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Bead of the Week

red agateJust perfect for your Halloween creations -- these Red Agate Evil Eye beads are of stone that was formed from layers of silica from volcanic cavities. Agate is named after the Achates River (now known as the Dirillo River) on the island of Sicily, Italy, whose upper waters were an ancient source of this gemstone. Each strand offered here has 16 round faceted beads, with colors ranging from red to amber, as shown. Each bead is approx. 10 mm. with an approx. 2 mm. hole. Each strand is $10, but for a limited time, take 10% off with the code HALLOWEEN at checkout.


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crow earringsHave I mentioned before that I LOVE HALLOWEEN?!! Whether its called All Saint's Day, Samhain, or All Hallows Day, it has roots in end-of-harvest and honoring-the-dead celebrations of the ancient past. In contemporary America and elsewhere, it is now a secular folk holiday, widely celebrated in homes, schools, and communities, large and small, by people of many paths, ethnic heritages, and worldviews. It has evolved to be an opportunity for people of all ages to creatively express themselves and engage in play in the realm of make-believe and fantasy through costumes, trick-or-treating, storytelling, play-acting, pranks, cathartic scary place visits, and of course, jewelry.

This year I'm featuring some of my favorite Etsy artisans who have the true spirit of the time. The first is Kelly of ArdentHearts who makes romantic Victorian style jewelry and accessories. She has created a pair of Victorian Gothic inspired earrings (to the right). She dressed natural Howlite gemstone beads with detailed black Victorian-style adornments. Howlite is a white stone with grey veins throughout - She says it reminds her of leafless branches silhouetted by a full October Moon -- and I agree! The focal drops are three-dimensional branches that she gave a natural black patina. She set Swarovski crystal pearls on top of the Howlite stones for a hint of dark elegance.

Next up, Paola of Themoonbeams, who makes handsculpted unisex jewelry of polymer clay -- fun bat pumpkins, green ghoul kitties, skull moons and more –has created these adorable hand sculpted and hand painted (GLOW IN THE DARK!!) ghost pendants (to the left). They are made to order and cute enough to EAT! (But don't!) 

candy corn ghost







And finally…

Iris of EvelinesGarden, who makes jewelry of natural gemstone and crystal. She is a self-described flower fairy, bookworm, hedge witch, history geek, lover of gemstones, and connoisseur of dark and twisted things. I love the little Shakespearean poem she has on her 'about her' page --

Rhyolite necklace 2I recently watched a 2017 episode of Nova about how and why Stonehenge was built – and in the process learned a lot of great history and archeology, as well as about Rhyolite, one of the pillar materials. The basic idea is that this was a sacred place, likely with the pillars placed over the remains of revered people of the communities in the area. What was particularly interesting was the discovery of the actual sites where some of the most special pillars were quarried – a place in Wales with natural outcroppings of bluestone, or Rhyolite – a material also used by some of our most creative Etsy colleagues. The Rhyolite used in Stonehenge was probably quarried and moved around 3400 B.C. – by Neolithic stone-draggers – whole communities of people united by a common purpose. You can read more about the original Stonehenge quarries here, and check out the Nova episode here.

There is actually some intriguging Rhyolite near my neck of the woods in the Southwest (it’s in Wilcox, Arizona) - at the Chiricahua National Monument. The site is filled with Rhyolite spires and columns. The tourist literature they give you refers to it as either "forests of stones" or "a wonderland of rocks." It also looks a bit like a community of beings. However you choose to describe it, it's a phenomenally beautiful and moving terrain, where the rocks — the result of volcanic eruptions and millennia of erosion — seem sculpted.

Predictably, all this geology and gemstone history made me wonder about what some of our Etsy colleagues are doing with Rhyolite, and here’s what I discovered – Medicine Beads offers  an absolutely stunning focal stone of Rainforest Rhyolite, wire wrapped and suspended from a strand that includes chips of Moss Agate, Smoky Quartz and raw Peridot, sparkling faceted disks of Czech crystal, and large Quartz crystal spheres with inclusions that add to their beauty. (Above and to the right.)

chandelierToday I decided to celebrate the artisans of autumn – folks, like me, who are inspired by the beauty and color of Fall – and who are moved to express their appreciation for this wonderful season through their jewelry.

The selections below are meant to inspire you too – with their vibrant colors and the passion of these artisans so clearly apparent.

tasselFirst, to the right, is a gorgeous pair of wire-wrapped chandelier earrings by Mylene Foster. Mylene draws inspiration from forms, colors and textures she sees in nature, media, fashion, architecture and fine arts. When she sees an eye-catching form, she wonders if she can make it into something in wire. She loves simplicity in design, and puts much effort into making it look so. She made these earrings with genuine sapphires and citrine gemstones. She hand-forged the sturdy oval frame and wrapped it with fine wire.

Next up (to the left) is Stefani Blain's (of NeithJewelry) tassel necklace of grossular garnet (or hessonite), paired with fiery white opals and sterling silver. The tassel hangs with a California beach shell, a pair of tourmaline teardrops on a vintage finding, and a hand-crafted carnelian stone in sterling.

My final pick for this week’s feature is a simple yet so-lovely carnelian necklace (below, to the right) from irishbabies. Nicole Kilgore has separated smooth carnelian beads with fine silver beads and sterling silver round beads, and in the center is a large carnelian bead pendant. She finished this necklace with sterling silver clasp. She also notes for you other artisans out there that carnelian is said to help with creativity!

amulet 2Egyptian faience (also known as Egyptian paste) is the oldest known type of glazed ceramic. These first-known glass-type beads were made from clay, but with a thin, lustrous glass coating. The art was first developed more than 6000 years ago in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and elsewhere in the ancient world. Faience is known for its bright colors, especially shades of turquoise, blue and green. The symbolism of the blue glaze in these beads may have signified the Nile and the waters of Heaven; the green tones evoking images of regeneration, rebirth and vegetation.

Such beads and can vary widey in appearance, from glossy and translucent to matt and opaque. The material was a precursor to glazed-clay-based ceramics, such as earthenware and stoneware, and also to glass, which was invented around 2500 BC.

egyptian faience talisman necklaceEgyptian faience was used in most forms of ancient Egyptian jewelry, and also in the creation of small statues and other figures. It was the most common material for scarabs and other types of amulets. Egyptian bead-makers often worked under the patronage of kings or priests. They used sophisticated techniques and an incredible variety of precious materials to create stunning beaded jewelry which was worn as an expression of status and hierarchy.

Faience has been referred to as the first high-technology ceramic. A typical faience mixture is thick at first, and then becomes soft and flowing as it is being formed. It is hypothesized that modeling, scraping and grinding were the techniques most widely used in earlier times. Beads, amulets and finger rings were produced by a combination of modeling and molding techniques. A variety of glazing techniques were used, resulting in distinctive lusters.

Ancient workshops have been discovered via modern excavations. Square furnace-like structures and molds have been found, particularly near areas inhabited by royalty.

Some modern artists are making their own faience bodies and glazes, firing pieces one or more times. I’ve provided a few examples of folks on Etsy working with faience – works featured, from top to bottom, are:


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