Cavewoman: From my first strand of pop-beads when I was about 6 years old, to my latest fabulous yellow jade faceted graduated bead choker, I have always loved beads. Finding great vintage bead necklaces is not easy, because often they are broken and re-strung and usually poorly at that. But great finds are out there, luckily, and here are a few of my favorites.
The fabulous blue five-strand graduated bead necklace was a great grab at the Goodwill jewelry show last year here in our area. For $5, who could resist it's perfectly nesting strands and pristine condition. It's bright, camp, and very well made. Shades and tones of blue blend well together in this, one of my nicest bead pieces.
Two more graduated strands are the marbled and the faceted jet. By now you can see that I prefer graduated strands. The marbled beads have a touch of metallic thread design applied over the marble coloration, and the jet necklace has a gunmetal gray and metallic treatment as well. Both of these are about 30 inches long, which is unusual because graduated strands are rarely found in the longer lengths.
The three-strand graduated pearl necklace is one of the best pearl costume jewelry pieces I have. I am happy that their amazing luminosity shows well in the photo. The opera-length cream pearl single strand is made of glass-based beads that have darkened a bit over the years, probably due to lots of wearing. It must have been someone's favorite piece. The baroque strand is actually made of mother-of-pearl, weighty and substantial, and in beautiful condition with no chips or cracks. And the delicate five-strand necklace is made of iridescent rice pearls, the color play of the finish on these natural pearls gives off a rainbow-like effect.
The carved bead necklace is made of antique jade and soapstone Chinese wedding beads, with sterling silver chain-linking, and etched sterling beads here and there for accent. Very weighty, soothingly cool to the touch, and beautifully carved, I love the subtle colors and shadings in the stones.
I couldn't resist the pink graduated crystals at our local thrift shop, but I have a feeling this is not their original stringing. The center bead is much darker in color than the rest of the necklace. I may take it apart and do something else with it. Which is what I did with the very long blue and aurora borealis chained necklace in the photo. This was a broken strand that I found in a plastic bag of beads at the same store. It's twice as long as it was when I bought it! The third blue graduated crystal necklace came in perfect condition with clip earrings made of identical blue beads.
Annie found the huge crackled graduated ball necklace with the blue stars scattered on the beads, at the Goodwill show. She knows my taste. I will always be grateful that she found this fun and whimsical piece for me.
Sometimes people will give me parts and pieces of things, knowing that I'll eventually find something to do with them. The lovely aqua aurora borealis rosary came to me in three pieces, the crucifix was missing, and some of the decades were only partially there. I always make rosary bracelets out of broken rosaries, it just seems like the right thing to do. I've also made prayer chaplets out of broken rosaries. The circle of aqua beads with the Madonna medal attached is one of those chaplets.
And for the ultimate pop-beads, I offer a 40 inch strand of faceted "crystal" beads! They have turned a bit gray over the years, but they are just for fun. Fifty years after my first strands of pop-beads, I now have them again. And no, I don't wear them! But maybe I should. I wonder if anyone under the age of 50 would know what they are!
All Photos: Cavewoman