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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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amethyst roughTumbled and rough gemstones and gemstone beads are one of my very favorite things. They have an appeal of their own, called ‘rough’ because they are the stones in their natural forms – found in the ground, just as mother nature made them. They are sometimes called ‘raw’ gems, but the proper name is rough.

I found several inspiring examples on Etsy, shown here just for fun. The first is BijaMalas’s collection of rough Amethyst points. These folks also appreciate rough stones for meditation, energy healing, reiki, crystal grids, and of course wire-wrapping.

rough necklaceThen there’s BlackVineDesignCo’s Lemurian seed Quartz and black suede necklace. Inspiring just to look at and imagine other variations on this theme or a similar design with different stones!

heart braceletI have always been drawn to charm bracelets, even before I knew their history.  The wearing of charms was likely begun as a form of amulet or talisman to ward off evil spirits or bad luck.

During the pre-historic period, jewelry charms would be made from shells, animal-bones and clay. Later charms were made out of gems, rocks, and wood. In Germany, intricately carved mammoth tusk charms have been found from around 30,000 years ago. In ancient Egypt, charms were used for identification and as symbols of faith and luck. Charms also served to identify an individual to the gods in the afterlife.

During the Roman Empire, Christians would use tiny fish charms hidden in their clothing to identify themselves to other Christians. Jewish scholars of the same period would write tiny passages of Jewish law and put them in amulets round their necks to keep the law close to their heart at all times. Medieval knights wore charms for protection in battle. Charms also were worn in the Dark Ages to denote family origin and religious and political convictions.

Queen Victoria wore charm bracelets that started a fashion among the European noble classes. She was instrumental to the popularity of charm bracelets, as she “loved to wear and give charm bracelets. When her beloved Prince Albert died, she even made “mourning” charms popular; lockets of hair from the deceased, miniature portraits of the deceased, charm bracelets carved in jet.”

In modern times, we've seen charm bracelets from Tiffany and Co., the teenager charm bracelet craze of the 50's and 60's, and even pirate-themed bracelets that were all the rage in 2006 after the movie Pirates of the Caribbean came out.

Whatever your favorite theme for a charm bracelet is, there is no doubt they are a delight to make and wear. Today we share the inspired bracelets of three individual Etsy artisans and a group of artisans who collaborate on Etsy.

First, meet SantaFeSilverworks' Gregory P. Segura; one of his masterpieces, 'Elvira's Love and Faith Charm Bracelet' is featured above. Gregory started perfecting his silversmithing skills in the 1990's. He had served in the U.S. Air Force and worked as a hotel manager, financial planner, and sales manager, but his heart was looking for a new, more creative career path. In 2008, Gregory picked up his hammer and lit his torch and never looked back.

charm bracelet 1Although he had taken a metalworking class in the 1980s, Gregory’s expertise with silver is largely self-taught. “Working with silver just comes naturally to me,” he admits. “Sculpting, painting, and carving do not come to me with the ease and understanding I feel in working with silver and stones. I guess you could say I was born with a silver spoon (I made) in my mouth.”

Gregory’s work reflects his Spanish and Native American heritage. For each of his original designs, he draws on the legacy of New Mexico’s master silversmiths as well as rich culture and natural beauty of the region.

Gregory’s ancestors first arrived in Santa Fe around 1624, and he still calls it home with the love of his life and inspiration Debra and their four cats, Sugar, Benicio del Gato (Lil Buddy), Wally, Penelope and Murphy the dog. You can find more information at his website www.santafesilverworks.com and on Facebook - Santa Fe Silverworks.

Next up are husband and wife team Richard and Janette of RuthLindquistDesigns (see their stunning hand-woven Läckölink Bracelet to the left).

These two have lived in Sweden for many years, where they are inspired to create a lot of jewelry. They used to live on an island near an old castle, and the land all around them was a treasure trove for artifacts dating all the way back to Viking times. They have also spent many years in the US, where they live at the moment.

Finally, we feature the EtsyMetal Charm Swap 13 Bracelet (below on the right) from the creative collaborative EtsyMetal. This bracelet is an impressive collection of charms from 18 Etsy artisans (listed below). The story of EtsyMetal is especially interesting, as its members are accomplished metal artists who network to support one another and to market their respective works. Their talents include fabrication, forging, soldering, piercing, etching, engraving, stone setting, enameling, blacksmithing, casting, and more. Much of the proceeds of their sales benefit Cheekwood Art and Gardens in Nashville, TN, as well as children's art programs.

many cracked marbleI’m always amazed by the creativity of jewelry designers. Some I’ve discovered have found that natural stones and crystals aren’t necessarily the be-all and end-all of ornamentation. That’s sometimes a hard sell for me, since these are my favorites. But as you know I’m also drawn to the beauty of lampwork, metal clay creations, sea glass and more. Today I’ve decided to celebrate the folks who have dusted off old marble collections to create beautiful focal pieces for their work.

