Saturday, March 31, 2007

Beader Design #66: Ruth's Matching Black Earrings

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Often beaders decide to add another matching piece to their first design. A set is called a parure in jewelry terms. So here is another part of Ruth's parure of black jewelry ( see her necklace in Beader design #65).

It's important to tie in some similar elements in order to get a set. In Ruth's case, she used the same large focal bead - the flat round black with white splashes - and metal bead. But as this are earrings, she added a black shell dangle for extra interest.
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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Rising price of silver...and silver jewelry?

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Jason Hommel recently wrote a silver stock commentary called " Why Silver's Ready to Double in a Year (And why I bought a lot more silver recently)" for the Silverseek.com conference.

Hommel reports that silver prices have been going up by at least 30% a year in the last few years in line with other metal commodities. He also pointed out the current ratio of silver to gold (50:1, 50 ounces of silver will buy 1 ounce of gold) is way below the historic ratio of 15:1. He therefore predicts that the cost of silver may well double next year due to demand outstripping supply.

For those of us who don't have a stock portfolio, this suggests that silver jewelry might well cost more next year!
Reference

Beader Design #65 : Ruth's Black Beaded necklace

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Ruth wanted a pair of black beaded earrings but what she actually created first was this black necklace. All the glass beads were black or variations of the same colour. She also opted for a longer length which should look good on polo-neck or other collared sweaters.

She actually wanted longer metal beads which I did not have. So like any good designer, she improvised and used two metal beads where she wanted. Her verdict at the end of her very first beading session, "This is addictive!" Yep, another beadaholic in the making.
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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Beader Design #65 : Susan's Bronzite Bracelet

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The large bronzite gemstone tiles have been this year's favourite amongst beaders. This photograph shows you the beautiful details of this gemstone which has inspired different designs.

The look Susan achieved is definitely reminiscent of the art nouveau style with its simple but strong design lines. She got this look by teaming the bronzite with window beads on either side, separated by gold tone metal beads. She used small flat square beads with a marbly effect for the rest of the bracelet.

For a totally different design with a similar gemstone tile, see Beader Design #59 where Christine created a bronzite necklace.
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Beader Design #64 : Kay's Amethyst chip necklace

By on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 0 Comments

Kay must like purple as she chose to make an amethyst chip necklace. She placed the chips in between the flat square dark purple glass beads. Together, they formed the focal point of her necklace.

Many people like to use seed beads to finish the rest of the necklace as did Kay. She used alternating bands of white/clear and purple seed beads which is a less common approach. Many people tend to use seed beads of a single colour or interspersing at regular intervals that single colour with a contrast colour.
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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Beader Design #63: Erica's Indian Bloodstone and Cat's eye bracelet

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Can green and orange go together? Yes, they can and do so very prettily if the right tones are used as Erica demonstrated with this unique gemstone bracelet she designed.

The green gemstone is Indian bloodstone which has the occasional bright red flecks hence the name. The deep green provides a cool contrast to the warm colour of the orange fibre optic cat's eye beads. The orange though is not Halloween orange but a mellower version which better compliments the green. The cat's eye effect also helps tone down the "heat" of the orange.

Erica also varied the sizes of the round beads and added different types of metal beads to make this truly a one-of-a -kind piece of jewelry.

PS. Erica emailed later "I've received several compliments on my 'green and orange' bracelet (one from a complete stranger on an elevator!)." Way to go, Erica.

Beader Design #62 : Tammy's hematite cube bracelet

By on Tuesday, March 27, 2007 0 Comments

Cubes, squares and rectangles do add a different dimension to handmade jewelry compared to round and oval beads and Tammy was quick to capitalise on this.

She used both cubes and squares for this classy bracelet. The cubes are hematite which adds value to the design. The square shiny glass beads were flat with rounded edges which helped soften their look. Hematite has a colour that can be best described as "gunmetal" which contrasted well with the jet black of the glass beads.

For more information on hematite, please see my January post "Hematite or hemalyke?"
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Monday, March 26, 2007

Chinese Cloisonne : The Stained Glass Style of Bead Making

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Cloisonne is the art of metal enamelling. It originated in the Near East and was introduced into China in the 13th century.

