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quartz and silver 2This is a beautiful, clear, natural Quartz crystal and silver pendant to use as a necklace or for crystal healing and insights (or both!). Approx. 35 mm long including bale (or approx. 1 1/2") and approx. 15 mm. (a bit over 1/2") wide. Exclusively for our friends and fans, please remember you can use code 14123 for a 20% discount on this or anything else in the shop!

 

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funky beads 2As you likely have learned on your own or via some of my previous posts, beads have a profound and interesting history. In cultures around the world, they have had a wide variety of purpose and meaning; here are a few interesting facts I may not have mentioned before.

Beads can signify strength and courage

Many modern day cultures use beads to show bravery and accomplishment – as with a medal of honor, an award ribbon or a certificate. Through the ages, they have been used to protect warriors of both genders from natural and supernatural enemies, along with providing special magical protection during long journeys.

Beads have a practical nature for every day purposes

They have been used throughout history as prayer tools (think rosaries), calculators (the abacus), and to secure scrolls, saddle blankets and tablecloths. Today still, we see beads in use in mats, curtains and car seats.

Beads have value

Beads have been traded for gold, ivory, spices, beaver pelts, and sadly, even slaves. Artisans throughout the ages have dedicated their lives to creating beads from innumerable materials -- tortoise shells, wood, pottery, sea shells, seed, ivory, stone, egg shells, animal teeth, bone, claw and horn, glass, and more.

Beads have been believed to carry protective and healing powers

turquoise chain braceletIn Egyptian, the word ‘sha’ means ‘luck’, and ‘sha-sha’ means ‘bead’. In Turkey, the ‘Magical Eye Bead’ or ‘Evil Eye’ is thought to ward off evil. In parts of Asia, beads were scattered at temples, like seeds, to summon bountiful harvests.

Beads signal status

In China, during the Qing Dynasty, people of status such as officers, officials and their families were required to wear strings of court beads. Even the Emperor had to wear special beads. In Africa, the kings and other great ones of the Asante people have the privilege of wearing Bodom beads. In our own society, we often use gemstone beads, pearls and other precious materials to signify wealth and prestige.

People have been fascinated with beads for over 43,000 years. I’m proud to be part of the ongoing tradition! How about you?

In celebration of the awesome BEAD, I’ve included some photos of work from a selection of favorite bead artisans. At the top right is Staci Louise Smith’s astounding creation – be sure to check out her blog Love My Art Jewelry to learn about her process and see more of her beautiful work.

An ultra-fun bracelet of chain and turquoise by Erin of heartsabustin on Etsy, at the upper left.

And at the lower right, stunning watermelon tourmaline earrings by Debra of studioonthepond on Etsy.

diamond beads 2For jewelry designers and beaders, diamond beads can be an amazing treat and versatile element to work with. They add sparkle and elegance to any design, and can be found in a much greater variety and at lower cost than ever before. The majority of these diamond beads are made from exotic colorful diamonds that are cut and faceted in India.

In the past, colorless diamonds were the only type readily available to the public. Now, they can be obtained in over 300 colors, and some are actually more rare than colorless diamonds. Some of the most famous diamonds in history, like the Hope Diamond (which is violet), have been colored diamonds. (See our previous post D is for Diamond Beads for a bit more info on this subject.)

black rough diamond bead braceletDiamonds are carbon-based gems, and are the hardest substance known today, in the company of rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, which also exceed a rating of 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. It has been estimated that 250 tons of minerals need to be excavated to find just one carat of diamond, so that is one reason –besides their beauty – that they are so precious.

Black diamonds are particularly intriguing and many are believed to have been formed by meteor impacts. Their coloration comes from mineral inclusions such as iron oxides -- magnetite, hematite, or sulfide compounds. Because their coloration is caused by inclusions rather than impurities, black diamonds have wonderful reflective qualities and a beautiful sparkle.

You can also find diamond beads in platinum gray, cognac brown, canary yellow, champagne, citrus and other colors. Note that Herkimer diamonds are not diamonds – you can read more about these here, though, in a previous post, Herkimer Diamond Beads.

Natural (non-treated, non-enhanced) diamonds are growing in popularity among designers and people who love beautiful gems. They have their own special personality, and can be found in many shapes – from intriguing rough-cut nuggets, to faceted rondelles, briolettes, rose cut, and more. Many of these are surprisingly affordable, and they will add a natural luxury to your designs.

amethyst roughTumbled and rough gemstones and gemstone beads are one of my very favorite things. They have an appeal of their own, called ‘rough’ because they are the stones in their natural forms – found in the ground, just as mother nature made them. They are sometimes called ‘raw’ gems, but the proper name is rough.

