Lagniappe for Jewelry: A Little Something Extra To Make Your Designs Shine

I just spent a fun two weeks back in Louisiana after Tucson. The music, the food, the people, the trees and swamps–even though I lived there for almost four years, sometimes being there feels like being in a different country, and I love it. After being away for over six months, it was great to hear the locals talk again–such sweetness in their words and accents–and to hear some of the little things that I only hear there. My favorites are "cher" (or "chere") as a term of endearment for a loved one, "sha" when you see something incredibly sweet or precious ("Aw, sha! How cute is that piglet?"), the French-ish "mais la!" when you just have to throw up your hands and forget it, "pooyie" when something is fabulous and exciting, and "lagniappe" for a little something extra.

Lagniappe could be an extra doughnut from the baker when you buy a bunch, a little extra from the butcher, or a free lollipop for your child when you shop with the local grocer–a small bonus of any kind. I've become so enamored by the sweet idea (or philosophy?) of lagniappe, especially during a time when everyone is cutting back instead of giving freely, that I try to expand the idea to every part of life–even jewelry making.

Kerry Bogert Sea Anemone bracelet wire lampwork glass
The colorful wire coils on the back of Kerry Bogert's Sea Anemone bracelet from Rustic Wrappings provide the little extra lagniappe.

In jewelry, it's that little something extra–a splash of stand-out color, a bit of unexpected sparkle, some soft ribbons or delicate lace in a "tough" metal, wire, leather, or wood design–that brings a piece full circle. I think creative details like these are what take our creations from "done" to "ta da!" It's hard to describe it, but you've all felt that little zing when your jewelry design just comes together.


Keirsten Giles wire bead necklaces
The jump rings and other components in Keirsten Giles' necklaces in Wire + Metal are enhanced with wire coils for a little something extra.

I've learned that whenever there's a piece of jewelry that I particularly like or believe to be a successful design, it usually has a lagniappe element, and I enjoy identifying the lagniappe feature in jewelry designs that appeal to me. Whenever I come across a jewelry design with a little lagniappe, I save it in my inspiration file and to possibly share with you someday. Today is one of those days! All of the jewelry shown here has the little something extra that caught my eye.

Sharon Chomanczuk bead and copper flower necklace
I've saved these photos since I participated in a Bead Soup Blog Party a few years ago. One of the blog hoppers, Sharon Chomanczuk's necklace would be perfectly fine without that little lagniappe bird bead–but I just love the addition of it!

When designing a piece of jewelry, sometimes it takes some experimenting to discover just what the lagniappe will be. It could be ribbon that softens a wire or beaded jewelry design, a shape that adds balance to the whole piece, or a pop of color that draws your eye into the details of the design (or that repeats, providing cohesiveness). Even simple jewelry designs can have it, and sometimes there's more than one.

Erin Siegel bohemian beaded necklace peace

Erin Siegel's Simply Peaceful necklace would be lovely even without that little red bead added to the focal; but she added it, and then voila! Lagniappe.

I've found great ideas to add some lagniappe to jewelry designs from Erin Siegel (above) and Lorelei Eurto (below), in their book, Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry. In their introduction, the authors shared that they both started adding leather, ribbons, and cord to their jewelry designs to set them apart. Now, they say, "the contrast of soft fibers against beads and metal continues to captivate us." That's lagniappe! That's the little something extra that will set your jewelry designs apart. And who doesn't love a little something extra?

Where the Heart Is necklace by Lorelei Eurto bohemian jewelry

I love the addition of that teeny bit of red cord in an already adorable Where the Heart Is necklace by Lorelei Eurto in Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry.

Sometimes the lagniappe is the element that a friend points out specifically when commenting on one of your jewelry designs–something like, "Oh cher, I like the bit of blue ribbon in that necklace," or "Sha! Look at that cute little bird on your bracelet!" That's how you know your jewelry design is finished, with lagniappe!

Tamara Honoman wire leather bead Crop Circles bracelet

The simple addition of colorful Swarovski crystals provides the lagniappe in Tamara Honaman's Crop Circles bracelet from Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry magazine, April/May 2015.

Love that last bracelet? We've gathered the wire, leather, and other materials (including the lagniappe Swarovski crystals!) needed to make it, along with the project instructions in the Crop Circles bracelet kit we'll deliver right to your door! Just use tools you already have and a wire jig–or create the wire design by hand. Included in the instructions is how to fabricate the leather ends for another very special touch. Pooyie!

P.S. If you don't have a wire jig already, learn more about the Now That's A Jig! that Tamara used to make the Crop Circles bracelet.

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