Rainbow of Gems – Part 3

Multi Gemstone Necklace

This is the final leg of our gemstone tour as we explore the neutral color palette, followed by several multicolor gems that really know how to stand out in a crowd. Here we go…

Color: Black – mysterious, sexy, luxurious

Black Onyx

Black Onyx & Fluorite Earrings

Historically, black onyx has been carried as protection for travelers. Used in jewelry, it provides great eye-catching contrast, showcasing any accompanying gems.

Black Diamonds

Black Diamonds

Have you ever seen black diamonds? The natural-color black has been growing in popularity, but unlike other diamonds, these stones are opaque.

Snowflake Obsidian

Snowflake Obsidian

The product of volcanic activity, as molten obsidian cools tiny pockets of trapped gases burst forming the delicate snowflake patterns in this beautiful gemstone.

Tahitian Black Pearls

Tahitian Pearls

Tahitian black pearls, grown in the waters of French Polynesia, are the only true black pearls. All other black pearls have been dyed.

Color: Gray – sophisticated, timeless, well-balanced

Gray Jasper

Gray Jasper

Gray jasper brings a sense of calm and well-being to the wearer.

Color: Brown – relaxing, grounding, comfortable

Tigereye

Tigerseye

Want to see a magic trick? When bright light reflects off fibers in a Tigereye stone, the color appears to change in a phenomenon known as chatoyancy.

Smoky Quartz

Smoky Quartz

Also known as smoky topaz, this gemstone ranges in color from light browns to black, just like its namesake, smoke.

Natural Mother of Pearl

Natural Mother of Pearl

Mother of pearl comes from the shell of an oyster or mussel. These organic gems are cream, beige and tan swirled with white.

Color: White – peaceful, practical, cool

Onyx

Onyx

This banded stone is believed to increase intuition and clarify dreams.

White Mother of Pearl

White Mother of Pearl

Because this organic gem comes from a pearl producing shell, it is associated with nurturing and motherhood. Cameo pendants and pins are typically carved from mother of pearl.

Pearls

Pearls

Pearls have long been associated with female power. Cleopatra is believed to have worn makeup made from ground gemstones. Today we may wear pearlescent eyeshadows, but she wore the real thing!

Clear Quartz

Clear Quartz

Clarity of vision and creative inspiration are qualities associated with clear quartz. Because this gem resembles ice, it looks even more frosty when paired with blue or black gemstones.

Diamonds

Diamonds

Diamonds are the hardest gemstone in the world. Perhaps that is why they have become a universal symbol of love and commitment in engagement and wedding rings.

Multi-Color Gemstone Gallery: – multiple colors in one gemstone

Sardonyx

Sardonyx

Fluorite

Fluorite

Abalone

Abalone

Pink Labradorite

Labradorite

Opal

Opal

Blue Agate

Blue Agate

Unakite

Unakite

Chrysocolla

Chrysocolla

Watermelon Tourmaline

Watermelon Tourmaline

Turritella Agate

Turritella Agate

If you love gemstones and archeology, turritella agate is for you. Turritella is a midsize snail that lived millions of years ago. These fossilized creatures are forever preserved within the stones, resulting in a one-of-a kind, visually stunning piece of jewelry.

Carved Agate

Carved Agate

Our final gemstone is this beautifully carved fish cut from a single piece of agate. It’s a gemstone and sculpture in one. How cool is that?

I hope you have enjoyed Mother Nature’s rainbow of gems. New gemstones are still being discovered, creating fresh possibilities in jewelry design. If you feel inspired to try jewelry making, Fire Mountain Gems is a wonderful resource for gemstones, supplies, tutorials and more.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Rainbow of Gems – Part 2

Multi Color Gemstones

Welcome to part two of our rainbow of gems tour.  The Warm Color Palette includes yellows, oranges, reds, and pinks. Qualities associated with each color are noted below. Warm colors call to mind images of blooming flowers, days at the beach, and barbecues in the backyard. Let’s find gems to inspire us.

Color: Yellow – cheerful, warm, motivational

Golden Beryl

Golden Beryl

You may not have heard of the gemstone called beryl, but I am sure you are familiar with two of its relatives, emerald and aquamarine. Although it comes in a few colors, yellow is the rarest.

Amber & Amber with an Insect Trapped Inside

Amber & Encased Fly

Even when the sky is gray, cheerful gold and yellow amber beads will brighten your day. Amber is often found with very interesting inclusions like the famous mosquito in the movie, “Jurassic Park.”

Citrine

Citrine

Want more light and positivity in your life? Citrine captures rays of sunshine you can wear day or night.

Lemon Quartz

Yellow Quartz

Yellow quartz quenches your thirst for beautiful gemstones like a cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer’s day.

Color: Orange – joyful, playful, independent

Orange Coral

Orange Coral

Coral has been used for centuries in jewelry. Because it is susceptible to damage from direct sunlight and excessive heat, care should be taken when wearing or storing your coral pieces.

