Monday, May 26, 2008

Birthstones for Hour of the Month

One method of determining your birthstone is to assign it based on the hour in which you were born. This numerological method requires that you know the exact hour of your birth. Remember to take Daylight Saving Time into account, if it applies to you.

1 (midnight until 1 am) -- Quartz
2 -- Hematite
3 -- Malachite
4 -- Lapis Lazuli
5 -- Turquoise
6 -- Tourmaline
7 -- Chrysolite (Peridot)
8 -- Amethyst
9 -- Kunzite
10 -- Sapphire
11 -- Garnet
12 (noon until 1 pm or 13:00) -- Diamond
13 -- Zircon
14 -- Emerald
15 -- Beryl
16 -- Topaz
17 -- Ruby
18 -- Opal
19 -- Sardonyx
20 -- Chalcedony
21 -- Jade
22 -- Jasper
23 -- Lode
24 -- Onyx

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Beaded Crystal Heart

Use crystals, firepolish beads, pearls, or combinations of beads to make a stunning heart pendant or charm. You can weave a flat heart or make two and join them to make a three-dimensional or puffed heart.

Skill Level - Easy-Intermediate. It's easy if you're comfortable working two threads at once (cross weaving).

Time Required - 15 minutes - 1 hour, depending on complexity of heart.

Beads - I used 4-mm Czech firepolish beads, but Swarovski bicones or round pearls or even seed beads work nicely. Experiment using seed beads at the ends of crystals, both as a design element and to protect your stringing material.

Stringing Material - I used clear nylon fishing line. Colored wire looks cool with very sharp crystals. Powerpro is another good choice for sharp crystals. Nymo will work for pearls and other opaque beads.

You can create a lot of different looks based on this design depending on your choice of beads and stringing material and on whether you choose to use a single heart or combine two hearts. All of my beads are the same color, but it's easy to introduce color as a design element.

The heart shape is made using cross weaving, which is the technique used in my Hugs & Kisses Ring (string) and Autumn Leaves Necklace (wire) tutorials. Cut about 2 feet or half a meter of your stringing material. Thread three beads onto the cord or wire and allow them to slide toward the center of the line. The fourth bead is your crossover bead. One end of the thread passes through the hole of the bead from left to right (or top to bottom) and the other end of the thread goes into the bead from right to left (or bottom to top). If you study the thread path, you will see that you are working the heart on its diagonal, making a series of crosses. Then you pick up the top bead of the heart and work the downward diagonal. When you have completed the heart you can tie a knot and run the thread back through the pattern to hide the ends (or if you are using wire, simply run back through the pattern a ways). You can even make the heart using a single thread if you really prefer it.

The firepolish heart shown in my top photo is what you get if you weave the basic 2-dimensional heart. If you use tight tension, the tops of the heart will puff out a bit and the beads will turn toward each other. A looser tension will result in a flat heart. For a 3-dimensional flat heart, make two hearts, lay one on top of the other, and string them together at the edges. For a puffed heart, make two hearts using a relatively tight tension and then lace the two hearts together with edging beads, as shown in this diagram. If you lace two hearts together to make the puffed heart, you will have a single bead at the 'dip' in the top of the heart. It's easy to run a jump ring or make a loop of seeds beads through this bead so that you can make your heart into a pendant or charm.You could hang a single flat heart from its stringing material in the dip, but the connection will be more secure if you run wire or beads through the two 'dip' beads or the two top beads. For a bracelet or anklet, consider joining the heart to a beaded band using the two beads on each side of the heart. So pretty! Make them in crystal and red and pink and white pearls and crystal with contrasting cord... perfect for Valentine's Day or 'just because'.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Beaded Spiral Rope Chain

This easy stitch results in a flexible rope of beads. The spiral rope looks lovely by itself, but it is also easy to embellish either during the beadweaving or after the rope is complete.

Skill Level - suitable for beginners

Time Required - depends on length of chain


Beads - In this example, I used size 11 Matsunos, but use any size or shape. The inner core beads must have a hole wide enough for 4 thread/needle passes.

Thread - I used size D Nymo, but I think a lightweight Fireline or PowerPro would be stronger and still flexible. I use size B Nymo when I make a rope with size 15 seed beads.

Needle - A size 10 beading needle works for size 11 beads, but you will want a smaller needle if you use smaller beads.

