The California Crafters Club of Etsy (CCCOE) is a group of independent artists, crafters, & artisans from California who sell their wares on

Friday, September 21, 2018

In the Background

There is a bit of a debate over backgrounds in listing photographs. Some say that backgrounds should be plain so that your item is the center of attention. Others say that a photo needs something in the background or it's too plain.

Whichever side you fall on is fine. The best thing is to be consistent. A set background that you use for all your photos helps to brand your shop. Or if all your photographs are shot with a plain white background, that will also define a type of brand.

One good way to ensure that you have a uniform background for all your product photos is to purchase a yard or two of fabric. You can pick whatever neutral color you'd like, and then you can throw that over whatever table you're photographing on.

But the best way to see what you prefer is to look at some examples. First up, some examples of plain backgrounds:

Let's start with supplies. When you're selling something that someone's going to use to make something else, we really want to get a good look at it. Close up and plain background is great for this.

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DMC 4245 Variegated 6 Strand Floss Mystical Midnight from Ancora Crafts

This little critter does well against a plain background...

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Sweater Scrap Prawn by Zazu Faure

And a plain background doesn't have to be white. The dark background helps make this silver necklace pop.

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30 inch .925 sterling silver 1mm snake chain necklace by Designs by Tami

Next, here are sellers that have more scenery behind their products:

Hollow Books' photos all seem to have this background. It makes it really easy to spot their products, especially in a random search.

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Book Safe - Ravenclaw Harry Potter by Hollow Books by Refined Pallet 

Here's a different way to showcase a pair of earrings--with a map for the background...

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Sealife earrings by jewelry N gemstones

And if you're showing off an item that can be worn, having a model is great. We can really see this product in use and imagine wearing it ourselves.

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Knee High Socks by pink candy studio

If these were your products, would you have chosen to shoot them against a different background? What sort of background do you prefer in your photos? 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Shine a Light on It

There's a whole lot that goes into taking a "good" photograph. There are high school and college courses designed to develop students into competent professionals.

If you are deficient in this area, you might want to look into taking a class. However, there are a few things you can do right away to make your pictures better. And the more you practice, the better you're going to get.

A big thing is to take care of your lighting. Your photographs should be well-lit. Or, at least, deliberately lit. There are articles (and probably books) all about how to light photographs well. Today I can only scratch the surface. Here are three articles to get you started:

The best lighting is natural light. Sunlight. However, direct sunlight can be too much, especially the harsh sunlight of high noon. You want the sunlight filtered a bit, depending.

But not everyone can take pictures outdoors. And not everyone has a good place indoors that gets good sunlight. When looking into lighting options, look for white light. Lightboxes can also be helpful. And multiple sources of light can help to make a photograph pop.

(Yes, there's a lot that goes into getting good lighting. Take lots of pictures. See what works. That's the best way to get better pictures.)

Here are some photos from team members that show what you can do with lighting:

First up, this photo looks like it was photographed in a lightbox. It gives a very plain background so what you see is the product. Nothing else distracts.

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Barbary Belle Perfume Oil by Scent by the Sea

Here's a picture where natural light was used. See the window? It gives a bit more drama to the shot, highlighting how the vase will look in use.

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One Upcycled 1.5L Glass Wine Bottle Vase by Bottles & Wood

Here's an example with flood lighting. We can really see the necklace, and in a piece like this, we want to see detail. We can.

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Large Pave Diamond Evil Eye Medallion by Mooti Designs

The brightness of the light helps these crystals shine. When we're shopping for jewelry, we really want to see it sparkle. This sparkles.

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The Perfect Crystal Necklace by Beaded Treasure by Sue

There are many ways to do lighting. There are many ways to get it right. How confident are you in your photos' lighting?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Keeping Your Focus

When it comes to selecting pictures to use in your listings, there are a lot of things that should be obvious. But, if you take a look on Etsy, you will find listings which have pictures that aren't all that great. So, it's time to state some things plainly.

