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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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spring necklace 1This week I'm featuring inspired work by three talented Etsy colleagues, with a focus on SPRING!

I know it's still a little early for this, and some of you may still be snowed in. But in New Mexico the little crocuses and daffodils are poking their heads out of the earth, and most days are warmer. And while we pray the apricot trees won't bud too soon, we thought we'd focus on getting ready for that time of year for flowers, leaves, vibrant pastels, and springtime creations.

My first discovery on my search for inspirational spring jewelry was Cynthia Smith of PorcelainIndustry, based in Darien, Connecticut. Cynthia is a wife, mom, tennis player, potter, art collector, and fashion freak. She's been collecting beautiful art for about 9 years, playing tennis for 5 years, and creating pots with her own hands for 5 months -- and loving it. She was trained as a lawyer, not an artist. But her love for art that she was so great she decided to start making something of her own. She dabbled with oil painting and then chose ceramics. Once she started that, she couldn't stop. She finds the possibilities to be endless. And she still does ceramics, but she decided to focus her Etsy shop on jewelry, which is as she puts it, 'as much an art form as anything else'.

Cynthia loves to put colors, patterns and textures together to form a wearable piece of jewelry. You can just see the joy in this spectacular long multi-gemstone statement necklace! It's a whimsical, fun fantasy piece, which she designed and made herself. She used 24K gold vermeil wire, beads and links, carefully wire wrapping the finest quality semi-precious and precious gemstones in. It has teardrop sapphires, rare green tourmaline, mystic pink topaz teardrop briolettes, and green and pink chalcedony teardrop briolettes, to name a few. There are also rose quartz cubes, crackle fire agaters, and several gorgeous Venetian murano glass beads. This necklace made me think of Spring in all its glory; you can tell this woman loves her art.

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

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