Archive for the ‘Featured Bead’ Category

Get Your Margaritas Here

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013
Margarita for drinking Margarita for drinking

No, not that kind of margarita…

These crystal charm designs are so easy to make!

Grab a tasty beverage and a friend or two and have a good time making margarita trees all evening.

Margarita Tree Variety

A variety of tree styles you can make with SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS from Rings & Things

So… why am I calling them margarita trees?

The “branches” of these sweet tree designs are made with the Swarovski sew-on stone Article 3700, known as the Margarita (or Marguerite).

margarita variety

The margarita crystal is available at Rings & Things in up to 5 sizes, and various tree related colors

The colors in the above picture, clockwise from the top, are emerald, crystal AB, fern green, dark moss green, and Crystal VM.  These tend to be the most popular tree colors, but you can also make trees in Crystal, Peridot, and a variety of non-traditional colors.

So… what do you need to make your own Margarita Trees?



Margarita crystals in at least 3 sizes (6, 8, and 10mm are the minimum for the “tree” look)

Small beads for the “star”

Round Nose Pliers


minimum tree components

Purchase margaritas, “star” beads, headpins, earwires, and tools at

This is the basic tree with the minimum components as shown above.

simple tree earrings from Rings & Things

These trees are made with just the minimum components and are cute and unobtrusive.

If you want a fancier tree, add a few more layers:

cube beads for tree trunks

even bigger sizes of margarita to make a grander tree

chain nose pliers

tasty beverage  :)

larger margarita tree components

These parts from Rings & Things will make a more lush margarita tree design.

To construct your margarita trees, first decide if you want to have a tree trunk.

If so string a 4mm crystal cube #5601 onto your headpin.  I tend to gravitate toward using mocca, light colorado topaz, or crystal bronze shade for the look of wood.

Next decide on the number of layers for your tree.

Add #3700 crystal margaritas in descending size order to your headpin.

And decide how to top your tree.

I usually use a 3mm xilion crystal bicone #5328 in a metallic or bright color.

larger margarita tree stack

This fuller margarita tree style includes two more “branches” and a “trunk”.

Finish this off with a simple or wrapped loop.

larger margarita tree looped

This larger completed margarita tree design is ready to attach to an earwire.

If you are making earrings, repeat the process and then add your earwires.

Margarita trees make fantastic earrings, precious pendants, and adorable additions to a gift wrap.

They can also be constructed for strung jewelry, like the Christmas Tree and Light Necklace.

So,  how do you like your margarita trees?  TraditionalBright and ShinySnow Covered?  or even turned upside down to be an icicle?

finished large margarita tree

Larger Margarita tree earrings with components from

~  Rita

Spring 2013 Pantone Color Trends Giveaway

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Pantone Spring 2013 Giveaway

Enter to win our Resin Flower Gluing Kit. Just comment at the end of this post  — by May 6, 2013 — with your favorite Pantone Spring 2013 Color Trend to be entered into our drawing.

win a resin flower gluing kit

In celebration of Spring, here are the Spring 2013 Pantone Color Trends. Just click on any of the color swatches below and find the treasures available in our online store. Also visit our Design Gallery  for all the designs you see here and many more. All designs are FREE – no login required!

banner-spring13_emerald banner-spring13_grayedjade

banner-spring13_tendershoots  banner-spring13_lemonzest

banner-spring13_nectarine banner-spring13_poppyred

banner-spring13_linen banner-spring13_africanviolet

banner-spring13_duskblue banner-spring13_monacoblue

Comment now with your favorite Pantone Spring 2013 Color Trend to win. Contest ends May 6, 2013.


The Bead Bandit: make masculine beaded men’s jewelry!

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Well, hello there, bloglandia. Do you ever feel like most jewelry findings are designed to look feminine? Even if they aren’t frilly or covered with hearts and flowers, there is often something innately delicate about most DIY jewelry findings. When you want to make beaded men’s jewelry, it can be a problem. Crimp beads and bullion just don’t look that tough! Luckily, jewelry designer Jeff Fulkerson invented a solution: the Bead Bandit.


A strand of 8mm round beads make a simple, masculine bracelet when finished with a large clasp and Bead Bandits.

This patent-protected device is made of two pieces that screw together, hiding the crimp bead or knot on the end of your beading wire or cord under a burly piece of metal.


Silver plated Bead Bandits. (Also available in gold plated.)

Bead Bandits are really easy to use: just unscrew the two pieces and string the small piece onto your beading wire. Knot or crimp the wire, trim, and then screw the cover into place.


bandit-on-beadalonI found it easier to crimp than to knot the Beadalon, and with either method, I’d recommend adding a dab of glue just to make sure the crimp or knot doesn’t work its way loose over time. Attach a clasp with jump rings and you’re all done!