Thread Nippers - As always, I used my trusty flush cutters.

I like to work with a long length of thread so that I can complete the chain without adding new thread. If your thread is fairly thick, it can be tricky adding new lengths while working. On the other hand, if your thread is thin, the resulting rope may be weak. The thread only passes through the beads in the spiral once!

With these considerations in mind, cut a length of thread (mine was about 5 feet or about 1.5 meters), condition it with beeswax or Threadheaven (optional), and thread your needle. String on 4 core beads (gold) and 3 spiral beads (blue). Allow the beads to slide down to within 6-12" of the end. You will use this thread to attach a clasp or to join it to some other work. Pass the needle through the 4 core beads, entering from the tail end (as in photo, tail is 'down', working end is 'up'). Avoid piercing your thread.

Here's what results from the first thread pass. You will have spiral beads (blue) alongside the core beads (gold).

String on 1 core bead and 3 spiral beads. Let them slide down to your work. Pass the needle up through the last 4 core beads (3 old and 1 new), as shown in the photo, from tail end toward the working end. Don't pass through any spiral beads.

Here's what you get. You simply repeat the previous step over and over (and over and over) until your spiral reaches the desired length. The rows of spiral beads will start to line up with each other, as seen in the next pass/photo.

Add 1 core/3 spiral and pass through the last 4 core beads (1 old, 3 new). Feel free to experiment with types of beads and also the number of beads used for the outer spiral (e.g., use 4 spiral beads instead of 3). You can use 2 or 3 colors of spiral beads instead of just one. Also, try using different sizes of beads for the core and spiral. You can intersperse sections of spiral rope with larger beads or other stitches. More advanced beaders may enjoy working fringe or flowers on the spiral or adding embellishment to a completed spiral. I made a simple necklace with the spiral by adding a large bead at one end of the chain and a loop of beads at the other end.

For beginners, here's an explanation of how to add a bead and loop closure, string an 8-mm bead and a seed bead, pass back into the 8-mm bead, run through the work a bit, backtrack through the 8-mm and seed bead, back through the 8-mm, weave back into work. Stitch from the chain through the 8-mm/seed bead as many times as you can to make the connection as strong as possible. Weave back into the work a ways and cut your thread. At the other end, string on seed beads to make a loop that just barely fits around the 8-mm bead. Weave back into the work, back through the loop, back into the work, through the loop, etc., until no more passes are possible or the work is secure. Cut the thread. Enjoy!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Gold Jewelry Care Tips

Gold jewelry is beautiful and popular. Gold comes in many styles and colors, but all gold jewelry will benefit from some tender, loving care!

Care Tips for All Gold Jewelry
  • Don't wear your gold jewelry while bathing or cleaning. Soap won't harm gold, but it will leave a filmy residue that will coat karat gold jewelry, causing it to appear less lustrous and dingy. If you prevent the film from forming, it will be easier to keep your jewelry beautiful and will reduce cleaning time and effort.

  • Avoid chlorine! Don't wear gold jewelry in the pool or hot tub or when using chlorine bleach or cleaners. Chlorine reacts with gold, particularly at high temperatures. Exposure to chlorine can permanently damage and discolor your gold jewelry.

  • Use a chamois cloth to clean gold jewelry. A chamois cloth is a gentle, safe material for returning the luster to your jewelry.

  • Avoid storing or otherwise exposing gold jewelry to hard, abrasive materials. Gold is a very soft metal, easily scratched even by rubbing against other jewelry.
Special Cleaning Tips for Gold Jewelry - Without Gemstones

If your gold jewelry has gemstones, consult a jeweler for cleaning recommendations. Gemstones have special care requirements. The stones or settings may be damaged by the cleaning methods listed below.
  • Tarnish can be removed with a commercial jewelry cleaner or with soap and water with a few drops of ammonia. Brush the cleaning solution into the gold with a small brush (a toothbrush works well). After you have finished cleaning, simply rinse the gold with lukewarm water and allow it to dry.

  • Grease can be removed from gold by dipping it into ordinary rubbing alcohol.

  • Ultrasonic cleaners may be appropriate for some gold jewelry. Ask a jeweler to advise you before using this method, since certain pieces can be damaged by this cleaning method.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Gemstone Treatments & Enhancements

What is a Gemstone Treatment or Enhancement?

