Saturday, December 31, 2005

Custom Made Sterling Silver Pendant

This is another of my recent custom jewelry creations from Payne's Custom Jewelry. It's a unique sterling silver family crest pendant with a heavy rope chain. If you have ever wanted a custom designed piece of jewelry, made to your specifications, just send me an email. I will be glad to send you a free price quote based on your custom jewelry needs.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Unique Custom Designed Championship Ring

This unique custom designed championship ring was cast in 10 karat yellow gold and set with diamonds. It is a recent creation for one of my website customers.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Unique Custom Designed Bullet Pendant with Treble Clef

custom designed 14 karat gold bullet pendant
This is a unique custom designed bullet pendant I recently completed for one of my Internet customers. It is done in 14 karat yellow and white gold with a bail that allows the bullet to rotate. It's the actual size of a 357 bullet and is solid and quite heavy.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Archaeology in Mississippi - Parchman Dig 2003

The state of Mississippi has a rich prehistory that is represented mostly by the artifacts left by past inhabitants. Humans have lived here for over 12,000 years which was near the end of the last Ice Age.

I have been involved, as an amateur, in archaeology for many years. I am a member of the Mississippi Archaeological Association (MAA) which is an organization of both professional and amateur archaeologist within Mississippi. During the summer of 2003 the MAA helped with a dig near Clarksdale in the Mississippi Delta. The research was being conducted primarily by the University of Mississippi archaeology department. This was a multiple mound site with an adjacent living area. Ground penetrating radar had been used to locate house sites for possible excavation.

This is a picture of a trench that was being dug into one of the mounds. Pieces of cane mat used in construction was found several feet below the surface. The dwellings were made using mud daub construction. Mud or clay was mixed with plant fiber and placed in a cane and wood structure. Artifacts found on the surface in the cotton fields around the site include pieces of pottery, stone tools made with local gravel, and mud daub with impressions of cane.

This is a view towards the mounds. They are nearly obscured by trees. It was very hot the day I was there and I took some redbugs home with me. Archaeology is usually hard and dirty work.

Custom Made Company Logo Pendant

This new piece of custom jewelry is a company logo pendant made in 14 karat white gold. Company logo jewelry has been a popular style requested by my customers over the years. I have done both pendants and rings using their unique logo designs, usually in gold or sterling silver.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Post Katrina Pictures from Biloxi, Mississippi

My lovely wife went to Biloxi, Mississippi, last weekend with her dad. Her brother was roofing a house down there. These are some of the pictures she took of that area. The total destruction everywhere is hard to imagine. Casino barges are now on dry land. Concrete slabs lay where houses once stood. Many people are still living in tents. I'm sure it will be many years before the Gulf Coast recovers from the affects of Katrina. The red brick colonial style house above has been standing since 1720 and was one of the oldest buildings in Ocean Springs. It did not survive Katrina. Even though it was on the back bay, flood waters ran right through the center of the house, causing its collapse. The beautiful old, stately homes along Beach Blvd are gone, or destroyed past saving.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Views from up the Pearl River near Jackson, Mississippi

I recently went on a fishing trip up the Pearl River north of Jackson, Mississippi. It's a short trip up the Natchez Trace from where I live. The weather was excellent with temperatures in the mid 80s and a light wind. I didn't catch many fish but this was a photo opportunity for me as well. The fall colors were very vibrant. We haven't had any rain here in a few weeks and the colors are near their peak.

I did see two alligators but wasn't able to get very close for a good picture. They are rather camera shy. The one I did get a picture of slipped into the water soon after it was taken. There are some rather large ones in the river and Ross Barnette Reservoir which is fed by the Pearl. They had their first ever legal alligator hunt on the river about a month ago. There were strict regulations on how they were taken.

The trees that are so red are cyprus. The water was rather low and clearer than usual because of the lack of rain. I usually fish for white perch or bass on the river.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Hurricane Katrina-Views from the Gulf Coast

Yesterday I went to Pascagoula, Mississippi, on a mission trip with members of my local church. We went down to put insulation and sheetrock up in two houses that were damaged by hurricane Katrina.

The owners at the house where I worked had left before the storm and returned to find that their house had extensive water damage and everything in it was destroyed. They had lived there for 40 years. They slept on the floor of their home for seven weeks before they received a trailer from FEMA. While we were there one of their neighbors came over and told them proudly he had just gotten a trailer to stay in. They live about a 1/4 mile from the shoreline. Some houses on their street were completely destroyed.

The extent of the damage on the Gulf Coast is hard to imagine. I spent some time fishing on the Mississippi coast in June and everywhere I had visited during that trip was destroyed. We fished from Pascagoula to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Ironicly we went to Bay St. Louis to get away from a tropical depression that came ashore while we were there. Everywhere we had gone was destroyed by Katrina including the bridge in Biloxi we fished from and the railroad bridge in the backgound. The shrimp boats and other vessels were waiting to go up into the bay because the railroad bridge has a section that swings around to let larger boats through.