Copper wires are soldered to form the pattern outline on a metal object. Enamel paste is placed within the spaces or cells (the French word "cloisons" means partitions). The object is then fired in a kiln to vitrify (make it glass like) the enamel. The enameling and firing process is repeated until the cloisons are filled. It is then ground smooth and polished. Electroplating with a thin layer of gold to prevent corrosion is the final touch.

The effect is much like stained glass windows. Many decorative objects are made this way including vases, plates but surely the most challenging must be the tiny cloisonne beads we can use for beading! I have delicate round blue ones like those in the picture and black tubes. So be sure to check them out at the next party or workshop.

Pictorial guide to the making of cloisonne in China

For tutorials check out my Jewelry Making Tips

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Beader Design #61 : Paula's Black and Blue Dagger earrings

By on Monday, March 26, 2007 0 Comments

Paula (almost 15) really enjoyed her first beading session. She decided to do earrings. The next decision was the colour blue. She also liked having a single dagger or spear bead dangle at the bottom. Two or more tier earrings like these are so much more fun due to the extra movement.

Her design shows several lively contrasts. She used clear, opaque and even matte beads. Even the blue tones varied from very light to dark. One focal bead was patterned, whilst the others were plain. Only the bottom two beads had a lustre coating. The shapes of the beads also varied. All of these elements keeps the overall design delightfully funky.
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Beader Design #60 : Susan's glass cube bracelets

By on Monday, March 26, 2007 0 Comments

Susan first started her design with just black and clear glass cube beads. They were attractive but not nearly as much as the final design where she added a colour element - the maroon cubes and the round metal beads for contrast.

She could easily wear this stylish yet delicate bracelet to work if she were concerned about not wearing something too "showy". But Susan could also team it up with a casual or even a formal outfit for going out.
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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Beader Design #59 : Christine's Bronzite necklace

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Bronzite is a form of weathered enstatite. The small amount of iron gives it a metallic-bronzish lustre that many have coveted for their jewelry designs. The large bronzite gemstone tile certainly caught Christine's eye. She played up the bronze and blackish hues of the gemstone with glass beads in the same colour tones.

Just as no two tiles are alike, no two bronzite designs have been the same. Christine chose to place her tile vertically as a pendant. The smaller goldish bronze seed beads separating the larger glass beads were effectively used as a brightening contrast to this distinctive design.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Beader Design #58 : May's Tiger eye bracelet

By on Saturday, March 24, 2007 0 Comments

Many people love the look of yellow of tiger eye and May was no exception. Tiger eye gemstones display what is known as chatoyancy or a cat's eye effect which makes them an attractive gemstone indeed. May chose to alternate the round tiger eye beads with opaque black bicone glass beads. The latter picks up on the darker hues of the tiger eye and yet provides a shape contrast to the round tiger eye beads.

For further information on the different types of tiger eye, please see my January post "In the eye of the tiger".
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Friday, March 23, 2007

Beader Design #57 : Patty's pink earrings

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Patty wanted pink earrings but not just any kind of pink earrings. She designed her own using glass beads with a milky lustre in a delicate shade of pink. She used a large oval bead coupled with a round one. To offset the pink and to tie in with the sterling silver earwire, she added silver balls in just the right places.

Patty definitely created a unique pair of earrings that no one else has!
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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Beader Design #56 : Susan's Coral and Turquoise Gemstone Bracelet

By on Thursday, March 22, 2007 0 Comments

Susan has a great eye for colour and design. She is clearly not afraid of strong colours as she has boldly put together the turquoise round and a flat tear drop beads from my collection with bright red coral beads that she bought elsewhere.

This combination works because the "hot" red colour contrasts with a "cooler" blue colour. Metal beads also separate the colours as does the tiny red seed beads on either side of the tear drop gemstone.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Jewels and Jewelry Obsession of Shah Jahan

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Shah Jahan (1593-1666) was the fifth ruler of the powerful Moghul or Mughal empire in much of the Indian sub-continent. The empire was rich and vast during his reign (1627-58) and he was a great patron of the arts.

All his portraits show him wearing lots of jewelry. He had a jewelry obsession and he had it bad. A historical eyewitness account described his full attention in jewels that were being presented to him and total disinterest in various scantily clad dancing girls cavorting before him. His personal jewelry collection was so vast that someone estimated that it would take a jeweler 14 years take stock of it all.

The famous Koh-i-nor (Mountain of Light) diamond was once his. Another diamond that belonged to him is now owned by Elizabeth Taylor. The diamond is uncut and is the central heart-shaped gemstone in the pendant (right).