Orange Carnelian

Carnelian

Carnelian has a blend of color from light to dark within the same stone.

Orange Chalcedony

Orange Chalcedony

Available in several colors, chalcedony may also have bands of color. I must be hungry because these beads remind me of an orange creamsicle.

Peach Pearls

Peach Pearls

Known for their iridescent luster, pearls have been a worldwide favorite for every type of jewelry, from single pearl earrings to priceless crown jewels.

Color: Orange Red – energizing, attention-getting, self-assured

Madeira Citrine

Madeira Citrine

Named for a city in Portugal, Madeira citrine has a deep, reddish orange or brownish orange color.

Color: Red – bold, romantic, sexy, powerful

Red Carnelian

Carnelian & Pearls

In ancient Egypt, carnelian was worn as jewelry for its beauty, carried daily to energize the body, and buried with the dead as protection in the afterlife.

Red Coral

Red Coral

Red coral is typically harvested in the deep waters of the Western Mediterranean.

Garnet

Garnet

Garnets have a long history as symbols of love, power, and protection. Many rulers have worn garnet studded crowns as sign of their power and authority.

Rubies

Rubies

Rubies, the birthstone for July, are one of four “precious” gemstones, which includes Sapphires, Emeralds, and Diamonds.

Red Jasper

Red Jasper

Jasper can be spotted, striped or solid color. Warriors often adorned their weapons and armor with jasper to ensure success in battle.

Color: Pink – soft, feminine, sweet

Rhodochrosite

Rhodochrosite

This beautiful pink gem is honored by Native Americans. With frequently occurring “floral” patterns within the stones, rhodochrosite is a popular gift of love.

Rose Quartz

Rose Quartz

Transparent rose quartz is very rare, and the most prized comes from Madagascar.

This completes the warm color palette and the traditional colors of the rainbow, but there is still a treasure trove of gems waiting for their turn in the spotlight. Please share your thoughts about your favorite gemstones in the comments section and stay tuned for part three. To read part one, please click here.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Rainbow of Gems – Part 1

Rainbow Gemstone Bracelet

Mother Nature created gemstones for every color of the rainbow. I thought you might enjoy seeing some of her greatest works. We will start with the Cool Color Palette, consisting of violets, blues, and greens. Qualities associated with each color are noted below. Let’s delve into the fabulous world of gemstones.

Color: Violet – exotic, dreamy, calming, majestic, regal, passionate

Amethyst Geode

Amethyst Geode

Gemstones grow as crystals in a variety of colors. Amethyst is typically found in shades of purple, but as shown above, it also comes in green, which is known as mint quartz.

Amethyst Nuggets

Amethyst Nuggets

Polished gemstone nuggets serve as decorative home accents and touchstones or may be displayed in jewelry designs by drilling or wiring.

Faceted Oval Cut Amethyst

Amethyst Faceted Gem

Gemstones are graded according to several qualities including clarity, hardness (scratch resistance based upon Mohs scale), color, carats (weight), and luster (light reflection).

Purpurite

Purpurite Necklace

Colors for this opaque gemstone typically range from reddish purples to deep violets. Both ends of that spectrum can be seen in the photo above.

Sugilite

Sugilite Bracelet

Although this gemstone is usually seen in soft shades of lilac, it can also be bluish purple or deep violet.

Color: Indigo – mysterious, ethereal, enchanting, intriguing

Tanzanite

Tanzanite Pendant

Depending upon the viewing angle, tanzanite, which is rarer than diamonds, changes color from exotic violets to indigo blues.

Iolite

Iolite Faceted Stones

Iolite is the perfect marriage of violet and blue. With reflective properties like tanzanite, changes in natural or artificial light transform the color through the full range of blues to violets and back again.

Color: Blue – refreshing, tranquil, playful, inspiring

Lapis Lazuli – Rough Stones

Lapis Lazuli Rough Stone Necklace

Vibrant blue stones flecked with gold differentiate lapis lazuli from another blue gem called sodalite.

Lapis Lazuli – Polished Stones & King Tut’s Funerary Mask

Lapis Lazuli & King Tut Mask

Historically, lapis lazuli has been a favorite gemstone of royalty. The most famous example is the funerary mask of King Tut, which includes inlaid lapis lazuli, turquoise, and obsidian.

Blue Sapphires

Blue Sapphire Bracelet

Although blue is the most recognized color, it also comes in several rare varieties including green, yellow, pink, and star sapphire.

Sodalite

Sodalite & Clear Quartz Earrings

Sodalite is a blue stone with white and sometimes black inclusions, which are materials trapped within growing crystals. You’ll see a famous inclusion photo in the next post.

Blue Topaz

Blue Topaz Earrings

Light blue topaz gemstones are called Sky Blue, medium blue is referred to as Swiss Blue, and dark blue is known as London Blue.

