the quiet focus that it takes to move a new piece form design to creation.  

When I was finally ready to continue on my path I did it with new eyes and new perspective and as a result the jobs kept rolling in.  Now in the spring of 2010 Samantha Louise Jewelry is finally taking off the way I had always hoped it would back in 2007 when I opened.  Several key elements are falling into place.  First, I have a renewed sense of passion for the craft and I cherish the time I have to design and to create.  Second, I have a better vision for what it takes to succeed and I have the dedication to make it possible.  My designs are better, my business practices are improving, and I am throwing myself out there in a way that I have not done in the past. Lastly, it is easier for me to remember that building my business is a marathon, not a sprint.  I am focused on the long term success of my brand and I am committed to seeing it through....

This year I will launch Signature Couture Collection... a little sneak peek below!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Falling in Love with Jewelry

As a teenager I worked for a friend at a local gift store called Turandot.  I enjoyed the store-the silly books, journals, candles, and gift cards, but most of all I loved the jewelry.  By learning about the designers who made the jewelry and understanding their inspiration, I felt connected to their creative process.  I also loved the way the jewelry made me feel.  It was means of self expression; It made me feel different, unique, and special.   Working for the store started my love affair with jewels.

In high school I heard about a class at a local bead shop.  It was for making lamp work beads.  I signed up and spent a 6 hour seminar learning to make beads.  At the end of the class I was totally discouraged.  I had never worked with both of my hands in that capacity before and it was hard!  I walked away with all the tools and none of the motivation to keep practicing.  About a month after I took the class I spent a weekend locked in my bedroom with my torch and a whole lot of determination to figure it out. After a whole weekend I started to get the hang of it.  In high school I had my first show.  I made tons of little beads and invited all of my friends and my parents friends over to look at the jewels and place orders.  It was a small selection of jewelry, but I was so so proud of what I had done.

In College I pursued a degree in Fine Art.  My degree gave me the tools to market and promote my work while teaching me great skills about the creative process.  I could shoot my work and design print material, catalogs, business cards and brochures.  College also introduced me to the world of stone shows.  The Gem Show came to San Diego every six months and I had never seen anything like it!

The next step was really learning the craft.  I enrolled at GIA during my senior year in school and started taking classes at night...I was learning the book side of the trade, but it wasn't until I left GIA and started my apprenticeship with William Travis Jewelry that I truly learned the ins and outs.  It was another huge step when I moved to Colorado and went out on my own.  I have had loads of bumps along the way, but one thing remains my passion to create and my love affair with jewelry....

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Something New

I am always looking for new ways to enhance my designs...different techniques, fun packaging ideas or new creative designers that could provide some inspiration.  Recently I have been trying out resin jewelry.  Its a fun medium because it has endless potential---Check out Alexis Bittar.  He has turned resin into a high fashion must have by making it more than just a crafters medium.  A couple of weeks ago I thought I would play with it a little to see what I couldn't come up with.  I got all the materials and read some articles about creating resin jewelry.  Turns out resin and I just don't go together.  I have made 5 or 6 batches and somehow I have screwed up every batch.  For someone who prides herself on creativity, this has been incredibly discouraging!  I over mix, over heat, mis-measure, insert photos too early, or too late, and worst of all, I am impatient. Regardless of whether or not my resin endeavors have succeeded it has been really fun to learn something new.  It has offered me inspiration and affirmation in my own abilities and techniques.  Sometimes I try things that work and are great additions to my tool box and other times my experiments end a bit like resin...sticky and messy.  Either way, I love to try them.  Do you have any ideas, designs that you have seen, or techniques that you always wondered about? Send them to me...I'll try it and blog about it to let you know how its going! If you have happened upon this blog by accident check Samantha Louise Jewelry out on Facebook or online at www.samanthalouisedesign.com and let me know what you think about my work!

ps- A little update on my goal setting....I have done some research and picked out a few stores. I also am trying to get my line sheets together.  My good friends at Oster Jewelers in Cherry Creek have agreed to take a look at my most recent stuff...I hope they like it!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sales and Goals

I am queen of goal setting...the only problem is I struggle with follow through.  This week I am going to set a goal and I am hoping by writing it down I will be forced to follow through and track how I am doing.