A gemstone treatment or enhancement refers to the method used to alter a gemstone, permanently or temporarily, to improve to improve its durability or appearance. Here is a list of treatment names and symbols used by the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA). A reputable seller will always disclose the method of enhancement, if known. Be aware that failure to identify known enhancement of gemstones is an unfair trade practice. The Federal Trade Commission also requires sellers (including jewelry stores) to disclose whether or not a stone is man-made or synthetic. Many stores engage in a sort of don't-ask-don't-tell scenario, where they buy gems without asking about enhancements. Sometimes gems are purposely misrepresented. Also, sometimes treatments of imported gems or older gems are unknown. Enhancements may affect the value of certain stones, so use this information as a guide when asking questions about gems.

Assembled items are made of multiple layers of materials or combinations of manufactured and/or natural materials. Examples include opal triplets and mosaics.

Bleaching is the use of chemical agents to lighten or to remove a gemstone’s color. Be aware that many pearls and mother-of-pearl are placed in sunlight for extended periods of time to lighten their color. This non-chemical form of bleaching still affects the durability of a pearl's nacre. Bleaching is a permanent treatment.

Coating is a surface enhancement applied to improve a gem's appearance, provide color, or contribute other special effects.

Dyeing is the application of coloring matter into a gemstone to give it a new color, intensify its present color, or improve its color uniformity. Dyes and natural gemstone colors may both be adversely affected by prolonged exposure to sunlight or fluoresent light.

The 'enhancement' code indicates that the type of gemstone is routinely enhanced. Many enhancements are difficult or impractical to prove, so a supplier may simply assume that such enhancement has been done to the particular gemstone material being described. If the specific type of enhancement is known, its enhancement symbol will be stated.

Filled gems are characterized by the presence of solidified borax or other colorless substance produced as a by-product of heat enhancement. The results are visible under properly illuminated 10x magnification.

Gamma or Electron Irradiated
Gamma and/or electron bombardment may be used to alter a gemstone’s color. Gamma or electron irradiation may be followed by a heating process.

Heat may be used to alter color, clarity, and/or other gem aspects. This is a gemstone treatment that has been used for centuries, possibly dating back to the Roman Empire. The results of heating are permanent under normal conditions. Usually, heating is not detectable. Unheated rubies and sapphires may contain microscopic rutile needles or tiny gas bubbles in pockets of liquid that can be used to determine that these stones have not been heated. If these gems are the finest color, they will command premium prices. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, assume the following gems are heated: rubies, sapphires, tanzanite, citrine, pink topaz, aquamarine, blue zircon, and colorless zircon.

Infilling is the intentional filling of cavities or fractures with glass, plastic, opticon with hardeners, and/or hardened foreign substances. Infilling is performed to improve durability and/or appearance of a gem and/or add weight.

Imitation gems are man-made products, fabricated using materials such as glass, ceramics, and/or plastics. Imitation gems resemble the appearance of a natural gemstone, but not duplicate its characteristic properties.

Lasering is the use of lasers and chemicals to reach and alter inclusions in gemstones, most notable diamonds. Lasering results in a visible trail that can be detected by a trained professional.

Natural stones are gems which are not known to be enhanced.

Oiled or Resin Infused
Oiling or resin infusion is the intentional filling of surface-breaking cavities of a colorless oil, wax, natural resin, or unhardened man-made material into fissured transparent/translucent gemstones. Oiling is performed to improve a gem's appearance (e.g., as for emeralds). Although unoiled emeralds can be found, they are unusual and neither more nor less valuable than oiled gems. When rough emerald is mined it is often placed into oil. When emeralds are cut, oil is used as a lubricant.

Irradiation refers to the use of neutrons with the combination of any other bombardment and/or heat treatment to alter a gem’s color.

Stabilized or Bonded
Bonding or stabilization is use of a colorless bonding agent, such as plastic, with a porous gemstone. The procedure is intended to enhance durability and/or appearance.

Synthetic gems are man-made materials which have essentially the same optical, physical, and chemical properties as the natural counterpart.

Diffusion is the use of chemicals in conjunction with high temperatures to produce color and/or asterism (star-like inclusions). Diffusion is not a generally accepted gemstone treatment, since only a slight layer is actually treated. Therefore, if the surface is chipped or abraded, it cannot be repolished without removing the effect.

