The Bead Bandit: make masculine beaded men's jewelry!

July 18, 2012

Well, hello there, bloglandia. Do you ever feel like most jewelry findings are designed to look feminine? Even if they aren’t frilly or covered with hearts and flowers, there is often something innately delicate about most DIY jewelry findings. When you want to make beaded men’s jewelry, it can be a problem. Crimp beads and bullion just don’t look that tough! Luckily, jewelry designer Jeff Fulkerson invented a solution: the Bead Bandit.


A strand of 8mm round beads make a simple, masculine bracelet when finished with a large clasp and Bead Bandits.

This patent-protected device is made of two pieces that screw together, hiding the crimp bead or knot on the end of your beading wire or cord under a burly piece of metal.


Silver plated Bead Bandits

Bead Bandits are really easy to use: just unscrew the two pieces and string the small piece onto your beading wire. Knot or crimp the wire, trim, and then screw the cover into place.


bandit-on-beadalonI found it easier to crimp than to knot the Beadalon, and with either method, I’d recommend adding a dab of glue just to make sure the crimp or knot doesn’t work its way loose over time. Attach a clasp with jump rings and you’re all done!

For a complete list of parts for this bracelet, see our Design Gallery!

bandit-endsSimple solutions are often the most elegant… or in this case, most manly.

Congratulations on your invention, Jeff! ~ Cindy



Mark your calendars NOW for Fall 2012 Bead Shows!

July 16, 2012

Hi bloglandia! It is finally SUMMER. BEAUTIFUL SUMMER. And yet – what did I see at the store last night? That’s right: row after row of back to school supplies! While I found this to be a bit of  a bummer, it did serve as a good reminder that summer really will be over before we know it. That isn’t all bad news, though, for in September Rings & Things’ nationwide Bead Shows start up again!


Turquoise, labradorite and citrine are very popular gemstones at our shows. Plus, we sometimes have great deals on bracelets like the African bangles in the center pic.

The first show is September 9 in Minneapolis. For two months, the shows keep coming until November 7 in Missoula. So please take a moment to take a look at our Fall Schedule and see when the beads will be in a town near you! It is always so, so tragic when people post on Facebook about the bead show they just missed. Don’t let that happen to you! 🙂

Also, if you aren’t already familiar with her beautiful work, be sure to check out Heather Powers at HumbleBeads Blog – she did a great write up with photos about our 2012 spring show in Grand Rapids! ~ Cindy

Pretty in Pearls on Pinterest!

July 10, 2012

Hi bloglandia! It seems every new breakthrough in technology divides people into 2 groups – those in the know and those who aren’t! The most influential new site is Pinterest.


Once you start pinning…either you’ll be really inspired – or completely glued to your computer!

Either you are busy pinning your favorite jewelry designs, wedding cake toppers, nail polish colors and mason jar DIY crafts – or you have no clue what all the fuss is about!

I think Pinterest is tons of fun for those of us who like pretty things (hi there, jewelry designers!!). Rings & Things has added new design boards for each of our Crystal Jams SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS bicone crystal bead assortments, and I must say, once you spend a bit of time searching for color-coordinated items, you start seeing the world in a whole new way!


I braided four strands (4mm pink coral, 3mm light grey, 5-8mm rice pearls and 4mm bicones, with a few sterling silver rounds here and there) to make this statement necklace.

For example, I started pinning to our Kiss From A Rose board, and suddenly the world just looked peachier! The more I looked, the more I found (and loved) examples of peach with gray.

It led me to create this “Peachy Keen” necklace with pink coral and grey crystal pearls, freshwater pearls, and the Kiss From A Rose Crystal Jam. I finished it with a sterling silver floral toggle clasp and
Santa Me´ cone ends.


The gorgeous cone ends hide the messy cluster of cord ends and wire.

