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glass redThis is a set of red glass beads and pendant for your matching earring/necklace designs. The earring beads (approx. 1 mm. long) consist of clear red glass set in gold oval frames. My understanding is that these are vintage, from the 1950's. The pendant (approx. 1" long and 1 mm. wide) is of blown glass with gold and other elements, with a generous horizontal hole (through the red section), ready for stringing. This is not vintage, but it is beautifully handcrafted, and it goes so nicely with these beads that we are offering it as a set for your jewelry designs.

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On Opal, by Pliny the Elder, First Century A.D. --

"Made up of the glories of the most precious gems, to describe them is a matter of inexpressible difficulty. For there is amongst them the gentler fire of the ruby, there is the rich purple of the amethyst, there is the sea-green of the emerald, and all shining together in an indescribable union. Others, by an excessive heightening of their hues equal all the colours of the painter, others the flame of burning brimstone, or of a fire quickened by oil."

Ethiopia is considered to be one of the finest sources for opal, and when you look it, you can see why. The stone has a high transparency, which means you can facet, carve, make into cabochons, or of course, beads. The color is unreal – they seem to float in the gem and project from the surface. And the number of colors in a single piece is only rarely seen in Australian opals. Color patterns are varied and unique. Just look at what some of our Etsy artisan colleagues have done with this sort of thing! To the right is the exquisite creation of Mindy Greenville of MindyG – a necklace of Ethiopian opal and purple amethyst, with a Mother of Pearl pendant. Unique and beautiful!

fan 3opals manyColor patterns of this opal are varied. Below is an exquisite sample from Gemsafari on Etsy – multicolor rondelle beads. Opals with ‘play of color’ have always been considered one of the most desired gems in the marketplace, earning it the oft-used title of “Queen of Gemstones”.

Although it has been reported that Northern African opal was used to make tools as early as 4000 BC, the first published report of gem opal from Ethiopia occurred in 1994, with the discovery of precious opal in the Menz Gishe District, North Shewa Province. The opal, found mostly in the form of nodules, was of volcanic origin and was found predominantly within weathered layers of rhyolite. This Shewa Province opal was mostly dark brown in color and had a tendency to crack. These qualities made it unpopular in the gem trade. In 2008, a new opal deposit was found near the town of Wegel Tena, in Ethiopia's Wollo Province. The Wollo Province opal was different from the previous Ethiopian opal finds in that it more closely resembled the sedimentary opals of Australia and Brazil, with a light background and often vivid play-of-color. Wollo Province opal, more commonly referred to as "Welo" or "Wello" opal, has become the dominant Ethiopian opal in the gem trade. With the discovery of this precious and stable opal, this gem is now one of the most in-demand gemstones in the 21st century.

Below is another example of some inspiring work with with this opal. Check out artisan Anjali Singh of Studio1980. The beautiful bracelet below at right is called an "Om Spiritual' bracelet -- handmade with natural Ethiopian opal and sterling silver. Love it!

purple glass

One of my all-time favorite beads was a gift from my daughter after her return from Tokyo, Japan. It is in the style of ‘Tonbodama’, a Japanese lampwork bead. The name roughly translates to ‘dragonfly eyes’ in English. These gorgeous beads are made of Japanese Satake glass, which is very soft and has a low melting point – resulting in soft, subtle colors.

japanese green glassThe best of these beads are individually handmade, so no two are exactly alike. They can be used as focal beads in bracelets, necklaces and earrings. See examples shown here, especially this lovely one (at right) from Shirley Zhu of ShirleyLampworkBeads on Etsy.

Shirley’s creation is luminous, with purple roses frozen under crystal encasement. The flowers themselves are made with murrini which are slices of glass cane. Such wonderful color and highly-detailed precision!

