Browsing Category


Create a Custom Personalized Necklace

December 6, 2013

Personalized jewelry is very popular, and quite simple to create! A four-piece jewelry making tool set and basic assembly techniques are all you need to create custom necklaces.

Earth Mother, a custom mother's necklace includes birthstone charms, a butterfly charm and three flowers on a silver charm.  This free DIY custom memory necklace project by Sondra Barrington of features sterling silver, swarovski crystal, gemstones and personalized charms.This free DIY custom memory necklace project by Sondra Barrington of features sterling silver, swarovski crystal, gemstones and personalized charms.

(Click for larger image)

It is easy to personalize jewelry using birthstone-color gemstones and Swarovski crystal, along with a sterling silver charm or two. Rings & Things sells a huge selection of lightweight budget-friendly sterling charms and necklace chains.

Add-a-dangle using faceted, round, cube and other shaped gemstones!  This free DIY custom memory necklace project by Sondra Barrington of features sterling silver, swarovski crystal, gemstones and personalized charms.

Chains are easily adorned with add-a-dangle, or add-a-gemstone charms. To create these assorted dangles, you just need a selection of small beads from your stash and some sterling ball-end head pins.

Blessed Mother Necklace features gemstone beads and a cube bead as the birthstone charms and a sterling silver fish faith charm. This free DIY custom memory necklace project by Sondra Barrington of features sterling silver, swarovski crystal, gemstones and personalized charms.

(Click for larger image)

These colorful dangles allow you to add several birthstones to a custom piece, or accessorize it according the whimsy of the wearer. A mixture of natural stones, freshwater pearls and Swarovski crystals is very popular. Making oversized loops on the dangles makes it easy to slide them onto nearly any chain without adding a jump ring.

Add-a-dangle birthstone charms of Swarovski round crystals! This free DIY custom memory necklace project by Sondra Barrington of features sterling silver, swarovski crystal, gemstones and personalized charms.

If you sell custom necklaces, consider displaying the basics in a fun display (along with a few completed samples):

  • A tray of sterling silver charms
  • An assortment of pre-made add-a-gemstone dangles
  • A variety of pre-made add-a-birthstone crystal dangles
  • A few styles of sterling silver necklace chains.
This necklace, Adorable Auntie, includes charms representing each niece and nephew! This free DIY custom memory necklace project by Sondra Barrington of features sterling silver, swarovski crystal, gemstones and personalized charms.

(Click for larger image)

This jewelry also makes great gifts and mementos for friends, family and other loved ones. Have fun making these darling necklaces!

Birthstone Jewelry: March is Aquamarine

March 15, 2012

A couple of weeks ago at our Spokane Bead Frenzy, I was demonstrating how to use microtorches to solder pieces of metal together. Much to my shock, since I was doing 10 things at once and answering questions, some of the pieces actually turned out to be quite adorable! I turned one into a necklace with our new “Zambian aquamarine” beads as March birthstone jewelry project inspiration.

Aqua Love necklace composed of 6mm round gemstone beads with copper findings.

Notice my use of quotes – these beads are neither “Zambian” or “aquamarine.” In actuality they are quartz beads that have been dyed to look like the ultra-rare and ultra-spendy Zambian aquamarine. (You can learn more about gemstones in our Gemstone Index. ) I did a quick Google search and found many examples of these beads being called Zambian aquamarine by both bead stores and jewelry designers. I don’t think they intend to be dishonest, but are merely using a descriptive name. It can be confusing, but if you’re ever in doubt, the price tag can be a good indicator of whether the beads you’re looking at are a pretty imitation or the real deal. Materials such as quartz, magnesite and howlite can make pretty convincing substitutes for pricier stones, and in fashion jewelry, affordability is often a huge factor! There is nothing wrong with using less expensive stones as long as you are honest about it.

When designing birthstone jewelry, some people select their beads based purely on color, like I did for this necklace, while others like to use the traditional mineral or material. Both colors and materials are believed my many to have metaphysical properties. Here is a list of the traditional birthstone(s) for each month. Our Gemstone Index lists many of the metaphysical properties for the stones, so below I have added just a few tidbits about the colors themselves.

Birthstone colors and meanings

January – Garnet. Red is known for warmth, energy, love and passion.
February – Amethyst. Purple is a color of transformation and renewal.
March – Aquamarine. Blue is a color of truth and peace.
April – Diamond. White/clear is the “perfect” color since it combines all colors.
May – Emerald. Green represents balance and harmony.
June – Pearl. White is also known as purity.
July – Ruby (red). Physical strength and energy are also attributed to red.
August – Peridot. Because of its balancing nature, green is very healing.
September – Sapphire. Blue is cooling and brings tranquility.
October – Tourmaline or Opal. There are too many color options here! 🙂
November – Topaz or Citrine. Orange is cheerful and stimulates creative thinking, as well as appetite! Brown is stable, like the earth.
December – Zircon or Turquoise. This color is said to help increase intuition.