Follow Rings & Things Design Team on Pinterest to see all our color inspirations, plus boards devoted to new tools and techniques.

kiss-from-a-roseThen, Pick Your Palette and enter our design contest! The winners receive Rings & Things’ gift certificates and could be featured in our future catalogs! Happy pinning! ~ Cindy

Summer Road Trip part 3

June 29, 2012

Hi bloglandia! Today is the deadline for entering the Vintaj Summer Road Trip design challenge. Mollie was a little late in getting her inspiration piece completed…seems her idea of a summer road trip is wandering in the woods. There are no clocks or calendars in the wilderness! Her “Day in the Woods” necklace is well worth waiting for, however. She combined a number of sweet little elements together to make this piece. We’ll have to look closely to see them all, as the sunlight can be a bit distracting!


The vial hangs with a cluster of wire-wrapped bicones in shades of smoky blue and gray from olive green velvet ribbon.


Mollie painted a wee brass feather charm with Vintaj Patina in a muted blue-green color before hanging it inside a glass vial. The vial top is adorned with a Vintaj bead cap, Swarovski rhinestone wheel and a crystal bicone from our new Idewild Blue Crystal Jam mix.


A DecoEmbossed Vintaj leaf and a metal stamped and dapped round Vintaj charm complete the grouping.


And here is a view of how Mollie finished the ends – ribbon clamps (simply flatten with pliers -the teeth inside grip the ribbon securely) and a Vintaj clasp.

With jewelry this pretty, who wouldn’t want to wander in the woods? Hope you all have a lovely weekend! ~ Cindy

Vintaj Summer Road Trip Jewelry Inspirations part 2

June 26, 2012

Hi bloglandia! For me, a summer road trip means just one thing: camping. I’ve never met a national park I didn’t like, but I especially love Yellowstone. However, I never saw a bear the whole time I was there. Fortunately, the National Park Service has an amazing online archive of public domain images which includes vintage photos of bears in Yellowstone! I put the image in a bezel, covered it in resin and layered it over a stamped Vintaj natural brass disk to create my centerpiece.

Cindy's Bears bezel necklaceFor the tassel, I hung clusters and clusters of wire-wrapped crystals from our new Wild Flower Crystal Jam with a few imperial jasper rondelles. The way the dusky rose, green, tan and slate hues of this particular jasper coordinates with the crystal mix was what inspired this whole design! The cover for this craziness is a Vintaj bead cap.  I really like our drawn cable chain because the links open and close like jump rings – so the whole thing is connected by chain links!

tassel-closeupMulti-strand designs can become kind of high maintenance, so I like to layer coordinating pieces together instead. And since knotting is a jewelry technique that is super easy to do on a road trip (so long as you’re not the driver!) I made a long strand of jasper on 0.5mm natural hemp.

hempknottedjasperThere a few 6mm crystal metallic light gold rondelles randomly interspersed on the strand to add a bit of bling.

 You know what I am really terrible at?  Taking photos of myself. Hence the blurry headless photo above. But I wanted to show how the two pieces look together, and laying them on a table just wasn’t working. This probably isn’t much better, but I hope you get the idea…and that you are busy making your own Summer Road Trip jewelry ideas into reality! Only a few days left to enter… ~ Cindy

Vintaj Road Trip Design Challenge!

June 20, 2012

vintaj rings & things road trip design challengeHi bloglandia! We are really excited to be partnering with Vintaj for their Summer Road Trip design challenge this month. Visit their blog to see the great jewelry their designers created by pairing beads & components from Rings & Things with Vintaj products. The Vintaj blog also has all the details about how to enter the contest! Submissions are due by NOON (CST) Friday, June 29. But wait – don’t go yet!

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll share some of our own Summer Road Trip jewelry pieces, starting with Sondra’s “The Trail Less Traveled” bracelet:


This mixed metal bracelet contains all kinds of mementos!