All your listing photos should be in focus.

The best way to ensure that you don't make this error is to take a lot of pictures when photographing your items. I mean, a lot a lot. If we assume that you're planning on having ten photos in your listing (which should be the goal), then, at minimum, you should be taking thirty pictures of your item. Although, it would not be a bad idea to take fifty shots or more when doing your photography.

Yes, this is overkill, but the idea is to select the best ten pictures. You should have a lot to choose from.

If you've been at this a while, you might know exactly what angles and views work best. But you're taking at least two of each "pose", right? That way you still have plenty of pictures to choose from.

There are photographers who deliberately choose to blur things in their photos. When you know what you're doing and you're getting the intended effect, that's fine. But those of us (like me) who aren't all that confident in their photographic skills should stick to making sure their pictures are in focus.

I will not be calling out any sellers for this, so I have some beautifully focused photos to share today.

First up, notice how this soap pops in the image:

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Whipped Soap VEGAN Hot Coffee 8 oz Creme Fraiche by savor

Even in a smaller size, you can clearly see the musical notes on the plate:

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Fused glass art plate by Caroline4art

We can easily see how this piece is assembled:

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lidded pine needle basket with a driftwood root top by Heart of Almanor

For smaller items, like keychains, it's vital that the item is clearly photographed:

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Personalized Keychain Edward Gorey by Tresijas

And see how clear this scarf is:

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Silk Scarf Handpainted in Copper and Brown by Ocean Avenue Silks

How well focused are your pictures? How many photos do you take when photographing your items?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Listing Photos

Etsy allows ten photos for each listing. But do you really need ten pictures?

Selling online isn't like selling in person. Your customers can't pick up and touch your wares before purchasing. They rely on your photos to give them an idea of what they're getting.

Depending on the item, finding ten different views can be easy or hard. You want to give a good view of it. Show it in use. If it can be worn, have someone model it. Put it in context, and let customers see how small/big it is. A good closeup showing how well-made the item is will definitely help sell it.

A browser just checking out their options probably won't look at all the views of your merchandise. But a customer who is ready to buy will. That is who you want to consider when taking the photos you'll use.

But what if you can't do ten pictures of your item?

You will not be penalized for not having ten views. The live listing will look like it's meant to have five or seven photos only.

However, there are a few things you can add to the later photo slots. (You can shift the photos around, so make sure you order them in a manner that makes sense.)

Do you have other variations of the item? Do you have a gift wrapping option? Is your packaging worthy of a shot?

People, generally, are notorious for not reading through things. They ignore signs in public places. And there's a good chance they'll not carefully read your product's description. So, those final photos are a good opportunity to highlight any information you want your customers to see.

The pictures are your best way to sell your products. Give them the time and attention they need.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Product Photos

What is more important in a listing on Etsy, the tags or the pictures?

Alas, the answer is both. They work in tandem.

If your tags aren't working, you won't be found in search. Your pictures can be amazing, but no one will ever see them.

If your pictures aren't good, you won't get much interest. Your tags might get you on the search page, but buyers are going to skim right over your items in favor of the better photos.

The good news is, you can get good at taking pictures. It just takes some practice. And there's all sorts of advice to be found online.

What does a good picture look like? It's well-lit. It's in focus. It has a background that doesn't distract from the item. (There is a debate as to whether it's better to have a blank background or not.)

Let's take a look at some good product photos:

3/4 inch Blank Leather Wristbands Bracelet Cuff by Flores Tanis Supplies

Fruity Soap Cherry Whip 2 oz by savor

Knit Flower Instant Download PDF Pattern by ohmay

classic oval hoops in hammered 14k gold by 2 Trick Pony

Drinking Glasses Set of 2 by Bottles & Wood

Hand Spun Yarn by Epicurius

Hammered Disc Earrings by NansGlam

See how the products just jump out at you? This is the goal. And my next series of posts will delve into some tips on how to make your product photos better. 