However, the true jewel in his life was his second and favourite wife, the beautiful and loving, Mumtaz Mahal ("Chosen One of the Palace", 1593-1631). She was his helpmate and constant companion, following him everywhere even on his military campaigns. She died suddenly at the age of 38, giving birth to their fourteenth child. The loss devasted Shah Jahan. For two years, he mourned her deeply, shunning everything indulgent including jewelry. After that he commissioned a mausoleum for her, another "jewel" which is his most famous achievement, the Taj Mahal.

The last eight years of his life were spent in forced seclusion, whilst his sons fought for his throne. The son who won was his least favourite, Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb eventually took away all his jewels but Shah Jahan was able to keep his rosary pearls to say his prayers. He spent much of his remaining days staring towards the memorial he built for his beloved Mumtaz. When he died, Aurangzeb placed his tomb in the Taj Mahal .

References

Bamber Gascoigne (2002). The Great Moghuls : India's most flamboyant rulers.Constable and Robinson Ltd.
Elizabeth Taylor (2002). Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry. Simon and Schuster.

Hugh Tait (1986). Jewelry 7000 years. British Museum

Famous Diamonds

Beader Design #55: Margie's Gemstone Donut necklace

By on Wednesday, March 21, 2007 0 Comments

Margie borrowed a donut necklace from her friend. She liked the style but wanted something longer. The good thing about making one's own jewelry is the ability to custom fit.

The donut was suspended from two doubled lengths of 1 mm leather. The leather strands were then attached to clasp. A very simple neutral design which will go with many types of outfits for any season.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Beader Design #54 : Erica's bridal blue necklace

By on Tuesday, March 20, 2007 0 Comments

Erica came prepared with a beautiful blue fabric swatch which she said is representative of the blue and white colour scheme she is planning for her upcoming nuptials in December. She wanted to create just the right necklace to wear on her special day.

She prefers dainty jewelry so she made a necklace out of tiny clear and blue seed beads with a simple large blue bead as the pendant. Erica definitely accomplished the "something blue" with this design and is sure to make a very pretty picture on her wedding day. Congratulations!
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Monday, March 19, 2007

Bejewelled Fly Whisk for a Gemstone insect?

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Not just your common garden fly whisk but one that has been decorated with lots of gemstones. Diamonds form a floral pattern and the background of red and blue enamel highlight the silver garlands. Pesky insects sure don't differentiate between king and commoner!

This fly whisk came from the Egyptian Royal Palace collection and was probably made in Turkey sometime in the 19th century. It was up for auction last month at Sotherby Geneva's famous Magnificient Jewelry auction. It sold for $69,105. My fly swatter from the local dollar store cost me, well, a dollar. Does the same thing.

I am always bemused with the bejewelling of everyday objects (see last month's post on the bejewelled PC and earlier this month's bejewelled cell phone). It's rather pointless to have a bejewelled fly whisk unless one was swatting say this bejewelled bee designed by Verdura, a master jeweler, in the 1960's. The brooch features a coral body, diamond wings and a onyx head!

References

Photo courtesy of Sotheby Geneva's Press Release
http://www.shareholder.com/bid/downloads/news/20070123-226794.pdf


Kenneth Snowman (1990)The Master Jewelers. Thames and Hudson Ltd

Beader Design #53: Michelle's blue wire necklace

By on Monday, March 19, 2007 0 Comments

Ten year-old Michelle effortlessly came up with two necklaces - one for herself and one for her cousin. Here is hers, complete with a blue shell heart pendant.
Although it is a predominantly blue necklace, Michelle enlivened the design with bright turquoise coloured beads. For contrast she used cooler shades of blue. The two cobalt blue millifiore glass cubes next to the heart do draw the eyes to that focal point because of their design.
Please read my February post on "Millefiore or Millefiori : Beads that rock" for more information on these pretty beads.

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Beader Design #52 : Shelby's Opalite bracelet

By on Monday, March 19, 2007 0 Comments

Shelby (age 10) just had to have a bracelet. She used a faceted opalite bead. She placed the pear shape with the larger end pointing towards her fingers which to me, gave an illusion reminiscent of East Indian jewelry.

