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Friday, November 4, 2011

Why Did My Necklace Break?

To understand what actually happened, you also must understand how necklaces are made and what extended wear will do to them.

It probably is not a stretch to say that if you're talking about chains, the thinner the chain - the easier it breaks. That should be a given law of wearing jewelry, and I bet you understand that very easily.

An entirely different thing alltogether is a pearl necklace or a beaded piece of jewelry. They look so strong, so enormously sturdy, made for generations to wear, right?

Let me explain.

When we string beads, we always try to make it as durable as possible. So many factors are contributing to their premature breakage though.

Consider this: every time a pearl (or bead) necklace is strung, we are using the thickest cord possible that will fit through the bead. That said, you can look at your beads and figure out how much weight such a relatively thin string can bear.
For good reason: Centuries ago, pearls were traded by weight (actually "grains"). So it's pretty much a given that the holes are drilled relatively small to conserve weight and therefore achieve a higher price.

You can see where this is going, right?

The smaller the hole, the thinner the string. Plus, you don't really want a very heavy cord running through them. as you are having knots in between the pearls, it just doesn't look as nice to have a big blob of cord between each pearl.

The same is true with South Seas or Tahitian pearls. Big, heavy pearls with thin, weak string = disaster!

Not so fast...

It actually takes quite a bit of abuse to break a pearl cord. Typically, when you use silk (or Nylon), these will stand up quite well to chemicals such as make-up, perfume & Co.

Now it's a different ball game when you have stone or metal beads. Often they have rough edges on their holes and that will abrade your bead cord. Add to that a hefty weight plus constant movement on your body, and you can imagine that "forever" is just not in the vocabulary of your beaded necklace.

So it pays to be vigilant: observe your pearls/beads. If they look frail, have them restrung. If they have stretched, have them restrung. If the cord/silk is soiled, have them restrung.

Keeping an eye on your favorite adornments makes it worthwhile to enjoy them for years to come.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Coming Soon: Fine Jewelry With Beads - the Lessons

After so many years of teaching, repairing, manufacturing, selling and buying pearl jewelry, I feel that there is a lot of knowledge that I'd like to share.

As I'm not getting younger, I would like to make sure that there is some type of record about all the secrets in fine pearl jewelry repair, and hopefully you can pick up advice or inspiration from it.

The lessons wil start right at the beginner level and work up all the way to what you need to know to be a successful pearl stringer.

Sounds funny, doesn't it? After all, there is not much to stuffing strings into little holes.

And you're right: it's as easy as pie. However. The difference between making craft jewelry and fine jewelry is huge. Not in cost of material, although that is the common definition, but rather by the attitude with which you string and finish a "fine" pearl necklace.

It takes more effort to do it right, but the result is overwhelmingly different.

So, if you do not intend to put all your pride into these projects, don't bother reading my blogs that contain the instructions. These are for pearl stringing superstars only!

Looking forward to meet you here!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

No Mercy for America's Most Unwanted

Beads and components, that is.
Since the beginning of the Neverending Necklace in July 1998, people from everywhere have donated beads for this project. And very often, these beads sat in drawers all but forgotten.

Until a gentle soul remembered their lingering fate and had the good idea to give them new life within this novel project. You can see the names of those who have contributed here >>

Not that all donated beads were surplus: many gifted bead makers and bead dealers have donated brand new and fantastic beads because they cared enough to participate.

Take for example Inez Ancell, who painstakingly makes beaded beads using tiny beads and gigantic skill. Inez had donated beads very early on, and her beads have a very special place on the necklace. See some of them here >>

Of course there are others who donated: the late Shannon Hill, Jeri Ann and Roger Golba, Laurie Smith, Jeff Ursillo, Donna Jostiak, Jack Stamper, Cynthia Tanney, Melinda Schwartz, Terre Beasley, Wolfgang Eccarius, Audrey Quetier, Rick Baldwin, Suzie Moncada, Barbara Barry, Maria Richmond, Sara Harary, Carol Robertson, Courtney Tavares, Chris Noel, Dru Ackerman, Harriett Flashenburg and many other kind individuals.

And all those beads that are yet unstrung are already part of a design for their new section.
Without these donations, it would be very difficult to keep building on this project and it certainly would not be nearly as spectacular.

What makes it even better is the recycling aspect: great care is being taken to give all beads a meaningful new life on the Neverending Necklace.

Next in line is a section named "Grandma's Box" - which is literally what these components came from. See the picture below.

"Grandma's Box" donated by Donna Jostiak

This box is a conglomerate of parts, buttons, beads and components that came from the estate of Donna's "Grandmother-In-Law".

I always try to keep lots together, but sometimes I will break them up, depending on the design.

Hold onto your seat, because this collection is eclectic, to say the least, and I have plans to make their section as stunning as possible.

I promise it'll be very nice!