Turquoise

Turquoise Jewelry

Green and blue turquoise typically have black or brown veins called matrix. The most coveted turquoise is Robin’s Egg blue, which has only been found in one location, the Sleeping Beauty Mine in Arizona.

Color: Blue Green – successful, creative, luxurious, exotic

Paraiba Tourmaline

Paraiba Tourmaline Earrings & Pendant

This beautiful blue green gemstone is among the rarest in the world and is highly sought by jewelry designers and gemstone aficionados.

Color: Green – abundant, grounding, renewing, prosperous, fortunate

Malachite

Malachite Necklace

Bold green swirls and striations are hallmarks of this popular gemstone.

Emeralds

Emeralds & Diamond Pendant

Emeralds have been treasured throughout history, but surprisingly they tend to be easily damaged due to the presence of inclusions, which weaken the stones.

Nephrite Jade

Carved Green Jade

This is another ancient gemstone in beautiful shades of green, which can be carved for jewelry as well as decorative figurines.

Peridot

Peridot Chip Bracelet

Peridot, the birthstone for August, is also known as Olivine. Inclusions and fractures often found in these stones make peridot more susceptible to damage.

Aventurine

Aventurine Bracelet

The inherent shimmering quality of aventurine makes it stand apart from all other gemstones.

This completes our exploration of the gemstone cool color palette. I hope you have seen some old friends and met a few new ones. Do you have any favorites? Please let me know in the comments section, and please stay tuned for part two next week.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Mother of Pearl – A Gift from the Sea

Mollusk
Mother of Pearl comes from mollusks, and is naturally a blend of tan, cream and white, with an iridescent finish. It can be bleached white, or dyed and color of the rainbow. Mother of Pearl beads come in an amazing range of shapes and sizes, while the thicker pieces are carved into cameos and pins, or cut into squares as mosaic tiles. Let’s turn a few round beads into a lovely pair of earrings.

How to Make Natural Mother of Pearl Cluster Earrings
Mother of Pearl Earrings

These 1-1/2” long Natural Mother of Pearl earrings swing and shift with your movements, and they’re a neutral color, which coordinates with whatever you’re wearing. In this design, five beads orbit around a dangling two bead central core. These earrings are a little challenging in Step 6. At times you may feel like you have fumble fingers. If you are looking for an easy pair of earrings for beginners, please click here.

Required Beads & Findings:
MoP Earring Supplies

Supplies:
To make this pair of earrings you will need:
12) Silver plated Head Pins – 1” length,
14) 7-7.5mm round Natural Mother of Pearl beads,
2) Silver plated Surgical Steel Fishhook Earwires with ball & coil

(Please note: Head pins are the foundation of these earrings. They are inexpensive and come in big packages. Be sure to have several on hand just in case. Craft stores carry jewelry making supplies, including beads, accents, and tools. If you get hooked on jewelry making and yearn for the ultimate selections, look no further than FireMountainGems.com)

Required Jewelry Making Tools:
Round Nose Pliers
Round Nose Pliers – the smooth, round tips on these pliers make it easy and safe to manipulate wire, pins, and small jewelry metal pieces known as findings. Please don’t use standard pliers, which have teeth that will damage delicate precious metals.

Jewelry Wire Cutters
Jewelry Wire Cutters – a sharp pair of wire cutters makes jewelry making so much easier. Do not use them for other crafts, such as floral arranging, which can damage the blades.

Earring Making Instructions:
Beads on Head Pins
Step 1: Slide the beads onto head pins as shown.

Grasp Head Pin with Pliers
Step 2: With the round nose pliers in your right hand, grip the wire just above the Mother of Pearl bead. Hold the pliers in this position for the next step.

Bend Head Pin
Step 3: Grasp the end of the head pin with your left thumb and index finger, and bend the wire toward you. Continue bending the pin over the tip of the pliers until it touches the Mother of Pearl bead.

Beads with Partial Loops
The reshaped pins will look like the photo above.

Cut Excess Pin Length
Step 4: Cut off the excess wire. Leave enough wire to form a small loop above the bead. This may take a few tries. Don’t worry if you cut it too short. Simply use a new head pin and repeat the steps.

Beads with Trimmed Pins
This photo shows the beads with trimmed pins.

Attach Earwire
Step 5: Hook the double bead pin onto the loop on the bottom of the fishhook earwire, and close the loop using the round nose pliers.

Core Beads Attached
The earring will look like the above photo.

Close the Loop
Step 6: Attach the first “satellite” bead to the earwire in the same way.

First Bead Attached
The earring now has a center core and one satellite bead. Repeat this step for the remaining four beads. If you have trouble getting the beads to lay correctly, remove the dangling two bead central core. Shift the five satellite beads with your fingers until they form a circle around the earwire, and then reattach the two bead central core.

