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ornate heartsTwo ornate 'puffy' silver heart beads, hollow in the center with holes at top and bottom for stringing. Each is about 1" wide and lightweight. Sold as a set of two. I will consider selling them separately -- so let me know if you'd like to buy only one for $19.00.

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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:

tourmaline 1One of October's birthstones, the beautiful Tourmaline can be found in a wide variety of hues, including cranberry red, hot magenta, bubblegum pink, peach and orange, canary yellow, mint, grass and forest green, ocean blue, and violet.

Tourmaline is also known for displaying several colors in one gemstone. These bi-color or tri-color gems are formed in many combinations and are highly prized. My personal favorite, a multi-color variety known as Watermelon Tourmaline, has green, pink, and white color bands. To resemble its namesake, the gemstone is cut into thin slices having a pink center, white ring, and green edge. 

Tourmaline was known for centuries by the name Schorl. This name was used prior to the year 1400 (AD) because a village known today as Zschorlau (in Saxony, Germany) was then named 'Schorl'' (or minor variants of this name) -- and nearby was a tin mine, where a lot of black tourmaline was also found.

The more modern name Tourmaline comes from the Sinhalese (Sri Lanka) words tura mali, meaning unknown gemstones of mixed colors. In the beginning of the 18th century, tourmaline crystals were grouped together in tura mali parcels in Sri Lanka and exported to Europe. It became popular worldwide, as it is a high quality gemstone that is affordable to use in jewelry designs.

Tourmaline is renowned as the gem of sensitive poets and creative artists. Shakespeare even had a small collection of tourmaline jewelry to help him overcome writer's block. Tourmaline is believed to inspire creativity and was used extensively as a talisman by artists and writers during the renaissance through the late 1800s. Perhaps this gemstone is believed to encourage artistic imagination because it has many faces and can express every mood though color.

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