Vote for PhoenixFire Designs as Best Handcrafted Jewelry in Tampa Bay!

Black Wire Wrapped Natural Rainbow Moonstone Full Moon Tree of Life Pendant by PhoenixFire Designs

PhoenixFire Designs was “Best Handcrafted Jewelry” runner-up last year for Creative Loafing’s “Best of the Bay” contest. This year, you can help me take the win! And since we are celebrating our 10th anniversary on etsy this year, it would be amazing and extra special to take home the title too.

Vote PhoenixFire Designs for Best Handcrafted Jewelry in Creative Loafing's Best of the Bay contest! Support our 100% local, 100% handmade from scratch tree of life pendants. Celebrating 10 years on etsy!

It’s SUPER easy to vote! Just go to HERE, enter your email address and pick PhoenixFire Designs under the Best Handcrafted Jewelry category. (Hint: we’re the first “p” in the category so you can just hit your letter “p” and we’ll come up!)

Scroll down to the bottom and click SUBMIT.

It’s that simple! One vote per email address. Now through August 16th.

PhoenixFire Designs is a 100% handmade from scratch jewelry business. I am not a reseller, I don’t have things manufactured in China and I don’t sell mass-produced junk. Every single item I sell is made by my two hands right here in my Tampa studio. Please help support my one-woman owned business and vote! Thank you for your support!

Recycled Jewelry Can Be A Toxic Health Risk

Electronic products are jam-packed with heavy metals, semi-metals and various chemical compounds that can leak into soil and become hazardous. Things like lead, mercury, copper, barium, nickel and even arsenic are all present within a variety of electronic products.

While I am a strong advocate for recycling (and upcycling), not everything can be “recycled beautifully.” Some things are unsafe, toxic and potentially seriously harmful to health. Doubly so when you’re talking about materials that will be worn on the human body and touching skin. One such example is reclaimed wire from old electronics such as tv’s or computers.

 Electronic products are jam-packed with heavy metals, semi-metals and various chemical compounds that can leak into soil and become hazardous. Things like lead, mercury, copper, barium, nickel and even arsenic are all present within a variety of electronic products.

What you might not realize is that electronic waste (also known as “e-waste”) is a serious problem in our tech-hungry society. And that much of that old tech contains a terrifying mix of toxic and potentially deadly combination of heavy metals and chemicals that are not only making humans sick, but poisoning our environment as well.

  • Brominated flame retardants – used in circuit boards and plastic casings. They are known to cause neurological issues such as learning disabilities and memory function. Additionally, interfere with thyroid and estrogen hormone systems. Exposure in the womb has been linked to behavioural problems. source
  • Lead – cathode ray tubes (CRT) found in monitors and tv’s contain thousands and thousands of tons of lead. Even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in:
    Behavior and learning problems, Lower IQ and Hyperactivity, Slowed growth, Hearing Problems, Anemia and in rare cases, ingestion of lead can cause seizures, coma and even death.

    In adults, effects include: Cardiovascular effects, increased blood pressure and incidence of hypertension, Decreased kidney function and Reproductive problems (in both men and women) source

  • Mercury – used in flat panel displays and for lighting of monitors and tvs, this heavy metal produce toxicity or death with less than a gram. Toxic effects include damage to the brain, kidneys and lungs. Mercury poisoning can result in several diseases, including acrodynia (pink disease), Hunter-Russell syndrome, and Minamata disease. Symptoms typically include sensory impairment (vision, hearing, speech), disturbed sensation and a lack of coordination. source
  • Hexavalent chromium – used in production of metal casings to harden and resist corrosion as well as in paints and plastics is known to cause cancer. In addition, it targets the respiratory system, kidneys, liver, skin and eyes. source
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – used to manufacture plastics, plastic coatings on electronic wires, cable coatings, packing materials and more has more harmful side effects than I can easily mention ranging from liver damage, to male reproductive damage, to liver cancer, to oral cancer, to miscarriage, to testicular damage, to kidney damage, to inhibition of blood clotting in humans and cardiac arrhythmias in animals among many others. Suffice to say, you don’t want prolonged exposure to it. source
  • Cadmium – is a toxic heavy metal used in old CRT monitors and rechargeable batteries. Cadmium and its compounds are highly toxic and exposure to this metal is known to cause cancer and targets the body’s cardiovascular, renal, gastrointestinal, neurological, reproductive, and respiratory systems. source

Unfortunately, the list goes on and on. See Hazardous Substances in e-Waste for even more toxic and dangerous materials I haven’t even mentioned!

All this begs the question….why would you use “recycled copper or aluminum wire that [is] pull[ed] out of T.V.’s that people throw in the trash” for human worn jewelry??

epa000471501 A worker rummages through electronic waste for the purpose of salvaging metals and other materials for resale in Guiyu, south China's Guangdong province, Friday 01 July 2005.  Electronic waste, illegally imported here from developed countries, is causing severe environmental damage and exposing workers to highly toxic chemicals and heavy metals.  EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

Do you really want to wear jewelry made from THIS? Do you want to exposure yourself, your family, your children to the potential dangers known in e-waste by wearing jewelry made from “recycled beautifully” wire? image source

Remember, skin can and DOES absorb chemicals!

Skin absorption is a route by which substances can enter the body through the skin. Along with inhalation, ingestion and injection, dermal absorption is a route of exposure for toxic substances and route of administration for medication. source

I implore you to PLEASE research your jewelry purchases. Be sure that the materials used in your jewelry is SAFE and MEANT for wear by humans. Don’t fall for slick marketing campaigns designed to trick you into thinking you’re buying something ecologically friendly.

Managing the ever-growing source of e-waste in the world is a serious problem to be sure, but using potentially toxic – and at worse, possibly lethal – materials for jewelry is flat-out dangerous.


