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red agateJust perfect for your Halloween creations -- these Red Agate Evil Eye beads are of stone that was formed from layers of silica from volcanic cavities. Agate is named after the Achates River (now known as the Dirillo River) on the island of Sicily, Italy, whose upper waters were an ancient source of this gemstone. Each strand offered here has 16 round faceted beads, with colors ranging from red to amber, as shown. Each bead is approx. 10 mm. with an approx. 2 mm. hole. Each strand is $10, but for a limited time, take 10% off with the code HALLOWEEN at checkout.


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makers pledgeJust ran across this great quote from the inspiring Kathy Van Kleeck, who creates and sells the most fascinating handmade jewelry:

Kathy calls her style ‘Urban Primitive’, and that fits, as much of her work is realized in ‘primitive’ elements such as stone, bronze, silver, clay, leather, silk and rough gemstone – and it speaks of the modern woman grappling with ancient themes – personal growth, rite of passage, and spiritual expression.

To me, Kathy is one of a kind, with lessons to teach all of us engaged in the art and life of fine jewelry creation. As she puts it, she is ‘above all else, a maker’. It is her life’s passion, her raison d'être. She craves simplicity and finely crafted wares created with equally fine ingredients – and her jewelry and design philosophy is an extension of that craving. She strives to create a beautiful structure that is free of superfluous details – grounded in a rugged simplicity – comfortable and effortless.

Like us, she is not fond of our materialistic culture, and struggles with the idea of creating ‘more stuff to put out into the world’. So she is careful to run a sustainable, green business, using certified green and humane sources, and recycles as much as possible. She quotes an online friend for giving her the language to describe this commitment: ‘We live in a world of things...[so] make things with soul, consciously, with gratitude for what is used.’Her spirit SHINES through her work – and I know that is what we all strive for, and many of us (thankfully!) have achieved. Best of all, she shares her process and inspiration with her fans & followers on her web site, where you can see her work, read her journal, and watch videos about her creative process and more.

Her spirit SHINES through her work – and I know that is what we all strive for, and many of us (thankfully!) have achieved. Best of all, she shares her process and inspiration with her fans & followers on her web site, where you can see her work, read her journal, and watch videos about her creative process and more.

pearl braceletThe history of bracelets goes back at least 40,000 years! In 2008, Russian archaeologists working in Siberian cave uncovered a juvenile hominin (a hominin is a member of the tribe Hominini, which includes humans and some extinct species) accompanied by a bracelet.

In ancient Egypt, the Scarab Bracelet was common, signifying rebirth and regeneration.

In Bulgaria there is a tradition called Martenitsa, which sometimes involves tying a red and white string around the wrist to please Baba Marta (a mythical figure who brings with her the end of the cold winter and the beginning of the spring) in order for spring to come sooner.

In Greece a similar tradition, weaving a bracelet from red and white string on the first day of March and wearing it till the end of summer, is called "Martis" and is considered to help protect the wearer's skin from the strong Greek sun.

In some parts of India, the number and type of bangles worn by a woman denotes her marital status.

lava bracelet

In Latin America, Azabache Bracelets are worn to protect against the Mal de ojo, or evil eye. The evil eye is believed to result of excessive admiration or envious looks by others. Even newborn babies are fitted with azabaches (gold bracelet or necklace with a black or red coral charm in the form of a fist), as they are believed to protect them from the evil eye.

In the modern world, jewelry artisans bring phenomenal spirit to the creation of bracelets. As throughout history, these treasures can be made of bone, stone, wood, precious metals and gemstones, leather, cloth – the list goes on!

Shown here are just a few that inspired me on the handmade venue Etsy

From top to bottom:

mamisgemstudio's exotic  pearl, shell & lava stone handmade triple-strand bracelet with Bali sterling silver;

applenamedD designed and created this gorgeous sterling silver chain bracelet with brown lava stones and red-rust carnelian beads; and

funky beads 2As you likely have learned on your own or via some of my previous posts, beads have a profound and interesting history. In cultures around the world, they have had a wide variety of purpose and meaning; here are a few interesting facts I may not have mentioned before.