Do you need help with photos? Do you have any advice for those of us who need it?

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Your Product Titles: Large Ruffled Laundry Bag

Have you seen those items on Etsy with titles that are just packed with keywords? Why do people do that?

Search engine optimization.

Depending on what you read, this is either a good idea or a bad idea. It's good because the search engines "see" the tags you're targeting twice. It's bad because some search engines want more natural sounding (read: written by a human) titles.

But we can actually do both. So, why not? (I discussed this a bit before.)

Let's take a look at this laundry bag from Vintage Encore:

Large Ruffled Laundry Bag

Some of the tags are: storage option, dorm room, nursery storage, retro bag, laundry bag, handmade laundry bag, baby laundry bag, dorm laundry bag, dorm storage, nursery laundry bag. 

(There is an opportunity here to adjust a couple of these tags, removing "laundry bag" as that's already in several other tags and adding "large ruffled" as well as the color of the laundry bag.) 

Since there are only 20 characters allowed in each tag, we're not going to hit any of those coveted long tail keywords (the keywords that someone who is pretty close to buying something is more likely to use when searching). But we can hit those in the title. And that's what we're going to try to do. 

(When researching what tags to use for an item, make note of any long tail keywords that might come up. You're going to want to aim to get those somehow in your tags and title.) 

Two other things to keep in mind. First, search engines tend to prioritize the first part of the title. Second, most search results are going to cut off the title after so many characters. So, we're going to want to focus on keeping the first 40-50 characters sounding like a human wrote it and using the keywords most likely to be what people are searching for. 

There are 140 maximum characters for this title. How can we title this? 

Let's start with Large Ruffled White Laundry Bag (31 characters). Including the color is kind of a gamble. Some people are specifically searching for color. If we want an exact match, we could put the "white" first or last ("in white"). Exact matches are going to rank higher, but the more words you match, the better.

Then we can combine two of those tags that sound natural together: Dorm Room Storage Option (24 characters). Or: Retro Bag Dorm Storage (22 characters). Notice how those sound like a description of the item. That's what we're going for. 

All three of those sequences contain 79 characters. We still have 61 characters to use. But towards the end of the title, we can kind of jam in the rest of the tags as no person is really going to read that far. Only the machines... 

So, this title looks like (at the moment): Large Ruffled White Laundry Bag * Dorm Room Storage Option * Retro Bag Dorm Storage *... 

Wait, do we need to put those *s in there? Actually, it's better if you don't. The search engines will look for exact matches (to rank higher), so if someone searches "white laundry bag dorm room storage", that * will take away the exact match. (Although, it'll still match. It'll just match with a lower rank.) And we've lost 2 characters per * (the * and the space after it). 

It's kind of a puzzle that you're constructing from the tags you already have. (Yes, write your title after you're already selected your 13 tags.) 

How are your item titles?

Friday, August 31, 2018

Fall Is in the Air

You wouldn't know it by the weather in southern California, but fall is coming. September is tomorrow. No, really.

So, here are a few things from the team to get you in a fall mood...

From Lulu's Creations1: Sale, Save 25%!

Mocha Brown Hand Bag with Silk Lining in Fall Colors

Great way to start out fall with a set of kitchen towels:
Scarecrow Kitchen Towels

From Ocean Avenue Silks:
Such a pretty scarf. Certain to add a touch of fall to any outfit!
Hand Dyed Small Square Silk Scarf Bandana in Golden Yellow and Brown

From Epicurius
Beautiful handspun yarn. What can you make with this?
Hand Spun Yarn - Alpaca and BFL Wool

From Leah's Heart:
We all need to celebrate Fall!
Fall bib

And finally from OhMay:
A stunning hat pattern for any season but perfect for Fall and those chilly days.
PDF Knitting Pattern - Hola Fiesta Cloche Hat

I'd like to extend a special thanks to Annie from annie k designs for finding most of the wonderful items in today's post.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Picking the Best Keywords for Tags: Peridot and Garnet Long Necklace

Once you've generated a list of keywords to use, the next step is evaluating which ones will work the best. The idea is to get as many people to see your items as possible.

