In my previous post, I mentioned that I like both ends of the jewelry spectrum: fun, fast, easy to make and inexpensive jewelry as well as something a tad more opulent. So many of us are like little magpies collecting shiny sparkly things for ourselves and our nests. Anthropologists tell us we began making and wearing jewelry 75,000 years ago. Smiths and artisans created jewelry with precious metals and gems in Sumer earlier than 3000B.C. Five thousand years later, we’re still going strong. Treating yourself and loved ones to a bit of luxury continues to bring joy.
It’s easy to make luxuriant pieces if you’re willing to begin with more precious materials. I prefer to select my more expensive beads in person, although I’ve mentioned I trust Rings n Things and would use them if I couldn’t get to a show for what I wanted. The San Mateo Gem and Jewelry show in California, put on by International Gem and Jewelry Show Inc, has been the demise of my restraint on more than one occasion. You’ll find readymade jewelry as well as anything you could want to craft your own pieces at these shows. They host shows from Florida to California, so check their web if you’re interested in finding one locally.
Fresh water pearls are something that can vary widely across the quality spectrum. It isn’t only the size of the pearls that determines their price, but their luster and lack of blemishes as well. At the California shows (might be all, I just haven’t been to other states’ shows), there are generally numerous vendors with fresh water pearls. Comparison shop at these shows. This is one of those “if I knew then what I know now” items as I’d purchased strung freshwater pearls in Hong Kong (and comparison shopped/negotiated there) – yikes, found I can get a much nicer quality for one sixth the price in the gem show. For the fashion forward, freshwater pearls are pretty popular in mixed materials necklaces or necklaces with combinations of varying sizes and colors of pearl right now.
I chose a simple and light design – something I love in necklaces. Bulk or weight in necklaces or earrings makes me uncomfortable. More elaborate designs rarely make it out the door or I take them off to stuff in my purse as time wears on. That style is eventually taken apart and redone to simpler designs that are easier to wear. Although the red of the garnets makes this necklace a shoe-in for the holidays, it also wears well year round. The pearls, silver spacers, garnets and clasp were all procured at the gem shows. Other than hand knotting each bead, necklaces are easy. Determine the length you want. Lay out your design, grab your bead needle and cord and string away. Of course, that’s once you know what you’re putting together. That decision of what to combine into a design is the one that slows me down.
Glass bead items are also perfect at the holidays as their appearance shimmers opulence. I was lucky enough to spot an ad for a glass bead show by a group of San Francisco glass artists a few years back. That stop supplied the beads for the items you see (plus a few others). Making glass beads from canes is something that a neighbor took from the art department in the community college. If you like glass beads – look around and you may find a local source. Glass can be scratched so I haven’t tried getting these beads mail-order. Rings and Things does sell this style of glass bead as furnace glass beads. I expect they’ve found a way to get them to you in good shape. The weight of this type of necklace demands that you move to a bead stringing cable like Beadalon or Tigertail. Don’t try a bead thread unless you’re hoping to see your lovely beads bouncing across a floor when that necklace breaks.
For me, silver and glass go hand in hand. The earrings you see are either one head pin stacked with beads and looped onto an ear wire or the ear wire attached to an eye pin stacked with a few beads attached to a head pin stacked with a few more beads so you get a bit of movement. The bracelet is beads strung on memory wire. I’d originally had a few head pins stacked with beads on the small loop created at one end of the bracelet, but found I’m rough on it and that decoration was often lost. Back to simpler and easily wearable.
As much of a magpie as I might be, I don’t wear the glass together as “sets”. I’m not a matchy matchy kinda gal. It is so striking, I think all of it at once would be a tad overwhelming.
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