Beads can signify strength and courage

Many modern day cultures use beads to show bravery and accomplishment – as with a medal of honor, an award ribbon or a certificate. Through the ages, they have been used to protect warriors of both genders from natural and supernatural enemies, along with providing special magical protection during long journeys.

Beads have a practical nature for every day purposes

They have been used throughout history as prayer tools (think rosaries), calculators (the abacus), and to secure scrolls, saddle blankets and tablecloths. Today still, we see beads in use in mats, curtains and car seats.

Beads have value

Beads have been traded for gold, ivory, spices, beaver pelts, and sadly, even slaves. Artisans throughout the ages have dedicated their lives to creating beads from innumerable materials -- tortoise shells, wood, pottery, sea shells, seed, ivory, stone, egg shells, animal teeth, bone, claw and horn, glass, and more.

Beads have been believed to carry protective and healing powers

turquoise chain braceletIn Egyptian, the word ‘sha’ means ‘luck’, and ‘sha-sha’ means ‘bead’. In Turkey, the ‘Magical Eye Bead’ or ‘Evil Eye’ is thought to ward off evil. In parts of Asia, beads were scattered at temples, like seeds, to summon bountiful harvests.

Beads signal status

In China, during the Qing Dynasty, people of status such as officers, officials and their families were required to wear strings of court beads. Even the Emperor had to wear special beads. In Africa, the kings and other great ones of the Asante people have the privilege of wearing Bodom beads. In our own society, we often use gemstone beads, pearls and other precious materials to signify wealth and prestige.

People have been fascinated with beads for over 43,000 years. I’m proud to be part of the ongoing tradition! How about you?

In celebration of the awesome BEAD, I’ve included some photos of work from a selection of favorite bead artisans. At the top right is Staci Louise Smith’s astounding creation – be sure to check out her blog Love My Art Jewelry to learn about her process and see more of her beautiful work.

An ultra-fun bracelet of chain and turquoise by Erin of heartsabustin on Etsy, at the upper left.

And at the lower right, stunning watermelon tourmaline earrings by Debra of studioonthepond on Etsy.

diamond beads 2For jewelry designers and beaders, diamond beads can be an amazing treat and versatile element to work with. They add sparkle and elegance to any design, and can be found in a much greater variety and at lower cost than ever before. The majority of these diamond beads are made from exotic colorful diamonds that are cut and faceted in India.

In the past, colorless diamonds were the only type readily available to the public. Now, they can be obtained in over 300 colors, and some are actually more rare than colorless diamonds. Some of the most famous diamonds in history, like the Hope Diamond (which is violet), have been colored diamonds. (See our previous post D is for Diamond Beads for a bit more info on this subject.)

black rough diamond bead braceletDiamonds are carbon-based gems, and are the hardest substance known today, in the company of rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, which also exceed a rating of 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. It has been estimated that 250 tons of minerals need to be excavated to find just one carat of diamond, so that is one reason –besides their beauty – that they are so precious.

Black diamonds are particularly intriguing and many are believed to have been formed by meteor impacts. Their coloration comes from mineral inclusions such as iron oxides -- magnetite, hematite, or sulfide compounds. Because their coloration is caused by inclusions rather than impurities, black diamonds have wonderful reflective qualities and a beautiful sparkle.

You can also find diamond beads in platinum gray, cognac brown, canary yellow, champagne, citrus and other colors. Note that Herkimer diamonds are not diamonds – you can read more about these here, though, in a previous post, Herkimer Diamond Beads.

Natural (non-treated, non-enhanced) diamonds are growing in popularity among designers and people who love beautiful gems. They have their own special personality, and can be found in many shapes – from intriguing rough-cut nuggets, to faceted rondelles, briolettes, rose cut, and more. Many of these are surprisingly affordable, and they will add a natural luxury to your designs.


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