Waxed or Oiled
Waxing or oiling is the impregnation of a colorless wax, paraffin, and/or oil in porous opaque gemstones to improve their appearance.

Chinese Dragon - Free Beading Pattern

This pattern for the loom or square stitch makes a 200x150 (30,000) bead panel, which could be used for a purse or a wall hanging. To use the pattern, right-click on the image and save or print the pattern, enlarged (200% or 400%) so that you can see the invidivual pixels (beads). I didn't list bead colors because the beads you use are going to be determined by what you have on hand. You'll want to condense the colors, I'm sure. I recommend using primarily opaque beads for this project. If you bead it, by all means please send me a photo of your finished project. It's my favorite Chinese or Eastern dragon, but I never seem to have a few shades of pink and several of pale aqua needed to complete it. The original dragon was a jpg file someone sent me that I played with in an image processor. If you recognize this dragon (it's changed quite a lot, but still...), please send me information about its origin. I'd very much like to credit the artist. Enjoy!
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Hugs & Kisses Beaded Ring - Free Beading Pattern

This beaded ring is made with two sizes of beads and either wire or stringing material. The design works up more quickly and is more uniform if you use two needles (or wires), but it can be accomplished using single needle right angle weave, if desired. You can vary types and numbers of beads, colors, and embellishments to make many different-looking rings based on the same design.

Skill Level
Suitable for beginners. More experienced jewelry makers may enjoy playing with color and embellishments.

Time Required
Approximately 30 minutes.

Size 11 Seed Beads: I used Matsuno for the red/gold ring and Delicas for the hematite ring

4-mm Czech Firepolish Beads: Try rounds or other sizes too
Stringing Material: I used 10# PowerPro, but other threads or wire work

Ring Mandrel (Optional): Use to make rings of specific sizes

Wire Cutters or Thread Nippers: Try kiddie Fiskars for PowerPro

Cut about a half meter (1-1/2 feet) of stringing material or wire. It's more than you will need, but it's good to have extra length so you can keep a tight working tension. I recommend #8 or #10 PowerPro, since you can pass it through the ring a second time to reinforce it and because I have never had a ring break yet using it. Unless you are using wire, thread both ends of your needle (I used size 10's with the Power Pro). String an odd number of seed beads and let them fall to the center of the thread. I used 5 Matsunos or 7 Delicas. You can vary this number, but you want it to go at least halfway around your main beads, otherwise thread will show.

Cross your needles or wire through a main bead (4-mm Czech in photo). Pull it tight, with your beads are in the middle of the string.

String 3 Delicas onto each needle. Cross your needles through another small bead and pull the thread tight (total of 7, or whatever number you used in the first step, with half on each side plus a crossing bead).

Are you starting to see a pattern here? Add three small beads to each side and cross through a large bead. Pull tight. You don't need to strong-arm it, especially if you are going to go through the design a second time, but you do want a nice tight weave.

Add three small beads to each side and cross through an additional bead. Add three beads to each side and cross through a big bead. This motif with three larger beads covers the top of my finger, so I tend to start the band of the ring after this point. However, you can make only 1 motif or 5 motifs or do the ring in this design all the way around. Pick the design that suits your taste and comfort.

There are many possibilities for making the band. I have shown a band where you add three small beads to each side, cross through 2 at once, add 3 each side, cross through 2, until you reach the desired length. You could have 3 each side, cross through 1 or 2 each side, cross through 1... whatever you like.

When the ring is long enough (wrap it around your finger or a mandrel to check it), cross the last motif through the middle bead at the end of the ring (where you started!). Be sure to avoid twisting the design. Tie a knot or twist your wire and hide the ends.

I like to weave through the entire ring once more, tying knots every so often. If you weave through a second time, expect the finished ring to tighten/stiffen a bit. Going through the design a second time offers a great opportunity to embellish the design by adding extra beads, particularly over/under the 'crossing' beads. Reinforcing the weave isn't a big deal with smooth beads, but if you try this design with sharp-edge beads (e.g., Swarovski, bugles) you may appreciate the extra security. Clip the ends of the thread or wire and enjoy your new ring!

