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This month we talk to Jo of ‘Beads Glorious Beads’ about incorporating a bit of creativity into your wedding with the use of her amazing beads – we never knew there were so many wonderful varieties!

Introduction

Beads have been with us for thousands of years, items of adornment and of trade, symbols of status (the ancient Egyptians) and of love.

There has been a huge resurgence in the popularity of beads over the past decade, with women appreciating the options for creativity that playing with beads presents. In addition to fulfilling the need to de-stress in today’s mad world and the urge to play with texture and colour, the process of creating beaded jewellery delivers quite quickly something unique and gorgeous to wear and enjoy.

Glass, precious metal, pearl, semi-precious stone, shell, wood, ceramic, bone, plastic, rubber, yarn, fabric: beads are fashioned all over the world out of almost any substance. Venice is still the home of fabulous hand-made foiled and millefiore treasures, but the Bohemian countryside of the Czech Republic abounds with glass artisans who create little lampwork masterpieces, as well as prodigious quantities of sparkly faceted firepolished and pressed glass beads in numerous shapes and a rainbow of colours. Surely this is the home of the mystical bead elves – but that’s another story!

Swarovski crystals are made in Austria and are famed for their hues and sparkle – they are frequently the bead of choice for brides and their wedding party.

More rustic-looking glass beads are made in India and Indonesia ( Bali silver is famous too), though China is beginning to produce more fine glass beads. China is the home of freshwater pearls which are becoming very popular. These are a delight to incorporate into designs, with their irregular textures and soft colours.

Beads for Weddings

There are so many ways beads can be incorporated into wedding finery, providing a truly individual touch. Lately at Beads Glorious Beads, we’ve seen our beads adorning gowns, wraps, purses, tiaras, hairpins, in garlands for the table and fashioned into tiny flowers as highlights for fresh flower table arrangements.

And all this in addition to necklaces, earrings and bracelets for the wedding party! The perfect finery and gifts – not only for bridesmaids, but also as a lasting and unique thank you to mother, mother-in-law and special friends who may have been contributed specially.

We’ve also hosted some great “girls’ nights out”, where a bride and her bridesmaids come into our studio and take a personalized class in the basics of constructing a necklace, bracelet and earrings, then set about making their own jewellery to complement their dresses.

 

What do I need to make a necklace?

 

A basic necklace consists of the beads of your choice, beading wire, a clasp and crimps to attach the clasp. Although beading tools produce a better result, you can use household pliers and cutters to attach the clasp once you have threaded your beads to the required length. It’s that easy!

Any good bead shop will show you how to do this, and the internet is a mine of information.

How long will it take?  

Once you’ve decided on your design and the beads you want to use, it will only take about half an hour to make your piece – the hardest part is the deciding!

How much does it cost to make a necklace?  

Individual glass beads vary in price from around 10 cents per bead to $20 plus for the finest Venetian – there is a huge range of quality and price in between.

Freshwater pearls can be purchased most economically by the strand, temporarily strung, and cost from $18 to about $60 per strand. One strand can easily be divided to make three or four floating necklaces, a popular and cost-effective wedding option. Floating necklaces have beads crimped in place either individually or in small groups, to give the appearance of floating on a fine wire. Multi-stranded floating necklaces are striking too.

Typically, a completed necklace including all findings (the bits other than the beads) will cost between $10 and $70. Findings can be sterling silver (a more expensive option) or cast metal.

Earrings made with sterling wires will cost around $15 per pair (cheaper wires are available too). A pair of gorgeous Swarovski or Czech rhinestone balls hanging simply from wire or studs will be about $20. Freshwater pearl earrings will be less expensive.

 

Beading for Gowns

Tiny 3mm Swarovski crystals with or without an AB (aurora borealis – shiny, light-reflecting) coating and silver-lined seed beads are the favourites for beading gowns – detail can be created without huge expense. Swarovski sequins are glitzy too.

Some Gift Ideas

Beaded keyrings are a favourite and a good men’s gift (little beaded animals are fun and fine-bead tassels more elegant), pin brooches are easy to make and very effective, and wine glass identifiers (different coloured beaded rings to slip on the bottom of your guests’ wine glasses) are popular too. Someone who wears specs may well appreciate a fine bead-on-silk thread “necklace” to keep their glasses around their neck when not being worn!

Beads Glorious Beads

Incorporating beads into your wedding will bring you joy in unexpected ways – time spent with friends, creating pieces that are totally unique, and an opportunity to take time away from the stresses of planning.

 

So slow down, take some time out and let your creative juices flow …..

Photo credit: All photos included in this article are reproduced with the kind permission of Beads Glorious Beads and Visionworks Photography.