Archive for the ‘Beads’ Category

December Birthstone Charms – Blue Topaz, Tanzanite, Turquoise, Zircon And Ruby

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Birthstones in general are thought to have begun with the biblical breastplate of Aaron (around 1300 B.C.) – a garment set with 12 precious stones – and it is believed that each stone was associated with a zodiac sign (like in Vedic astrology and Ayurvedic medicine). The tradition of associating specific gemstones with particular months is rumored to have begun in Poland in the 1700s, and the list as we know it today here in the US was adopted as a standard by the National Association of Jewelers in 1912.

The Birthstones For December

While most agree on which stone(s) go with which month, there are some variations. For December, the standardized stones in the modern tradition are Tanzanite, Turquoise and Zircon. Some also include Blue Topaz, but in several ancient traditions (as well as Ayurveda), Ruby is the stone for this month. So the December birthstone color is mainly variations of blue, with the blood red ruby as an exception.

As always with gemstones, each birthstone is said to have certain properties, meanings and powers. Here is a little bit of information on each stone (scroll down to the end of the post to see my selection of a few favorite charms incorporating these stones):

Tanzanite

A mineral discovered in Tanzania as late as 1967, Tanzanite (scientifically known as blue Zoisite) didn’t become an official birthstone of December until 2002 (and is the only addition to the original list from 1912). Its natural color is a brownish red, and it takes a good bit of heat to bring out that purple/deep blue color. It was discovered after a wildfire on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro by geologist Manuel D’Souza who brought it to Tiffany & Co’s attention. They re-named the Zoisite “Tanzanite” and brought it to the market with great success. It is a popular, rare and consequently expensive stone – it is only found in Tanzania and once the supply is gone, it’s gone. Tanzanite is also the anniversary gemstone for the 24th year of marriage.

Tanzanite is said to help open the heart and third eye chakras and aid in communication with the spiritual world.

Zircon

The word Zircon derives from the Arabic and means gold and color, and Zircon (not to be confused with cubic zirconia) does come in a variety of colors. Its natural hues are in the brown, orange and red family, but it also comes in green and yellow and, with the help of heat treatment, clear and blue. The clear variety has long been used as a diamond imitation, but today, the most popular hue is blue (a very pretty light pastel aqua color). Zircon can be found in many places around the world (although most are mined in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam), and it is a relatively inexpensive, and very popular, gemstone.

Zircon is an important stone in Ayurvedic medicine, where it is thought to bring wisdom, a noble heart, good luck, joy and wealth. It also relieves pain, helps with sleep problems, and protects the muscles, bones, nerves and organs. I think we can all use one of these! 🙂

Blue Topaz

Pure Topaz is clear as glass, but thanks to a variety of impurities, it also comes in many colors, including red, pink, brown, yellow (November’s birthstone), orange, purple, green and blue. The blue variety is the most popular one, and while it does sometimes occur naturally, the blue color is most often achieved with the help of irradiation (radiation) and heat treatment. The resulting colors range from a pale baby blue (known as Sky Blue) to the crisp Swiss blue to a nice, rich deep, almost teal, blue (called London or Super Blue). Blue Topaz, which is also the anniversary gemstone for the 4th year of marriage, is available in abundance, and as with all gemstones, the price depends on the purity and size of the stone, but in general, it is quite affordable.

Blue Topaz is said to balance one’s emotions, bring mental clarity, truth, abundance, joy and love, and help the third eye’s ability to see at a higher level. Other topaz healing uses include wounds and eating disorders.

Turquoise

Turquoise is one of the oldest known gemstones, used and appreciated for thousands of years, not only for its beauty, but also because it was believed to be a good luck talisman. Turquoise is of course turquoise, and it gets its blue-green color from copper. There are other, less common, variations on the color such as a deeper blue-green and bright green, and the color depends on the chemical composition of the earth where it is formed. The best quality Turquoise is a solid robin’s egg blue with no discolorations or veins, and most of these can be found in Iran and the southwestern part of the US. Turquoise, which is also the 11th wedding anniversary gemstone, is plentiful and affordable.

An important stone in crystal healing, turquoise is thought to protect the (physical) body, help the chi flow and combat depression. It helps with communication and creativity and strengthens the immune system. It is also believed to bring friendship, courage, a long life, happiness and good luck.

Ruby

The popular Ruby is the birthstone for December in the Ayurvedic and Traditional system. In the modern, standardized list of birthstones, it is the stone for July, and it is also the 40th wedding anniversary gemstone as well as the zodiac birthstone for Capricorn. It is the red variety of the mineral corundum (a crystalline form of aluminum oxide) – all other corundum colors are called sapphires. The red color is the result of the (natural) addition of chromium, and colors range from light pink to deep red. Most rubies are heat treated to bring out richer color and more clarity, and the darker the color, the more valuable the stone. It is an expensive gemstone (several thousand dollars per carat for top-notch stones) – a ruby bracelet owned by Marlene Dietrich sold at Sotheby’s in 1992 for $990,000 (it was admittedly jawdroppingly stunning, but still!).