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Abstract Volcano Beadwork Pattern

Abstract Volcano makes a stunning pendant or pin. Feel free to experiment with different fringes. I like this pattern beaded in matte translucent beads (use white or gray thread), but opaque beads (use black thread) work well too. The finished size I cited is for Delicas. Of course, other beads can be used, but expect both the width and height to change.

Basic Information

Loom or Square Stitch
Width: 20 beads (21 warps)
Height: 40 beads
Bead Count: 800 total
Finished Size About 1" x 2-1/2" using Delicas

Deep Orange
Light Orange
Lime Green
Cornflower Blue

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Whirlpool Brickstitch Beading Pattern

This diamond-shaped abstract whirlpool pattern makes an unforgettable pendant or it can be stitched to a pin back to make a brooch. If you run a thread around the outer edge you can pull the diamond into a three-dimensional domed form.

Skill Level
Beginner through Intermediate

Time Required
hours - possible to complete in a weekend

60 beads tall; 30 beads wide
1-3/4" x 3" using Delicas


Thread: I used gray Nymo D.

Beading Needles: I used size 10s.

Thread Conditioner: Thread Heaven or beeswax, optional.

Scissors or Snippers: I used my wire flush cutters.

Beads: You can work this design with any beads, but keep in mind the finished dimensions will change. I worked the example using Delicas. The first color is the one shown in my pattern, followed by the Delica I used. If I saw another color that would also have worked well, that is listed next:

Delica DB167 Rainbow Opaque Power Blue or DB165 Rainbow Opaque Royal Blue

Light Green:
DB166 Rainbow Opaque Kelly Green

Sky Blue:
DB164 Rainbow Opaque Turquoise

Pink/Light Purple:
DB56H Inside Color Cranberry AB Hex or DB158 Rainbow Opaque Lavender Cream

Dark Green:
DB918H Inside Color Turquoise Hex or DB112 Sea Blue Luster

Start with the widest row using ladder stitch or whatever your personal preference is for starting brick stitck. Work one half of the pattern, then the other. I replaced the top and bottom blue beads with 4-mm blue crystals and ran a coated beading wire through the outside beads to add stability to the design and to use it as the focal point of a pearl necklace. If you use Matsunos or Czech beads instead of Delicas, your diamond will be somewhat shorter and wider.

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How to Tell Real Pearls from Fake Pearls

There are real pearls and then there are fake pearls. If you are buying pearls, you may be able to identify fake pearls by their name: simulated, faux, glass, plastic, resin, artificial, manmade. Genuine pearls come in a variety of 'flavors'. There are natural pearls and cultured pearls. Real pearls may come from freshwater or saltwater and from a variety of molluscs (not just oysters). To further confuse things, there are also shell pearls and genuine pearls which have had treatments applied to them, such as coatings or faceting. Before you buy or sell pearls, you need to know whether they are real or not. Here are some ways to tell them apart. After the list, I'll tell you more about the tests, including how reliable they are. I cannot begin to count the number of times I have known jewelry stores to incorrectly identify pearls as real or faux! Do not assume that a person at a jewelry store can identify your pearls. If you really need to ID your pearls, take them to a certified professional.

  • The Destructive Test
  • X-rays
  • The Tooth Test
  • The Sun Test
  • Magnification
  • Other Visual Clues
  • Density
  • Hole Characteristics
  • The Settings


If you cut a pearl open, you will see its true nature. Natural pearls are comprised of layer upon layer of nacre. Cultured pearls have a shell (mother-of-pearl) core covered with a thin layer of nacre (generally no more than half a millimeter, usually much thinner). Fake pearls have a core with one or more layers of coating applied to them, which tends to flake away from the core upon cutting. Cutting a pearl reveals the nature of its drill hole, if present. Of course, you need to be able to tell pearl-colored glass from shell in order to do this test (plastic and resin are easier to discern). Also, you'll destroy the pearl. It isn't recommended.


If you really need to know whether or not your pearls are real or fake or whether they are natural or cultured, you are going to have to pay someone, preferably a certified gemologist, to x-ray them for you. An x-ray will show the inside of the pearl, including variations in its density, the presence or absence of a parasite that might have caused the formation of a natural pearl, and the characteristic shapes of drill holes, if present.

