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Fall color trends: new crystal color combinations for jewelry designers

October 14, 2011

The fashion world is always on fast forward. While we are living in fall 2011 (at least last time I checked!), designers are already planning for fall 2012. Hence the debut of SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS fall/winter 2012/13 crystal colors – *antique pink and denim blue – in fall 2011!

love, love, love

I am actually pretty fond of the 2011 fall Pantone color scheme and its nature-driven hues. “Designers take a painterly approach to fall 2011 by artfully combining bright colors with staple neutrals, reminiscent of how an artist would construct a stunning work of art,” states Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute.

So, although *antique pink and denim blue were designed with next year’s trends in mind, I’m happy to see they coordinate beautifully with the current fashion color trends. Because, really, who can wait until next year to start making jewelry with pretty new crystal colors?

Both *antique pink (a clear crystal with colored coating) and denim blue have a pleasing depth and smokiness that allows them to either blend or pop with a huge variety of color palettes. They also work with both warm and cool hues. And, both look amazing with Vintaj natural brass and antiqued brass plate filigrees!

Behold the rainbow:

*Antique pink with warm browns

Denim blue with more warm browns

Yummy warm browns (Pantone calls them “Nougat” and “Coffee Liqeur”) are big this fall. Both of the above pictures include crystal/golden shadow, light colorado topaz, light topaz and sand opal. The denim blue crystal mix also has light smoked topaz, mocca and smokey quartz.

Red, red and denim blue

Berry-licious antique pink and with reds

Garnet and siam crystals are featured in both pictures. The denim mix also features dark red coral, light siam and padparadscha (aka Pantone’s “Honeysuckle”). The berry mix uses burgundy and ruby crystals with dusky *antique pink.

A spectrum of pinks and purples

I lined up the “tone on tone” color blend option from SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS to help show where *antique pink falls in their color palette. From left to right, we’ve got rose, light rose, vintage rose, *antique pink, cyclamen opal and light amethyst crystal beads. As you can see, *antique pink has a hint of purple and a smidge of grey to tone down its rosiness.

Denim blue with purple crystals

Denim blue with purple crystals

Denim blue looks great with purple crystals, such as violet, light violet, cyclamen opal, Provence lavender and tanzanite. It’s more vivid, but still pairs nicely with Pantone’s “Quarry” blue and purple-y gray “Orchid Hush.”

Pink pops next to denim blue crystals

Pink pops next to denim blue crystals

Or, go for more contrast by pairing denim blue with light rose, rose, vintage rose, light amethyst, Indian pink and fuchsia.

Sunshine-y bright mix of crystals

Sunshine-y bright mix of crystals

Denim blue with jonquil, light topaz, lime and sunflower (or in Pantone terms, “Bamboo”) crystals is like a burst of sunshine – especially in comparison with the dreary gray sky outside my window!

cool grey and denim blue crystal beads

Cool grays with denim blue

Yet even gray looks less dreary with a shot of blue. Above is a neutral mix of *moonlight, *silver shade, light grey opal, greige and *satin beads.

antique pink crystal beads with gray

Antique pink crystal heart with cool grays

Meanwhile, *antique pink with those same grays and pure jet black makes a decidedly romantic and elegant statement. When the greige crystal color debuted a few seasons ago, I honestly thought Swarovski made up the word by combining “grey” and beige” (hey, they have a lot of power!). I’ve since learned greige is an actual word that describes raw, undyed fabric. I was perhaps a bit underwhelmed by greige (and sand opal and light grey opal, to be honest) when they were unveiled, but I’ve since come to appreciate how well they compliment other more vibrant colors.

Whether you are a slave to fashion or completely oblivious to its fickle ways, it is always nice to have more color options to choose from. These are just a few of the many, many color options using SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS. Hope you’ve enjoyed the crystal eye candy – next week I’ll share some color combos featuring the new petrol crystal pearls on our Facebook page! ~ Cindy

Product spotlight – new large-hole metal beads

June 1, 2011

bazillion new metal beads in our online store! Most of them have large holes, too – perfect for all the leather and Pandora-style jewelry that is so popular these days.

Toni’s bracelet design allows the cube bead to make a statement.

Whether you prefer antiqued silver, antiqued brass or antiqued copper in your jewelry designs, there are tons of new bead options with strong geometric shapes, fancy details and great textures. A few of my favorites include:

New summery flower beads in antiqued brass and silver.

Hollow metal barrel beads that remind me of Donkey Kong!

Tube beads and other unique shapes with hammered texture.

I don’t know exactly what this will end up being, but these chunky tube beads told me they wanted to be strung on leather with our new larger-hole shell pearls. We shall see!

The future of this piece is a mystery at this point!

