Guitar Picks-Take Your Pick

Design Idea F118
by Dan Day, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®

Using guitar picks for jewelry is a fresh application of ''altered art''--repurposing an object for jewelry making. As you probably know, a pick--or ''plectrum,'' as the Brits call it--can be used for a variety of music instruments, most often electric and acoustic guitar, mandolin and the electric bass. There is quite a lot of media on guitar picks: web sites, Pinterest and etsy pages dedicated to pick designs. And there's at least one book devoted to the history and lore of guitar picks. So, there's quite a devoted following to guitar picks.


Once picks were commonly made from tortoise shell, but its use was banned in the 1970s to protect endangered tortoise and turtle species. Although picks can made from just about any material including glass, and wood, they are now predominantly made from plastic such as Delrin, nylon and celluloid which can imitate the look, if not the feel, of tortoise shell. Some picks are metal, such as a steel thumb pick shaped as, or mounted on, a ring used by banjo players. Brian May, the guitarist for Queen, uses a silver sixpence. And--you'll like this--some artisans have hand-crafted guitar picks from gemstones such as agate, jasper and jade.


Picks come in a variety of sizes and shapes to accommodate varying hand sizes and playing preferences, such as a large triangle like the one Richie Havens used for his aggressive strumming as seen in the movie ''Woodstock.'' The most widely used pick shape is a rounded isosceles triangle.

Pick with Cutout Peace Sign Design Pick of Picks

The selection of guitar picks at Fire Mountain Gems and Beads features graphics and designs that lend themselves to all manner of jewelry making flights of fancy: skulls with hearts and roses, a butterfly, polka dots and checkerboard.

And speaking of Woodstock, Delrin and isosceles, here are some picks with a cutout peace symbol that touch on all three aspects.

A good example of the celluloid graphic picks is this double-sided guitar pick with circle design. It's reminiscent of the style of renowned pop artist Peter Max and is used in design idea E656.

Design Idea F61K Necklace and Earring

Here we have what can be called ''functional jewelry''--musicians can pop in their preferred pick and it goes where they go for quick replacement of broken or dropped pick--just peel back the snug elastic border, pull it out and keep on picking. Two-sided necklace component holds two standard picks and the stretch bracelet holds one.

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Design Idea F21H Necklace