She used so many fun techniques that I’m sure I’ll miss a few, but here are the highlights:

sondra barrington vintaj swarovski pressed penny

The Vintaj luggage tags were DecoEmbossed with the Sizzix BigKICK. Sondra punched holes to in the tags to link them with textured locking jump rings.

postcard-bracelet sondra barrington vintaj swarovski pressed penny

She curved the postcard charm and souvenir penny using bracelet bending pliers.

vintaj-bee-soldered-crystal sondra barrington vintaj swarovski pressed penny

The Vintaj bee and several other charms have the tips of rhinestone crystal head pins soldered onto them for extra bling.

vintaj-turtle-charm sondra barrington vintaj swarovski pressed penny

The memoir stamp bezel from Vintaj is filled with a scrap of map coated with SuperClear resin.

vintaj-leaf-crystal-clasp sondra barrington vintaj swarovski pressed penny

The rest of the sparklies are from our Karma Chameleon Crystal Jam. Check out our Crystal Jam color themed design boards on Pinterest!

Ok. Now you can go get started on your own Summer Road Trip design challenge piece! We can’t wait to see what you create! ~ Cindy

Jewelry Design Gallery Tricks

June 12, 2012

Hi bloglandia! It has been awhile! I’ve been busy preparing our summer catalog (set to hit mailboxes early July). Once again it features lots of fun new beads, jewelry findings and mixed-media supplies. Our design team puts in a lot of work to create jewelry that fits with current trends and also helps illustrate how different products might be used. Sometimes it just isn’t so obvious how that little hook with crimp, or whatever it might be, could tie into a design!

Spring Skies

Spring Skies necklace featuring blue lace agate, Vintaj natural brass, feathery chain and the Bohemian Rhapsody mix of SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS crystal bicones.

We integrated our design gallery with our online store to make it easier for you to purchase the supplies for designs you like. However, we soon discovered a drawback: while it is easy to browse the jewelry designs, it is somewhat difficult to find one in particular. If you search for the name of a jewelry piece, our website brings back zero results (so sad!).

But – there is an upside. If you search for a certain stock number, you can now find jewelry designs that use that product! This is really exciting, to me at least.

For example, say you are looking at different types of clasps. You find hook and eye clasps on p. 273 of our main catalog and wonder if they’d really look right on your jewelry. Here’s how to find a design that uses those clasps:

1. Go to

2. Enter the base stock number (39-293) in the search box and you’ll see all the colors of that clasp, AND:

RT Design Gallery 1
Several of the category results up top are the names of jewelry designs. Sweet!

3. Let’s click on Spring Skies.
Rings & Things Design Gallery 2

Wait, where is the necklace? Hold on a sec. We are looking at the exact clasp used on that necklace – but the necklace itself is nowhere to be seen.

4. Click into the product details.

Rings & Things Design Gallery 3 Same clasp, but now look above the product to see the category we’re in…Spring Skies!

5. Click the Spring Skies text link.
Rings & Things Design Gallery 4
And voila! At long last we’ve arrived in at the design gallery listing for the Spring Skies necklace. Here you’ll find tips on how to make this piece, links to popular (and free!) jewelry-making technique sheets as well as all the products you need to create this design.

Obviously, we’ve got thousands of products and not all of them are going to have designs (I said our design team works hard – but we do have to sleep sometime!). Searching for just the base stock number (with many exceptions, the rule is that the final -# designates the color or plating of a family of items) will increase your odds of finding example jewelry that shows exactly what you are looking to find! Also, just take a look at those top category search results from time to time to see if anything intriguing pops up – it might lead you to a whole new look!

Happy designing! Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions about our design gallery or website in general. ~ Cindy

Bike to Work Week 2012

May 25, 2012

bike-to-workRain. Sun. Wind. More rain. Gusts of sun. We’ve had it all this week! And yet, we (some of) the ladies of Rings & Things have ridden our bikes to work!


Polly, Cindy, Amy, Melissa and Gretchen!