Finally, here are a pair of earrings Toni made. What a great go-with-everything design! For variety, it would be easy to add a splash of color or sparkle by capping the dotty tube beads with small gemstones or crystals.

West Yin earrings.

Do metal beads inspire you to add bright colors or to keep in neutral? I would love to hear what kind of combinations you come up with! ~ Cindy


Picks of the Showroom!

March 18, 2011

The time for our fabulous showroom picks has come nigh!

This time some of these items are “Cash and Carry” items. For those of you who haven’t had a chance to visit our showroom or go to one of our Road Shows, Cash and Carry items aren’t available through our online store or catalog. Most of the time, they’re one-time special buys that our purchasers get for either the showroom or the road shows…so come & visit us in our warehouse or in your town!


Birdseye rhyolite beads

Cash and Carry “Birdseye Rhyolite

These new items will soon be live on our online store! Here are the stock numbers for each new item:

21-005-227-10, Birdseye Rhyolite, 30×40 Puffed Oval

21-005-227-11, Birdseye Rhyolite, 20mm Puffed Coin

21-005-227-16, Birdseye Rhyolite, 20mm Puffed Square

21-005-227-22, Birdseye Rhyolite, 18×25 Puffed Rectangle

21-005-227-29, Birdseye Rhyolite, 30mm Puffed Coin




Mixed rainbow gemstone strands

Cash and Carry Mixed Rainbow Gemstone Strands




Turquoise magnesite butterfly beads

Turquoise Magnesite Butterfly Beads




Bottle cap beads

Cash and Carry Bottle Cap Beads

Some of these styles will soon be part of our stock as well!




Tim Holtz

New Tim Holtz!

These new items will soon be live on our online store as well! Here are the stock numbers for each new item:

55-000-20, Ideaology, 90 Red Game Pieces

55-000-21, Ideaology, 10 Tin Light Bulbs

55-000-23, Ideaology, 9 Distressed Plaquettes

55-000-24, Ideaology, Regal Adornments

55-000-25, Ideaology, 24 mini Hanger Clips



Stretchy finger rings

Stretchy Rings


Trendwatch: Spotlight on Sparkly Glass!

February 23, 2011

Working with beads all day gives you a different perspective on life…

Sparkly glass beads in siam, red, electric blue and electric purple

Sometimes I feel as though I have “Bead-o-vision”! I notice things now that I didn’t before.

Recently, while I was shopping at a few department stores here in Spokane, WA, home 0f Rings & Things, I came across a trend that was consistent throughout all of the stores: Sparkly Glass. Racks and racks full of designer jewelry made with the exact sparkly glass beads that we carry!

“The sparkle of crystal, at the price of glass!”

So, why, you ask, is sparkly glass so great? Well for several reasons. First and foremost, it is Sparkly! Really really sparkly! It comes in several shapes, sizes, colors and finishes.

And the best part about sparkly glass…it’s incredibly affordable. Most 16″ strands cost a mere $5 and will keep you creating for days. It’s no wonder that designers for top department stores have jumped on this trend.

These sparkly beads look great mixed with chain (as I have seen in designer items). Or, use them like you would crystals to “sparkle-up” your already great designs.

Limited-availability sparkly glass found only in our Spokane showroom or on our BeadTour

Here at Rings & Things, we carry 14 colors and 9 shapes of Sparkly Glass as regular stock. We are constantly adding to this, though!

Also if you want to see even more sparkly glass check out our Showroom or up-coming Bead Tour for an ever-changing supply of new, limited availability Sparkly Glass Beads!

Check out some ideas for how to use sparkly glass below (from our Design Gallery):

“Blue Bling” ring with electric blue sparkly glass

“Geared Up for Philosophy” bracelet with electric purple sparkly glass

“Ruby Droplets” Necklace featuring several sizes of red sparkly glass

By Tiffany White,

Rings & Things Showroom

Design Team

Alternatives with TierraCast®!

February 17, 2011
Alternatives with TierraCast®!
Expanded design options? Yes! with TierraCast’s new Alternatives Collection. Featured:
brass oxide (antiqued brass) components and
black (gunmetal) components. TierraCast Alternatives were created to fill the needs of current trends among bead stores & designers. Your favorite TierraCast beads and jewelry findings now come in these great new finishes!
Find your favorite TierraCast beads in antiqued brass (aka brass oxide).

TierraCast Brass Oxide Finish

Find your favorite TierraCast beads in black finish (aka gunmetal).