Let's look at this Bella Beads Originals necklace:

26 Inch Gold Chain Necklace With Lampwork Pendant

Some of the tags being used: statement necklace, long necklace, pendant necklace, large pendant, gold chain necklace, lampwork pendant, plum and apple green, peridot and garnet. 

There are various ways to get an idea as to how well a tag might do. If we type "statement necklace" into Etsy's search we get: 

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When Etsy's search comes up with over 228,000 hits, that's a popular tag. If you look underneath the search bar, you'll see the add on called Keywords Everywhere:

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That tells us two things. The volume/month is how many people are searching for this tag. The competition is "1" which is the highest it can be. (Competition ranks from 0 to 1. The higher the number, the more competition.) 

Here is where things get tricky. Competition can be good, because if a lot of people are searching for a tag, a lot of people are probably buying. However, it is easy to get lost in all the available listings.

Maramlead and Etsy Rank have tools to help evaluate things like competition, demand, and engagement. Competition is how many other listings are using that tag. Demand is how many people are actually searching that tag. Engagement is how many people are interacting with that tag--as in, liking listings from it and buying listings with it.

Is "statement necklace" a good tag, then? It's getting lots of hits, but it's also easy to get overlooked with it. But, there are 13 tags possible, so it can be a great tag in combination with other, more specific tags. 

Let's try "lampwork pendant":

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That's a much smaller search volume with 70/month. But the competition is still high at 0.98. It sounds like this tag has way more competition than is merited by the number of searches for it. 

So, if we check it in Etsy Rank: 

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...we find that it has very high competition, but a low demand. But... high engagement. Meaning, those who do search for it are more likely to buy. 

Is it a good keyword? Maybe. And this is where "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" comes in. Is this listing being seen? Is it getting likes? Or has no one looked at it in a while? Is this tag bringing in views? Or are other tags doing the work? 

(How do you know if the tags are working? Go into Shop Manager-->Dashboard-->View Detailed Stats, and scroll down to Search Terms.) 

Ultimately, the idea is to get found in search. These are some tools to help narrow down keywords that will help with that.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Finding Good Tags: An Amigurumi Witch

Lately, I've been talking about "Maximizing Tags" and "Finding Good Tags". But, really, how does this work? 

So, let's start with this listing from The Crafty Nana

Doll, Witch named Winnie, Handmade

Of the tags already used, the two that jumped out at me were "amigurumi" and "witch". Non-crocheters probably are unfamiliar with the term "amigurumi", but that's still a good place to start. 

(For those who might want this look but not know the terminology, "crochet" and "stuffed doll" can be used. There are 13 tags, so there'll be plenty of space to get all that covered.) 

So, I started with amigurumi witch. I plugged that into Etsy's own search... 

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...and "amigurumi witch doll" was suggested. That's exactly 20 characters. So, that can be one tag. 

On that page, I clicked on various other dolls to see what tags they utilized. (And one of the reasons for this series of posts was because when I do this, I find so many bad tags.) I pulled out "amigurumi toys" and "home decor halloween". We definitely want "Halloween" in there, so those two get added to the list. 

At this point it's a good idea to note several tags to follow up on. Plugging them into Etsy's search can lead to some other tag ideas. 

Still looking at "amigurumi witch doll", I utilized another website, Marmalead

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A couple interesting keywords jumped out here: "crochet witch doll" and "Halloween witch". (Capitalization doesn't matter at this point.)

Etsy Rank has a similar tool: 

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In both word clouds, the larger words are tags most often used. Smaller tags are other ideas to pursue. 

Things like "amigurumi pattern" won't work as this is a finished object and not a pattern. But "crochet witch" will. (However, "crochet witch" is part of "crochet witch doll". Go with the more detailed tag to get the most possible hits.) 

