Posts filed under ‘Bead History’

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

Why Do Some Small Beads Cost More Than Larger Beads?

Have you ever been surprised to see that a strand of 2mm or 3mm beads were more costly than the same length strand of 8mm? There is a reason that smaller beads are sometimes more expensive than larger.

For one thing, when the stone cutter is forming smaller beads, more rough material goes to waste. Larger beads take up more room on the rough material so there is more finished yield. And don’t forget – you get almost twice as many beads on a strand of 2mm than you do on a strand of 4mm!

Another reason is that making smaller beads is more labor-intensive. Cutting, finishing and stringing tiny beads takes much more time.

One of the nice things about smaller gemstone beads is that they can be used sparingly to great effect. Tiny gemstone beads can be used to pick up the colors of larger cloissone beads, or used for fringe, or for a loop around a decorative button to form a clasp. In the picture below, although you can’t see it very well, I used some 3mm hematite on either side of the Bali beads surrounding the garnets, and they gave just enough of a space and echoed the marcasite so that I was perfectly happy with my design!

I have in my “personal stash” some 2 and 3mm rosequartz and hematite I can’t wait to use!




February 22, 2008 at 6:51 pm Leave a comment


Here’s a handy list for your design book. Birthstone jewelry is always popular, and don’t forget that you needn’t be strict about this – crystals in these colors will work just as well!


January – Garnet

February – Amethyst

March – Aquamarine

April – Diamond

May – Emerald

June – Pearl or Alexandrite

July – Ruby

August – Peridot

September – Sapphire

October – Opal or Pink Tourmaline

November – Topaz

December – Turquoise or Blue Zircon


February 3, 2008 at 7:38 pm 6 comments

Gem Lore: Sodalite

Sodalite – properties and history

Sodalite is a mineral component of lapis lazuli. It is commonly mistaken for lapis because of its similar look. Unlike lapis, however, this rich blue gemstone rarely contains pyrite inclusions, and is a less expensive alternative to lapis. The name “sodalite” alludes to the sodium content of this stone. It comes in a massive form, translucent to opaque with a dark blue color, often streaked with white veins.

Sodalite was discovered in 1806 in Greenland. In 1891 large deposits of sodalite was found in Ontario, Canada. At that time, Princess Patricia of Connaught (1886-1974) used it as an interior decoration for Marlbourough House in England, setting the stage for sodalite to become used as an ornamental stone. Also due to her use of the sodalite, the stone became commonly known as “Princess Blue.” Today, the largest deposit of sodalite is in Brazil.

New Age Attributes:

Sodalite is thought to bring inner peace. It is also considered to be the stone of athletics, as it stimulates endurance. It is said sodalite will harmonize the inner being or the conscious and subconscious mind. Sodalite promotes peace and harmony. Sodalite is extra lucky for writers.

Sodalite is associated with the thyroid. Some believe that if you wear it in a necklace, it will help you lose weight and will give you confidence for public speaking.


Designing with Sodalite

Sodalite is a softer blue with more white inclusions than lapis. It looks lovely combined with white stones such as white marble, white agate, or white howlite.  Sodalite looks nice with gold or silver findings, and is especially pretty with the soft, bright gold of vermeil Bali beads.  Sodalite works well with a lapis lazuli pendant or focal bead(s).  For contrast, try sodalite with red cinnabar -it’s stunning!


January 25, 2008 at 7:02 pm Leave a comment

Beading for Charitable Causes

I have been thinking about ways people use beads to promote charitable causes – I often see advertised in magazines bracelets for breast cancer, for instance. A friend who is a mammographer makes pink beaded breast cancer support pins to give to her patients, and also gives a portion of her profits from the breast cancer support jewelry she makes to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Here are a few stories about creating jewelry for non-profit organizations and other worthwhile causes.

A while ago, I was approached by a women’s organization. One of their members had recently been diagnosed with ALS (commonly known as Lou Gerhig’s Disease.) Some of the members had seen a bracelet made with Swarovski crystal cubes and diamond-shaped beads, sterling silver balls and bali beads, with a sterling silver heart shaped clasp and dangling charm. They wanted to make something similar as a fund-raiser. Together we designed a bracelet using Chinese crystal AB cubes and bicones, silver-plated round beads, pewter Bali-like flower spacers, a pewter heart-shaped clasp and pewter charm. We used Beadsmith Cyclone crimps so that they would not need special tools, and the bracelets were strung on .019 SoftFlex. The materials came in at under $8 for each bracelet, and they sold over 600 for $25 each. Although we used lower priced materials, the bracelet was quite beautiful and well worth $25. Additionally, the group had fun meetings where the members assembled the bracelets – you could buy them either ready made, or come to a party and make your own. I thought this was an original twist.

You may know that almost every charitable organization (especially those pertaining to a particular disease) has its own signature color or symbol; pink for breast cancer, for instance or the puzzle piece for Autism. One of my customers does a whole line of different bracelets using the colors and symbols from different charitable organizations and also representing different branches of the military. She earmarks part of her profits for the corresponding group.

Recently a woman came into my store looking for help with her son’s project. Kyle Spivak was preparing for his Bar Mitzvah by doing a project which was designed to support charitable organizations. Kyle’s project is called “Pookas for Peace,” ( Kyle made shell necklaces which include the colors of both the Israeli and the Lebanese flag, as symbol of peace for the region. All profits are being split equally between Lebanese and Israeli charities.

Using beads for fundraising and awareness is a good way to promote the causes you feel close to, and to promote yourself. Even if you don’t care to do a whole line of jewelry devoted to a charity, donating your work for the PTA silent auction, or other worthy cause is a good way to get your work seen and to do some good in this world!pooka.jpg

January 24, 2008 at 1:17 am Leave a comment


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