Ruby stimulates the heart chakra and is said to protect the heart from emotional suffering, aid in making wise decisions, promote happiness, a positive outlook, and ideal relationships. It is also thought to help with detoxification, eye problems, heart conditions, remove infections in the blood, reduce nightmares and depression and ward off evil spirits.

Whew, that was a lot of information! Let’s move on to the visual part of this post – my handpicked selection of some of my favorite December birthstone jewelry:

Collage by Charms Guide

1. Sterling silver charm with Turquoise, Rhodonite, Mother-of-Pearl, Sugilite, and Malachite inlay. By Carolyn Pollack

2. Sterling silver and turquoise charm necklace by Dogeared

3. Sterling silver and ruby heart charm from Blue Nile

4. Sterling silver bead charm with silver and Tanzanite heart dangle by Lovelinks® by Aagaard

5. Sterling silver necklace with silver key and Blue Topaz charm by Fifilabonge

6. 14k gold and blue zircon Mother and child charm from Reeds Jewelers

7. 18k gold, topaz and onyx evil eye charm from Links of London USA

8. Charm necklace with gold dipped flower and faceted Blue Topaz from Simply Brie Designs

9. Sterling silver and blue topaz baby shoe charm from Netaya

10. Rose gold, turquoise and Swarowski crystal charm bracelet by Jaidan Designs

All content © Charms Guide

Holiday Gift Guide – Elephant Charms

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Elephants have long been symbols of strength, power, intelligence, wisdom and excellent memory in many cultures across the globe, and in some, they are even deities: India has Ganesh and Airavata, Thailand has Erawan. There are also lots of other beliefs and folklore associated with elephants, and many consider them to be good luck. Some say that is true only if the trunk is up; others claim only white elephants can be considered lucky.

I personally love elephants on everything and think they are all lucky. I never leave the house without my little Ganesh charm – he is said to bring wisdom and remove obstacles, and who can’t use that on a daily basis? I put him on either a necklace, bracelet or just as is in a pocket.

Here is a little roundup of some recent favorite elephant charm finds:

1. Trollbeads Indian elephant charm

2. 14k White, Yellow and Rose Gold Elephant Charm from GiveMeGold Opulent and blingy with cubic zirconias

3. This charm by artist Heidi Gibson is actually a tiny oil painting on canvas! From Charmed By Heidi

4. Good Luck Elephant Charm Necklace from Dogeared

5. “My” Ganesh, from Shanti Boutique Fair Trade Designs

6. Sterling Silver Elephant Charm from Thomas Sabo

7. Elephant cabochon charm in glass and 18k gold plated brass from Anthropologie

8. Elephant Good Luck Leather wrap Charm Bracelet from The Lucky Elephant

Collage by Charms Guide
All content © Charms Guide

Holiday Gift Guide Series – Cupcake Charms

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Chocolate Cupcake Charm Necklace from A Fine Distraction

I don’t think the cupcake craze of the last decade has escaped anybody’s attention. Magnolia Bakery in New York City is usually credited with starting it in the mid 90s, and their creations really rose to fame after being featured in Sex and the City. They are still as popular as ever, and have even gone worldwide: last year, they openend a bakery/store in the Dubai Mall. Tourists from all over the world still flock to the original NYC store as well – I went a few years ago with a friend who was visiting from overseas and had to see it (and eat a cupcake). It’s tiny! But the cupcakes are good.

These days, cupcakes are everywhere: now, there are many bakeries and stores solely devoted to making cupcakes, cupcake caterers, cupcake blogs, cupcake food trucks, cupcake books, wedding cakes, apparel, holiday ornaments, home decor, there is “Cupcake Wars” (an entire show about cupcakes) on Food Network; and what might just take the prize as the trippiest take on the sweet treats ever: cupcake cars from Nieman Marcus. These $25,000 customized motor-driven vehicles – which come with matching hats for the drivers – are surprisingly intended for adults!