This is the sort of list to start with. Ideally, you'll generate a much longer list than 13 keywords. 

The next step is to evaluate which of those keywords are the best to try. That will be the topic for a future post. ("Picking the Best Keywords for Tags")

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Your Product Titles

Finding the best tags for your items takes time and effort. I've delved briefly into the process in the last three blog posts: "Maximizing Tags", "Finding Good Tags", and "Picking the Best Keywords for Tags". And there are numerous other resources to help you learn about and find the best tags to use (such as Marmalead and Etsy Rank).

The other main source that the search engines (including Etsy's internal one) use to categorize and define your items is your product title.

The good news is, once you've done your research for your keywords for tags, you've done your research for your title. It's just a matter of tweaking those tags a bit.

You want your titles to mirror your tags. But, Etsy warns that your titles need to be readable. That is, the title should sound like a human wrote it (and not some computer algorithm).

The title has 140 possible characters. You want to use as many of them as you can. How can you fill up 140 characters mirroring your tags and make it sound like a human wrote it?

Of the 13 tags in your listing, one or two should basically describe the item. Right? Arrange those in a naturally sounding phrase (making sure to keep the words in the same order as your tags). If you keep this in mind while figuring out your tags, this step won't be too hard. This will be the first part of your title.

Most of us won't read the rest of the item title that carefully. Google cuts off the title after a set number of characters (but it takes the rest of those words into account when categorizing your item). So, if you focus on making the first 20 to 40 characters of the title make sense, the rest of the title can be packed with other tags you'd like your item to show up for in search.

And that's what you do. You need to fill that title with as many tags as you can.

This is how you maximize your chances of having your item show up in search. It's how most of our customers find us.

Are your tags and title helping your items get found?

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Picking the Best Keywords for Tags

For the past couple weeks, I've been talking about tags--those thirteen spots Etsy gives each listing. In perusing other listings, I've found so many sellers not making the best use of them. And I wondered, why not?

This is one of those instances of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". If you're getting plenty of views and your sales are just where you want them, feel free to ignore these posts. But if, like me, you could use more traffic to your listings, this is one thing you can do.

I already discussed if you're making good use of your tags and some ways to come up with other ideas for tags. The idea is to generate a list of possible keywords to use in your tags.

Ideally, you'll have a list that won't be contained in thirteen tags. And this is where you start evaluating which tags are best.

(Keep in mind that each tag has twenty characters allowed. That means, each tag can be more than one word. It is best to use as many phrases as you possibly can.)

But back to evaluating tags. Which ones should you use?

First, you want tags that are actually being searched for. You can have the most descriptive keyword, but if no one is looking for it, no one is going to find you.

Then you need to balance this with competition. If you are using a tag that everyone else has, there are going to be so many others that pop up in search results that your item will get lost.

There are various tools out there to help you evaluate which keywords are best. They'll pinpoint which tags have higher competition (that is, everyone is using them) and which tags are actually being searched for.

A really great tool is Marmalead. It looks at your listings. It ranks keywords and tells you how well those keywords are competing. It also requires a monthly subscription fee to get all of the best insights. It's worth it if you want to take your shop to the next level.

Etsy Rank is a similar tool. It'll help you find keywords and also give you insights into things you can do to help your shop. There is also a paid tier for more help.

A third tool is called Keywords Everywhere. It's a Chrome and Firefox extension that shows keywords in several search places, including Etsy. It gives you stats on every keyword you use in search, and it just adds those in. It's really useful in seeing how well various search terms are doing.

How well do you check out your keywords? Are your tags working for you?

For more information:

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Finding Good Tags

Tags are important. These are what the search engines "look at" when scanning your listings. But what if you don't know what tags to use?

You want to target terms that people are actually using in search. What you are calling something isn't necessarily what those who are looking to buy it might call it.

If you can, ask people not necessarily associated with your products to tell you what they'd call it. That's a good jumping off point.

