Cherry “Quartz”?

I admit it…when I first saw “Cherry Quartz” I loved the pinky-salmony color. I was in Alpharetta, Georgia visiting a bead shop with a friend, and couldn’t resist a strand of smooth chunks. The resulting necklace is below. I still like the necklace, but I have since learned a lot about this “stone.”

“Cherry Quartz,” being sold by vendors at wholesale shows, is actually a type of glass. Gemologists became suspicious of this materials when they noticed bubbles in the “stones” which turned out to be spherical gas bubbles.

There is a similar product, which I also am a sucker for, called “Pineapple Quartz.” It is a translucent yellow and I just love its light buttery color. It too is glass.

So if you like it – enjoy it! Make sometime beautiful but do not be fooled. The gas bubbles are often visible to the naked eye. If you get it for a good price, have fun with it as you would with any beautiful glass bead.


August 30, 2012 at 4:02 pm Leave a comment

Removing Lacquer from Metal Jewelry

Sometimes you come across a piece of jewelry or a finding which has been lacquered, but maybe some of the lacquer has chipped, permitting oxidation on part of the piece. Now you are in the position of having to remove all of the lacquer without hurting the beads or stones.

An easy, organic way to accomplish this is to place the object in a boiling solution of baking soda and water.  After a while the lacquer will lift off.  You need to know whether your piece contains any heat-sensitive stones or glue, as this method would cause damage.

Another way to go is lacquer thinner.  Just soak the object in a jar with enough lacquer thinner to cover the piece.  You can re-use the thinner but keep the jar well-sealed or it will evaporate.  Make sure, when using lacquer thinner, that you are in a well-ventilated area away from heat.

After soaking for a day or more, remove the item and wipe the piece with a soft cloth that has been dipped in clean lacquer thinner.

Lacquer thinner is safe for use on metal, glass or stone, but it will dissolve paint and glue.

Lacquer thinner is available in most hardware stores.
Now…if you want to protect metal from oxidizing without using lacquer, try wax!

August 21, 2012 at 6:47 pm Leave a comment

A Primer on Cords and Threads

(First in a Series)

So many cords and threads to choose from!  How do you choose?  While many cords and threads have can be used interchangeably, it is important to know why some threads work better than others.  It may be due to the medium you are using (stones, metal, seed beads, etc.) or because of the method (multiple passes, weaving, straight stringing.)  I will be talking about many different stringing media in this and future articles.

Silk – Silk is mainly used for knotting pearls and gemstones.  It is soft and strong, and comes in a variety of colors and diameters.  The thinnest diameter is 00 (.005mm/.127”) and the thickest is FFF (.0165mm/.419”.)   Silk is sleek and knots beautifully.  If you are knotting pearls, you want to use silk, never a synthetic thread.  Silk can be dyed to make any color you want.  Simply put a few grains of RIT dye in a cup with boiling water and dip your white silk until you reach the color saturation you wish.  Rinse well.  Dyes can be mixed for custom colors as well.  Silk can be purchased in bulk spools, or pre-carded with a needle.  I often use two different colored strands of silk to enhance the beads I’m knotting – for instance, one peach and one olive with unakite, one sage green and one lavender with lapis Nevada.  Silk can also be used in kumihimo or in Chinese braiding and knotting.  You can make a self-needle out of silk by using gum arabic beading glue to stiffen the ends.   German beadsilk generally is more “twisty” which works well in a “Tin Cup” style necklace, where there are distances of silk between the beads.  Chinese silk has less of a rope-like appearance and knots well.  You can use silk thread with French wire for a professional look, or hide the cord knot with a clamshell tip.  One last note:  In an earlier post I spoke about Gudebrod silk thread.  Sadly, Gudebrod has gone out of business.  For silk thread, Beadsmith has both the German and the Chinese thread, both are very high quality.


March 20, 2011 at 3:22 pm Leave a comment

What Seed Bead Color Names Mean

It can be confusing to determine what a seed bead looks like based on its description!  Here are some commonly used terms (and some not-so-common) to help you along.

Transparent beads are clear and tinted, and you can see through them.  Light is visible through the beads.

An AB (aurora borealis) finish is a rainbow effect on one side of the glass bead.

Opaque beads are a solid color and do not allow light to pass through.

Silver-Lined beads have a shiny silver color-lining of a transparent bead.   The bead may be crystal, or any other transparent color.  There is a mirrored effect coming from the center of the bead making them metallic looking

Color Lined beads have a color lining of an transparent bead.   The colors vary, including special color effects.   The transparent bead may be crystal, or any other transparent color.

Matte (or Frosted) beads have an etched look to them.