There is of course also cupcake jewelry in many forms. Naturally, we are focusing on charms here, and I have put together a collection of some recent favorite finds:

From left to right, starting on row 1:
1. Amore LaVita sterling silver and enamel charm (note the little candle!)
2. Chamilia charm bead
3. CHARM IT! base metal and enamel charm
4. Diva Diamonds Sterling silver and Enamel Charm
5. Juicy Couture14k gold, enamel and rhinestone moveable charm
6. Links of London sterling silver charm
7. Pandora sterling silver and 14k gold charm bead
8. Sweet and Savory Trinkets polymer clay charm
9. Pnut white gold and diamonds charm
10. Rembrandt 14k Yellow Gold and enamel
11. Charming by Ti Sento Rhodium plated sterling silver, cubic zirconia and enamel charm
12. Tiffany 18k white and yellow gold charm with precious stones
13. Tiffany sterling silver and enamel charm
14. Sweet Bling “One Haute Cupcake” charm in 14k white and rose gold
15. Piercing Pagoda Sterling Silver and Enamel Charm
16. Zable sterling silver charm bead

For more gift ideas, check out my Unusual Pendants and Charm Bracelet Charms, Jewelry Men Gifts for Father’s Day and Charmed Bracelets and Necklaces for Mother’s Day posts (and stay tuned for more to come!)

The New Trollbeads Winter Collection Charms And Beads

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Trollbeads just announced their new winter collection which is very much inspired by the upcoming holidays.

The collection consists of:

  • 6 new beads – a mistletoe (which comes in gold and silver), a gold bead with interlinked hearts, a silver teddy bear, a blue glass bead with cubic Zirconias, and a tiger eye glass bead
  • 1 new clasp – sterling silver with a small 18k gold heart

and

  • Two limited edition glass bead sets, one blue, gold and white and one in red, gold and green.

The company also recently released two new additions to their Universal Uniques line – one black and one white glass bead, each set with 13 cubic Zirconias.

There is currently a contest going on, where you can win beads from the winter collection by sending postcards (real ones, not virtual). It does involve quite a bit of work: to enter, you need to register for the contest at Trollbeads Universe, you will then get a special ID number (and a lottery ticket) and the addresses of 5 other Trollbeads fans. Then, you have to go to a Trollbeads store and pick up their official Christmas cards, write a greeting and your ID on them, and send them out to the 5 people whose addresses you received when you registered. So others will be sending you cards as well, and every time you receive one, you need to log onto Trollbeads Universe and record the ID number of the person who sent you the card. This will get you additional lottery tickets. A nice idea since getting cards and letters in the mail is getting increasingly rare.

All photos: Trollbeads Universe

For more, also see the Trollbeads News and the Even More Trollbeads… News posts.

Trollbeads News

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

I don’t know if it’s just the part of the US where I live, but it always seems to me that Trollbeads keep a much lower profile than the other European-style bracelet brands – no flashy billboards or prime time commercials, and way fewer glossy magazine ads. That might change soon though with the recent appointment of Michael Belleveau as the new CEO of Trollbeads USA. He recently said in an interview that he plans to step up the marketing efforts, perhaps introduce Trollbeads to some of the higher-end department stores, and do co-branding with certain fashion labels.

It will be exciting to see where this goes, but in the meantime, there are several new additions to talk about:

Trollbeads recently announced their new fall collection of charms, all in appropriately somberautumn colors. There are 14 new glass beads, 7 silver, 1 gold, 1 tiger eye, and two mixed metal (and one new mixed metal clasp). One of the new silver additions is the “People’s Bead” winner this year, the “Rolling Waves”. It was designed by Denise Tong, inspired by the tsunami that hit Japan this past spring. But rather than a reminder of a disaster, it is intended to remind us to respect nature. And there also is a new upcoming release: a coin bead with the Troll beads logo on one side and an earth and heart design on the other.

Earlier this summer, a brand new line of charms were introduced: the Universal Uniques – a collection of over 100 glass beads. The new beads have a larger core, allowing them to fit not only on Trollbeads bracelets (as is the case with most of the other beads), but other brand’s snake chains as well, like Chamilia, Lovelinks, and Pandora bracelets. Devoted Trollbeads fans have had mixed reactions to this, some saying that the Trollbeads bracelet was the original and they should not modify their products to fit others; others think it’s a smart move and one that will allow for greater variety to the end user. I think both sides have good points, but ultimately, I have to agree with the pro-side. I think it’s great that those who want to stick with their “other brand” bracelet now have even more choices.

Universal Uniques

Come October, there will be two new ring sets with beads available. The “Strength, Courage and Wisdom ” sets come with either a rose ribbon or pink prism bead, and a portion of the proceeds go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The pink prism bead is an original design by Lise Aagaard, retired in 2007, but back now for a short time.

And, coming up later this month (September 23-24), the second annual TrollbeadsFest is being held in New Bedford, MA. Highlights include an entire table of retired Trollbeads, the opportunity to see a glass bead being made, and visits from Danish jewelry designers Kim Buck and Eske Storm as well as last year’s People’s Bead winner Kristi Denning.