I also took my boat to New Orleans the day after Labor Day to help with the rescue efforts there. I was only able to stay one day but I was able to help. Along with a New Orleans police officer I went out and searched for people who were still traped in their homes by the flood. The extent of the destruction there was also unbelievable. The picture on the left is looking down Canal Street with my truck and boat in the foreground. The picture on the right is the neighborhood where we searched.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico

One of my favorite pastimes is salt water fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. This is a picture of two of my fishing buddies on a recent trip. We are leaving from Dolphin Island, Alabama, and have high hopes of catching our limit of red snapper. It was a beautiful September morning and we got an early start. On the rignt is captain Ed. He lives in Mobile, Alabama, and owns the boat we went out on. It is a 25 foot dual hull fishing boat with all the electronics.

Above is one of our catch during the day, a fine red snapper. We were bottom fishing with cut bait on a sunken ship about 10 miles out from Mobile Bay in 80 feet of water. We ended up catching one short of our limit.

There are numerous oil and gas platforms or rigs in this area of the Gulf. Some are manned and some aren't. Some fishermen fish around them but we usually bottom fish submerged structure instead. We locate the spots by using electronics such as GPS and sonar.

This is a curious and hungry two foot shark on the surface. He would stick his head out of the water for a bite of squid that we dangled above him.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Custom Jewelry - 14 Karat Rose Gold Bracelet with Black Star Sapphires

This is another recent custom jewelry creation I did for one of my valued Internet customers. This unique bracelet was done in 14 karat rose gold with a round black star sapphire stone set in each end. This bracelet is one of my few rose gold pieces. It has a beautiful pink tone that compliments the star sapphires very nicely. The ends were antiqued to give the bracelet an older look and to make the designs stand out.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Search Engine Optimization or SEO and You

It became apparent when I first built my web site that people doing searches had to be able to find it on the search engines using relevant keyword searches. That was almost seven years ago. I read all I could on the subject of search engine optimization or SEO. This included sites devoted to the subject, newsletters and forums.

Well what have I learned? If you want to be ranked highly in the organic or non-paid search results you had to follow certain guidelines to make your site search engine friendly. Seven years ago the search landscape was much different than today. Google was just an infant. Search engines came and went. They merged or used each others results. Change was, and still is, the norm. They eventually evolved into what we have today, the big three, Google, Yahoo and MSN.

What amazes me today is how little site owners and webmasters use proven SEO practices as part of their site design. When you mention search engine marketing they usually think of paid search or pay-per-click. You still have webmasters using all flash sites, title tags that say "Home", and who exhibit a total disregard for simple SEO practices. I have read recently that even when given recommendations by SEO marketers their advice is often not followed by site owners or IT managers.

Part of the problem might be that SEO is difficult and practices must be constantly adjusted to meet new challenges. One way to do this is not to put all your eggs in one basket. It doesn't matter whether that basket is a certain search engine or a particular group of keyword phrases. Also as many SEO experts say, "relevant and original content is king". This is true, however, off site practices are also important such as relevant inbound links and other marketing practices.

Something else that amazes me is that there is so much emphasis by the search engines on who has the largest data base or pages indexed. The problem here is that people generally only look at the first page of search results. Some even only the first listing on that page! Well that means that only the first ten sites out of millions are even looked at by potential customers. So what difference does the rest of the listed pages really make? Maybe searchers will become more sophisticated and use more than a two or three word phrase to search. Or maybe local search (using a place name in the query string) will become more popular with time. Both of these developments should be important to site designers.

The bottom line is that basic SEO is simple and should be used by all site designers. Simple SEO doesn't cost a thing. Also the search landscape is constantly changing. Sites need to be constantly updated not only for the search engines but for their visitors. Fresh content is important. Lastly I hope that organic search will remain a part of the Internet. If it is eliminated completely I think we all will suffer a great loss.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Custom Designed Class Ring

This is another new recent jewelry creation. It is a 10 karat yellow gold class ring with a honey tiger eye stone. Custom class rings and championship rings have been a very popular item for me. Each one is unique and made to my customer's specifications.

Custom White Gold Diamond Cross Pendant

This is a recently created custom diamond cross pendant I made in 14 karat white gold. The baguette cut diamonds were from an old ring the customer already had. It was for his wife's birthday. Speaking of birthdays I have one coming up on the 31st. Yep, a Halloween baby.

Custom Jewelry

Working at the bench.

This is a picture of me working at my bench. I create custom designed jewelry in either gold, sterling silver or platinum for my customers. I use the lost wax casting method to produce the jewelry pieces. This involves carving a wax model of the item and then casting it in the chosen precious metal. The wax model is destroyed in the process. If you have ever wanted a piece of unique custom jewelry please contact me for a free price quote.

First Blog

Another fine day in Mississippi! Since I am a custom jewelry designer by trade I welcome any questions you might have on the subject. I also have interest in Internet marketing and SEO because of my web site. I will post my new completed projects and custom jewelry designs as they are completed.