A: My name is Cara Wolff Meinke - I am a metalsmith and jewelry designer and I make all of my pieces by hand from high-quality metals and gemstones. Much of my jewelry is made from recycled/repurposed materials. I am a one-woman-show: maker of the things, photographer of the things, inventory and material manager, janitor, website editor, communications director, packaging creator, and so many more hats! Oh, and I am also the proud mother of two young kiddos and the manager and host of two AirBnbs, oh my!
A: I have been making jewelry for as long as I can remember in some form or another and have been fascinated with jewelry and stones since I was a young girl. Although I was a professional wildlife biologist for over 20 years, I found time to advance my passion for jewelry making along the way and took classes at the Denver School of Metal Arts, the Maine College of Art, and Humboldt State University. I'm still learning and improving, but loving the process and the craft.
A: I make my jewelry entirely by hand, slowly and with great care and intention. As such, I produce small quantities of jewelry - I strive to release new collections of one-of-a-kind pieces every one to two months. Dates and times of releases are announced here as well as on Instagram (@carawolffjewelry), with the occasional surprise release - so follow along for updates. I am continually designing and creating new pieces which you can often see as they progress on my instagram, @carawolffjewelry! I also now have a Permanent Collection of my staple pieces of jewelry that I strive to always have in stock.
You can also purchase my work, both one-of-a-kind and items from my Permanent Collection, along with that of several other talented artists, at my brick and mortar store, Cara Wolff, in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont - the address is 4 Elliot St. and my store hours are Friday and Saturday, 10-5 and Sunday 12-4. https://www.brattleborochamber.org/listing/cara-wolff-llc/
A: The majority of the pieces that I offer on my website are one of a kind and are already made when I update my shop. It often takes 2-3 days to package and ship your jewelry. The jewelry in my Permanent Collection may take an additional 3-5 days to fabricate, for a total of about one week from order until ship date. If you need a piece sooner, rush service may be available - please contact me directly if this is needed.
A: I offer free domestic shipping using USPS First Class mail - it usually takes 2-5 days depending on your location. Once a package has been dropped off at the post office, it becomes your responsibility. Pieces over $200 come with shipping insurance, with information to file a claim attached with your tracking number. I rarely if ever have an issue with USPS- but please understand that the occasional delay is to be expected.
A: Yes. If you need expedited domestic shipping services, they are available for a fee of $7.50, paid at checkout.
A: I ship everywhere! All international orders will be shipped Priority to ensure the protection of your piece and take 1-6 weeks depending upon destination. Fees are for international shipping are determined at checkout.
A: It's always best to treat your jewelry gently and with care, removing items before gardening, swimming/hot tubbing, or participating in sports. The best way to clean your jewelry is to use a clean, soft, dry microfiber cloth to gently remove fingerprints, dirt, residue, and oils. Avoid using any harsh chemicals or jewelry cleaners as these can damage the surface of the stone or remove the patina on your piece. For brass/bronze items that have been sitting and have developed a heavy tarnish/oxidization, you can use baking soda and water with a toothbrush, or baking soda toothpaste, to remove the heavy tarnish, and then polish with a polishing cloth. There are also lots of great videos on YouTube on a method using salt, baking soda, dish detergent, and hot water!
A: Returns are accepted for a full refund within 30 days (by postmark). You are responsible for shipping fees and the item(s) must be in its original state. Returns are accepted within 90 days for store credit.
If items are defective, I will accept returns for repair free of charge, as long as it is not due to normal wear and tear. In the latter case, I can repair for a fee that will be determined based on work involved.
A: All orders are hand packaged with care using only recycled and repurposed packaging material. Your jewelry will arrive in sturdy, Kraft boxes with my custom stamping, accompanied by your packing slip that includes your order details for your records. While I do not offer specific "gift wrapping", know that my packaging is intentionally designed to look like a gift, complete with a ribbon and natural elements.
A: I can replace single earrings that are lost if I still have stones/materials available - the charge will be half of the original cost of the earring pair.
A: The best way to find your ring size is to stop by a local jeweler and ask them to measure your finger(s) to determine your size. You also can bring a ring that you know fits well and have them measure it (this works great if you're buying a ring for someone else!) If neither is possible, reference this handy website, but know results may not be as reliable as a professional jeweler's measurements: http://findmyringsize.com
A: Some of my rings can be stretch up to 1-2 sizes, particularly if they have a hammered band. I note in each item description whether or not a ring can be resized, so please read the details of each listing carefully. If you read that a ring can be resized, please message me directly with your desired size. In terms of making a ring smaller, an additional fee for will be required; depending on the type of stone and amount of work involved, this is usually between $30-$100.
A: I take limited requests for custom and repair/reinvisioning orders, depending on my backlog of work. Please inquire by sending me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the website contact form and I will let you know if I have the bandwidth to do it.
A1: Metal - I work mostly with sterling silver and 14k gold-filled metal. To a lesser extent I use brass, bronze, copper and accents of solid 22k, 18k, and 14k gold. I don’t work in platinum. Much of my jewelry is made with reclaimed metals, meaning the materials are re-purposed and recycled from retired pieces of jewelry or scraps of metal from my many years of jewelry making. Reclaimed/recycled material is augmented by metal wire and sheet purchased from RioGrande, a company that works to implement practices that decrease environmental harm while increasing the wellness of communities they interact with. For more information about their environmental stewardship: https://www.riogrande.com/landing/Environmentally-Responsible-Jewelry-Making.
A2: Stones - the natural and hand-cut stones that I use are not packed with plastic reinforced resins or treated with other hardening techniques often used in mass-produced jewelry. While my jewelry is meant to be worn everyday, I encourage you to get to know your jewelry and gain a personal understanding of what the properties of your stones are and what they can withstand. For example, is the stone you are getting soft, hard, potentially damaged by sun, water, or heat exposure? These are good things to know and can help inform how you wear and what activities you engage in while wearing your jewelry. For example, moonstones/labradorites/turquoises are very soft stones.
Regardless of their properties, the stones in your pieces will change over time and they, along with the metals they are set in, won’t maintain the pristine state they were in when originally purchased. However, it’s my belief that this adds to their character and the story that your jewelry tells that is unique to its wearer. And, when treated with attention and TLC, handmade jewelry will last much longer than mass-produced jewelry.
A: The term 14k gold-filled refers to a metal that is made based on a USA industry standard that legally requires 1/20th, or 5% pure gold by weight to be used in making the metal. It's a strictly regulated process that involves pressure bonding multiple layers of solid 14k gold with extreme heat over a core of brass, resulting in a durable, quality, real gold product. It tends to have a warmer tone than solid gold after heating. It can sometimes result in exposure of the base metal at solder seams which can discolor skin temporarily, similar to the effect of wearing copper or brass jewelry. However, all 14k gold-filled earring wires used in my jewelry will never have this issue, as they are not heated, thus they can be worn by people with metal sensitives who can wear solid gold.14k gold-filled metal is very high-quality and is much more durable than gold vermeil or plate - it won’t rub off easily with wear like those lower quality materials will and it is said to have a life span of 30+ years (i.e., before the 14k gold layer is worn away) with normal wear.
A: If you have an inquiry that you don't see here, feel free to shoot me a message I try my best to respond to email, phone call, and social media messages in a timely manner, but I can get overwhelmed by the many hats I wear and can sometimes take a few days to respond. Thank you for your patience and understanding. If for some reason you don't receive a response, please don't hesitate to reach out again.