Pearls of Wisdom
Wedding project ideas and style how-tos for brides, bridal jewelry designers and wedding planners.
Birthstone Wedding Jewelry and Bridesmaid Gifts
Birthstone Wedding Jewelry
Incorporating birthstones into wedding jewelry--including engagement rings--is increasing in popularity, particularly among brides seeking something unconventional for their big day.
The lure of birthstone jewelry dates back to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, stemming from the universal desire to own and wear materials deemed sacred or spiritually influential. From this desire came the notion that each stone held curative qualities that corresponded with the signs of the zodiac. Over time these stones came to be associated more with calendar months than astrological signs.
As this custom spread to other cultures around the world, including the United States, the Traditional Birthstone List was developed by the American National Association of Jewelers in 1912. The traditional list was a compilation of all birthstone lists documented from the 15th to the 20th centuries. Several years later, this list was revised and renamed the Modern Birthstone List to help eliminate confusion among jewelers. While there are other birthstone lists in circulation around the globe today, the modern list is the most universal within the jewelry industry.
Birthstone Necklace Design
This contemporary rendition of the classic, lariat-style necklace is a versatile design that can be worn with a variety of wedding dress styles. Turquoise is the birthstone for December. Use gemstone beads in your corresponding birthstone or cubic zirconia, Celestial Crystal® or Swarovski crystal beads in your birthstone colors. Matching earrings complete the ensemble for a jewelry set you can wear with your wedding dress, honeymoon resort wear, jeans and a tee or a cocktail dress for years to come.
Making the Necklace
Choose two different chain types from delicate to medium. Order the 5-foot packages in the metal or metals of your choice (NOTE: silver typically works best for cool tones and gold for warm tones, though most birthstones are compatible with either color), and cut two 3-inch segments using your wire cutters. Cut two more segments two inches in length. Continue cutting 2-inch segments until all chain has been cut.
Cut a 3- to 4-inch section of dead-soft, 26-gauge wire and make a wrapped briolette loop around a gemstone teardrop or briolette bead. String on a cone bead and attach to the 3-inch chain length with a simple loop.
Using 2-inch, 21-gauge eyepins, string on a rondelle spacer bead (4mm recommended), a round gemstone bead (6mm recommended) and another spacer bead. Attach one end of the eyepin to the 3-inch length of chain segment and the other to a 2-inch length of chain. Repeat until the necklace is complete. There should be a teardrop with cone bead dangle on each end and a round bead with spacer rondelles after every two-inch length of double-strand chain.
The result will be a long, continuous strand that can be wrapped around the neck three times and tied below the collarbone for a multi-strand design that offers visual interest from choker-length to midriff.
Making the Earrings
Using the same technique for the necklace tips, make two additional cone dangles and attach to fishhook or leverback earwires with a simple loop.
A Gem of a Bridesmaid Gift
Show the girls how much their friendship and hard work means to you, and keep in line with your birthstone jewelry theme, with a beautifully simple and easy-to-make faceted gemstone and chain necklace they can wear the day of and happily ever after. For an extra-special presentation, wrap the necklace chain around each attendant's bouquet.
Start with brilliant gemstone briolette beads or faceted cubic zirconia, Celestial Crystal or Swarovski crystal crystal beads in corresponding birthstone colors. Choose a medium size (16-20mm recommended) that will stand out without overpowering the chain. The more delicate the chain, the more elegant the necklace (1-3mm recommended).
Use an 18-inch, ready-to-wear chain, or cut an 18-inch length of delicate cable or triple-rope chain, in the precious or plated metal of your choice. For unfinished necklaces, use needle-nose pliers to open two 4mm, 19-gauge jumprings. Attach each jumpring to one end of the chain and clasp end. For either ready-to-wear or unfinished chain, use the same wire gauge and length as the necklace project above and string on the briolette bead. Make a briolette wrapped loop and attach to the center of the chain with a wrapped loop. Repeat as needed, one 5-foot package of unfinished chain makes three necklaces.
Attaching to the Bouquet
Open the necklace clasp and wrap chain delicately around the bouquet stem. Close the clasp and pin in place, through the center of the clasp, with a pearl-backed florist pin. Round lobster claw clasps or toggle clasps are recommended.
Design with …
Use briolette or teardrop gemstone beads or cubic zirconia, Celestial Crystal or Swarovski crystal crystal beads in the following stones for both necklace designs (16-20mm recommended):
- Delicate gold or silver cable chain or triple-rope chain (1-2mm, ready-to-wear or unfinished recommended)
- Small gold or silver round lobster claw or toggle clasps
- Jumprings (4mm, 19 gauge recommended)
- Wire (dead-soft, 26 gauge recommended)
- Eyepins, 21 gauge (2-inch recommended)
- Spacer rondelles
- Cone beads
- Fishhook or leverback earwires
- Gemstone beads (6mm round recommended)
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