Finished Earrings
Congratulations! You have successfully made a pair of Mother of Pearl cluster earrings.

Black Onyx Version
Here’s the same pair of earring made with Black Onyx beads. Note how the color dramatically changes the look. You could also experiment with different gemstones, glass or wood beads.

Jewelry making is a great way to explore your creativity. There are so many options available that it’s hard to choose. After making several items for yourself, keep in mind that people love receiving jewelry as gifts.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Gemstone Healing Traditions

Gemstones
Gemstones have been admired throughout history. They have been worn for their beauty, carried for protection, and ground into powder for use as pigments in makeup, dyes, and paints. Gemstones have been used for healing since ancient times. Below is a list of gemstones and their associated healing properties, followed by a list of Birthstones, Zodiac signs, and the Feng Shui Bagua with corresponding gemstones.

Gemstone Healing Properties
Agate – strong healing, good fortune, balances body mind & spirit, calming, nature

Amazonite
Amazonite – calming, improves sleep, intuition, creativity

Amber
Amber – success, decision-making, achievement

Amethyst – calming, protection, restful sleep, self-confidence, intuition, meditation
Apatite – intuition, meditation, energy
Aquamarine – balances body mind & spirit, nature, water, calming, purifies body

Aventurine
Aventurine – balance, optimism, relaxation, purifies mind, nature

Azurite & Malachite – stress relief, intuition, creativity, heaven & earth, energy
Bloodstone – healing, energizes, purifies, strengthens heart
Calcite – mind, body, & spirit, nature, energy, harmony, healing

Carnelian
Carnelian – creativity, energy, protection

Chrysocolla – balance, stress reduction, intuition, calming, heaven & earth

Citrine
Citrine – abundance, confidence, hope, energy

Diamond – abundance, clarity, fidelity, deflects negativity
Emerald – dreams, healing, balance, protection traveling, prosperity

Fluorite
Fluorite – healing, concentration, grounding

Garnet – passion, remove negativity, hope, purifies
Jade – prosperity, dreams, healing

Picture Jasper
Jasper – balance, healing, attaining goals, nature, nurturing, relieves stress

Kyanite – optimism, healing, creativity, loyalty

Lapis Lazuli
Lapis Lazuli – intuition, balance, inspiration, protection, creativity

Malachite – healing, abundance, relationships, dreams, reduces stress
Moonstone – fortune, protection for traveling, compassion, female power

Mother of Pearl
Mother of Pearl – female power, nurturing, motherhood

Nephrite – creativity, protection, attain goals, dreams
Onyx – intuition, dreams, protection, achievement, endurance
Opal – balance, harmony, spirituality

Pearls
Pearl – female power, truth, heaven
Peridot – prosperity, harmony, relationships, intuition

Clear Quartz
Quartz – spirituality, harmony, creativity, prosperity

Ruby – love, self-awareness, renewal, spirituality
Sapphire – clarity, intuition, protection, soul mate love, fidelity, meditation

Snowflake Obsidian
Snowflake Obsidian – balance, concentration, repels negativity

Sodalite – delegation, intuition, creativity, calming, protection
Sugilite – calming, healing, reduces stress, spirituality

Tigerseye
Tiger’s Eye – confidence, healing, concentration, grounding

Topaz – creativity, self-expression, spirituality, renewal
Tourmaline – healing, spirituality, energy, renewal, protection

Turquoise
Turquoise – protection for traveling, strengthens, verbal communication

Unakite – feminine, abundance, harmony

Birthstones
Birthstones

Signs of the Zodiac
Zodiac

Feng Shui Bagua with Gemstones
Bagua

Mother Nature has produced a remarkable collection of gemstones. Cultures around the world have created and shared their gemstones traditions throughout the ages, and will continue to do so in the future. Each stone has a unique story. When choosing a gemstone, hold it in your hand and ask yourself: How does this gemstone make me feel? If your answer is “empowered,” “inspired,” and “amazing” – you have found the perfect match. Wear it in good health!

Happy Crafting!

How to Protect and Clean Precious Metal Jewelry and Flatware

With the holidays quickly approaching, it’s time to polish your silverware and your jewelry. With a few easy steps, you can make those precious metals shine, and keep it that way so you won’t have to clean it again next year.
Tarnished Silver Jewelry & Spoons
Tarnish is the enemy of your gold and silver jewelry, flatware and serving pieces. There are many products on the market for removing tarnish, but they typically consist of very toxic ingredients and the fumes can be overwhelming. Fortunately there are safer alternatives. As with most things, prevention is the best initial method.

Tarnish Prevention for Silver, Gold and Plated Jewelry:
Silver & Gold
Most people know silver becomes tarnished, but did you know gold becomes dull and brassy? The best way to keep your jewelry looking its best is by protecting it from the start. When you buy a new piece of jewelry, store it in an anti-tarnish lined jewelry box.

