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jade hookSAVE 20% WITH SAVE20 COUPON for this and anything else in the shop. This is a lovely hand-carved pendant of natural Nephrite Jade from New Zealand. The hei matu, or fish hook, has endured since pre-colonial times (prior to the 18th century) and symbolizes abundance, and a respect for sea. The design represents the special relationship Maori people have with fishing (historically they lived from fisheries and depended on the sea for food gathering) and Tangaroa, god of the sea. Designs range from the ultra-realistic through to more conceptual styles, and wearing one is said to bring good fortune when traveling across oceans.

This beautiful piece measures approx. 45 mm long (approx.. 1 3/4") x approx. 23 mm. (just shy of 1") at its widest point. Thickness is approx. 3 mm. Hole at top for hanging is approx. 3 mm. wide.

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king cakeThis year, the famous (& infamous) Mardi Gras celebration of New Orleans takes place on Tuesday, February 28. I'm a Cajun, so naturally this is a great excuse for me to party. Pictured here to the right is a King Cake, one of my favorite things. King cakes are a vibrant part of the Mardi Gras tradition. It reminds us of the coming of the wise men bearing gifts to the Christ Child -- so as a symbol of this Holy Day, a tiny plastic baby is placed inside the cake. The custom was brought to New Orleans from France in 1870. Today, the baby symbolizes luck and prosperity to whoever finds it in his/her slice of cake. In some traditions, the finder of the baby is designated "king" or "queen" for the evening. That person is also responsible for purchasing next year's cake, or for throwing the next Mardi Gras party.

Then, just as living in New Mexico always makes me hungry for green chile, around Mardi Gras time I think of mouthwatering things like seafood gumbo, jambalaya, oyster po-boys and those monster 'Hurricane' drinks made of fruit juice and rum. Believe it or not, there are still places in Southern Louisiana that sell frozen Hurricanes out of drive-through windows. And they are not for the faint of heart! I will reserve my story of buying one such drink for a future article, but suffice it to say that this season is all about FUN, and it couldn't come at a better time than the tail end of winter.

We've done a couple of previous posts on this bead-intense event (Time for Mardi GrasThe Beads of Mardi Gras and Mardi Gras Beads), so check those out if you're in the mood.This celebration can also be an excuse to create something new, fun, vibrant, and party-oriented. There are some truly inspiring jewelry pieces in the previous 'Time for Mardi Gras', especially. This year, I thought I'd expand on the previous posts by sharing some fun Mardi Gras bead supplies and jewelry found on Etsy.

amazonite necklaceAt the Tucson gem show this year, we saw some fine faceted Amazonite that was every bit as beautiful as Peruvian Opal -- and I don't say that lightly, as Peru Opal is my all-time favorite. For those of you who may not know about Amazonite, it's a gem variety of feldspar, and has a lustrous reflection known as iridescence.

It is found in the United States, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Russia, Australia, Namibia. The color is usually light green to blue-green, or mottled, and sometimes contains light striations.

The stone has a great backstory; some say it has its name because it was found in the Amazon River -- another says it is named for Amazon women warriors. Some archeological evidence suggests that the Amazonians were a matriarchal society during the Bronze Age. If this theory intrigues you as it does me, you can read more about it here.

Mystics say the stone enhances creative expression, courage, and improves the feeling of self-worth. Amazonite is considered a soothing stone that offers confidence and works on the throat chakra. It is called the "hope stone" because it inspires confidence and hope. One source says it is useful to activate lazy teenagers. (HA!)

We do know for sure that it was used extensively by the Egyptians. You can read more about that here.

chrysocolla beadsThe first stone ever known for the purpose of communication was Chrysocolla. The very essence of the gemstone is devoted to expression, teaching and self-empowerment. Some say the turquoise blue color in this stone discharges all the negative energies and calms the wearer; creating an environment of truthfulness and allowing wisdom to emerge.

This gemstone ‘called’ to me the first time I laid eyes on it. To me, it felt like gazing into a dark blue and peaceful pool of water – the color is like nothing you will see elsewhere. The stone is sometimes confused with turquoise, as it has some of the same visual qualities – but it is really nothing like turquoise. A 2006 study has produced evidence that chrysocolla may be a microscopic mixture of the copper hydroxide mineral spertiniite, amorphous silica, and water. It is typically found in rounded masses and crusts, or vein fillings.

square chrysocollaThere are also some interesting legends about the stone. For thousands of years, as legend tells it, chrysocolla has been a stone of conciliation and reassurance throughout the world. In ancient Egypt, it was called the ‘wise stone’, as those who wore it generally came up with clever compromises when it seemed there had been a terminal stall in negotiations. It was also thought it would protect the wearer against psychological damage. Lore has it that this stone had the power to make violent people more sensitive and tolerant, which is apparently why Cleopatra carried chrysocolla with her everywhere she went.

chrysocolla and silverIt was also used as a healing stone with native Indian tribes that attributed many powers to it. The name chrysocolla comes from the Greek words ‘chrysos’ which means gold and ‘kola’ meaning glue – because it was used by smiths as a solder when they were crafting gold jewelry. Supposedly chrysocolla was first mined in the legendary mines of King Solomon.

Check out some of the great things our Etsy colleagues have done with the stone – (shown in this post) and be inspired! From top to bottom are:

- A beautiful strand of Chrysocolla rondelle gemstones with sterling silver, by WearJWDesigns;

Square Chrysocolla and Silver Necklace by Willowwindstudio; and

- A stunning Chrysocolla and Spinel pendant necklace in sterling silver, with handmade chain - by BebesBaublesJewelry

Shannon Sheila BestOnce again this year we worked at the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show. Shannon was there with the awesome shop Natural Stones, while I cruised around in search of new treasures for our Etsy shop BeadyEyedBird.

We picked up some more vintage trade and Czech glass beads and a beautiful Tibetan brass singing bowl for when we need to de-stress, and even found a small sink carved of honey onyx for a powder room we're refurbishing back home.

There were the usual non-jewelry/gemstone delights -- international food vendors, hand-woven baskets, loomed shawls, Mexican pottery and exotic home decor. And of course the usual football field sized tables piled with pearls, armed guards watching over gold and diamond sales, bloody awful traffic and parking, and the camaraderie of folks who are weary from packing and unpacking and selling on their feet all day.

Not surprisingly (if you know us) some of our favorite times were had while out to dinner in Tucson, where we tried some new venues like The Screamery (ice cream), The Hub (hip, with New American fare, like gourmet sandwiches, craft beer and designer sorbet), and the Senae Thai Bistro where we enjoyed spicy Tom Yum soup, fish roasted in banana leaves, and fresh mango with coconut cream sticky rice.

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