Komboloi with Amber Gemstone Beads and Sterling Silver Beads

Komboloi (pronounced--come-bo-loy)

Ancient Greeks believed the rhythmic clicking and feel of the smooth beads slipping through the fingers could take their mind off their worries. Traditionally made of amber, you can make them in many material. Personalize your own stress-relieving komboloi today.

The komboloi (pronounced--come-bo-loy), from the Greek root words ''kombos,'' meaning a large number of knots, and ''loi,'' meaning a group that sticks together, is a strand of beads with one bead tied and set off, usually adorned with a tassel. One voice that continues to speak praise and educate the public about the history of the komboloi is Aris Evangelinou. By authoring a widely popular book entitled The Komboloi and Its History, he has helped stimulate interest in the beads across the globe.

Ancient Greeks realized that the methodical twirling, rhythmic clicking and the distinct feeling of the marble-like beads slipping over their fingers could take their mind off their worries and welcome a calm, relaxing serenity. While amber is the traditional material for worry beads, you can find them in almost any material. Everyone can design a komboloi that corresponds to his or her unique personality. Most komboloi have approximately seventeen to twenty-three beads, a shield-shaped (priest head) bead and a metal or silk tassel. The beads must have large holes so that they travel smoothly along the small cord.

Personalize your own piece of Greek history and learn about life and patience. This revived tradition is a great way to help relieve stress and pass the time with rhythmic clicking of high quality beads and classical findings. As you feel the smooth beads sliding through your fingers, you will find yourself captivated forever with this stress-relieving Greek tradition. Any way you embellish your komboloi, you will be creating a work of art that will become a personal symbol of independence, freedom and wisdom.

Using wire nippers, cut off the clasp and ring from the foxtail chain necklace leaving only the chain. Lay the chain beside the ruler and cut the chain at 3-inch intervals. Repeat for a total of seven three-inch long lengths of chain.

Using wire nippers, cut a four-inch piece of sterling silver wire. Bend the wire into a ''U'' shape, leaving one side slightly longer. Drape the chain pieces created in Step 1 onto the bend of the ''U'' wire. Holding the chain ends, use your chain-nose pliers to twist both ends of the wire in one direction until the wires start to tighten around the chains. This is just like using a twist tie on a bread bag. The chains will shift slightly as you are working, so before tightening the loop, even up and trim the chain ends. Be sure to keep the twist short so it doesn't stick out of the top of the cone.
Trim off any excess wire from the short end of the wire, leaving the long end of the ''U'' wire intact to use later. The twisted wire ends will be hidden inside the single-holed cone, so perfection is not necessary.

Thread the remaining straight end of the ''U'' wire and have all of it pass through the large open end of the single-holed sterling silver cone. Use your chain-nose pliers to pull the wire end firmly up into the cone hiding the chain ends and fitting the cone snugly. Using your round-nose and chain-nose pliers, make a wrapped-loop from the exposed wire on top of the cone. Set your completed tassel aside.

Stringing the Komboloi Beads

To personalize the size of your komboloi, use your open palm as a guide. Wrap 1mm cord around your open palm twice and cut the cord. The typical length for the cord is 20 to 24 inches.

Attach a hemostat to one end of your cord and string your beads in the following pattern: Three 13mm amber beads, one sterling silver rondelle, two 13mm amber beads, one rondelle, three 13mm amber beads, three 15mm amber beads, three 13mm amber beads, one rondelle, two 13mm amber beads, one rondelle and three 13mm amber beads.

Tip: Some beads have smaller holes and they won't ''travel'' easily over the cord. Over time the cord will relax and the beads will slip into the familiar feel of an old friend. However, if your komboloi beads don't ''travel'' well along the cord, you can restring it with larger holed beads or use a smaller cord.

Completing the Komboloi

Cut off the eye of a nickel-plated cord tip with wire nippers. If the edge is rough, you can file it with sandpaper or a nail file.
Thread one end of the komboloi cord you made in Step 5 through a Wide-Eye Needleâ„¢. Pass the needle through an outside hole on the three-holed end of the heart-shaped sterling silver spacer bead (used here as a shield bead) and out through the single hole at the bottom. Repeat this step for the other end of the cord passing it through the opposite outside hole of the spacer bead.
Thread the two cord ends through the tassel loop and double the ends back so that they are overlapping. Lay the cord and the cord ends together onto the prepared cord tip from Step 6 and hold it on securely while you pick up your chain-nose pliers.
Using the chain-nose pliers, firmly crimp down on each side of the nickelplated cord tip so the sides overlap securing the cord in place while connecting the tassel. Clip the tails of the cord close to the cord tip, being careful not to nick the functional cords.

You'll know your komboloi is a good fit for you when you balance the finished piece over your open hand between the thumb and index finger and the two level ends hang evenly just beyond your wrist.

The pieces featured in the Gallery of Designs are copyrighted designs and are provided for inspiration only. We encourage you to substitute different colors, products and techniques to make the design your own.

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