Have you ever wished there was a way to lay out designs and fiddle around with them before committing to stringing? Have you ever strung a design only to realize you forgot a bead in your pattern? Have you ever wondered how multi-strand jewelry has such evenly spaced strands? The answer to all of these questions, and more, is the BEAD BOARD.

The first thing you'll notice about bead boards are the measurements. The outside measurements are inches and the inside is centimeters. They come in single and triple channels with various small compartments dotted around the board for keeping tools, beads, clasps etc..

When designing a single-strand necklace, use the outermost channel, since this corresponds to the inch measurements.

For a 16-inch, princess length, necklace you'll want to design from the 8-inch mark to the other 8-inch mark. For a standard 18-inch necklace work from the 9-inch to 9-inch mark and so on.

When designing multiple strands, work to the same inch mark and you'll have perfectly spaced strands that won't overlap when worn. 

Once you've laid out your necklace remember your clasp will add some length. Depending on the size of clasp you'd like to use it can add a quarter of an inch to one inch in length.  

Bead Boards are available to purchase in our gallery at East Mountain Ranch.  So go ahead - Get Stringing.


There are a million beads to choose from... so where do you start?

Deciding how much you want to spend is always the best idea!   Beads range from a few pennies to hundreds of dollars or more!

Acrylic, glass, pearl, stone, quartz, crystal, silver, gold, diamond and lots more...

Once you've decided on your price range, you need to work out how many beads you will need to complete your project.  You can purchase kits from your local craft store or the individual beads themselves.  See Beads here. 

Any leftover beads can be used in your next project. 

I usually start with a 'focal' bead.  Choose a colour, size and quality that you love.  This is probably going to be the most expensive bead(s) you will buy for your project.

Next find a complimentary 'accent' bead for your 'focal' bead.  This is usually smaller and you may need more or less depending on your design.  (For some ideas see here) Finally you may need a 'filler'.  This is usually a small bead to fill the gaps, give your creation some glam or to bring the whole project to life.  Silver or gold is a great idea for this.

Now place your beads on your bead board and play around with some ideas.  This, for me, is always the longest part of any jewellery that I make. 

Final tip...Stick to odd numbers.  Beads always look better when grouped into 3's or 5's for some reason.  Try it and see.

Happy Beading.


Natural, Synthetic or Imitation?

Natural gemstones are created over a long period of time without the aid of humans. They can be found in and on the earth.  By the time they reach you they have been cut and polished but not enhanced or altered in other ways.  These gems often have natural flaws that make up their characteristics.


Synthetic gemstones have all the physical and chemical properties of their natural counterparts, but are made in a laboratory.  Scientists use the same process, elements and conditions as in nature, but in a shorter time frame.  They often look identical to natures gems but appear flawless.


Imitation gemstones are usually made of plastic, glass, porcelain or other materials and are made to look like the natural gemstones.  Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference.  Cubic Zirconia is one of the best known imitations.

Mohs Hardness

The Mohs hardness scale measures the relative hardness of gemstones, as determined by their scratch hardness (the resistance of a mineral when scratched with a pointed testing object.)

The diamond is the hardest natural gemstone in the world and measures a ten on the hardness scale. Gemstones measured at a one can be easily scratched with a fingernail. To learn the hardness of many popular gemstone materials, see the chart below.
Scale Hardness Material                 Scale Number 
1 Can be scratched easily with a fingernail Sulfur:                    1 - 1-1/2
2 Can be scratched with fingernail Amber:                   2 - 3
Ivory:                      2 - 4
3 Can be scratched with coin Pearl:                      3 - 4
Coral:                     3 - 4
Malachite:             3-1/2 - 4
4 Can be scratched easily with a knife; cannot scratch glass Rhodochrosite:     4
5 Can be scratched with a knife; can just scratch glass Lapis Lazuli:          5 - 6
Turquoise:             5 - 6
Opal:                      5-1/2 - 6-1/2
6 Can be scratched with a steel file; easily scratches window/bottle glass Moonstone:           6 - 6 1/2
Tanzanite:             6-1/2 - 7
Peridot:                 6-1/2 - 7
Zircon:                  6-1/2 - 7-1/2
7 Easily scratches metal, glass and softer stones

Quartz,                 7

Citrine,                  7

Amethyst:             7
Tourmaline:          7 - 7-1/2
Garnet:                 7 - 7-1/2
Emerald:               7-1/2 - 8

8 Scratches quartz and softer stones Topaz:                   8
Alexandrite:          8-1/2
9 Scratches topaz and softer stones Ruby:                    9
Sapphire:              9
10 Scratches ruby Diamond:             10
And finally, did you know our fingernails on average rate a 2 on the scale!

Chain Nosed Pliers

Chain Nosed Pliers are used to reach into tight places, at difficult angles, to grip components, close jumprings, bend wire and stabilize a design while working. They are available in both long-nose, short-nose & bent nose varieties. Short-nose pliers offer more strength and stability while long-nose pliers give more reach.  Bent nose are useful to get a clearer view of your project whilst holding it steady at the same time.

Crimping Tools

Crimping tools come in various shapes and sizes.  The one you see here is a two step crimper and is the most common. You can also get one step crimping tools which are a bit more elaborate and more pricey.