3M Anti-Tarnish Sheets and Strips
3M Anti-Tarnish Strips
As an alternative, you can use re-sealable plastic bags and place a piece of anti-tarnish paper inside the bag. Be sure to press the excess air out before closing the zipper. Several companies, such as 3M, make anti-tarnish paper, which comes in 1” squares, strips and sheets. FireMountainGems.com sells jewelry storage bags with anti-tarnish coating inside. Before putting away your jewelry, be sure to wipe gemstone jewelry gently with a soft cloth, and wipe precious metal jewelry with a polishing cloth. (Note: Pearls should not be placed in plastic bags. Wrap them in tissue paper.)

Tarnish Prevention for Silver Flatware and Serving Pieces:
Silverware
When not in use, keep your silver flatware in a silver chest and place serving pieces in drawers or a china cabinet with anti-tarnish paper to prevent tarnishing.

Jewelry Cleaning:
Beaded Jewelry
Beaded Jewelry: can be wiped gently with a soft cloth only. Do not use any other cleaning methods. Many beaded items include metal accent beads. You may be able to shine them up with a polishing cloth. I find it’s easier to restring the necklace or bracelet with new metal beads, and be sure to keep it in an anti-tarnish jewelry box or bag to keep it shining like new.

Gemstone Jewelry
Gemstone Jewelry: can be wiped gently with a soft cloth only. For a bracelet similar to the one pictured above, you could carefully use a polishing cloth on the edges of the silver, but avoid touching the gemstones. If additional cleaning is required, take it to a jeweler. Caution: Water and/or chemical solutions can dissolve or damage many gemstones, including but not limited to opals, Marcasites, and pearls, as well as enamel finishes.

Gold Silver Jewelry
Precious Metal Jewelry: Sterling silver, silver-plated, gold and gold-plated can be cleaned with a polishing cloth.

Silver Polishing Cloth
This polishing cloth has two layers. The white shines and polishes as it removes tarnish. The green layer completes the shining process as it removes polish or tarnish residue.

Tarnish Removal for Silver Flatware and Serving Pieces:
Tarnished Tray & Pitcher
We have all seen heavily tarnished silver items like the ones shown above. Tarnish removal can present a great challenge, but all of that was resolved with the invention of the Speedy Pate shown below.

Tarnish Removing Speedy Plate
Washing Soda, Glass Pan & Plate
When it comes to removing tarnish on silver pieces, the Speedy Plate is a lifesaver. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. The process is very simple. You will need the 6”x8” Speedy Plate, a large 9’x13” glass or plastic container, hot water, and Household Washing Soda. Most people use this product with great success. Occasionally reviews say it doesn’t work, but this is most likely a failure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure you buy Washing Soda, which can be purchased at most grocery stores.

Please Note: Washing Soda IS NOT the same as baking soda.

Additional Jewelry Tips:
Shower
Should I wear Jewelry in the Shower?
No. To protect your jewelry, it should be removed before showering. Precious metals, gemstones, and jewelry components can be damaged by exposure to water, hair care products, soaps and body washes. When getting dressed, put your jewelry on last to avoid exposure to cosmetics, perfume, hairspray, and body lotion. The same precautions should be taken before swimming or using sunscreen.

Beach & Jewelry
Jewelry and the Beach Don’t mix.
That’s why you see so many people with metal detectors roaming the beaches at the end of the day. Rings can easily slip off of wet fingers. The combination of water, salt, sun, sunscreen, and sand can damage and weather chains and clasps, causing breakage. In most cases you won’t even realize it has fallen off. Your favorite piece of jewelry will inadvertently become someone else’s treasure.

There is so much beauty and artistry to be appreciated in objects made from silver and gold. With the proper care, they will last a lifetime, and can be passed down from one generation to the next.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Want to Make Beaded Earrings?

Assorted Earrings
Making fine jewelry requires years of special training in gemstones, precious metals, and jewelry design. Materials and tools are very expensive, and mistakes can be very costly. The invention of beaded jewelry created beautiful designs in a much more affordable way, and put the jewelry making possibilities into everyone’s hands. If you’ve ever wondered how to make a piece of jewelry, now is your chance.

How to Make Black Onyx & Tigerseye Earrings
Tigerseye Black Onyx Earrings
These 2” long gemstone earrings are fashionable and easy to make.

Required Beads & Findings:
Earring Supplies
Supplies:
To make this pair of earrings you will need:
2) Silver plated Head Pins – 2” length,
2) 8.5mm Granulated Round Pewter Rondelles,
2) 8mm Tigerseye beads,
2) 10mm Black Onyx beads,
2) Silver plated Round 4mm Spacer beads
2) Silver plated Surgical Steel Fishhook Earwires with ball & coil

(Please note: Head pins are the foundation of these earrings. They are inexpensive and come in big packages. Be sure to have several on hand just in case. Craft stores carry jewelry making supplies, including beads, accents, and tools. If you get hooked on jewelry making and yearn for the ultimate selections, look no further than FireMountainGems.com)

Jewelry Making Tools:
Round Nose Pliers
Round Nose Pliers – the smooth, round tips on these pliers make it easy and safe to manipulate wire, pins, and small jewelry metal pieces known as findings. Please don’t use standard pliers, which have teeth that will damage delicate precious metals.