Miss M. Turner is the owner and founder of PhoenixFire Designs and has been creating handcrafted jewelry, all made 100% from scratch in her Tampa, Florida studio since 2001. Her successful etsy shop celebrates it’s 10th year in 2016, with thousands of happy customers all around the world. M. Turner also vends at local markets, craft shows, indie festivals and other art shows throughout the greater Tampa Bay Area and into Sarasota.

You can find her blog at TreeofLifePendants.com, follow PhoenixFire Designs on Instagram, follow PhoenixFire Designs on Pinterest and Shop PhoenixFire Designs on Etsy or Handmade at Amazon.

When “Handmade” Isn’t Really Made by Hand

Just because a seller claims to be "handmade" doesn't mean they really make it by hand. This article takes a look at common reseller tactics and how to avoid falling for overpriced junk made in China.

Handmade is having a resurgence lately. People are reconnecting with the idea of handicrafts, handmade, arts & crafts and craft markets. Websites such as Etsy have dominated the online market share, with Handmade At Amazon launching late 2015. As a handmade jewelry artisan, it’s a good time. And I am excited that people are once again valuing the maker movement; the one-of-a-kind treasures made by human hands here in America instead of churned out in a factory in a third world country.

The problem comes about when people abuse the definition of “handmade” to profit from this goodwill; when they falsify what handmade truly is. I see people pass off mass-produced items as “handmade” all the time. This hurts those of us who are true artisans and waters down the market. It also undercuts the value of true handicrafts and teaches consumers to expect “dollar store” or “Wal-Mart” pricing, making it much more difficult for artists to make a living.

For example, if Jane Doe comes along with items made in China that she buys for pennies and resells as “handmade” she can afford to charge very little for the items. Meaning, a consumer used to the “Wal-Mart” type lowest possible price mentality will see something truly handmade and scoff at the “expense” of it.

Pretty pictures don’t mean something is handmade. Take this image from instagram for example.

Beware of fake handmade. How to spot fake handmade. Not all handcrafted is by hand. China resellers on etsy.

One of thousands of so-called “handmade” or “handcrafted” websites out there who have pretty pictures of Chinese imported junk.

As of this writing, over 400 people have “liked” it. It’s being passed off as “handcrafted.” But is it really? A 30 second search on AliExpress (a website where you can buy wholesale goods direct from Chinese factories) results in this:

Beware of fake handmade. How to spot fake handmade. Not all handcrafted is by hand. China resellers on etsy.

Direct Chinese import at wholesale prices. These items are of questionable material and made in third world factories. They are NOT “handmade.”

Look familiar? It’s the same exact item. Available for $2.49 each with free shipping. It’s NOT handmade. It’s some piece of junk from China made from unidentifiable materials and made in a factory in a third world country with questionable human rights.

What about the “dragon claw” pendant. That’s handmade though, right?

This is not handmade. Deceitful sellers pass things like this off as "handcrafted" on etsy and at craft shows all the time. How to spot fakes. Guide to truly handmade.

This is not handmade. Deceitful sellers pass things like this off as “handcrafted” on etsy and at craft shows all the time.

Nope. $1.89 per pendant with free shipping.

Ok, but surely the crescent moon druzy pendant must be truly handmade, right?

Pretty photos don't make something handmade. Just because the etsy shop or craft show vendor claims its handcrafted doesn't mean it truly is. Resellers are a rampant problem in the handmade marketplace and damage consumer perception of the maker movement.

BZZ!! Three strikes, you’re out! Just another case of being a reseller. (A reseller is someone who buys mass produced, factory items at wholesale prices and turns around and resells it for profit without disclosing it was actually manufactured elsewhere.)

Not only does this blatant lying and misrepresentation mean that truly handmade artisans can’t compete financially with resellers, but it degrades the consumer’s trust in handmade. It puts down in their minds as to whether or not something is made by hand or not.

This isn’t a new problem. Nor is this example the only person who distorts the truth for marketing appeal – nor the first to be highly successful selling tall tales as to a product’s origins. One need only google “Ecologica Malibu” to come across articles (like this or this or like this) discussing the case of the “recycled boat wood” furniture.

You can also google “Three Bird Nest” to find one of the most INFAMOUS abusers of etsy – and self-proclaimed “richest etsy seller” at one point – to find articles like this.

So, it’s not so much a “Genesis” here that this one, highly successful jewelry seller is making hand-over-fist reselling you cheap junk from China with a fancy marketing scheme and instagram filtered photos. It’s that this continues to happen and hard working artisans like myself continue to get the squeeze.

If you want to buy cheap, junk, costume jewelry or cheap, junk accessories you are welcome to it! It’s a free country and a free market. But I sincerely hope that you take the time to educate yourself about what handmade TRULY means.

Does it look like something a person could have made in their home, studio, or garage? Or does it require industrial machinery? If the latter, chances are that means it WAS made in some factory somewhere.

When you shop on etsy, or you attend a craft fair or craft market, ASK QUESTIONS. Know what you’re spending your money on and decide who and what you wish to support. Those of us who make our living literally by hand are depending on it.


Miss M. Turner is the owner and founder of PhoenixFire Designs and has been creating handcrafted jewelry, all made 100% from scratch in her Tampa, Florida studio since 2001. Her successful etsy shop celebrates it’s 10th year in 2016, with thousands of happy customers all around the world. M. Turner also vends at local markets, craft shows, indie festivals and other art shows throughout the greater Tampa Bay Area and into Sarasota.

You can find her blog at TreeofLifePendants.com, follow PhoenixFire Designs on Instagram, follow PhoenixFire Designs on Pinterest and Shop PhoenixFire Designs on Etsy or Handmade at Amazon.