I 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.
Although 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 right).
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 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.
Charms and contributing members of the bracelet shown here are:
1. Heads or Tails? Charm by L. Sue Szabo
2. Tiny Arm and Sleeve Charm by quenchmetalworks
3. Feather Charm by nodeform
4. Spring Blossoms Charm by Experimetal
5. OM Landscape Charm by simplyMegA
6. Midnight Sun Charm by BrakenDesigns
7. Nine Charm by tuizui
8. Lucky Number 13 Charm by michelegradydesigns
9. Transformation Charm by panicmama
10. Lucky Aventurine Charm by MetalLuxe
11. 13 Course Dinner a.k.a. 12 unlucky little fish by amuckdesign
12. Mangrove Seed Pod Charm by ReaganHayhurst
13. Apotrapaic Charm by citizenobjects
14. Flip ya for it! Charm by NinaGibsonDesigns
15. Simple Sakura Charm by Iacua
16. Famed Woodgrain Charm by AbellaBlue
17. Fehu Rune Charm by silentgoddess
18. Chime Charm by PeculiarForest
To see pictures of the charms that are still available for individual sale from this CS13 collection, see: https://www.etsy.com/shop/EtsyMetal/search?search_query=cs13&order=date_desc&view_type=gallery&ref=shop_search
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I’m always amazed by the creativity of jewelry designers. Some I’ve discovered have found that natural stones and crystals aren’t necessarily the be-all and end-all of ornamentation. That’s sometimes a hard sell for me, since these are my favorites. But as you know I’m also drawn to the beauty of lampwork, metal clay creations, sea glass and more. Today I’ve decided to celebrate the folks who have dusted off old marble collections to create beautiful focal pieces for their work.
You can buy these ‘pre-made’, but why do that when all you need are glass marbles, a hot oven, and cold water? You can get details on the process here: How To Make a Cracked Marble Necklace
The basics are, pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees and place your selection of marbles on a baking sheet. Bake the marbles for about 20 minutes, take them out, dunk them in ice water, and voila! The drastic change in temperature make the marbles crack immediately. Once they’ve cooled and cracked in the water, put them in a strainer and use in your own unique designs. They look like crystals, so there’s an infinite number of possibilities. I’ve featured just a few of the pretty baubles our Etsy colleagues have made using these marbles. If you decide to try this out, we hope you’ll share the results with us!
From top to bottom are:
From MTCreationsjust4u, a plethora of cracked marble necklaces with a variety of choices for cords and caps.
From BeesHandmadeGifts, a cat eye marble necklace, with silver chain and finishings.
To the ancient Pueblo people, turquoise gemstones were a precious commodity. They used it to make exquisite ritual masks with turquoise mosaic on wood, shell, and bone. They made turquoise jewelry, pottery and fabrics, trading them with neighboring and distant communities for a wide variety of goods including exotic items such as seashells, copper bells, parrots and macaws.
The Pueblo tribe are an ancient race related to the Aztecs. Ancient Pueblo Petroglyphs (rock drawings, or stone carvings) can be found in Chaco Canyon, and are a testament to their ancient civilization. They were excellent stone masons who first lived in Cliff Houses. They moved from these dwellings and began to build their houses beneath the overhanging cliffs. Traditionally, Puebloans were farmers and herdsmen who live in villages. They were also highly skilled in basket-work, weaving, pottery and carving. The Pueblo people are noted for their highly developed ceremonial customs and rituals, and their blankets and earthenware are decorated with religious symbolism.
They valued jewelry and wore Turquoise jewelry and silver ornaments. Below to the left is an updated version of what some of this jewelry may have looked like -- a wonderful creation of Christine from BraidedSouls on Etsy. Also below to the right is a contemporary piece by Pula Calabaza, featured in the NativeJewelryStore on Etsy.
One thousand years ago these Puebloans lived an inter-connected community, the sacred heart of which now lies in ruins at the Chaco Canyon floor in New Mexico. The road system that connects it to distant outlier pueblos is unique. Nothing like it exists elsewhere in North America. Mapping out the roadways shifted the world’s view of these Southwest American ruins, with Chaco Canyon now considered to be comparable to Peru’s ancient ruins and Machu Picchu.
The roads themselves were overbuilt Many of the roads are 30 feet wide; secondary roads are 15 feet wide. Why such wide roads when the Chaco people did not have carts or other vehicles? Other findings in the area include periodic large-scale breakage of vessels, a dearth of burials, and even a cache of 10,000 turquoise beads stringing one niche at the bottom of a circular, roofless kiva.
