Beads Around the World
Intriguing stones are found all over the world, from crystal quartz to jasper, onyx to turquoise, and more. Using stone beads and cabochons in beaded jewelry and bead weaving is a meaningful way to infuse your jewelry creations with beauty from around the globe. It’s amazing to think that these beauties come out of the ground and transform into miniature works of art.
One of the best things about making beaded jewelry with stones is that every stone has a story. Read “Tell Me a Story: Fun Facts About Jewelry Gemstones Add Interest to Your Handmade Jewelry” for lore and more. Aquamarine, for example, means “ocean water” and is associated with many legends involving water. Or, find out “What Your Favorite Gemstone Reveals About You.” Fordite is one of the stones that’s included in the article. Did you know that it’s perfect for people who like to speed down the road less traveled?
Get ready for a little adventure as you travel through these beading patterns and learn a little bit about the projects, the stones, and their origins. Dustin Wedekind, Tatiana Mueller, Kim Otterbein, Perie Brown, Denise Yezback Moore, and Michelle Brennan use bead weaving, stringing, and chain maille techniques to create inspiring beaded jewelry designs featuring gemstones from near and far.
Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” -Gustav Flaubert
Nice Rock! by Dustin Wedekind is a fun way to spotlight a special crystal or other treasure. Quartz crystals grow in many environments and are common all over the world, including inside caves, geodes and even water. Some of the largest crystals are found in Brazil. In Quartzsite, Arizona, people find small quartz crystals on the ground.
The crystal used in this beaded ring is doubly terminated, which is a rarer form of crystal quartz point because it’s naturally faceted on both ends. This happens when quartz grows without an attachment, such as within clay. Small, beautiful specimens have recently been brought out of high elevation mines in the Himalayas.
Tip Top Pendants
Tip Top Pendants by Tatiana Mueller features a jasper cabochon with Japanese seed beads stitched in ladder, fringe, and netting. You could use any stone cabochon with this project – just choose a place on the map and then do a quick online search to see what type of stone is mined there.
Jasper is found worldwide, from the United States to Australia to Madagascar and beyond. Its unique patterns include stripes, spots, swirls, and more. It’s one of the most common stones and there are many different types of jasper with their own distinctive styles, including picture jasper, red jasper, dragon’s blood jasper, and more. Rocky Butte jasper comes from an extinct volcano in Portland, Oregon.
Tasseled Turquoise by Kim Otterbein uses a clever technique to weave together disc-drilled beads. A variation of this technique could also be used with buttons or other flat beads with unusual holes. And, of course, the tassel is right on-trend with fashion jewelry.
Turquoise has been used for sacred and secular adornment for thousands of years. It’s found in countries as far away as China and Iran and as nearby as Mexico. Modern day turquoise is often recovered in the American Southwest as a by-product of copper mining. Turquoise is the national gem of Tibet and plays a sacred role in many cultures around the world.
Onyx Donut Bracelet
Stone donuts such as those used in the Onyx Donut Bracelet by Perie Brown are commonly available in a wide variety of stone types. The method of using peyote stitch to create connections between the donuts in this bracelet is a technique you’ll use again and again. If you’re looking for a quicker make, you can use the same technique to make a pendant bail to suspend a stone donut from chain, leather, or your favorite stringing material.
Onyx is found in many countries, including the United States, Argentina, Germany, Uruguay, China, and others. We’re probably most familiar with solid black stones, but onyx can be striped, and it can also be shades of white and brown. Traditionally, onyx has been used to make cameos because its layers lend themselves to carving.
Gorgeous George by Denise Yezbak Moore combines carnelian and green cinnabar. Carnelian is most commonly found in India, Brazil, Siberia, and Germany. Cinnabar is found where mercury is mined, primarily in Spain and Egypt. The combination is really lovely and brings together countries that aren’t usually situated next to each other.
Cinnabar beads and other items are often carved and frequently imitated. Imitation cinnabar is made from molded resin and has a similar texture to the real thing. But, you might be able to see small air bubbles from the molding process if you’re trying to determine if it’s resin.
Amethyst & Stainless Steel Byzantine Chain Maille Bracelet
Stretch your skills with the Amethyst Bar & Stainless Steel Byzantine Chain Maille Bracelet by Michelle Brennan. Brazil is one of the largest producers of amethyst, but it’s also found in Austria, South Korea, and other countries including the United States. Dog tooth amethyst, such as the beads shown here, is a combination of amethyst and white or clear quartz.
On one of my first trips to the Tucson gem shows, I saw a huge black boulder with small circles cut out of the sides. When I looked inside the circles, the whole inner surface was covered with amethyst crystals. It was so amazing! How did anyone ever think to investigate a rock like that? Proof that sometimes you have to know what you’re looking for.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu
Next time you feel like taking a trip around the world, just peek inside your bead box. Your gemstone beads are endlessly fascinating – the stone’s histories, where they come from, and their rich cultural associations bring deeper meaning to your jewelry creations. Read “Beading Inspiration Around the World” for beaded jewelry inspiration. Then, get ready for an adventure!
Managing Editor of Beadwork