TierraCast Black Finish

Jewelry Inspirations:

Combine black finish beads and niobium findings for a smart look!
“Wisdom & Knowledge” Earrings
Make this black gunmetal necklace with glass focal for a look that's all the buzz!
“Bee Mine” Necklace
Discover how electrifying your design options are with TierraCast Alternatives and Swarovski crystals!
“Vitrail Voltage” Earrings

Chinese turquoise

November 2, 2010

Chinese turquoise:

This is a gemstone bead that ranges over a swath of spectrum from blue through green (“grue”, anyone?)… When you find beads called Chinese turquoise, you can figure they’re genuine turquoise, usually stabilized. The stabilization of Chinese turquoise beads is often done in any of a variety of ways:

  • wax treatment (formerly more common)
  • resin stabilization (now more usual)
  • and/or dye to improve the naturally soft stone’s wearability

Most of Rings & Things’ Chinese turquoise beads come from the province of Hubei, China, but we also have Ma’anshan turquoise from the province of Anhui (which more closely resembles the well-known blue turquoise from mines in the US Southwest.

Chinese turquoise "Nested" necklace

Did you know? The free Design Gallery at Rings & Things is a good resource for Chinese turquoise jewelry inspirations. Just plug those two words into the Search box…and you’ll find necklaces, pendants, and many more designs!

Chinese turquoise used in the "Secret Garden" necklace design

Tip: Some of Rings & Things’ Chinese turquoise beads don’t carry our standard gemstone stock numbers. Some have stock numbers beginning with 20-4 (not our usual 21-x numbers). These are usually less regular in size and appearance, so if you need an exact size, please let us know so when you order. We’ll make an extra effort to match your needs!

Made in Bethlehem: olive wood beads

October 22, 2010

Since we were talking about prayer beads earlier this week, how about featuring olive wood beads?

Olive wood beads

Click to see FULL SIZE

You can believe it: these are made in Bethlehem. That Bethlehem. What a great idea for wooden rosary beads!

Like many wooden beads, olive beads have large holes. So you could string these on certain styles of chain, as well as on cording or beading cable.

A note about color. (This occurred to me while searching in our website.) Olive wood beads are brown in color–very different from our “olive” colored glass beads! 🙂

And I know someone will ask this, so right up front let me say no, our olive beads aren’t the pits! They’re actual carved wood…so they’re wonderfully smooth and silky to the touch.

Carnelian for Virgos

August 3, 2010

Carnelian beads…a summer delight.

Some tantalizing carnelian (and its relative natural agate) has crossed our path lately…

Carnelian trade beads in cubes or tubes…

And natural-agate tanfouks (click this glimpse to see complete)…

…Brilliant birthstones to adorn a special day for a Virgo dear to you.

(They’re a great keepsake gift for anyone you enjoy being nice to, in fact!)

Vaseline & uranium salt beads

July 22, 2010

Punchline of a joke?

Real beads! Trade beads. Very collectable trade beads, in fact.

7 things you didn’t know about “vaseline” beads:

1: Many fluoresce. Uranium salts were once used to color beads yellow, giving this side effect. Look at ’em in daylight (before). Put ’em under blacklight (after). Whoa!

Uranium salt/vaseline beads BEFORE

Uranium salt/vaseline beads BEFORE

Uranium salt/vaseline beads AFTER

Uranium salt/vaseline beads AFTER

Our #22-708-01 clear-glass vaseline bead does not fluoresce, nor does red or
opaque blue. Not all green beads either (depends on age).

2: Why are these generically called vaseline beads in “campfire parlance”? Newer reason: because of their similar shapes — often a bicone — to the beads originally called vaseline beads. Original reason: Vaseline beads were named for having the same shiny, translucent appearance as petroleum jelly.

3: However, not all have the vaseline, “greasy” colors that originally gave these beads their name. Here’s a non-slippery vaseline bead:

Non-slippery vaseline beads

Non-slippery vaseline beads

4: The uranium-salt (glow-in-the-blacklight) vaseline beads were most likely made between 1830 and 1915. That’s some old, valuable beads!

5: The Czech names for the green and yellow varieties are “Anna green” and “Anna yellow”. Do you know why? (I don’t–yet. Will a knowledgeable reader chime in?)

6: Vaseline beads with uranium salts are considered safe because vitrification “traps” the uranium inside the glass. Testing suggests that you can wear uranium-salt glass beads for up to 40 years before the radiation exposure equals that of getting a single x-ray at the doctor’s office.

7: We get these beads from Mali, in West Africa. Did you know? Mali is where you’ll also find the ancient city of Timbuktu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Here’s one more image of the spectacular ‘black-lit’ vaseline-bead effect:

Featured bead: CZ

July 20, 2010

The CZ’s are here!

Cubic zirconia are sweet. They’re very popular at our bead shows. And we’ve added some wonderful ones…

Sweet how? Cubic zirconia beads have especially fine faceting and exceptional clarity. They shine like crazy!

Check ’em out in the “Russ’s Picks” section of our online store…