Jewelry Wire Cutters
Jewelry Wire Cutters – a sharp pair of wire cutters makes jewelry making so much easier. Do not use them for other crafts, such as floral arranging, which can damage the blades.

Earring Making Instructions:

Bead Layout
Step 1: Stack the beads in sequence on the head pin as shown. This is the dangle part of the earring.

Grip with Pliers
Step 2: With the round nose pliers in your right hand, grip the wire just above the top silver bead. Be sure the beads are close together with no gaps in between. Hold the pliers in this position for the next step.

Grasp Wire with Fingers
Step 3: Grasp the end of the head pin with your left thumb and index finger, and bend the wire toward you.

Bend Wire
Continue bending the pin over the tip of the pliers until it touches the Black Onyx bead.

Reshaped Wire
The reshaped pin will look like the photo above.

Trim Excess Wire
Step 4: Cut off the excess wire. Leave enough wire to form a small loop above the silver bead. This may take a few tries. Don’t worry if you cut it too short. Simply use a new head pin and repeat the steps.

Shortened Wire
This photo shows the trimmed wire, and beside it is the scrap piece to be thrown away.

Attach Earwire
Step 5: Hook the dangle earring onto the loop on the bottom of the fishhook earwire,

Loop Closeup
and close the loop using the round nose pliers.

Finished Earrings
Congratulations! You have successfully made your first pair of earrings.

These skills can be used to create many styles, which at first may appear to be complex, but are actually fairly easy when broken down into basic steps. Let’s take a look at a few examples below.

Blue Earrings
Blue Bead & Pearl Earrings– If you look closely, you’ll notice the same elements we talked about before: head pins, stacked beads, and earwires. The choice of silver earwires and accents with faceted blue crystals and Mother of Pearl creates a cool, summery vibe. This pair of earrings utilizes a different type of earwire known as lever backs, which prevent the earring from falling off – no more lost earrings!

Fossil Earrings
Fossil Earrings – The natural spiral design and intricate details of these fossils make great focal points for these earrings. You can purchase charms and pendants such as these and simply attach earwires to the provided loops on top. How easy is that?

Triangle Earrings
Triangle Earrings – These earrings are a simple progression from the fossil earrings above. The triangles are merely charms. Head pins, which are available in many lengths, are the keys to this design. Attach the three beads on the bottom of each triangle using pliers. The yellow beads are also attached with head pins. Cut the head off a pin, and use the pliers to make a loop above and below the yellow bead and then attach to the triangle on the bottom and to the earwire on the top.

Jasper& Pearl Earrings
Jasper & Pearl Earrings – Gemstones come in an amazing array of colors and shapes. The accent beads can be mixed and matched in infinite combinations. Experiment by laying out the beads to test your options. The nice thing about earrings is that you can place the beads on a pin and hold them up to your ear to see how they look, with no commitment whatsoever. Don’t like what you see? Try another combo.

Jewelry making is a fun, creative hobby. Best of all you get to wear and share your creations with your family and friends. For more information on beaded jewelry, please read “Designing Beaded Jewelry.”

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

The Symbolism of Rings

Assorted Rings
We wear jewelry for many reasons, but rings in particular have played a significant role in our lives.  The circular shape, with no beginning and no end, symbolizes eternity.  Rings can have special meanings for individuals, families, communities, and cultures.

Self-Expression:
Triangle Ring
The most obvious reasons to wear rings are self-expression and personal adornment.

Attention Getting Rings
We express our individuality by creating the image we show to the world, including hairstyle, clothing choices, and yes, even jewelry.

Sculptural Wrap Ring
A signature ring is an item worn on a daily basis.

Venetian Glass Bead Rings
Although it may have a significant meaning, the way it makes you feel when you wear it is the most important hallmark of such an adored piece of jewelry.

3D Sculptural Ring
Jewelry is art for the body.

Commitment:
Engagement Ring
Engagement rings represent promises and intentions.

Wedding Rings
Wedding bands are signs of love and fidelity.

Eternity Bands
Anniversary rings, also known as eternity bands, commemorate love through the years.

Family Heritage:
Coat of Arms Ring
A coat of arms honors family history.  Rings like this become family heirlooms passed down from one generation to the next.

Garnet Ring
Birthstone rings celebrate your birth month or zodiac sign.
For more information on gemstone meanings and uses throughout history, please read: “Gemstone Healing Traditions.”

