Winter Gem Show Adventures, Day 1

Virginia friends, have you been missing Emma Moore from our Falls Church store?  Don’t worry, she’ll be back soon — and with some beautiful new gems for you!

This week, a group of Beadazzled experts is off to a special winter gem show, and Emma is guest blogging their adventures:

First stop was the African Art Village where we found these amazing beaded chairs.


Yes, those really are beads making those beautiful patterns on the chairs.

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What We’re Watching / What We’re Wearing: Claire Underwood, HOUSE OF CARDS

This February 27th, Netflix will roll out season three of House of Cards — but you already knew that.  You’re probably counting down the days; we certainly are!  So we have a little something to help with this final month of waiting.  Read on for a close look at the beautiful Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) in all her ruthless glory!

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Victorian-era jewelry motifs

In celebration of our Baltimore location’s upcoming Victorian Trunk Show, we are happy to feature guest blogger Cas Webber today.  Cas is the manager of our Baltimore store and has researched Victorian fashion trends in preparation for her show, which runs Jan 30-Feb 15 at our Baltimore location.  Now she is sharing her knowledge with us so we can enjoy the significance of what we get at the trunk show!

Victorian-Era Jewelry Motifs: a brief history

Spanning over the last two thirds of the 19th century, Queen Victoria reigned from 1837-1901 and it was during this time the world witnessed great tragedies, revolutionary inventions, epic romances, and prosperity. The beautiful jewels created during the Victorian Era reflected the vast changing times and can be divided within three classic periods: The Romantic, The Grand, and The Aesthetic.

Design by Dawn Pietrusko

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Bead Dictionary: Ashanti Gold

The Ashanti people, also called Asante, are members of the Akan group who have long ruled Ghana and parts of neighboring countries in West Africa. Gold was extremely important, and prolifically used, in Ashanti culture. Early European explorers reported extensive use of gold: as thread in textiles; hammered and applied to furniture; forged and cast into ornaments of all kinds.

Lost-wax cast beads from Ghana. Robert K. Liu

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Books and Beads: Americanah

Hello, Beadazzlers!  This is Natalie writing.  Up to now we’ve made this blog all about beads and jewelry — but now I want to try something a bit more personal.  After all, jewelry is very intimate (waist beads especially exemplify this).  It lies against our skin, picks up and holds the warmth of our bodies, and carries memories and sentimental feelings only we know.

So to me it seems fitting to connect beads to another personal passion: reading.

In this new series I’ll* write about connections between jewelry and literature, posting whenever I read (or re-read) a book that inspires bead-related thoughts.

[*But if you’d like to be a guest blogger for this series, email me.  See footer.]

Today I’m all about Americanah, the latest novel by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (who you may know from Beyoncé’s “Flawless”).

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What We’re Watching / What We’re Wearing: Mary Crawley, DOWNTON ABBEY

When Michelle Dockery’s Lady Mary Crawley first graced our screens in 2010, many fans of the show saw her as cold and unsympathetic.  Now, five years later, she is a fan favorite and one of the most heavily featured characters in a large ensemble cast.  This shift is due in part to the way Mary’s character has grown and changed through the acclaimed show’s five seasons.

The cultural and political upheavals of the 1920s parallel major changes in Mary’s life.  As upper class English women in general make gains in social, financial, and political independence, Mary does the same.  She marries for love; she takes a leading role in the estate of Downton — in short, she takes control of her own life.  The unhappy, repressed Mary of Season 1 has transformed into a woman who knows her worth and demands the respect she deserves.

Such dramatic character development naturally shows itself not only in Mary’s behavior but in the way she dresses, too.   Continue reading

Bead Dictionary: Fluorite

Fluorite, also known as Fluorspar, gets its name from the Latin for “flow” or “flux”; fluorite is used as a flux in glassmaking and other processes. It in turn gives its name to fluorescence, or luminescence under ultraviolet irradiation, a phenomenon first observed in this mineral.

Fluorite dimes. Cas Webber

The chameleon of gemstones, fluorite covers the color spectrum, from clear to yellow and green, to blue and purple, to almost black — but occurs mainly in greens and purples with color zoning. It can be confused with many gemstones, and its color can be changed by radiation. Translucent to transparent, crystalline fluorite has perfect cleavage and takes a high polish.  It is found mostly in Germany, England, and the US.

Among fluorite’s purported healing properties is the power to cure insomnia. It is also thought to focus divergent energies, promote concentration, and develop the intellect.

Our “Bead Dictionary” series draws from the meticulously curated collection of the same name, assembled on our website by Joyce Diamanti.

Photo Gallery: African Trunk Show

This past weekend, our Baltimore and Falls Church locations were honored to host the semi-annual African Trunk Show featuring beautiful, precious, and collectible beads provided by our friend Ebrima.  Whether you came to the event itself, own similar items, or just enjoy the photos, comment with your thoughts!

Although this is a rare and special event, some of the items pictured below are still available.  Check out our website to purchase (or just learn about) African trade beads, gemstones, organic beads, metalwork, and more.

You can keep up with all our great events by liking us on Facebook or signing up for our twice-monthly e-blast.  We hope to see you at a Beadazzled location soon!

All photos by Natalie Thielen Helper.

Necklace Display

Whether you make your own jewelry, collect the creations of others, or do a bit of both, this is a cute and clever way to display your beautiful adornments!

If you sell your own jewelry, check out our website for tips on displaying your work to customers:

Bead Love

A little while ago I bought a small rake at an estate sale.  I don’t know what it was used for originally, but I thought it would make an excellent necklace display for my studio.  I think it turned out great!

Before I became obsessed reading about beads and jewelry, I used to love to read about organization.  I always loved organization tips that allowed a group of jewelry to also feel like decoration.  I think it’s beautiful.


I have a hard time getting good pictures in my studio because there is not a lot of natural light.  That got me thinking that maybe I need better light to create, but I realized I use specialty “natural light” task lamps.  Those are less helpful for photos.  But you get the idea.

The handle of the rake is not much longer than the bottom of this picture, so it wasn’t unwieldy…

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