What do you think – is it more important to use the traditional mineral/material or the appropriate color in birthstone jewelry? My vote is actually to give people their favorite colors and stones, no matter what the chart says! ~ Cindy

Beads sell themselves…especially February's birthstone, amethyst

January 15, 2010

Thanks to Abby Wood for this image!

People don’t sell beads, beads sell themselves. Especially February’s birthstone, amethyst!

What Abby said!

What Abby said!

So I’ll just toss a couple amethyst-themed ideas your way. Enjoy!

"Spring Bears"

“Spring Bears”

▲ Hang in there, February babies…Soon you’ll see what delightful things Spring Bears for you! You know what, you’re never too young for a Red Hat, or for amethyst beads… ▼

"Red Hat"

“Red Hat”

Your February birthday means days are getting longer already…so savor the Deep Twilight while you can! ▼

"Deep Twilight"

“Deep Twilight”

Have more amethyst inspirations? Yes you have. Share them. Here. Now. Link to ’em 🙂

Birthstone jones? Citrine dream?

October 6, 2009

Citrine: the November stone 🙂

A great thing about citrine is that you’ve got options, options, options. Both the natural stuff and geometrically perfect lab-grown citrine are available, and each has its charms.

Shapes you can only find in natural citrine — small but rugged chip beads:

Brighten a November birthday party by bringing chips!

Bring chips to the birthday party!

Citrine that’s manufactured by humans is much more regular in shape:

Extra-faceted for extra shine: manmade citrine

Extra-faceted for extra shine: manmade citrine

With artifice comes pizzazz–dig this jazz:

A dash of lime-green quartz!

A dash of lime-green quartz!

You’re not dreaming, there are lots of ways to do your citrine-ing! Look what you can do with a megadose of “vitamin C”:

Several milligrams of citrine beads... :)

Several milligrams of citrine beads… 🙂

Riff on the theme, drop a comment below!

Look ahead: October's birthstone will be Tourmaline

September 2, 2009

Where we check into possible birthstone plans for the upcoming month…

Tourmaline meteor bracelet and ring

A great design you can make with tourmaline beads…

Tourmaline beads, the birthstone of choice for October, show some appropriately magical properties. Did you know that if you rub this stone, it generates a charge that attracts small objects like bits of paper or strands of hair? (I couldn’t find an image of this. Bummer. Please submit one if you’ve got one.)

True to its name (which originally meant “stone of mixed colors”), tourmaline is found in a very pretty palette of blue, yellow, pink, red, black, green and clear stones. Here are most of those colors in a strand that we sell:

Tourmaline 21-731-035

Rings & Things also sells strands of the nice black tourmaline alone:

Black tourmaline beads 21-889-183

Here’s a great idea for using black tourmaline in a rosary:

David's Rosary uses the black tourmaline beads

David’s Rosary uses the black tourmaline beads

And don’t forget tourmalated quartz. These beads technically include tourmaline, so they add to your options for “October babies”:

Tourmalated quartz beads 21-884-100

You’ll find lots more neat background reading at our Gemstone Index ‘tourmaline’ entry! And this is the time of year when you can come to our BeadTour bead shows to look for great new tourmaline, tourmalated quartz and many more gemstone beads not found in our catalog!

September's birthstone as a trade bead!

August 3, 2009

Carnelian is an established birthstone for September.

I’ll let you browse our awesome stock of carnelian beads at your leisure…but before you click that link, let’s focus on a rarity: a carnelian trade bead.

Carnelian cubes - a rare tradebead treat!

Carnelian cubes – a rare tradebead treat!

You don’t see these every day, even if you’re an African-bead connoisseur. Five corner-cut beads to the strand, a reasonable price, and the joy of finding something really unique!

Have a favorite birthstone bead choice for September babies? Talk about it in a comment!

August's featured birthstone: Peridot

July 8, 2009

The standard birthstone for next month just happens to be well-represented at Rings & Things. Let’s play with peridot

Peridot: August's featured birthstone at Rings & Things

Did you know about peridot?