I have a really great store in Texas who sells through my line and reorders often.  They love my work, give me constructive feedback, and are always looking for new designs.

The Goal: Three high-end stores just like them who carry Samantha Louise Jewelry.
The Question: How am I going to do it?

Step one: Store Research. What stores would be the best venue for my work?  What other designers do they carry? price points, location, etc?

Step two: Line Sheets.  Make sure my line sheets, photos of work, and pricing are all up to date. Create a PDF version of my line sheets that I can email to stores.

Step three: Elevator Pitch.  What is my competitive advantage? Write an elevator pitch for an email, a phone conversation and in person encounters.

Step four: Be Confident in my work!  Make a plan to get in touch with stores and follow through with it.  Get them by email or phone, and drop into to set up appointments with local venues.  Try other means of connecting with those stores---social media like facebook, industry events, or networking events.

Step five: Connect.  Stay committed to connecting with those stores regularly. Even if they are not interested now they may be in the future. Plus once you sell a store it is much easier to keep a customer than to sell a new one.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Making Jewelry

I thought it might be good to start by examining what I do and how I do it.  A large part of what I do is work with clients to create custom jewelry. Engagement rings and wedding bands make a big portion of my business and the process is really fun. 

Step One: A nervous guy gets in touch because a friend of a friend recommends SL jewelry.
Step Two: We work together to try to determine the special lady's likes and dislikes. 
Step Three: We look for a stone.  This can be a challenge.  Most people who are unrelated to the jewelry industry are completely baffled when it comes to diamonds.  An engagement ring may be the first time they have ever purchased a stone.  MY JOB- A Crash Course in the Four C's.  Ultimately, by balancing the four we are able to find a beautiful stone that fits within the budget.  
Step Four:  I create a number of rough sketches based on our conversation and then create a photo rendering of the design using computer aided design or CAD.  
I included a rendered design from a recent project below.

Step Five: A prototyping machine will carve a wax from the computer file we designed.  When we get the wax back it looks like this.  I can check the ring size and the fit of the diamond to be sure it is correct.
Step Six:  The ring is cast through a process call lost wax casting.  A plaster mold is made of the ring. The mold is place in an 'oven' where the wax melts out leaving a cavity that is the exact shape and detail of the design.
Step Seven: The gold, silver, platinum or metal of choice is heated and poured into the mold.
Step Eight: When we remove the plaster we have a rough casting.  This casting still needs to be cleaned, polished and set.  The diamonds are set using a series of techniques and a final polish is put on the piece.
Step Nine: We have a final product, which is photographed and delivered to a happy client!

The Challenge of Following Your Passion

"Creating is a journey that starts with inspiration, continues with struggle, collaboration, breakthroughs, and learning, and comes full circle in success or failure. It is a journey that is worth documenting. It is a journey that others share and will be inspired from."-Tara Gentile

I am not a writer or a sharer by nature, thus the decision to start a blog was not one I took lightly.  I have spent the first 3 months of 2010 wondering what I could possibly say that would be interesting for others to read.  Then I came across this quote from Tara Gentile. She writes a blog called, Scoutie Girl, that promotes handmade crafters.  The quote was my 'AH-HA' moment...

The process of creating is one that challenges me on a daily bases.  The perpetual question-- "How do I balance running a business, being a new mom, staying inspired and all the rest of life's responsibilities?".  I know that my challenges are the same as many entrepreneurs and I cannot say that I have infinite wisdom on how to do any of it successfully.  I have certainly had my fair share of should-a, could-a, would-a's. My hope is that this blog will me help to track my progress--successes, failures, and everything in between.  I won't be arrogant enough to claim that my story is beneficial to anyone other than me, however, if you are reading this--My promise is to document my pursuit to follow my passion and my struggle to do it successfully with honesty and sincerity (and probably a large amount of comedy).

Happy Blogging
Samantha Louise