Monday, 09 January 2012
All beads are beautiful. Glass is versatile, crystals add panache, wood is lightweight and warm, but semi-precious gemstones are soulful. They tell a story, which is relayed in every bead. By looking at its markings you can see how it came to be; years of pressure on the minerals and natural matter of the earth created the gemstones we love today.
Even the names of semi-precious stones can be interesting. Some of them sound like they could be living, breathing people; jasper, pearl, sapphire, chalcedony, onyx, amethyst, garnet and ruby just to list a sampling. What is not to adore about rocks so beautiful and precious, new parents have bestowed the stones' names upon their own children?
Semi-precious beads are available in as many shapes and sizes as there are stones. Choose from squares, faceted pillows, rounds, circles, nuggets, chips, teardrops and cubes, among others. The array of semi-precious bead options means there are no creative boundaries for jewellery designers, which translates into even more choices for artistic expression than ever!
Once the gemstones have been procured, the designer must then ask how to best present them. Just as there is no single way to create a piece of jewellery, there is no single way to best showcase semi-precious stones, but the following ideas may help someone who is either new to gems, or simply suffering a temporary creative drought.
Using chain to create jewellery is a really popular trend. If you have one gemstone that is bold enough to hold its own, incorporating chain into the design can look edgy or classic.
For an edgy look, use a choker length of really heavy chain with a toggle clasp. Suspend the gemstone from the round half of the toggle and secure.
For a more classic approach, use fine, medium, and large link chains together. Place the gemstone on a length of wire and make a wrapped loop at both ends. Attach to the chains either in what will be the centre of the choker or asymmetrically. Dot the chains here and there with smaller gemstones on headpins if you would like.
If your preference is not to use chain, but you would like to showcase a single, large gemstone, string multiple strands of a single shade of seed bead, or use tiny gemstone chips. Run strands through an antiqued gold or antiqued silver tube that has a loop for hanging a pendant. You may find it easier to string large seed beads on the wires that will be hidden by the metal tube. The seeds will help with durability. When all beads are strung and the clasp in place, attach the pendant bead to the loop and secure. Garnet chips, silver and copper hardware and a large, turquoise nugget are gorgeous together in this application. Black seed beads or onyx chips, silver hardware and red coral or chalcedony look stunning this way, as well.
The teardrop shape has become increasingly popular, and one fun thing about it is when a series of teardrops are strung together, they flip in opposing directions, making an interesting visual texture. Stringing a lovely necklace or bracelet does not get any easier than this.
If you prefer that they all lay in the same direction, adding 4mm or 6mm beads and flat spacers between each teardrop will create a more regal collar shape.
Teardrops make for easy earrings, too. Just take a hoop, slide a spacer on it, then a teardrop, then another spacer, and you have got something new and pretty.
If you do not care for hoop earrings, teardrops can be pinched into metal bails then hung from eyepins and affixed to earwires.
Knotting is not just for strands of pearls anymore. Any gemstone can be knotted either in a single strand, or multiple strands for loads of texture and interest. Match the beading cord to the beads, or for something eye catching, try thread in a contrasting colour.
If knitting with beads is something you enjoy, there is no need to limit yourself to glass. Gemstones make excellent accents to your beaded knitting. It can be difficult to find gemstone beads with holes large enough to string onto yarn, but if you can locate some, give it a try!
Bead weaving with semi-precious stones is another way to showcase their beauty. Use ladder stitch, right angle weave, or spiral rope to create dozens of combinations of gemstone works of wearable art!
Because gemstones have their own stories to tell, it is tempting to overshadow that and make them give voice to your stories. There are ways to blend your expression with theirs and have the two speak in simpatico. When you hit that mark, you will know, and when the pieces are worn, everyone else will know too, and they will stop to listen.