The Tooth Test

Let me preface my remarks by stating an important point: This test is NOT reliable! To use the tooth test, you rub the surface of the pearl over your teeth. Supposedly a real pearl feels gritty while a faux pearl feels smooth. The premise behind the test is valid: Real pearls are made up of layers of nacre that are deposited rather like sand on a beach. The slight waves and irregularities in the nacre can produce a gritty or bumpy feeling against the teeth. On the other hand, many synthetic nacres are applied smoothly onto perfectly smooth beads. These pearls would feel smooth against the teeth. The test is pretty good for distinguishing rare natural pearls from glass pearls, but it isn't as good at identifying cultured pearls, which have fewer layers of nacre and may feel more smooth. If the pearls are dyed, the dye can fill in natural depressions in the pearls, making them feel smooth. Also, some synthetic pearls are made to look and feel like real pearls. Mabe pearls may have a protective coating applied to them, which makes them smooth even though they may be genuine. The formulation of the nacre can closely resemble that of real pearls. The nacre could be applied to a natural base, like a shell bead, making this test completely unreliable. The tooth test is a nice test, but don't base your judgement of authenticity on this test alone. If you think it's reliable, I swear I could find pearls that would fool you, both real and faux.

The Sun Test

This is my favorite test. It involves taking your pearls out into the sun or holding them under very bright indoor lighting. Unless they are very expensive, genuine pearls won't be perfectly matched under the sun. You will be able to see variations in their iridescence (orient) and color. If the pearls are perfectly matched for color and overtones, they are most probably fake. If you are buying pearls from a seller who offers pearls that are perfectly matched, the cost of a gemologist certificate (for a gemologist of your choice, not his) is a minimal part of the investment. It costs about $150 to have pearls tested, as opposed to several thousands of dollars for the type of pearls that warrant the test.


As is true with diamonds, magnification reveals a lot about the quality of a pearl. You can see the characteristic ridges and irregularities of real pearls or the grainy smoothness of fakes. You can examine drill holes to see the interface between the nacre and what lies beneath it. You can read any writing on the clasp or setting.

Other Visual Clues

Fakes tend to look 'flat' in comparison to the real thing. There are exceptions, of course, with beautiful simulated pearls made by Swarovski and other manufacturers. Real pearls tend not to be perfect and may have bands in their nacre, bumps, ridges, or pits. They vary in size and shape from one to another. Genuine pearls may have concentric ridged circles around them, which inexperienced people may take for marks from molding of a fake (which is seen in the exact middle of all the pearls on strands of some faux pearls). Real pearls come in many shapes, but they tend not to be perfectly round, so a perfect sphere should be suspect. Expensive genuine pearls may be round, but you will have other clues to help you make a determination. Some fakes are made to look irregular, and glass pearls often have flattened ends or slightly oval shapes. In addition to visual clues, genuine pearls tend to warm to the skin much faster than glass pearls. Resin or plastic pearls tend to feel somewhat warm upon first contact.


Density is the mass of an object as a function of its volume. Real pearls are heavier for their size than plastic, resin, or hollow glass pearls. Good glass fakes will have the same density are real pearls. Light pearls are fake - you can't tell real from faux on the basis of density alone if the pearls are heavy.

The Drill Holes

Real pearls tend to be drilled from both sides, to meet in the center. If you could see the cross section of the pearl, the hole may appear wider at the outside edge of the pearl than at the center (which can make stringing poorly-drilled pearls very challenging and is one reason many people won't restring pearls that they didn't sell). Holes of real pearls tend to be as small as possible (with some exceptions), since the weight of a pearl affects its price (more hole means less weight and lower value). Inexpensive real pearls may be lower in cost because the drill holes are not completely straight. Fake pearls often have larger, possibly straighter holes than real pearls. Some fakes are made to have smaller holes, so that they can be knotted like their genuine counterparts. Inexpensive fakes may have holes of widely variable sizes on a single strand.

The nacre of fake pearls is more likely to flake away near the drill hole than on a cultured pearl (it won't flake on a natural pearl). Either the flaking or the sight of a clear inner bead may clue you in to a fake. Most fakes have pearl-colored centers, so the center color may not help you. The holes of fake pearls often form a shallow bowl shape, while the holes of real pearls are more likely to be flat. Examining the hole is also a good way to detect signing of dyeing.