Accomplishments:
High School Ring
Accomplishments are often celebrated with jewelry.  Upon graduation, alumni often wear a ring to demonstrate school pride and personal achievement.  Champions in athletics are awarded expensive rings such as the winners of the Super Bowl.

Affirmations:
Love Ring
Affirmation rings serve as reminders to fulfill our goals and dreams.

Feather Rings
Feathers symbolize our connection to angels, the spirit world, and our higher selves.

Cultural Pride:
Claddagh Rings
Different cultures wear jewelry for traditional reasons and to express pride in their heritage.  The Irish Claddagh signifies love, loyalty and friendship.

Morrocan Ring
This mosaic ring set in silver is a fine example of intricate Moroccan design and craftsmanship.

Ancient Viking Rings
Ancient Viking rings symbolize clan loyalty, while the open design provides flexibility.

Membership:
Club Rings
Social clubs wear rings in honor of teamwork, shared goals and simply for the fun of it.

Signet Ring
Professional organizations wear insignia rings as a sign of group values and camaraderie.

Power:
Royal Ring & Seal
Rings can be a sign of authority, such as those worn by royalty and religious leaders.  Historically, kings often sealed documents with hot wax and the impression of a specific ring to authenticate the contents.  Envoys sometimes carried a royal ring as proof of their authority to speak on behalf of the monarchy.

Lord of the Rings
Who could forget the One ring?  Although it is a fictional story, “The Lord of the Rings” is a haunting tale, demonstrating what some are willing to do, good or bad, to gain power or to protect and save their world.

As we move toward the future, new jewelry designs will debut and the classics will appeal to new audiences, while their underlying meanings pique our curiosity.  What do your rings mean to you?

Thanks for reading and Happy Crafting!

Gifts from the Heart

Frog with Heart
As Valentine’s Day approaches, it’s a nice reminder to show appreciation for those who share our lives, including family, friends, and yes even our pets.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot.  In fact, you may already have what you need for the perfect gift.   Here are a few creative ideas to get you started:

Sweets for the Sweet
Homemade Candy & Cookies
Homemade cookies and candy will satisfy any sweet tooth.

Nature Lover
Fruit Hearts
This edible art is delicious & nutritious.

Heart of the Vineyard
Wine Corks Heart
Connoisseurs will appreciate shared memories celebrated with a nice glass of wine.

The Personal Touch
Clay Heart Vase
Gifts made by hand are always the best way to show your love.

Two Hearts Beat as One
Metal & Wood Hearts
Whether you prefer working with wood or metal, this universal symbol of love says it all.

Love is in the Details
Mosaic Heart
Glass, tile, and stones can be used to create mosaic jewelry, tabletops, wall art, etc.

A Rose by Any Other Name
Paper Roses
As timeless symbols of love, these paper roses will forever be in bloom.

Big Bear Hugs
Teddy Bear & Flowers
Everyone could use a hug.  Teddy bears can be sewn, crocheted, or knitted.  If you don’t have those skills, buy one and add a personal touch, such as a bunch of silk flowers or homemade chocolates.

Soft & Dreamy
Watercolor Painting
Watercolor, acrylic or oil paints are the perfect choice for creating beautiful artwork to be treasured for years to come.

Heartfelt Adventure
Pink Stone Heart
Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy taking a romantic walk along a beach or trail on a “treasure” hunt, consisting of well-placed hearts made from stones, shells, or flowers.

Presentation is Everything
Heart Earrings
At the end of the treasure hunt mentioned above, surprise your companion with a little gift, such as a bouquet of wildflowers or handmade jewelry.

Reflective Photography
Black Swan
At first glance, you might only notice the beauty of this black swan but look closer and you will see the perfect heart shape created by his reflection.

Just the Two of Us
Romantic Silhouettes
A sunset photo of a couple is a nice keepsake and posing just right forms a heart.

Your BFF
Dog Wearing Scarf
Our best friends are always looking for affection.  A new scarf or a heart charm for the collar are nice options, but the best way to show your love is by giving them your time and attention.  Works for people too!

Thanks for reading.

Happy Valentine’s Day & Happy Crafting!

Designing Beaded Jewelry

Beaded Jewelry in Fall Colors
Making beaded jewelry is a fun activity for the entire family. There’s an incredible selection of gemstone, glass, crystal, metal, and mixed media beads, which can be strung upon wire, leather cords, ribbons, or any other material of your choosing.

Strands of Gemstone Beads
Strands of Gemstone Beads
Most beads are sold in strands, which are pre-strung on fishing tackle. You cannot keep the beads on this temporary strand because it is not durable for every day wear and tear, and will eventually break.

When working with beads, having a jewelry maker’s tray (like the one pictured below) is extremely beneficial for laying out your designs. The numbers along the perimeter are for measuring the length of bracelets and necklaces. The grooves in the tray are multi-purpose: enable experimentation with different beads; create a necklace and bracelet at the same time; design a multi-strand necklace. Compartments in the tray hold additional beads while you finalize your work.

