July 9, 2009

The anatomy of a Bridesmaids Necklace

For the last few months I've been "sketching" if you will the layouts for a necklace for one of my own bridesmaids' weddings, Kelly, and her sisters, her bridesmaids. The wedding is this weekend, and I must admit, I am just now getting around to making the necklaces (thank you parents month long visit). It's not for lack of intent or interest, it's actually because I have been thinking and re-thinking the designs in my head over and over. And with little time left (I leave for the wedding tomorrow), I finally had to settle on a design and stick with it! Let's start with the bridesmaids necklaces. Kelly sent me this picture of what her sisters will be wearing and literally said to go to town and create whatever I wanted. I loved the color of the dress and it's strapless quality, and immediately thought that something like this necklace I made for my own rehearsal dinner outfit would be a good match, only in blue and pearls. When shopping in Chicago for beads, I stumbled across a ton of blue crystals and Czech glass beads. Then when shopping at my new favorite store in Chinatown, I found some SUPER cute (and affordable) teeny tiny pearls, which I figured would go GREAT with the ensemble (I'll be talking about them next week when I blog about the bride's necklace). A few things were going to be different with this necklace compared to it's inspiration piece. First, the components were much smaller than the red and black crystals (I am pretty sure these bridesmaids aren't as into funky chunky as I am). On the first piece, I used crimp beads to space the crystals out on a silver wire stringing thread (crimp beads are little silver beads that, when smashed on a wire, stick to it and can thus sandwich beads into place and give them a "floating" appearance). Since the beads I would be using for the bridesmaids necklaces were so small, I feared that the crimp beads, being around the same size as the beads themselves, would be a distraction. I thus invested in some illusion cord, which is essentially teeny tiny fishing wire (my first beading medium before I discovered Artbeads!). And since crimp beads were not an option, I invested in some jewelry glue, which I had never used before. (Thus the waiting until the last minute to make the necklaces - I was a little nervous about how they would turn out since I have never tried this technique before!) So, my materials included:
  • pearls (which measured 1-4mm each)
  • the blue crystals (3-5mm each)
  • the illusion cord (cut at about 20" each strand)
  • crimp beads and a crimping tool (to secure the ends of each strand)
  • the cement
  • sterling silver clasps and wire rings
  • and a paper bag on which to work (don't want any of that out-of-control cement on my dining room table, do we?)
First step was getting these bad boys glued on the super clear and super small string. This wouldn't have been so hard if 1.) the glue didn't come oozing out at an unstoppable force and 2.) if it didn't take a whole hour for the glue to dry! I put a drop of glue (well, that which I could contain) onto the string and then slid the bead over it. This made measuring the distance between the beads an additional challenge, but after awhile I was able to do 4-5 beads at a time before setting the strand down and repeating the process on another. After letting them sit overnight, I then crimped the ends of each strand so as to have a way of hanging them from the end clasp. To crimp, you simply place the crimp bead near the end of the stringing material (give yourself at least 2 inches), loop the string in the crimp bead, close the loop to measure about 4-6mm, and, with the crimping tool, smash the bead down. You then have a nice little and permanent loop (there is a way to make the crimp bead smaller and not as flat looking by folding it over on itself and re-smashing, but I have had terrible experience with that and only end up breaking the bead and losing the whole strand). Make sure the strand measures to your desired length before crimping - in this case, I made the necklaces 15" each, which means they will fall right on the collarbone. At first I had planned on doing many layers of these strands of pearls and crystals for each necklace, like the inspiration piece. However, the combination of the crazy amount of time it took for these things to dry and their delicate nature made me kind of fall in love with the simpler 2-strand look. So I took the two strands, looped them onto a spring ring, also looped a sterling silver clasp on a spring ring, and closed them off. Next thing you know - I had a necklace on my hands! I like the way they came out, even if it wasn't what I originally had envisioned. I think they will be subtle enough yet lovely enough to add just a touch of adornment to what the bridesmaids (who are both very slender gals) are wearing. I will of course take TONS of pictures this weekend and show you how they turned out! I posted this item on Etsy, too - though next time I will be better prepared to work with the crazy glue and it's delayed drying habits!


  1. The blue necklaces are so delicate. I love them and I'm sure your friend and her sisters will love them, too.

  2. Such a sweet pretty necklace. I love how delicate it is and think it's going to look beautiful floating around the bridesmaids' necks above a strapless dress..... appropriately bringing attention up to their faces. :>