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 (and now homeschooler) of two young kiddos (Bridger and Rowan, 6 and 4).
A: Most pieces are made to order. If I don’t have the piece you ordered in stock, most pieces will take me approximately 2-5 days to make and ship. Given circumstances under the times of COVID, sometimes this process can take up to 10 days. If you need a piece sooner, rush service may be available. Please contact me directly.
I offer free shipping using USPS First Class mail - it usually takes 2-5 days depending on your location, but I have noticed that shipping times can be longer since COVID. If you need faster shipping services, they are available using standard shipping services at checkout (for a fee).
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. I can also 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: Although custom and repair services were a big part of my business at my store/studio in downtown Brattleboro, unfortunately I am unable to take on custom orders since the onset of COVID-19. Now that I am doing all my work in my home studio while juggling homeschooling of my two young children, I simply don't have the bandwidth do custom orders. I hope this will change when we all emerge from the pandemic. My sincere apologies.
Having said that, if you are interested in minor deviations from designs shown on the website, such as changes in metal type or chain length, I am usually able to accommodate those since most things are made to order. Please feel free to inquire about those by sending me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the website contact form.
A: 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 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.
A: 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: 14k gold-filled is a USA industry standard that legally requires 1/20th, or 5% pure gold by weight. 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: Because much of my jewelry is one-of-a-kind, in most cases the pictures you see of jewelry on the website will be the exact item you receive. However, some items are made to order from designs that I remake again and again. Because all of my jewelry is handmade and hand finished, no two items are exactly alike and will have natural imperfections. I believe it is these slight imperfections that give handcrafted items their unique and soulful character and appeal.
A: Currently my work is only available for purchase on my website. Prior to COVID, most of my work was sold at my store/studio in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont. As a one-woman show, I am unable to produce enough jewelry to sell wholesale at any other locations, but that may change in the future!
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. Like many things in life, some of my favorite creations were spawned from mistakes that I made. I look forward to continuing to turn mistakes into magic and honing my craft throughout my life.
A: I must admit, I have been know to be sluggish to respond to emails or comments and I am so sorry - it is not for lack of appreciation or care. Doing everything by myself while also caring from my children can be overwhelming. Not to mention there are so many ways to be contacted these days - messages through Instagram, Facebook, my website, Google search, regular email, voicemail...gah! Sometimes I get a message, read it, and think I will respond later when I have more time, only to find that I can’t remember where the message came from and can’t find it again! I try to avoid the time I spend in front of screens (though admittedly I often fail), and try to maximize my time creating and spending time with my family. If I don’t spend time enjoying the places, people, and creatures that bring me joy and inspiration, I don't have much of a creative well to draw from. So thank you for your patience and understanding, it is truly appreciated.