Black Onyx & Carnelian Beads
Onyx Carnelian Beads
Using the same beads produces two different looks by simply changing the pattern – both are in seasonal fall colors. The large, reddish orange, Carnelian nuggets have a raw but luxurious appeal, while the smooth, round, Black Onyx beads are cool and sophisticated.

Black Onyx, Carnelian & Silver-Plated Metal Beads
Onyx Carnelian & Metal Beads
The addition of precious metal beads provides rich texture, eye-catching contrast, and the all-important sparkle.

Rain Forest Jasper & Mother of Pearl Beads
Rain Forest Jasper & Aventurine Beads
These two photos demonstrate the effects of using shape and color to create necklaces with very different styles. On the left, a pear-shaped, Rain Forest Jasper pendant takes center stage with Rain Forest Jasper and Natural Mother of Pearl beads. The result is a fancy necklace with warm rich earth tones, suitable for a night out on the town. On the right, Aventurine alternates with dazzling, White Mother of Pearl beads in a soft palette and casual style for everyday wear.

Rain Forest Jasper, Mother of Pearl, and Gold-Plated Metal Beads
Rain Forest Jasper Aventurine & Metal Beads
The same beads are shown here with the addition of gold-plated, round spacer beads on the left, and gold-plated, filigree bead caps on the right.

When you are satisfied with your design, the beads can be strung one at a time onto wire. Be sure to place a piece of scotch tape on the end of the wire before you start stringing your beads. Once you’re satisfied, the clasp can be attached. There are many videos available to show you how to attach each of the different types of clasps.

Here are a few photos to get your creative ideas flowing:

Necklace – Lampwork Glass Frog & Glass Beads on a Cord
Glass Frog Cord
This striped glass frog is a fanciful addition to any wardrobe. Cords are easy work with and comfortable to wear. All it takes are a few beads and a focal point to complete this piece of jewelry. You could also use a pendant you already own. Cords can be made of leather, rubber, or woven fibers.

Necklace – Large-Hole Resin Beads on Ribbon
Necklace - Large-Hole Resin Beads on Ribbon
Stringing large-hole beads on ribbon is an easy way for beginners to learn about jewelry making. Children and those struggling with arthritis or any other dexterity issues can easily handle these over-sized beads. Stringing on ribbon or a cord can be done quickly and beads can be interchanged until the desired look is achieved. Best of all, there are no special skills or tools required.

Large-Hole Glass Beads
Large-Hole Glass Beads
Large-hole beads are for use on cords, ribbons, thick chains and wire. Crafter Tip: With these beads, you can achieve the same fashionable look as seen in Pandora stores, but at a fraction of the price. The best selection is available at Fire Mountain Gems.

Bracelet -Large-Hole Glass Beads and Metal Beads on wire
Bracelet -Large-Hole Glass Beads and Metal Beads on wire
Stringing beads upon wire is easy to do, but requires the special jewelry making tools to attach the clasp. Bead stores will typically offer shoppers the chance to select beads, and string your own necklace or bracelet. A staff member will then attach the clasp, or can give you instructions to do it yourself using their tools. These stores periodically have classes, and offer private jewelry making parties for your family and friends.

Earring & Bracelet – Crystal & Glass Seed Beads
Earring & Bracelet - Crystal & Glass Seed Beads
When you think of crystal jewelry, the name that most likely tops your list is Swarovski. The rich, colors and light reflecting facets of crystal have been featured in memorable jewelry designs ready to wear anywhere from the super market to the high fashion runway.

Necklace – Glass & Metal Beads
Necklace - Glass & Metal Beads
Glass blowers create beads one at a time, and each one is a unique masterpiece. All the colors of the rainbow and a few Mother Nature never considered can be found in glass. Solid colors, striated, and two tone beads are but a mere few of the possibilities with matte or high-gloss finishes. Glass pendants make interesting focal points, while tiny glass seed beads can be woven into intricate spiral patterns in necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

Bracelets – Gemstones, Metal Beads, & Bells on cords
Bracelets – Gemstones, Metal Beads, & Bells on cords
There’s a bracelet style to match every person’s fashion needs – cords, cuffs, stretch, charm, bangles, and many more. Genuine gemstone beads are available in an amazing array of colors and sizes. Beads can be purchased from craft stores, beaded jewelry stores, bead trade shows, and from online retailers, such as Fire Mountain Gems. Because genuine gemstones come from the earth, the colors and patterns will vary. If you are planning to make a bracelet and matching necklace or earrings, make sure you have enough beads to complete the set. Each finished piece of jewelry will be as unique and individual as you are.

Jewelry making is an exciting and rewarding craft. Enjoy the process. Learn from mistakes. Experiment as you follow your inspiration to create the perfect design to express your personality and style.

Thanks for reading & Happy Crafting!