For a complete list of parts for this bracelet, see our Design Gallery!

bandit-endsSimple solutions are often the most elegant… or in this case, most manly.

Congratulations on your invention, Jeff! ~ Cindy



New Beads on the Block – Gemcolor Crystal Pearls!

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

Hi bloglandia! Take a look around and what do you see, fashion wise? That’s right: color. Big bold blocks of vivid color.


These beads absolutely pop with gemstone colors.

Incorporate this season’s love for pure color into your jewelry designs with Swarovski “gemcolor” crystal pearls.


An easy to make bead bar necklace with red coral, pink coral, lapis, jade and turquoise crystal pearls.

I really love gemstones natural variations in color. However, even I am a fan of these not-so-natural crystal pearls. They are just plain fun, perfect for summer or anytime really. The color palette is really versatile, too. The gem colors make many great combinations. Here are a couple of my favorites:


Red coral and turquoise is a classic gemstone combination. The pearl in the middle is ivory color.


Coral, pink coral and jade crystal pearls.


Dark lapis, turquoise and mystic black crystal pearls make a cool blue mix.

Notice how shiny the little buggers are too – I couldn’t avoid getting reflections in my snapshots, especially that last one (the rings are light bouncing off the clear bowl the pearls were in.) That is one of the perks of crystal pearls – unlike natural pearls, which will get destroyed by common things like perfume & hairspray – crystal pearls are very durable. The shiny, uniform coating is meant for fun in the sun. So go get some – of both! ~ Cindy

Pretty in pearls – freshwater keishi pearls for jewelry designers

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Hi bloglandia! Pearls are a standard in jewelry, yet the shapes and colors available these days are anything but!


Sondra mixed freshwater keishi pearls with keishi-shaped sterling silver beads and Swarovski crystals. The clusters of pretties hang from Santa Me sterling silver swirls.

Keishi pearls are actually collapsed pearl sacs. To me they look like shimmery, shiny souffles that have drooped into ruffly, lacy waves. The picture below shows several shades of tip-drilled keishi pearls, including the rose ones Sondra used in the above earrings. Virtually all freshwater pearls are enhanced in one way or another, but I love how the colors still have such “natural” variation. Quite lovely.

Tip-drilled keishi pearls add great texture to strung designs too.

Pearls are very soft compared to other gem materials. Since earrings are generally safe from much wear and tear, they are a great way to feature pearls, like with this Rosie Posie design:


Wavy brass disks, 3mm sparkly glass rondelles and antiqued brass findings paired with center-drilled "cornflake" keishi pearls.

In addition to being soft, pearls are also sensitive to chemicals and solvents, so it is always best to put your pearl earrings on *after* you’ve applied your hairspray, perfume and such. They are pretty enough to warrant a little TLC!

I had a bit of sticker shock when I first saw the price for center-drilled keishi like the ones in the earrings above. Compared to our other freshwater pearls, they seemed pricey. But then I realized just how many of these guys you get on a strand: about 100!

Each cornflake pearl is only 1-3mm thick - so 16" strands hold a LOT of them!

If you’d like to learn more about how freshwater pearls are cultured and created – and more care recommendations! – visit our Gemstone Index. One last pointer on pearls: unless specifically noted, pearls almost always have small holes – even standard size head pins are usually too thick. Thin pins or 24-gauge wire works much better!

Torch fired enamel jewelry ideas

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Torch fired enameled metal is really (really!) quite beautiful! We recently added a selection of artisan copper components from C-Koop Beads. The colors are deep and lustrous due to the layers of glass fused to the surface of the metal, and since they are handmade, each one is slightly different. Here are a few of the mixed-media jewelry pieces our designers have recently created with enameled copper:


Nory painted wood pendants and beads with a rose motif, and had Tiffany construct his design using silk ribbon and brightly dyed wood beads. The enameled copper leaves, rings, bead caps and toggle clasp are all by C-Koop.


I used copper clay powder to create the bird pendant, which coordinated well with C-Koop enameled pink rings and Swarovski antique pink crystals. I love how you can see bits of copper underneath the enamel.


The elongated heart shape is practically Sondra’s signature, so of course it was the finishing touch on her bottle cap necklace.


Rita etched a copper washer to create the center link on this bracelet, and used a clasp and beads from C-Koop to add more color.


Fall color trends: new crystal color combinations for jewelry designers

Friday, October 14th, 2011

The fashion world is always on fast forward. While we are living in fall 2011 (at least last time I checked!), designers are already planning for fall 2012. Hence the debut of SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS fall/winter 2012/13 crystal colors – *antique pink and denim blue – in fall 2011!

love, love, love

I am actually pretty fond of the 2011 fall Pantone color scheme and its nature-driven hues. “Designers take a painterly approach to fall 2011 by artfully combining bright colors with staple neutrals, reminiscent of how an artist would construct a stunning work of art,” states Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute.