The Setting

If you see the Mona Lisa in someone's home, you can be pretty sure it isn't the original piece of artwork. Similarly, you can gain valuable clues about a pearl's authenticity by looking at its surroundings. In a finished necklace or bracelet, real pearls are more likely to have knots between each pearl than faux pearls. Real pearls are more likely to have settings of gold, silver, or platinum than faux pearls. You can examine clasps for stamps or engravings in the metal or for magnetism (indicating the clasp or setting contains iron as opposed to a precious metal). Clasps tend to have safety mechanisms, like fish hooks, but some real pearls are sold with other types of clasps, usually as an accomodation for a person who would have difficulty opening/closing the more secure clasp. However, insecure clasps are not usually seen on good pearls. It isn't a hard-and-fast rule. Some fakes have high quality settings. Some genuine pearls have cheap settings. Even so, the setting can provide clues to help you reach a conclusion.

Setting Sun Bracelet - Free Loom or Square Stitch Pattern

Here's a vibrant abstract pattern for a loom or square stitch bracelet. It works up quickly and you can easily alter the edges of the pattern to lengthen or shorten it. Alternatively, you could use it as a center panel for a choker.

Skill Level: Beginner and Beyond

Time Required: 1/2 - 1 hour

Completed Dimensions

840 beads total
12 beads (13 warps) wide
70 beads long
approx. 3/4" x 5" using Delicas; somewhat longer using Matsunos or Czech size 11s
adjust the length by adding or subtracting rows; remember that a clasp will add 1-2 inches to your length


Deep Purple Seed Beads
Orange Seed Beads
Red Seed Beads
Magenta Seed Beads
Yellow Seed Beads

The type of beads you use will determine the dimensions of your bracelet. The effect will be determined by the bead finish. You'll get the best contrast using opaque beads. Try rainbow finished (iris) beads for the sun's rays.

Beading Thread
Use your favorite thread. My personal preference is to use black Nymo D because the black isn't seen using opaque beads and the 'D' is strong enough to survive the wear and tear endured by a bracelet.

Unless you are doing square stitch, of course.

Beading Needles
Either for doing square stitch or else weaving in warp threads for a loomed piece. I use size 10 beading needles.

Scissors or Nippers
Or perhaps your wire cutters, if they are handy.

Not shown. Your choice of clasp will affect the length of your bracelet.

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All Info About Jewelrymaking & Alternative Medicine

I wrote articles and tutorials for All Info About for a few years, until the Network essentially dissolved back in January of this year. They were great people... I enjoyed the experience. I got my content when the sites went down, but I haven't put it back online anywhere. This seems like as good a place as any. I'm not returning the AIA Chemistry information... I never really liked directly competing with About Chemistry, but I'll start adding the Jewelrymaking and Alternative Medicine articles here.
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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Skates & Rays

We went to Ripley's Aquarium for Mother's Day. There were quite a few people there, but not as crowded as I would have expected. Touching the sharks, skates, and rays is always my favorite part of visiting there. This photo is taken from the bottom of the observation tank.
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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sam & Patsy at the Beach

Here's a photo taken at Myrtle Beach State Park. If you haven't been there, get a park pass and check it out. In addition to the beach, you can go out onto the pier. There is a nice wooded area for picnics. If you forgot your bodyboard or sunscreen or need something cool to drink, there is a shop right over the water.
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Monday, May 5, 2008

Sunset in Hawaii

How about a break from the Atlantic to look at the Pacific? Here's a photo I took in Hawaii last year, in Kona. This beach is lah a'loa, or 'very sacred'. This part is good for bodyboarding when the tide is lower... not the part in the picture... that is all volcanic rock. I'm standing on a clear beach taking the photo. Nearby is excellent snorkeling.

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Sunday, May 4, 2008


Meez 3D avatar avatars games
I update my Meez to reflect my mood, holidays, etc. Pretty fun.

Myrtle Beach State Park

Today's beachy photo comes from Myrtle Beach State Park. You can never have too many pictures of the beach. Never.

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Saturday, May 3, 2008

Atlantic Ocean

Almost all of my photos are of the beach in South Carolina, but not many feature just water and sky. Here's a pic taken somewhere along the Grand Strand in April 2008.

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Backyard Sunrise

Since the coffee hadn’t hit my system when I saw this, I could convince myself the dew on the grass was a sprinkling of frost or snow. Opening the door and actually going outside sorta dispelled the illusion.
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