One of the commitments I have made since declaring myself a jewelry designer is to swear off metals whenever possible. I’ve been against the use of gold in jewelry for a long time, but I also try to avoid silver and nickel, too.
After writing The Truth About Gold - an article about the hazardous effects of gold mining - I decided to do an experiment to see if I could mimic authentic gold jewelry using seed beads and no metals. So, I grabbed a sketch pad and started browsing the websites of some popular gold and diamond jewelers in North America.
I saw a lot of gold chains: some plain, and some with dangly things hanging from them. It wasn’t very inspiring at all. Finally I came across a photo that made my inner magpie sit up and pay attention - a charming little gold and gemstone Y style necklace. It was made with a set of gold rings covered in multicolored briolettes, suspended from a simple gold chain.
With my inspirational necklace found, I set out to recreate it with seed beads, and a touch of my own style, too.
I decided to add a touch of diamond to the necklace, so I paired galvanized metallic gold beads with crystal foil-lined beads in 10o and 6o. For a splash of color, I also added some foil-lined blue 6o seed beads.
The briolette necklace I had found had much more color, but I didn’t have any other 6o foil lined beads. I wanted the beads to be uniform, so I opted not to add other styles of 6o’s.
To make a gold chain, I used basic St. Petersburg Chain, adding in a hint of “diamonds” here and there. The chain is stitched in two parts, with the top ends connecting for the back of the necklace. Beaded loops connect the chain and pendant at the front.
Taking a little further inspiration from Sheryl Yanagi’s Byzantine seed bead chain maille, I added a pendant of seed bead hoops with diamond and sapphire “gems”.
In the end, this necklace looks almost nothing like the piece that I drew my inspiration from. However, I think that I was able to achieve my goal of making a necklace that would look right at home in an expensive gold jewelry showcase.
Now only one question remains. Why would anyone spend so much money on dirty gold when green beads are just as beautiful?