Amy, in the middle, is our ETC. An ETC is an Employee Transportation Coordinator for Washington’s Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) program/law. Yes, law. For employers with more than 100 employees in one location, the state mandates compliance with the CTR, since people driving alone to work creates so much air pollution. Rings & Things doesn’t have to comply with CTR, but we like to be green! Plus the CTR offers fun prizes and incentives to reward people who use public transportation, carpools, bikes or their own two feet to travel to work.

A lot of people use clothing issues as an excuse to not ride, so I feel like I must point out how nice we all look! Dresses, slacks – jewelry of course – Polly is even wearing a WHITE SKIRT. She is obviously much braver than I. BikeStyle, you should be proud of your fellow Spokanites! While none of us are sporting heels, I do admire Barb Chamberlain’s ability to bike in pumps. Again, she is obviously much braver than I.


Roast House poster.

Finally, thank you to Roast House Coffee here in Spokane for contributing their most excellent coffee to the energizer station Rings & Things hosted on Wednesday morning for bike commuters heading to work. We all need to be alert on the road!

Floral meadows filled with handmade jewelry!

May 22, 2012

vintage june 2012 challengeHi bloglandia! Our friends at Vintaj have a blog challenge every month. This month the theme is “Vintage Meadows.” We created a special category in our shop to make it easier to find vintage-y meadow-y components to create with, but it is really just a small sampling of what we have. I also thought it would be fun to show you a few of the jewelry designs we’ve made here at Rings & Things. Hopefully their vintage-y meadow-y feel will help get you inspired!


Vintaj hammered rings, bead caps & bee charms, linked with sturdy 10mm jump rings, make up the Busy Bees & Blueberries Bracelet. Use a quality hole punch to make the second hole in each hammered ring.


Vintaj game piece bezels with bone flower buttons. The sparklies are 4mm bicones from our Bohemian Rhapsody Crystal Jams mix. Understandably, they are named Galileo Figaro Earrings – but if you go!oh!oh!oh!


Czech glass flower bead caps, antiqued brass head pins and antiqued brass leaf chain compose this sweet Bell Flowers Bracelet.


And finally, my favorite: Tequila Sunrise Earrings. These also use the hammered brass rings from Vintaj, plus their small bird charms. I love the gemstone colors (rainbow new jade and olive jade) layered with the brass.

The deadline is fast approaching for the Vintaj Vintage Meadows challenge, so get busy! AND – do you follow Rings & Things on Facebook? You should! Right now we are having a May Flowers design challenge. Simply post a floral jewelry piece that you’ve created on our wall by 5/31 for a chance to win great prizes!

New Beads on the Block – Gemcolor Crystal Pearls!

May 13, 2012

Hi bloglandia! Take a look around and what do you see, fashion wise? That’s right: color. Big bold blocks of vivid color.


These beads absolutely pop with gemstone colors.

Incorporate this season’s love for pure color into your jewelry designs with Swarovski “gemcolor” crystal pearls.


An easy to make bead bar necklace with red coral, pink coral, lapis, jade and turquoise crystal pearls.

I really love gemstones natural variations in color. However, even I am a fan of these not-so-natural crystal pearls. They are just plain fun, perfect for summer or anytime really. The color palette is really versatile, too. The gem colors make many great combinations. Here are a couple of my favorites:


Red coral and turquoise is a classic gemstone combination. The pearl in the middle is ivory color.


Coral, pink coral and jade crystal pearls.


Dark lapis, turquoise and mystic black crystal pearls make a cool blue mix.

Notice how shiny the little buggers are too – I couldn’t avoid getting reflections in my snapshots, especially that last one (the rings are light bouncing off the clear bowl the pearls were in.) That is one of the perks of crystal pearls – unlike natural pearls, which will get destroyed by common things like perfume & hairspray – crystal pearls are very durable. The shiny, uniform coating is meant for fun in the sun. So go get some – of both! ~ Cindy