Summer Trend: Create Bold Style with Beaded Jewelry

You’ve probably noticed that big is back as far as necklaces go—just check out the latest issue of Stringing magazine to see some of the boldest designs ever. These big-bead necklaces give flash and interest to the more simple fashions on the runway these days.

Admittedly, I’m not much of a fashion maven, but I sure have been eyeing those bigger beads at my local bead shop.  I've even brought several home. If you’re like me and working with big beads these days, you’ll find out quickly that working with them poses a different set of challenges than working with smaller beads. These challenges, however, all have easy solutions:

Big beads can mean extra weight in a necklace, but you can always use lightweight beads instead of heavy ones. Resin, pearl, and blown-glass beads are three great choices for getting lots of bead real estate with little heft.

If your big beads are heavy, though, make sure the strand that lies across the back of the neck is wide. If you add a thin strap in back to a heavy necklace, the extra weight up front could cause the strap to dig into the neck, making the piece uncomfortable to wear.

In addition, if your beads are heavy, be sure to string them on heavy stringing wire as opposed to fine or medium and don’t be afraid to use more than one crimp to finish off the wire.

Palm Beach Cocktail by Gwyn Cooley Pearce (
Stringing Summer 2010)

When working with big beads, you’ll want to work your design so the beads balance not only visually, but physically.

Work symmetrically . . .

Turquoise Is Always in Style
by Jennifer Judd Velasquez
Stringing Summer 2010)

or asymmetrically.

by Brenda Morris Jarrett
Stringing Summer 2010)

Either way, place the beads so the design stays put. You don’t want your necklace sliding one way or another because it’s not balanced.

Big beads tend to pull on stringing wire, causing the wire to abrade. It’s your job to do everything you can to avoid that situation.

See in this photo how the wire is rubbing against these amethyst beads’ holes? You don’t want that to happen.
Use smaller spacer beads between big beads to break the wire’s angle caused by the bead’s weight.
Better yet, add bead caps to each end of big beads, and you’re breaking the wire’s angle even more.

Have you been working more large-scale these days? What tips can you add to my list to help everyone out? Share your insights on Beading Daily.

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