There was a renaissance of glass-making in the Nara period of Japan (710-94). Many temples had their own glass construction bureaus. Large stores of beads and glass fragments have been found from this time. Glasswork was common--and an indication of the quantity of glass is shown by a monument to the emporer Somu (d. 756) which contained thousands of glass beads and glass pieces.

Other beautiful examples we found while perusing the web can be found at AyakoGlassGarden –- work from Ayako Hattori of Nagoya City, Japan (see this informative article on Ayako’s work in the Beading Times and view her work at Akihiro’s Japaneseglass’s Gallery.

 Byzantine

Here’s a new style to consider if you haven’t checked it out before. The mysterious and richly historical Byzantine and Chainmail (or Chainmaille) from ancient times. Authentic Byzantine jewelry was created during the Byzantine Empire, which was from the fourth century AD to approximately the mid-1400s. The jewelry was influenced by the art of this civilization, and made heavy use of the Christian cross and other early religious symbols. The Byzantine time period was full of wealth and riches, so there was an abundance of gold metal used during this time.

coinAuthentic Byzantine jewelry is usually made from weighty gold with generous amounts of gemstones. Common gemstones used include garnets, pearls, corundum, and beryls, which were traded from the Eastern countries such as India and areas of Persia.Typical types of jewelry that were made during the Byzantine time period include necklaces, neck pieces, head pieces along with bracelets, rings, earrings, and other ornamental jewelry. Bangles were very popular during this period, and people often wore more than one at a time on each arm.

Chainmail is a part of this tradition; the original art was the earliest form of metal armor and was probably invented before the 5th century by the ancient Celts. The name mail comes from the French word “maille” which is derived from the Latin “macula” meaning “mesh of a net”. The armor itself involved the linking of iron or steel rings, the ends of which were either pressed together, welded or riveted. Sometimes the rings were stamped out of a sheet of iron; these were then used in alternate rows with riveted links. There are many styles and methods within this category of art. One fairly simple tutorial is offered here by CreatingUnkamen on Etsy, (for only $1.00!) for creating a beaded chainmail bracelet -- . And I love this beautiful Byzantine coin necklace (to the right) desgined by AnewAgain

Chainmail can look extremely feminine when made in precious metals and delicate designs. It is also very durable and the only limitation an artist has is imagination. Today artists have utilized traditional ancient patterns but have modified them to create unique patterns of their own. New metals have been introduced, old metals resurrected. Glass, metal, pearls and precious stones can be used to embellish any piece. 

 

 

diamond

Minimalist: A style that uses pared-down design elements. The artist strips everything down to its essential quality, to achieve simplicity. The pursuit of the basic essence of a piece, by rediscovering the valuable qualities in simple and common materials.

When it comes to accessorizing, sometimes less is more. Minimalist jewelry happens to be trending right now, and you can design some killer pieces if you like this style. Leonardo da Vinci said "Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication." It's the natural beauty of minimalism and the lack of clutter.

bead braceletDainty rings, necklaces, bracelets, and body chains have been all over lately. You can see them ‘modeled’ by popular bloggers and buy them in trendy and high-end department stores. And you can make them yourself with a little attention to design and a delicate and steady hand. 

For some serious inspiration from great minimalistic artisans we’ve found on Etsy, check out these items shown here -- from top to bottom.

A delicate diamond necklace from an artisan named Maya Rolc Majericic -- a jewelry designer and owner of the minimalvs, capucinne, threelayers, and bibicco shops on Etsy. All her items are handmade from start to finish, in a studio in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

From Kurafuchi (Sarah, who designs and handcrafts all her Etsy items in Paris, Ile-de-France), we have a delicate bracelet, simple rose gold with tiny multicolored beads.

dangleAnd finally from Tocco Di Lustro in Zagreb, Croatia, (another Etsy shop) we found these sweet gold-filled dangle earrings.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also some of our previous posts on 'style' issues --

Boho Style   &

Getting Noticed: A Guide for Jewelry Designers

Until Next Time!

Sheila

 

 

 

 

 

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