Crimping beads are the tiny malleable beads that hold your stringing materials together or to a clasp. 


Step 1. Pass your wire through the crimp bead, through your clasp and return    through your crimp bead to make a loop.

Step 2. Place the crimp bead in section E of your crimping tool and apply pressure

Step 3. Place the crimp bead with the flat ends at right angles to the jaws of the crimping tool in section F and again apply gentle pressure.

Your crimp bead will be flattened (E) and folded (F) which should remove sharp edges by making it round, also making it small enough to go inside a crimp cover if you decide to use one.

Jewellery Care

When properly cleaned and polished, jewelry maintains its value and draws the eye.

Protect your jewelry-making supplies, finished pieces & purchased items with this handy list of dos and don'ts.

... clean your jewellery & jewellery making supplies regularly.
  • Keep clean of tarnish, body oils, cosmetics and perfume residue, this will extend the life of the piece and prevents chemical damage to the materials--especially soft stones such as turquoise and amber. 
... dry your jewellery with old, soft cotton or linen cloths after cleaning.
  • New fabric contains starches or sizing to stiffen it and can scratch jewellery and plated finishes. Use linen or cotton (wool can scratch). Allowing  to air dry can leave spots on the surface.
... have expensive or sentimental pieces of jewellery checked every few years by a professional jeweler
...wear your jewellery pieces often.
  • Wearing jewellery prevents the buildup of tarnish, as contact with the skin rubs off tarnish as it's created.
... polish and maintain sterling silver.
  • Even antiqued sterling silver will develop a patina that deepens its luster and improves the way it looks. You can find jewellery cleaners and polishers which do not remove antiquing or blackening effects. Store with  anti tarnish strips  to decrease the repolishing necessary to maintain sterling silver.

... store & display jewellery in separate boxes, fabric bags or on hooks to prevent pieces rubbing against each other.

  • Metal jewellery components can scratch and mar not only each other, but also gemstone components. Jewellery components or finished pieces which are scratched, dented or gouged lose their value and eye-appeal.

... store and display silver and copper in a dry environment.

  • Moisture causes tarnish and corrosion, so be careful with uninsulated window displays.  Never store jewellery in the bathroom.
... put jewellery on after make-up, perfume, lotions and hairspray are already done.
  • This is especially important for stones such as pearl, turquoise and amber, as they are very absorbent. Metal components can also react with skin oils, hand lotions and sanitizers.
... polish your sentimental and fine jewellery as well as your high quality components with a clean polishing cloth every time.
  • A used cloth contains tiny pieces of dirt that can scratch the component or finished piece, especially plated finishes. Be sure to choose an appropriate  polishing cloth.
... remove jewellery if you are going to be physically active and likely to perspire.
  • The cord will absorb the salt and odor of perspiration. Metal and gemstone components can react to the salts and acids in perspiration.
... wear pearls over areas with freshly applied lotion or perfume (especially those with citrus scents).
  • The citric acid in these scents can eat away at pearls, especially if put away without cleaning.
... store silver jewellery components or finished pieces directly on wood surfaces.
  • Woods frequently contain acids that react to the metal and cause discoloration and tarnish.
... put stainless steel and silver items into water together.
  • The silver will turn black - wash different metals individually to prevent reactions.
... get jewellery metal polish compounds on any gemstones used in the piece.
  • Cleaners and polishers used for metals can damage gemstones.
... wash pearls in hot water. Ever.
  • Natural body oils will keep pearls looking their best, so wear pearls often to maintain their beauty. If they are dirty, use cleaning and polishing materials  designed especially for pearls.
... store pearls or opals in sealed zip-top plastic bags.
  • Both stones are sensitive to changes in humidity. Condensation will form inside the plastic and damage the stones. Use soft fabric bags to store jewellery.

... forget to protect your clothes and eyes and workspace when using jewellery cleaning and polishing materials.
  • Follow directions and safety precautions to prevent stains or damage to you, your attire and your workspace - especially when using liquids or creams.
... wear rubber or latex gloves when handling silver jewellery components or finished jewellery.
  • Since rubber or latex gloves can contain tarnish-causing sulfur, wear soft cotton gloves instead. Latex free vinyl gloves are suitable for protecting your hands from tarnish removers or polishing compound, and are usually safe for handling most jewellery pieces. For long-term jewellery handling, soft cotton gloves are ideal.
... clean jewellery with toothpaste or with powder cleansers that are used on bathroom porcelain.
  • Even the ''scratch-free'' varieties can leave marks on soft silver or gemstones. Pour boiling water over a soft, old toothbrush before adapting it to clean jewellery, in order to remove any particles of toothpaste left in the bristles. Allow to cool before using.

... store silver or copper components or finished jewellery without removing skin oils and perspiration from them.

  • Wipe each piece gently with a polishing cloth before individually storing.

... scrub silver pieces, even to remove tarnish, since silver is a soft metal.

  • When tarnish is removed from silver, a thin layer of the silver itself comes with it. Use a gentle, circular motion to polish silver and be especially careful when polishing silver-plated jewellery or components.