The other large pink oval beads and the small black drop beads in an AB (aurora borealis) finish were strategically placed around the bracelet. The drop beads were well chosen as they echoed the shape of the opalite bead.
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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Beader Design #51 : Kate's Shell on a Hoop earrings

By on Sunday, March 18, 2007 0 Comments

Nine-year-old Kate like other young ladies her age, was decisive in what she wanted. She wanted large front facing hoop style earrings using a turquoise coloured shell bead as a focal bead.

As with the previous design, turquoise is a bright colour and needs to be contrasted with something "cooler", so Kate chose pale green beads - peridot green. She'll be the envy of her classmates with this pair of earrings!
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Beader Design #50 : Michelle's eclectic turquoise and pearl necklace

By on Sunday, March 18, 2007 0 Comments

Michelle was thrilled with her first time beading at our recent workshop. She loved the bright colours of the turquoise nuggets AND the pearls from Widget's Beads so she combined them both, resulting in this eclectic design!

As the turquoise is so brightly coloured, she contrasted this with more neutral coloured freshwater pearls. They're a little hard to see but she added sparkly Swarovski bicone crystals too. Small seed beads formed the rest of the design.
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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Beader Design #49 : Susan's Pink Bracelet

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At first Susan considered using several of these pink Murano-style foil beads to form her bracelet. But they were really too big so she settled on just one and added pink beads with a milky lustre in different shapes. The pewter flowers were just the ticket to complete the bracelet.

Susan found that the weight of the foil bead counterbalanced the bar and toggle clasp such that the clasp remained underneath her wrist. A bonus finding to her design!
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Friday, March 16, 2007

Beader Design #48 : Barb's Green Bracelet

By on Friday, March 16, 2007 0 Comments

Here is another thoughtful gift, a bracelet designed by Barb for her special friend Trish who now lives very far away. Barb decided on the large glass cubes and coordinating oval beads which she separated with metallic hexagon beads. The green tones would suit Trish's colouring.

A gift can be bought so easily but one that was actually designed and put together means so much more as the person who made it has added a little of herself. I am sure that every time Trish wears this bracelet, she will remember her friend.

Beader Design #47 : Graham's hematite fan necklace

By on Friday, March 16, 2007 0 Comments

Graham is an experienced beader who had previously made jewelry for his wife - lucky woman - and who also did wire work. He impressed us by turning up at the recent workshop with his own set of well-worn jewelry pliers, ready to make his wife a special birthday gift.

He created this hematite fan necklace together with hematite tubes and teal crystal beads from Widget's Beads. Graham chose to separate each gemstone fan piece rather than keep all of the together. The resulting effect is rather Egyptian like. Tiny red beads were used as accents which gave the necklace a more individual look.

Graham's wife will be pleased!
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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Taaffeite and Sinhalite : Two Rare Gemstones with mistaken identities

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Taaffeite and sinhalite are two gemstones with much in common. They are both rare, both found in Sri Lanka and were once mistaken for other gemstones.

In 1945, Count Edward Taaffe, a Dublin gemmologist discovered an already faceted mauve spinel like the one on the left, amongst gemstones from Sri Lanka which did not have the same refractive quality of true spinels. It was subsequently thoroughly tested and shown to be a new gemstone mineral and naturally, they were renamed after him. Taaffeites are estimated to be over a million times rarer than diamonds with colours ranging from red to blue to colourless. The red variety is the rarest with only 10 known stones.

Sinhalite is also from Sri Lanka hence its name as Sinhalese is the language of Sri Lanka. Originally thought to be a brownish variety of peridot, the confusion was cleared up in 1952. Although sinhalite gemstones are rare, these yellow, brown or greenish brown gemstones are not popular except amongst collectors. Therefore, sinhalite is a bargain rare gemstone although some of the darker greenish brown varieties are gorgeous and will command higher prices. These pictures here show how easily they were once thought to be brownish peridot :

Beader Design #46: Susan's Easter bracelet

By on Thursday, March 15, 2007 0 Comments

It's a little early for Easter but this stunning bracelet deserves to be showcased now! Susan had previously bought an elasticated bracelet with brightly coloured beads just for that one large purple, green and white bead that now graces her new bracelet. She could definitely see design possibilities with it.

She played up the green part with the use of lustre beads of that same hue as well as round purple crinkle beads. The right amount and placement of star pewter beads completed her bracelet. The focal bead reminds Susan of Easter colours and I suspect she will always call this her Easter bracelet.
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