Friday, January 29, 2010

Eleanor of Aquitaine Necklace

Eleanor Of Aquitaine
by Mark Satchwill on deviantART

One of the most infamous queens in history, Eleanor of Aquitaine left many marks on the kingdoms that she helped to rule. At the age of fifteen, she became the Duchess of the French region of Aquitaine. The area was coveted by many, making her one of the most sought after brides in Europe. Soon after taking her title, she was married to King Louis VII. Together they led the unsuccessful Second Crusade, which turned many opinions against her. Because she had been unable to provide a male heir, she and Louis had their marriage annulled.

After only a few weeks as a divorcee, Eleanor married Henry Duke of the Normans, who would soon become the King of England. They had several children together, including Richard the Lionheart. Though the marriage was tumultuous, Eleanor and Henry remained a royal couple until his death in 1189. After Richard ascended the throne, he placed the care of England in his mother’s hands while crusading in the Holy Land. Eleanor of Aquitaine would bury all but two of her children, living to the then incredible age of 82.

Herringbone Birthstone Rings

The Inspiration:

Recently I created a pair of birthstone rings for my husband and me. Though we have always talked about getting tattooed wedding rings instead of gold bands, I wanted something for each of us to wear, and beads seemed like a great alternative to the traditional. I matched each of our birthstones - garnet and pearl - with contrasting seed beads, and used herringbone weave to make simple bands for the glass ‘stones’.

Something about the silver and garnet ring, and the way the herringbone rows curve around the stone, made me think of a jeweled Coptic cross. I was instantly inspired to create a beaded cross using a variation of the same technique. Once I had the idea sketched out, I had an image of an elegant necklace - something a king might bring back from the crusades for his mother.

Black and Silver Seed Beads

The Beads:

I used silver lined crystal seed beads and a 6mm faceted round garnet crystal to make the cross pendant. I had already decided to use netting for the necklace, and I considered using a white palette to give it a lacy effect. Eventually I decided that I wanted something to strongly contrast the cross, and went with an all black palette instead. I chose shiny opaque black 11/o and 6/o seed beads, hematite 8/o’s, and black bugles.

The Mourning Queen Necklace

The Beadwork:

Although I had Eleanor of Aquitaine in mind when I designed the collar, the cross and black lace has a very Victorian appeal. I can picture it on a beautiful queen who has plunged herself into a deep black fugue. To incorporate the pendant into the beadwork, I finished the top row with a black 6/o seed bead, and picked it up at the centre of the necklace like any other row. The button clasp also features a CRYSTALLIZED™ Swarovski garnet, embellished with circular brick stitch and picots.

I was fairly pleased with the way the cross came out, but if I were to make another, I think I would try another approach. By starting with circular brick stitch, and then moving to herringbone on all four sides, I think the cross would have more of the gothic elements that I had first imagined.

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading


  1. What a fabulous post (as always!) You inspired me to start a 'Posts of the Week' section so that I could share your wonderful creativity with others. Thank you!


  2. THe necklace is stunning, but I especially love the rings! I don't usually like beaded rings, but these have really captured my attention. Lovely work!

  3. I love the rings you made for you and your hubby - and the necklace is stunning :)

  4. Thanks ladies! When people see the rings they say things like "That's so cute." Maybe one day the idea of a handmade ring will be more common than a band of gold.


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