I have a question for beaders. Specifically those who do bead embroidery. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work in the atelier (studio) of a top haute couture house? It must be hard work but also something wonderful to be doing something you love, at the highest skill level. 

Watch this V&A (Victoria and Albert) Museum video on "a dazzling 1960s evening dress embellished with precious metal threads, beads, sequins, diamantes and coral" designed the legendary French couturier, Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008).

The presentation is by Assistant Curator, Chloe Gilbert, who gives a brief introduction to the Yves Saint Laurent's remarkable career as well as the construction, exquisite craftsmanship and materials of the dress and matching shoes.  The shoes were actually designed by another Frenchman,  Roger Vivier (1907-1998) who is best known for introducing platform shoes and re-introducing stiletto shoes complete with thin steel rods. 

I assumed that the beadwork was done on the fabric, a heavy silk zibeline. But no, all that embroidery was accomplished on a netting which overlays the foundation fabric!

Red coral was popular in the past but is now a protected species due to overharvesting. Many jewelers no longer use it. However, previously harvested coral is a good resource as it will be reused.  See my post on Why Sourcing Bead Supplies from Charity Shops is a Good Idea.  I did manage to snag a simple necklace of baroque pearls and red coral for a song :

Here are more examples vintage coral jewelry :

This 24 inch Victorian (19th century) coral necklace below qualifies as an antique because it is more than 100 years old. The seller is Rose of RoseAntiqueJewellery

Rose also has another amazing antique coral 4-stranded choker also from the Victorian era:

This vintage twisted double strand coral and pearl necklace from the 1980's is quite pretty. It is available from MagicForestVintage.

Here is a pair of vintage branched coral earrings from spiritbuttons.  Branched coral like this is quite a challenge to design with.  I know as I learned that the hard way!

See my past post where I tackled a challenging wire wrapped pendant and earrings project from some vintage Mediterranean branched red coral for a colleague who came from Algeria. 

Before You Go :

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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM