Archive for March, 2012

springing forward!

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Blink and you miss it – March is already behind us! Here in Spokane we were teased with one gorgeous sunny day last weekend…following by a week of pouring rain. The Bead Show crew has found pockets of nice weather here and there, but spring is a most changeable season.

unfurl-metal-necklace-cindyI had a lot of big plans for what I wanted to accomplish this week, but they’ve gotten derailed by the need to do some basic computer housekeeping. I’m not going to admit to how many pictures I have saved on my hard drive – I mean on the network. Yes, I always make sure all my files are backed up on the network drives! That’s right techs, no worries here! But um, yeah, it is always a good idea to purge old files periodically. So that’s what I’m doing and I just happened to find this picture of a necklace I made in February and neglected to post.  I used the new Knew Concepts saw frame to cut  a fiddle-head fern shape from nickel silver and soldered it to brass sheet metal with a Blazer micro torch.

The message “unfurl” seems especially appropriate today – what looked like dead branches just a week ago are now alive with new growth. Spring has sprung! Hope your creativity is unfurling as well  ~ Cindy

Hoppy DIY Easter Jewelry Ideas!

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

I just spied this new selection of freshwater pearls over in our sales department and suddenly I realized – Easter is almost here! There is something about the egg-shaped pearls that is just so very…what’s the word…eggy?


Freshwater pearls in candy-delicious colors.

Hop over to our design gallery – we have a whole category devoted to spring and Easter jewelry. We make all of our designs “copyright free” meaning you are welcome to replicate them exactly, or to just as eye candy (eye jelly beans?) get your creative ideas flowing. Several of the designs are official “Create Your Style with Swarovski Elements” designs that use crystal pearls and sparkly crystal beads. No matter what materials you choose, now is the perfect time to add a pop of spring color to your wardrobe…unless you are Bill. Bill already has enough color – if you’ve ever placed an order by phone you’ve probably experienced it! ~ Cindy


I don't remember what I said to get the "oh no you didn't!!" finger wag, but it must have been good. Or maybe he is dancing? Hmmm. One never can tell wtih Bill!

Birthstone Jewelry: March is Aquamarine

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

A couple of weeks ago at our Spokane Bead Frenzy, I was demonstrating how to use microtorches to solder pieces of metal together. Much to my shock, since I was doing 10 things at once and answering questions, some of the pieces actually turned out to be quite adorable! I turned one into a necklace with our new “Zambian aquamarine” beads as March birthstone jewelry project inspiration.

Aqua Love necklace composed of 6mm round gemstone beads with copper findings.

Notice my use of quotes – these beads are neither “Zambian” or “aquamarine.” In actuality they are quartz beads that have been dyed to look like the ultra-rare and ultra-spendy Zambian aquamarine. (You can learn more about gemstones in our Gemstone Index. ) I did a quick Google search and found many examples of these beads being called Zambian aquamarine by both bead stores and jewelry designers. I don’t think they intend to be dishonest, but are merely using a descriptive name. It can be confusing, but if you’re ever in doubt, the price tag can be a good indicator of whether the beads you’re looking at are a pretty imitation or the real deal. Materials such as quartz, magnesite and howlite can make pretty convincing substitutes for pricier stones, and in fashion jewelry, affordability is often a huge factor! There is nothing wrong with using less expensive stones as long as you are honest about it.

When designing birthstone jewelry, some people select their beads based purely on color, like I did for this necklace, while others like to use the traditional mineral or material. Both colors and materials are believed my many to have metaphysical properties. Here is a list of the traditional birthstone(s) for each month. Our Gemstone Index lists many of the metaphysical properties for the stones, so below I have added just a few tidbits about the colors themselves. (There is also chart of the Swarovski birthstone colors in the jewelry Tips & Techniques section of our site.)

Birthstone colors and meanings

January – Garnet. Red is known for warmth, energy, love and passion.
February – Amethyst. Purple is a color of transformation and renewal.
March – Aquamarine. Blue is a color of truth and peace.
April – Diamond. White/clear is the “perfect” color since it combines all colors.
May – Emerald. Green represents balance and harmony.
June – Pearl. White is also known as purity.
July – Ruby (red). Physical strength and energy are also attributed to red.
August – Peridot. Because of its balancing nature, green is very healing.
September – Sapphire. Blue is cooling and brings tranquility.
October – Tourmaline or Opal. There are too many color options here! :)
November – Topaz or Citrine. Orange is cheerful and stimulates creative thinking, as well as appetite! Brown is stable, like the earth.
December – Zircon or Turquoise. This color is said to help increase intuition.

What do you think – is it more important to use the traditional mineral/material or the appropriate color in birthstone jewelry? My vote is actually to give people their favorite colors and stones, no matter what the chart says! ~ Cindy


Leather strap wrap bracelets in bright new colors!

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Spring is (almost!!) here, and what better way to celebrate the return of short sleeves than a wrist full of bracelets? With this in mind, we chose a fun new palette of leather strap bracelets based on the 2012 Spring Pantone Color Chart. These triple-wrap bracelets are 1/2″ wide and feature three snaps for an adjustable fit. The gorgeous colors are created with lead-free vegetable dyes. Vegetable dyes are color fast, but you should avoid getting your leather bracelets soaking wet, as it could damage the leather.

Leather bracelets are easy to customize and fun to wear. Here are some of the ways our design team dressed them up:


Some of the brighter and bolder Pantone-inspired color choices – Solar Power, Lagoon, Bellflower and Pink Punch! The concrete gray makes a great neutral base for many colors, including sapphire crystals.

Most of our designers chose to sew their beads, charms, crystals and other decorations in place. Pretty much any stringing material can work, depending on the situation. We used Nymo, Superlon, embroidery floss, hemp and even wire.


From the top: Jaci used a jeweler’s saw to cut skulls out of sheet metal. I attached bronze clay charms and bronze shade crystal margaritas. Laurae stitched crystal channels on with wire. Toni used freshwater pearls and antiqued brass filigree.

Use a rotary hole punch tool or an awl to make holes where needed, and stitch away! Just be sure to choose a thread thickness that feels durable enough for the weight of the items you are attaching.


As you can see, our stitch methods varied a lot. Mine are quite clumsy while Toni’s are practically invisible – but they all worked! Laurae’s wire was the most problematic to sew with, but it does add a nice heft to the bracelet.

Another leather embellishing option is to use rivets and/or eyelets. Eyelets line holes nicely for durability, which allows you to hang charms from them, like on Sondra’s stack of ankh bracelets:


Simple and stylish wrapped leather bracelets in black, dark brown and scarlet leather. I wanted to name that color of red “lipstick red” but was out-voted on the grounds that not all lipstick is red! Scarlet won because it is a pretty true red without orange or brown tones.

Polly used the Crafted Findings riveting system to attach TierraCast charms and spacer beads to her purple leather bracelet. The teal blue bracelet uses evenly spaced eyelets to create an industrial style, while Toni used a couple of large leather eyelets to create attachment points for pretty charms and beads.


The front pearl bracelet is on “Silly Putty” colored leather. The pinkish yet neutral color is hard to describe, but somehow we all agreed silly putty summed it up!


I stitched Dark Indigo bicone drops in place over the bezel loops on my “Clueless” bracelet to make spikes.

I had a hard time rounding up all these bracelets … I didn’t quite have to pry them off people’s wrists, but almost. They’ve been getting a lot of wear – and a lot of compliments! We hope you have just as much fun creating your own jewelry with them! ~ Cindy