Semi-matte beads have a mixed glossy/matte finish to them.   They are a little brighter than regular matte finish beads.

Metallic and Metallic Iris beads have a metallized finish.   Sometimes, this finish rubs off.   Use a clear fixative like Krylon spray.

An Iris finish is a multicolor effect, which creates a rainbow type effect all around each bead, but also causes a range of color hues and tones within any mix.  It appears to look like a drop of oil spilled in water.  For example, Blue Iris is black with blue rainbow effect, but solid in color.

A luster finish creates an irridescent shine around the bead.  Lustered beads are rich, shiny, semi-transparent with a very high gloss.

Galvanized beads have a coated finished applied to the glass through a galvanization process.  This finish does come off, so we suggest you use a clear fixative, like Krylon spray.

Ceylon beads have a pearlized finish.   Sometimes the pearlized finish has been dyed to attain a particular color.

Alabaster S/L Dyed beads started with a silver-lined translucent bead, and then dye the bead to a certain color.    As with all dyed beads,  use a clear fixative, like Krylon spray.

Iridescent, another word for Aurora Borealis has a rainbow effect, usually transparent.

Iris denotes a bead which is usually a dark color (almost black) with tinting of the color mentioned.

Lined beads are  clear on the outside, color in the inside.

Opalescent beads have an opal-like effect in translucent materials.

Opaque Charlottes, also known as “one cuts” are solid in color with occasional facets, usually a 13/0 bead, used in many higher quality Native American beadwork pieces.  This type of bead is hard to come by in a variety of colors.

Roccaile beads are silver-lined, usually 10/0, round beads with a square hole

Satin Glass beads are shimmering translucent glass that appears to to consist of fibers of different tones of the same color.

carabee finish is a rich, opaque Iris (rainbow) coating, usually over a whole jet glass bead.

Straited beads have swirls and streaks of other tones or colors within the body of the bead.

October 16, 2010 at 4:58 pm Leave a comment

Eye Beads – Not EVIL!

eyenecklacewithcathair.jpgYou’ve probably seen “eye beads” many times – beads, usually glass, which have the image of an eye – sometimes crudely rendered, and other times scarily realistic. In many parts of the world, these are worn to protect the wearer from the “evil eye.” They are quite common in Greece, Turkey, Israel and many other parts of Europe and the Middle East.

While I do not fear the “evil eye” (after all, I have faced down my mother-in-law many times without use any sort of protection), I do really like eye beads, and had been collecting them for many years. One day I mentioned this around Ronnie Lambrou, and found out she too had been collecting eye beads. We set a date to get together and share eye beads and make something from them.

Between us, Ronnie & I had enough eye beads to ward off the evil eye for the entire third world. We shared our beads, and even though we used many of the same beads, our completed necklaces couldn’t have been more different. Perhaps Ronnie & I will show off our creations on the show and tell table in the future.

Now, I will not admit to reading the National Enquirer, but I will admit to picking one out of a trash can at a rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike. Inside was an article titled, “Trendology 101”, accompanied by a picture of a bracelet made of silver beads, blue glass pony beads, and eye beads, as well as a picture of Jessica Simpson flashing her evil eye bracelet (made with red beads.) The article reads: “Let’s be real – that silly red Kabbalah string is really not that fashionable and kind of weird. So in comes Hollywood‘s newest and much cuter craze, the ‘evil eye’ bracelet!” The article goes on to suggest this website:

The point is…it is Ronnie and I who are setting the trends for all of Hollywood. You may want to check with us to learn what’s “in” and for grooming and fashion tips.


October 16, 2010 at 3:15 pm 1 comment

Vera Wang says:

“Jewelry allows women to express themselves in a way that clothing simply cannot.”

June 17, 2010 at 3:56 pm Leave a comment

Friends in High Places

I am so excited that my dear friends,  the lampworker Jeri Warhaftig (author of The Glass Bead Workshop) and the designer Ronnie Lambrou are finalists in the joint jewelry competition sponsored by the International Society of Glass Beadmakers and Bead & Button Magazine.   Their piece, “Santorini Eruption,” is pictured here:

ConvergenceThe necklace was designed and made by Ronnie with Jeri’s lampworked beads.  I was actually with Jeri in Ronnie’s studio one day when she was working on it, so I got to see the creative process (that particular day the creative process was being helped along by good food and drink.)

Even more exciting, the piece, along with step-by-step instructions, is in Bead & Button’s newest special issue, “Jewelry Designs with Art Glass Beads.”  Can’t wait to get my copy!


October 8, 2009 at 2:53 pm Leave a comment

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