With these clues, archaeologists have concluded that Chaco Canyon was not built for the practicality of people’s lives, but rather for ceremonial purposes. Within the maze of hand-hewn Great Houses found in the canyon, there are thousands of 60-foot-long logs, some up to three feet in diameter -- all hauled by the Ancestral Puebloans a distance of more than 50 miles.
The area was a center of ancestral Pueblo culture between 850 and 1250, serving as a focus for ceremonials, trade and political activity for the prehistoric Four Corners area. The massive multi-storied buildings are oriented to solar, lunar, and cardinal directions; there was a high level of community social organization; and they achieved a complex and wide-ranging commerce. Only recently, new research has revealed that the Pueblo people’s source of turquoise for was much more far-reaching than previously believed.
Over the years, archaeologists have found more than 200,000 turquoise pieces at various sites in the Chaco Canyon. According to Sharon Hull, an anthropologist at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, the gems were very important to the Puebloan culture, and akin to modern-day diamonds. Initially, scientists believed the gems came from the nearest turquoise deposit more than 200 kilometers away — the Cerrillos Hills Mining District near present-day Santa Fe. However, new research reveals that the Pueblo people acquired their turquoise using a large trade network spanning several states, including Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and southeastern California.
More than 450 years ago, a German metallurgist by the name of Georg Bauer realized the value of a name in marketing and renamed yellow quartz “citrine”. Known to some as "the father of mdern mineralogy” Bauer used the name citrine in his 1556 publication about gemstones and jewelry. The most likely root of the word citrine is from the old French word for yellow--citron--or the Latin word citrus for the color of citrus fruit. Madeira citrine is a darker, reddish-brown variety of quartz. Some say it gets its name from the Brazilian word for wood or wood-colored, while others say Madeira citrine is named after the fortified wine made in the Madeira Islands just off the coast of Portugal.
[Light Yellow Oval Cut Citrine shown to the right is from GemstonesLooseInc of Etsy.]
Citrine has been used as an embellishment on tools and in the jewelry making industry for thousands of years. In ancient Greece, it gained popularity as a decorative gem during the Hellenistic Age, roughly between 300 and 150 B.C. The gem was carried as a protection against snake venom and evil thoughts. Also known as a "merchants' stone”, it was placed with cash profits to not only acquire wealth but to maintain it as well. Another practice was to place the stone on the forehead of an elder, believing it would increase their psychic power. Ancient Romans also used it for beautiful jewelry and intaglio (engraved gem) work. In the 17th century, Scottish weapon makers placed citrine on dagger handles, sometimes using a single large citrine crystal as the handle itself.
Largely due to Queen Victoria’s fascination with the gem, citrine became a popular gemstone for traditional Scottish kilt pins and shoulder brooches. In 1852, the British Empire’s Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, began construction on a new summer residence within a hundred yards of the 15th century fortress in the Scottish Highlands known as Balmoral Castle. (The Castle still stands today in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and is a favorite private country retreat for the current royal family). Queen Victoria was so fond of Scotland and her new Balmoral home that she commanded guests to wear full Highland plaid attire. This gave her the perfect opportunity to share her love of gemstones found within her kingdom, of which the beautiful citrine was a favorite.
Citrine again rose to prominence during the Art Deco period that began iin the 20's, when opulence was in and high living was a matter of fact. The international appeal of Art Deco design was seen in everything from jewelry, clothing, furniture and interior design to appliances and architecture. Large faceted citrines were set into fine jewelry items, some highlighting the geometric crispness of the period. Fans of 1930s and 1940s Hollywood productions may see some great examples from the short-lived era. Pieces worn by Hollywood starlets such as Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford made women flock to jewelers for the precious stones. Even more, Greta Garbo started her own Art Deco line, with many pieces featuring citrine. Such pieces continue to sell for countless dollar amounts, as many consider them to be priceless. Her collection ranged from elegant cocktail bracelets to opulent headpieces. Joan Crawford often wore an emerald-cut citrine ring that was more than 100 carats. She had a matching cuff bracelet and necklace, also set with huge citrines.
Today this beautiful gemstone is considered to be the Planetary stone for the Sun Sign of Virgo and the accepted gem for the 13th and 17th wedding anniversary.