  • It’s also known as “Bastard Emerald”
  • Peridot is technically a variety of olivine
  • It turns out that quite a few “emeralds” in queens’ and kings’ treasuries are actually peridot!
  • Peridot is claimed to increase eloquence and remove speech impediments, and, um…oh, what’s that word? (All this info & more is on the Peridot Page of our main website)

Some of the styles of peridot that we stock are snazzy enough to wow any Leo/Virgo child of August. You can even tuck a tiny birthday gift or note inside this peridot & sterling ‘wish box’ pendant:

Peridot & sterling 'wish box' pendant

Peridot & sterling ‘wish box’ pendant

For guys you might prefer going with a chunkier style like these hefty peridot chip beads:

Peridot chunky chips

Peridot chunky chips

Or you can go really smooth and classic with sleek round peridot beads:

Smooth as velvet: peridot rounds

Smooth as velvet: peridot rounds

Just bear in mind (and please tell your customers) that peridot is often enhanced in order to smooth out tiny natural irregularities in its surface — So go easy on the exposure to hazardous chemicals. Also shield your peridot from high heat, deep cold, and hammers, okay?

* Alternative August birthstones are onyx or sardonyx, and carnelian.

I bet some of you have sold, or been commissioned to make, August birthstone jewelry. You can share your experiences in a comment below!

July's featured birthstone: Turquoise

June 1, 2009

Because July’s birthstones are a motley crew (see the end of this post), I’m picking out just one of them to feature, since there’s so much to know about turquoise!

July's featured birthstone: turquoise

July’s featured birthstone: turquoise

Turquoise is the modern, more often seen replacement for the traditional July “Foundation stone”, sardonyx. I’d like to start out by showing you some of the affordable genuine turquoise beads that are available. (I’ll try to show similar-sized beads to make comparison easier.)

  • For the highest-quality birthstone jewelry, use AA-grade turquoise (natural turquoise) like these delicate 2mm rounds:aa_grade_turquoise_21-882-502
  • Also excelling in their class are A- to B-grade turquoise (stabilized turquoise) beads such as these nice Kingman heishi:
  • Good Mexican turquoise is also sometimes available. It’s often in nugget forms, like these extra-small beads:mexican_turquoise_20-421-02
  • Another variety of genuine turquoise, which is available reasonable prices, is stabilized Chinese turquoise. To illustrate this type, let’s look at some 2-3mm rounds:
    For even greater economy, and a wider color range to work with, try some other stones that are called turquoise.
  • There’s African turquoise (actually a kind of jasper!), like these 3x5mm tubes:
  • Yellow turquoise (more likely a jasper or serpentine) is a pleasingly-colored stone often imported from China, like these 4mm rounds: yellow_turquoise_21-884-064
  • Block turquoise is manmade from plastic resins and dyes. So it’s often one of the more affordable varieties, like these low-priced 2mm rounds: block_turquoise_21-882-202
  • You might also be interested in our economically-priced “turquoise” magnesite. It’s a thrifty alternative and still looks pretty, like these 4mm rounds:

Finally, consider some other stones in the turquoise family (which you can read about in our Gemstone Beads Index). There’s apple-green turquoise and lime turquoise, for example. You can often find specially purchased, special-priced strands of these and similar stones at Rings & Things’ BeadTour bead shows…another great reason to attend when we’re in your town!

Other July birthstones run the gamut: ruby (also Summer’s birthstone), synthetic corundum, emerald (for Cancer), onyx (for Leo), and topaz (St. Matthew’s stone).Thanks once again to Bruce G. Knuths’ “Jeweler’s Resource” book for all of this information!

A jumble of June birth gems

May 6, 2009

We took a look ahead to find out the what June’s birthstones are. There’s a jumble of gems to work with!


Pearl is one of the most widely recognized June stones. It’s nice that recent years have brought countless new styles and shapes of affordable freshwater pearls, including the ones you see here. Have fun picking out a pearl that fits the personality of your June baby (or client!).


Agate is the other commonly used birthstone for June. It’s also the birthstone for Gemini, May 21 through June 20. Are you aware of the huge variety of agate beads available? This is another great browsing opportunity.

For a more unique touch, we’ve also found these stones used for June:

  • Emerald (also the Spring gemstone, and Cancer’s birthstone, June 21 to July 22) — a popular color of glass beads
  • Ruby (which is the Summer gemstone too, i.e. June 21 onwards) — there are lots of ruby-colored glass beads as well!
  • Moonstone (also famous for going so great with a basic black dress!)
  • Alexandrite — remember you can use glass beads in this color too
  • Beryl (St. Thomas)

You can learn about the physical & metaphysical properties of gemstones like these in the new edition of our popular Gemstone Beads Index!

Have you seen other great birthday-jewelry ideas for June? Post them here in the Comments!

May giveaway:
* You enter by leaving comments this month
* At the end of May, 2 winners will receive coveted Rings & Things goodie packs!
So read the blog regularly, to enter a lot & to see if you won!