The question asked of some of our jeweler friends?

What was the absolute favorite product that you purchased in 2011? (intentionally a bit open-ended, open to interpretation, open to clever responses, truthful confessions, product promotion, self-promotion, sarcasm, or just the facts.)

JoolTool Jewelers Kit (with Ninja discs!)

Mark Nelson

(metalsmith, jewelry designer, Rio’s “celebrity” Tech Team member…check him out on “Beads Baubles & Jewels” in Rio’s Video Library!)

Hmmm that would be the JoolTool. Mostly because it uses Ninja discs, and nothing is cooler than a Ninja.

Actually I used it to make my first pocket knife and it worked flawlessly, just like what was described. I can’t wait to try other things with it.


Patrik Kusek

(Award-winning designer, author, Senior PMC instructor)

Ok so hands down this year my favorite purchase was my iPad2! I initially bought it to check emails when I travel teaching PMC Certification classes. BUT I use it for so much more that I rarely leave home without it. How many ways do I love my iPad? Let me count the ways…

Patrik’s design, shot, and edited with his iPad.

  1. While I “travel teach”: I keep track of my travel itinerary, car rental, weather at the locations where I teach. I can use it to find my way around new cities where I teach. Good restaurants, stay away from bad restaurants, good hotels, etc. Keep in touch with family and students on Facebook. Read books and magazines!
  2. Around the studio: I also keep it with me in the studio while I work, I can place orders with Rio whenever I want, BUT I use the wish list feature. Whenever I run out of something I just add it to the wish list, then when I’m ready, I place the order. No more sticky note supply lists! I can access Rio’s video library with the Rio Video Library App! With the Metalsmith  Suite App I can calculate precious metal costs, determine how much metal I need for casting, info on gemstones and much more. I also can take quick shots of my jewelry then I can add special effects to make the image look cool. All with my iPad.
  3. Out and about: I can take pictures of things that inspire me and make idea boards. I can also now accept credit cards with it using the Square. I just swipe the credit card, customers can sign the iPad screen with their finger, then it can just email them the receipt! Did I mention that the app is free? Did I mention it doesn’t have a monthly fee? Did I mention it can keep my inventory on it, too? I can also keep up with my new obsession, writing my new blog,  I can use the iPad to take pictures and upload them directly to my blog. I can update my blog from just about anywhere.

I can keep track of my book sales for “Woodland Chic: Metal Clay Jewelry as Nature Intended”  that come from my blog or other sources while on the road.

P.S. Sent from my iPad :)

Yvonne’s therapeutic hole-punching pliers

Yvonne M. Padilla

(self-proclaimed jewelry hussy, designer, instructor, author)

My new favorite tool is the Swanstrom hole-punching pliers (1.25mm). When I broke my wrist this summer I was limited, which meant I couldn’t use a flex shaft or some of my other mainstays. I still tried to muddle my way through making some simple things, but using a flex shaft to drill holes in metal was out of the question. So instead I bought the hole-punching pliers. Super easy to use (even one handed!) and they leave a clean cut that requires very little clean up. These pliers kept me making jewelry as I healed!

Oh, that and my book (Bronze Metal Clay. Hint, hint. Nudge, nudge.)


Victoria Lansford

(artist, educator, author, publisher)

There really is Medium Green Chaser’s Pitch under here. It helped tremendously in shaping the Eastern repoussé calligraphy and wing detail.)

The Pitch of the Year!

My favorite product for 2011 has to be the Medium Green Chaser’s Pitch! I know I’ve gone on about this stuff before, but I’m in love with it.  Ok, so I’m a complete techno-geek for using the words ‘pitch’ and ‘love’ in the same sentence, but yes, really… love.

Seeing how far I can push the metal from the back on plasticine was always the fun part for me. Now working from the front on pitch is a pleasure too because this pitch makes even the endless planishing and the tiniest details that I do faster and cleaner. I know Medium Green Chaser’s Pitch was created for all types of chasing and repoussé, but it’s like it was made just for doing my style of Eastern repoussé.



Ronda’s new “Lamborghini”

Ronda Coryell

(award-winning jeweler, Certified Master Bench Jeweler, instructor)

My favorite purchase this year would have to be my Bill Fretz Goldsmithing Hammer. It is finished to perfection. I call it the Lamborghini of hammers. I like this hammer so much I have included it in every student bench tool kit at Jewelry Studies International. The balance, the look, the feel… it is wonderful to hold and use. A beautiful tool!



Candace Gates

(jewelry designer, Dynasty Stamps creator)

My favorite purchase this year was my iPad.  I know it is not technically a tool, but it is a big part of my design work.  First off, I have the most ridiculous taste in television programming.

While I am designing my textures (sometimes for days at a time) my iPad is right there streaming all kinds of TV shows (“Stargate SG-1”, 10 seasons –during the Chinoisserie Series, “Psych”, Seasons 1-3 –during the new clasp sheet). It works like white noise for me and sets a rhythm of sorts . . . not to mention that for some reason it makes the hours and hours at my computer just fly by.



Sessin Durgham

(award-winning designer, metalsmith, beloved Rio Tech Team member)

left to right: Knew Concepts Blanking Die Saw and Sessin patting his head and rubbing his belly at the same time.

My favorite tool this year has to be the Knew Concepts Blanking Die Saw that I got for Christmas. This is just about the only way to consistently make your own blanking dies for use with a Bonny Doon press. These dies are used to cut out shapes (like a cookie cutter) by pressing and cutting sheet metal.  The results are amazing and will give the user complete control of their designs. Also, it will test your sawing skills and patience as it is counter intuitive to everything we know about using a saw. It’s like trying to pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time. About two or three hours into it and you will be off and running.

Chihiro Makio

(award-winning designer, jewelry artist)

Pavé diamond beads—they are less fancy than brilliant-cut but more detailed than rose-cut diamonds, and I like the fact they are not clear, more iridescent. Those, and my gym membership!

Phil’s favorite non-purchased, self-made tool

Phil Poirier

(master gem cutter, goldsmith, owner Bonny Doon Engineering)

It’s gotta be the Bonny Doon Vertical Vise and Urethane Hammer combination. Although technically I didn’t purchase them, I had the pleasure of making them, for me and everyone else on the planet! I had tools like these that I made myself many years ago they were really crude but got the job done. Redesigning them to work perfectly AND look good was my goal, and then to get to have a set of my own . . . well, that’s my favorite new item in my toolbox! (Read Phil’s blog post about Bonny Doon hammers and stakes.)


Tim Sheriff

(jeweler, plant manager Swanstrom Tools USA, Inc.)

The #703-017 Rio Extra-Large Programmable Kiln.

Look, ma! No bubbles!

Haley Holeman

(award-winning jewelry designer, intern at Charles Albert, recent college graduate)

Nothing beats ending the year with a perfect casting! I want bubbles in my drink, not my piece! My Rio Mold-Vacuuming Table caster/investor is my favorite purchase of 2011. (Read more about Haley.)





Wayne Meeten

(award-winning designer, goldsmith, silversmith)

Wayne’s trusty ladder

My favourite purchase of 2011 was a ladder i bought to help build my new studio here on the countryside but also to see what it’s like to be taller!!

So, what was your favorite purchase of 2011? Do tell!