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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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my girl Janet PlanetJanet Morrison Minto, also known as Janet Planet, started her beading business in Los Angeles, CA in 2003 after a successful 20-year career in songwriting. Her unique style is full of exuberant energy, densely placed flowers and leaves, and weaving vines, studded with gems that many have said evoke a somehow more innocent time when everything seemed possible. Each semiprecious gemstone and specialty Czech bead necklace she designs is one-of-a-kind work of art, made with love. Always at heart a writer, her descriptive musings on each necklace, detailing her inspiration for each one and a detailed list of the various elements used have become almost as popular among devotees of her work as the necklaces themselves.

Her inspirations are as wide-ranging as the necklaces, including nature, both wild and in the garden, flowers always, art and paintings, her children’s early years and of course the lore and legend of various healing semiprecious stones. Sometimes a fanciful story or scene will present itself to her and she will attempt to capture it in jewels. She has created pieces after waking from dreams, from cherished memories, reminiscences and moments of destiny.

The question folks often ask Janet is why she turned to beading as her primary occupation. Her answer is a fascinating story in itself and goes like this --

sandcastleIt was in the early '90s that the music business in L.A. really took a sharp left turn in terms of following prevailing trends. More and more, the business became centered around Rap and Grunge Rock. Janet had been successfully writing melodic Rock for many years, but she was seeing any number of L.A. bands and bands nationally lose their record deals as the Garage band, Pacific Northwest Rock style became more and more popular. The bottom line was, what was then termed "Hair band" AOR Rock was OUT, and no one was looking for outside songs anymore - Rap and Grunge music didn't need well-crafted pop songs with great melodic hooks and good lyrics.

Needless to say, these realizations were NOT fun for Janet to have at the time. She had a last series of meetings to keep her music career on track, and it was so shockingly painful to be told rudely, "Sorry, your songs no longer interest us. The business has changed. We don't need songs like yours any more."

She then proceeded to hole herself up in her studio for two more years, writing what she had always wanted to write with her last great songwriting partner before he got an offer to play for a big name group and he grabbed the opportunity. Then she sat and stared for a good long while and finally had to admit she couldn't find a single reason to write one more song.

As Janet explains, this was not a great state to be in. She has a very active and creative mind, and is (self-proclaimed) a bit obsessive and hyper-focused. focused. She knew she had to find something else to do fairly quickly, or she would go crazy and start peeling the wallpaper off the walls and duct taping the doors and windows air-tight. So she thought about it. She thought maybe she would write a novel. She did begin and

jet pendantIf you've ever seen some big, beautiful Jet beads, you are likely as fascinated by this gemstone as I am. It is not considered a true mineral, but a 'mineraloid' since it has an organic origin.

jet silverJet is an ancient substance that began forming and fossilizing during the Jurassic period over 144 million years ago. Jet was formed from ancient trees that died and fell. Jet is fossilized wood, like coal, only much harder. 

The stone was formed of decaying wood from millions of years ago, at extreme pressures. The English noun "jet" comes from the French word for the same material, 'jaiet'. Jet is either black or dark brown, but may contain brassy or metallic pyrite. The stone has been used in Britain since the Neolithic period; the earliest known object is a 10,000 BC model of a botfly larva, from Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. Use of Jet continued in Britain through the Bronze Age, where it was used for necklace beads. During the Iron Age of this region, Jet went out of fashion; it only reemerged as a very popular item in the Victorian era.

Jet was used as a material for jewelry in Roman Britain from the third century onward. It was used in rings, hair pins, beads, bracelets, bangles, necklaces and pendants, many of which are now shown in the Yorkshire Museum. It was also used as a magical material -- often incorporated into amulets and pendants because of the belief that it had the ability to deflect the gaze of the evil eye. Pliny the Elder suggested that "the kindling of jet drives off snakes and relieves suffocation of the uterus. Its fumes detect attempts to simluate a disabling illness or a state of virginity." (hmmm! That last one must have been of great value!)

During the reign of Queen Victoria, the Queen wore jet as part of her mourning dress (mourning the death of Prince Albert). Jet was associated with mourning jewelry because of its 'somber' color and modest appearance; it was also fashioned into rosaries for monks. During the Roaring Twenties in the U.S., long necklaces of jet beads were often seen on the young flappers, stretching from the neckline to the waistline. It was strung using heavy cotton thread; small knots were made on either side of each bead to keep them spaced evenly, as with fine pearl necklaces.

merry elephant wood and gemMany of you are jewelry designers, or those aspiring to learn the craft. Like a lot of folks, we at The Bead have learned from formal instruction, personal trial and error, and the wonderful mentoring of other artisans. If we had to put a label on our style, we'd likely say that we love the organic and natural, whether we make something elegant or something boho. We've been influenced by so many masters -- not the least of which are those who do things in entirely new and different ways.

Lately we've encountered some great artisans who are working in the theme of this post's title -- sticks & stones -- i.e., wood and gemstones. These pretty baubles are so inspiring! We thought a showing of a few of them might trigger some ideas for you if you haven't tried this particular combination already. (Or maybe just fall in love and buy from these awesome entrepreneurs...)

Above right, we feature some cool Boho wood bead & gemstone necklaces from The Merry Elephant on Etsy. So simple, yet striking and ultra-creative. They incorporate wooden beads, Prehnite, Pink Aventurine, and Golden Quartzite.

lab 2 2Susan Thomasser of Centreville, Virginia makes beautiful original and bespoke jewelry. For those of you who may not know what 'bespoke' is, it is something that is custom made -- tailormade to fit the client's requirements and preferences. The word bespoke itself is derived from the term 'bespeak', an English word not very often used in our times. It means 'to speak for' or 'to speak on behalf of'. So a bespoke creation wouldn't be something you would buy off the shelf. It would indicate jewelry that is crafted according to specifications provided by the client.

Bespoke jewelry also often has some special significance or meaning. Someone might order a bespoke gemstone bracelet for their loved one -- and the choice of gems might be the recipient's birthstone. Or it could have an engraving of a line of poetry with sentimental value. The options for a bespoke jewel are endless and exciting!

susanSusan particularly likes to work with rubies, sapphires, flame ball pearls, pink opal, lapis, tourmaline -- some of our favorites too. She says the gems she works with tend to speak to her, telling her what they wish to become. The pieces themselves exhibit the highest level of quality and craftsmanship. There is no doubt this comes from a true passion for her work.

She says she has been in love with gems and jewelry since she was a little girl. One of her fondest memories as a young child was playing with her Mother's cedar jewelry box. It was a beautiful miniature Lane keepsake chest brimming with trinkets. She knelt on the floor inspecting the jewelry piece by piece -- clusters of pale, frosted aqua beads, luminous pearls, clip-on earrings, and more from a time gone by.

Susan now designs pieces across a broad spectrum of styles and periods, favoring Byzantine and Etruscan as well as Modernist and Victorian. She says the most difficult consideration when designing is restraint. There comes a point at which the piece is "finished," and you must know it when you see it.

I'm inpsired by the story behind her Etsy shop name, Josephine's Cotillion!

Susan's beautiful mother Josephine is the inspiration for all her work. Josephine was raised by her hardworking and loving mother in Sarasota, Florida, where she still lives. Old Sarasota is an artistic community, so that infused her upbringing, and that love of beauty has been passed on to Susan.

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