So, although *antique pink and denim blue were designed with next year’s trends in mind, I’m happy to see they coordinate beautifully with the current fashion color trends. Because, really, who can wait until next year to start making jewelry with pretty new crystal colors?

Both *antique pink (a clear crystal with colored coating) and denim blue have a pleasing depth and smokiness that allows them to either blend or pop with a huge variety of color palettes. They also work with both warm and cool hues. And, both look amazing with Vintaj natural brass and antiqued brass plate filigrees!

Behold the rainbow:

*Antique pink with warm browns

Denim blue with more warm browns

Yummy warm browns (Pantone calls them “Nougat” and “Coffee Liqeur”) are big this fall. Both of the above pictures include crystal/golden shadow, light colorado topaz, light topaz and sand opal. The denim blue crystal mix also has light smoked topaz, mocca and smokey quartz.

Red, red and denim blue

Berry-licious antique pink and with reds

Garnet and siam crystals are featured in both pictures. The denim mix also features dark red coral, light siam and padparadscha (aka Pantone’s “Honeysuckle”). The berry mix uses burgundy and ruby crystals with dusky *antique pink.

A spectrum of pinks and purples

I lined up the “tone on tone” color blend option from SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS to help show where *antique pink falls in their color palette. From left to right, we’ve got rose, light rose, vintage rose, *antique pink, cyclamen opal and light amethyst crystal beads. As you can see, *antique pink has a hint of purple and a smidge of grey to tone down its rosiness.

Denim blue with purple crystals

Denim blue with purple crystals

Denim blue looks great with purple crystals, such as violet, light violet, cyclamen opal, Provence lavender and tanzanite. It’s more vivid, but still pairs nicely with Pantone’s “Quarry” blue and purple-y gray “Orchid Hush.”

Pink pops next to denim blue crystals

Pink pops next to denim blue crystals

Or, go for more contrast by pairing denim blue with light rose, rose, vintage rose, light amethyst, Indian pink and fuchsia.

Sunshine-y bright mix of crystals

Sunshine-y bright mix of crystals

Denim blue with jonquil, light topaz, lime and sunflower (or in Pantone terms, “Bamboo”) crystals is like a burst of sunshine – especially in comparison with the dreary gray sky outside my window!

cool grey and denim blue crystal beads

Cool grays with denim blue

Yet even gray looks less dreary with a shot of blue. Above is a neutral mix of *moonlight, *silver shade, light grey opal, greige and *satin beads.

antique pink crystal beads with gray

Antique pink crystal heart with cool grays

Meanwhile, *antique pink with those same grays and pure jet black makes a decidedly romantic and elegant statement. When the greige crystal color debuted a few seasons ago, I honestly thought Swarovski made up the word by combining “grey” and beige” (hey, they have a lot of power!). I’ve since learned greige is an actual word that describes raw, undyed fabric. I was perhaps a bit underwhelmed by greige (and sand opal and light grey opal, to be honest) when they were unveiled, but I’ve since come to appreciate how well they compliment other more vibrant colors.

Whether you are a slave to fashion or completely oblivious to its fickle ways, it is always nice to have more color options to choose from. These are just a few of the many, many color options using SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS. Hope you’ve enjoyed the crystal eye candy – next week I’ll share some color combos featuring the new petrol crystal pearls on our Facebook page! ~ Cindy

Product spotlight – new large-hole metal beads

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

I’m not one to exaggerate, but really, we’ve got a bazillion new metal beads in our online store! Most of them have large holes, too – perfect for all the leather and Pandora-style jewelry that is so popular these days.

Toni’s bracelet design allows the cube bead to make a statement.

Whether you prefer antiqued silver, antiqued brass or antiqued copper in your jewelry designs, there are tons of new bead options with strong geometric shapes, fancy details and great textures. A few of my favorites include:

New summery flower beads in antiqued brass and silver.

Hollow metal barrel beads that remind me of Donkey Kong!

Tube beads and other unique shapes with hammered texture.

I don’t know exactly what this will end up being, but these chunky tube beads told me they wanted to be strung on leather with our new larger-hole shell pearls. We shall see!

The future of this piece is a mystery at this point!

Finally, here are a pair of earrings Toni made. What a great go-with-everything design! For variety, it would be easy to add a splash of color or sparkle by capping the dotty tube beads with small gemstones or crystals.

West Yin earrings.

Do metal beads inspire you to add bright colors or to keep in neutral? I would love to hear what kind of combinations you come up with! ~ Cindy