The term ‘steampunk’ was coined in 1987 by KW Jeter, author of Morlock night, and was used to describe a genre of fantasy and exploratory fiction. This style is also heavily influenced by the Victorian and Edwardian eras, a time of greater prosperity and creativity, as well as elaborate fashions. Long coats, top hats, bustles, and frilly umbrellas were the fashion of the day along with ornate pocket watches, pendants, and cameo brooches. The Steampunk style has grown to incorporate such influences along with the harsher futuristic industrial elements of the ‘mad max’ style to create a unique look.

Designing and making steampunk-style jewelry doesn’t have to involve a great deal of metal-making experience, but it helps to master some basic jewelry-making techniques to achieve the right look. These include becoming familiar with wire work, specifically coiling, spiraling, and wrapping, as these can be key aspects involved in the style. Keep an eye out for coiling and coiling contraptions, as these can make these tasks much easier and faster if you’re looking to produce a number of items.

There are a number of different materials appropriate for making steampunk jewelry, and many are rooted in the spirit and background of the style. The chain is one of the key elements that you will find again and again. During the Industrial Revolution, the middle classes could buy pinchbeck (a gold-plated alloy of copper and zinc) and stamped, pressed, and coiled steel into chains, hence the use of these items in steampunk jewelry.

Amulets are also widely used and were popularized by Queen Victoria. However, much of the charms on offer today consist of watch parts and found objects, the latter of which can be cheap to obtain. However, watch parts can be harder to come by, but check out Etsy for sellers with vintage watch gears and movements. These items tend to be mostly from US sellers, but beware buying in bulk as it may mean you get a better deal.

Glass can also be an affordable embellishment to add to your piece. The machine age saw a marked increase in glass making and today you can easily pick up glass cabochons, beads or mirrors to adorn your jewelry. You can even make your own with the help of a glass melting kit.

Cameos are another popular item, especially if you want to do something a little more along the lines of Victorian Gothic jewelry. These were very popular during the Victorian era and the wealthy would collect shell or lava cameos while on vacation in Italy.

If you want to incorporate gemstones and want to stay true to the era, choose from; amethyst, opal, turquoise, agate, onyx, carnelian, amber, jade, garnet, ruby, jet, sapphire, peridot, and jasper, as these became increasingly available in the mid-19th century when ships began bringing gemstones to England as a result of the commercial impulse with Asia during this period.

The colors used in steampunk style jewelry are also important, and are kept muted and somewhat monotonous. This is due to the fact that there were no synthetic dyes in the first half of the 19th century. You may also want to consider this if you want to do more mourning/gothic Victorian inspired pieces, as a lady in mourning would only be allowed to wear black, shades of gray or purple and occasionally burgundy or ruby. The combination of lace chokers with chain details can also add to this look and create a very gothic feel.

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