You can buy these ‘pre-made’, but why do that when all you need are glass marbles, a hot oven, and cold water? You can get details on the process here: How To Make a Cracked Marble Necklace

silver and cracked marbleThe basics are, pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees and place your selection of marbles on a baking sheet. Bake the marbles for about 20 minutes, take them out, dunk them in ice water, and voila! The drastic change in temperature make the marbles crack immediately. Once they’ve cooled and cracked in the water, put them in a strainer and use in your own unique designs. They look like crystals, so there’s an infinite number of possibilities. I’ve featured just a few of the pretty baubles our Etsy colleagues have made using these marbles. If you decide to try this out, we hope you’ll share the results with us!

From top to bottom are:

From MTCreationsjust4u, a plethora of cracked marble necklaces with a variety of choices for cords and caps.

From BeesHandmadeGifts, a cat eye marble necklace, with silver chain and finishings.

turquoise beadsTo the ancient Pueblo people, turquoise gemstones were a precious commodity. They used it to make exquisite ritual masks with turquoise mosaic on wood, shell, and bone.  They made turquoise jewelry, pottery and fabrics, trading them with neighboring and distant communities for a wide variety of goods including exotic items such as seashells, copper bells, parrots and macaws.

The Pueblo tribe are an ancient race related to the Aztecs. Ancient Pueblo Petroglyphs (rock drawings, or stone carvings) can be found in Chaco Canyon, and are a testament to their ancient civilization. They were excellent stone masons who first lived in Cliff Houses. They moved from these dwellings and began to build their houses beneath the overhanging cliffs. Traditionally, Puebloans were farmers and herdsmen who live in villages. They were also highly skilled in basket-work, weaving, pottery and carving. The Pueblo people are noted for their highly developed ceremonial customs and rituals, and their blankets and earthenware are decorated with religious symbolism.

They valued jewelry and wore Turquoise jewelry and silver ornaments. Below to the left is an updated version of what some of this jewelry may have looked like -- a wonderful creation of Christine from BraidedSouls on Etsy. Also below to the right is a contemporary piece by Pula Calabaza, featured in the NativeJewelryStore on Etsy.

One thousand years ago these Puebloans lived an inter-connected community, the sacred heart of which now lies in ruins at the Chaco Canyon floor in New Mexico. The road system that connects it to distant outlier pueblos is unique. Nothing like it exists elsewhere in North America. Mapping out the roadways shifted the world’s view of these Southwest American ruins, with Chaco Canyon now considered to be comparable to Peru’s ancient ruins and Machu Picchu.

unisexThe roads themselves were overbuilt  Many of the roads are 30 feet wide; secondary roads are 15 feet wide. Why such wide roads when the Chaco people did not have carts or other vehicles?  Other findings in the area include periodic large-scale breakage of vessels, a dearth of burials, and even a cache of 10,000 turquoise beads stringing one niche at the bottom of a circular, roofless kiva.

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With these clues, archaeologists have concluded that Chaco Canyon was not built for the practicality of people’s lives, but rather for ceremonial purposes. Within the maze of hand-hewn Great Houses found in the canyon, there are thousands of 60-foot-long logs, some up to three feet in diameter -- all hauled by the Ancestral Puebloans a distance of more than 50 miles.

The area was a center of ancestral Pueblo culture between 850 and 1250, serving as a focus for ceremonials, trade and political activity for the prehistoric Four Corners area. The massive multi-storied buildings are oriented to solar, lunar, and cardinal directions; there was a high level of community social organization; and they achieved a complex and wide-ranging commerce. Only recently, new research has revealed that the Pueblo people’s source of turquoise for was much more far-reaching than previously believed.

Over the years, archaeologists have found more than 200,000 turquoise pieces at various sites in the Chaco Canyon. According to Sharon Hull, an anthropologist at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, the gems were very important to the Puebloan culture, and akin to modern-day diamonds. Initially, scientists believed the gems came from the nearest turquoise deposit more than 200 kilometers away — the Cerrillos Hills Mining District near present-day Santa Fe. However, new research reveals that the Pueblo people acquired their turquoise using a large trade network spanning several states, including Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and southeastern California.

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