Then, try those terms out. Search them in Etsy. Search them in Google. What are your results? If you're seeing products comparable to your own, you're on the right track.

What tags do those listings use? You might be surprised by some terms you hadn't considered.

Also, into the Etsy search bar (or Google search bar), start a search. What autocomplete suggestions does it offer? Some terms to consider?

Finally, you can try out keywords in either Marmalead or Etsy Rank. Type in a keyword and check out their keyword cloud. There might be some ideas to help push you in a different direction.

For more information:

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Maximizing Tags

Are you making the best use of your tags?

Before any of us can make a sale, the first thing we need to do is get online shoppers to find our listings. The most powerful tool we have at our disposal is Etsy's own search.

I'm sure you've done it. You're looking to buy something. You know sort of what you want. So, you type in a few words into a search bar and you see what comes up.

So, how do those shoppers who want exactly what we're offering find us?

Your tags.

When you type a request into Etsy's search bar, Etsy matches this search to the tags in the listing.

(Of course, there are other factors. But this is one thing you have control over.)

Etsy gives us thirteen tags per listing. Each listing has a twenty character limit.

You want to pack these tags full of anything someone might use to describe your items. Use all thirteen tags. Use phrases rather than just individual words. The more you pack in there, the more likely you are to get found.

So, are you making the best use of your tags?

For more information:

Monday, July 30, 2018

Christmas in July, Part 2

July's almost over. Which means that Christmas is only five months away. Are you ready?

No? Well, you've still got five months. Plenty of time. And there's no time to start like the present.

Make sure to stop by This and That Crafter for some cute ideas...

Round Happy Holidays Button

Plaid Snowflake Wire Ribbon

Noel Bookmark

Christmas Notes

Holly and Berries Christmas Tree Ornament 

Have you started planning for Christmas yet? 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Christmas in July

No, it's not too early to start thinking about Christmas. Really. I promise. And if you look around, you might soon find some sales to get you started.

The Crafty Nana is already sporting some Christmas items in her shop. Make sure to check them out:

Christmas Stocking, Handmade, Mary Jane

Christmas Ornament, Bell and Miniature Hat, Handmade

Elf Booties, Handmade

If you click on the images, it'll take you directly to the listings. Have you started Christmas shopping yet?

Monday, April 30, 2018

For Mom

Mother's Day is less than two weeks away. Have you gotten something for your mother yet?

From This And That Crafter:
The 1st part of any Mothers Day gift is the wrapping. I have several wonderful tag sets in my shop to tag that special gift for Mom. Here is one of the sets...
MOM Gift Tag Sets

From Ocean Avenue Silks:
My silk scarves are gift packaged and ready to ship for Mother's Day! Here is one of my most popular color combinations:
Silk Scarf Handpainted in Deep Ocean Blues

And there's so much more from the team. Make sure to add "CCCOE team" to your search to support our team members.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Be my Valentine

Valentine's Day is Wednesday, February 14th. Are you ready?

Do you have that perfect outfit for a night out? 

80s Magenta Dress by Morton Myles

Mermaid by Bob Mackie
Vintage Matson Gold Gilt Ormolu

From ohmay
February is still cool enough to wear these gloves. Get them for your Valentine Day out.
Knit Women Fingerless Gloves

From Ocean Avenue Silks:
Pretty pinks for your Valentine!
Silk Scarf Hand Dyed in Rose and Fuschia

Valentine Tags for that special gift...
Heart Shape Gift Tag Set of 5

Cute Skull and Crossbones with a heart hair clip...
Valentine Hair Clip
 Fun Unique Heart Banner...
Hearts Banner
 Red Ribbon for your Crafting, Gifts more...
Heart Ribbon
 Unique Vintage Pair of Earrings for that special someone OR for yourself...
Unique Vintage Earrings

From NansGlam:

Sterling Heart Hoops

Gold Heart Hoops

Sterling Heart Charm Necklace

Rose Gold Heart Hoops