I found several inspiring examples on Etsy, shown here just for fun. The first is BijaMalas’s collection of rough Amethyst points. These folks also appreciate rough stones for meditation, energy healing, reiki, crystal grids, and of course wire-wrapping.

rough necklaceThen there’s BlackVineDesignCo’s Lemurian seed Quartz and black suede necklace. Inspiring just to look at and imagine other variations on this theme or a similar design with different stones!

heart braceletI have always been drawn to charm bracelets, even before I knew their history.  The wearing of charms was likely begun as a form of amulet or talisman to ward off evil spirits or bad luck.

During the pre-historic period, jewelry charms would be made from shells, animal-bones and clay. Later charms were made out of gems, rocks, and wood. In Germany, intricately carved mammoth tusk charms have been found from around 30,000 years ago. In ancient Egypt, charms were used for identification and as symbols of faith and luck. Charms also served to identify an individual to the gods in the afterlife.

During the Roman Empire, Christians would use tiny fish charms hidden in their clothing to identify themselves to other Christians. Jewish scholars of the same period would write tiny passages of Jewish law and put them in amulets round their necks to keep the law close to their heart at all times. Medieval knights wore charms for protection in battle. Charms also were worn in the Dark Ages to denote family origin and religious and political convictions.

Queen Victoria wore charm bracelets that started a fashion among the European noble classes. She was instrumental to the popularity of charm bracelets, as she “loved to wear and give charm bracelets. When her beloved Prince Albert died, she even made “mourning” charms popular; lockets of hair from the deceased, miniature portraits of the deceased, charm bracelets carved in jet.”

In modern times, we've seen charm bracelets from Tiffany and Co., the teenager charm bracelet craze of the 50's and 60's, and even pirate-themed bracelets that were all the rage in 2006 after the movie Pirates of the Caribbean came out.

Whatever your favorite theme for a charm bracelet is, there is no doubt they are a delight to make and wear. Today we share the inspired bracelets of three individual Etsy artisans and a group of artisans who collaborate on Etsy.

First, meet SantaFeSilverworks' Gregory P. Segura; one of his masterpieces, 'Elvira's Love and Faith Charm Bracelet' is featured above. Gregory started perfecting his silversmithing skills in the 1990's. He had served in the U.S. Air Force and worked as a hotel manager, financial planner, and sales manager, but his heart was looking for a new, more creative career path. In 2008, Gregory picked up his hammer and lit his torch and never looked back.

charm bracelet 1Although he had taken a metalworking class in the 1980s, Gregory’s expertise with silver is largely self-taught. “Working with silver just comes naturally to me,” he admits. “Sculpting, painting, and carving do not come to me with the ease and understanding I feel in working with silver and stones. I guess you could say I was born with a silver spoon (I made) in my mouth.”

Gregory’s work reflects his Spanish and Native American heritage. For each of his original designs, he draws on the legacy of New Mexico’s master silversmiths as well as rich culture and natural beauty of the region.

Gregory’s ancestors first arrived in Santa Fe around 1624, and he still calls it home with the love of his life and inspiration Debra and their four cats, Sugar, Benicio del Gato (Lil Buddy), Wally, Penelope and Murphy the dog. You can find more information at his website www.santafesilverworks.com and on Facebook - Santa Fe Silverworks.

Next up are husband and wife team Richard and Janette of RuthLindquistDesigns (see their stunning hand-woven Läckölink Bracelet to the left).

These two have lived in Sweden for many years, where they are inspired to create a lot of jewelry. They used to live on an island near an old castle, and the land all around them was a treasure trove for artifacts dating all the way back to Viking times. They have also spent many years in the US, where they live at the moment.

Finally, we feature the EtsyMetal Charm Swap 13 Bracelet (below on the right) from the creative collaborative EtsyMetal. This bracelet is an impressive collection of charms from 18 Etsy artisans (listed below). The story of EtsyMetal is especially interesting, as its members are accomplished metal artists who network to support one another and to market their respective works. Their talents include fabrication, forging, soldering, piercing, etching, engraving, stone setting, enameling, blacksmithing, casting, and more. Much of the proceeds of their sales benefit Cheekwood Art and Gardens in Nashville, TN, as well as children's art programs.

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