For more and the company history, check out my earlier Troll beads post. Also see the Even More Trollbeads…. News and The New Trollbeads Winter Collection posts.

New Chamilia Bracelets And Beads

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

It’s not just the Pandora charm people who stay busy during the summer. Chamilia has made several new exciting announcements recently.

Swarovski
In a recent collaboration with Swarovski, they created 205 new silver charm beads, all set with Swarovski crystals. They will be available in Swarovski stores starting in August, and prices will range from $30 to around $100.

Siena
There is also another new group of beads and bracelets, the “Siena Collection”. It consists of 24 silver beads and charms with Murano glass and Swarovski crystals in autumn-like reds, greens and browns and a whole new style of snake chain bracelets called Terrazzo. The bracelets are made with tiny beads and come in silver ($160) and mixed gold (which consists of silver, yellow and rose gold beads and retails for around $1,200). There are also Terrazzo necklaces (same type of design) which sell for $250 and $2,500, respectively.

Miss Chamilia
The new Miss Chamilia collection consists of twelve silver beads with purple, turquoise, white and pink crystals, and three gorgeous Murano glass beads in blues and pinks.

Sojourn
At JCK Las Vegas (at the beginning of June), Chamilia announced a whole brand new line ofjewelry called the “Sojourn Collection”, to be released in the fourth quarter of 2011. Sojourn will consist of bracelets, rings and “accents” – interchangeable gemstone pieces (citrine, peridot, amethyst, etc.) that are clasped onto the rings and bracelets.

The design has definitely been taken in a new direction with this collection: sterling silver mesh bracelets, mesh hammered and fluted sterling silver rings, and pinstripe leather bracelets. Each piece will be sold individually, and prices are set at $50 to $95 for the accents, $75 for the leather bracelets, $100 for the rings and $200 for the silver bracelets.

Photo: Higashi Pearls & Fine Jewelry

All this hard work has not gone unnoticed: In June, Camilla’s founders, Killian Rieder and Jeff Julkowski received a very special recognition: the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award (for the Upper Midwest region).

Fall always bring new, fun designs to the market, and I have to say that Chamilia’s new lineup does not disappoint. I love what I’ve seen so far.

All photos: Chamilia (unless otherwise noted)

Charm Beads And Beads With Charms

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

What is the difference between charm beads and beads with charms? Charm hangers and charm holders? What are charm drops and charm carriers? It’s time for another terminology post to help bring some clarity to these terms, which are often used interchangeably, making searching for them somewhat of a challenge at times. To see the description of the pictures, hover over them with your mouse. To see a picture larger, click on it – it will open in a new window.

The term charm bead usually refers to a bead bead, the kind you find on a European-style charm bracelet (i.e. Lovelinks, Troll beads, Bacio, Chamilia beads, Pandora bracelets, etc.).

Beads with charms can mean either beads beads with a dangly part (a.k.a. dangle beads or dangle charms), or a bead bracelet (or necklace) with charms. You can find the European-style “beads with charms” ready-made (like the Pandora charm pictured on the left here), or you can get a charm hanger and make one yourself.

Charm hangers (sometimes also called charm hanger beads, charm drops, bead bails, and sometimes charm holders) are European-style beads in various sizes. They can be just thin disks or inch-long tubes, all have a little loop on the bottom where you attach your charm(s). Since most have pretty large center holes in order for them to fit on all (or most) European-style brands, they also work great on necklaces, either homemade or bought (provided the clasp is small enough that you can get the charm hanger over it). I personally really like leather charm necklaces, and you can fit several strands of leather (or any string or thin chain you want obviously) through one charm hanger, which creates a great multi-strand look.

I touched on charm holders briefly in the “Pendants…” post, but here is a more thorough explanation: They are usually round or oblong thin loops (in gold or silver, or plated) with a pretty design and a little opening mechanism up top so that you can open it and slide charms onto the holder. They are intended to be put on necklaces (they don’t work on bracelets, they are too big) and are confusingly sometimes also referred to as charm hangers

Charm drops, as we saw earlier, can be the same thing as charm hanger beads, but you often see the term refer simply to hanging charms as well. The charm drop in the photo on the left is from Rembrandt charms.

Charm carriers are very similar to charm hangers, but they usually come in two designs: for use on either necklaces or European-style bracelets. The ones for bracelets have the exact same design as the charm hangers, and the ones for necklaces have a ring up top (which slides onto the necklace), a design in the middle, and a loop on the bottom where you attach the charms. The Thomas Sabo charm one pictured here is intended for use on a necklace.

I hope I have helped to shed some light on the actual products behind these terms and made it a bit easier to shop for them.