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Holding_the_HopeMaybe like me, you grew up among the notion that jewelry is, at best, gewgaw for the shallow minded. Or, at worst, a prop for the vain. That jewelry is no more than playing dress up; meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

Decades ago I worried that I was devoting a large part of my life to a frivolous pursuit that, in the end, would prove it misspent or squandered. But now, after having explored every aspect of jewelry from the ornamental, to the academic, to the aesthetic, and to the most fascinating for me, the psychological and emotional, I’ve come to a secure peace in knowing this: I have devoted much of my passion to precisely the right thing for me and my growth.

An excerpt from The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design speaks to what I’ve discovered.

“We diminish the significance of jewelry – and its creation – when we consider it simply ornamentation. The very heart of jewelry is the expression of being. Each time we make and adorn ourselves with jewelry we give ourselves over to an ancient ritual, a ceremony where the alchemy of our creativity combines with the passion of our self-expression.

The result? Magic.”

An alchemical magic happens when we commit a deliberate act of love and beauty.

Before I design jewelry for a friend I spend considerate time imagining. My mind sweeps through years of scenes. I see her laughing, talking, turning her head. I mentally sort through what I know she finds beautiful in books, movies, relationships, nature, art. I sense who she is beyond words. Like sculpting clay, I form these sensations into an object of beauty. She will drape this beauty on her Self, and it will temporarily become part of who she is.

Beyond artistry, talent, and skill, this is an act of love.

When we make (or choose) jewelry for ourselves, the process is more intuitive and rapid. But it is no less than – nor should it be – an act of love. And when a woman loves herself it has a profound impact on this world. This world where many women are raised to hate their bodies, hate themselves, see themselves as less-than, put their wants, desires, and needs beneath those of others.

Creating, choosing, and wearing jewelry can be an act of love that can have a profound impact on the world. It will start imperceptibly small: You may not be aware of it. But it can touch each person you interact with. And from there, expand infinitely.

Now when I hear the notion that jewelry is a fribble of vanity I smile. We jewelry designers know the truth, even if we’ve not put words to it, even if we’re not fully conscious of it. We know the necklace itself is a symbol, a reflection of the love and beauty that went into creating or choosing it. And we know the life-affirming power we feel when we suffuse our lives and ourselves with love and beauty.

The following is an excerpt from my May 2012 Margie’s Muse column. Download and read it in full.

Fifty colors of complex patterns and harmonies rotate around “Genevieve’s Hat” by Anne Hawley. Your eye is drawn in and around, led by the colorful rhythms. An assemblage of sead and semi-precious beads, and Swarovski crystal in flat round peyote stitch on suede lining.

What makes a well designed piece of beadwork? How do you create a unified, harmonious piece so completely balanced and whole that nothing added or taken away would improve it? Pattern is one way.

Because they transmit visual rhythm, patterns can invigorate your jewelry design with movement. That movement can make a design hum, sing, or belt out loud.

Surface pattern is inherent in seed bead weaving. The locking together of the beads and the minute spaces between them sets up predictable geometric patterns.

Pattern is created by repetition. Like a tour guide, it invites you in, and shows you around.

In a well-planned pattern, the eye travels, following points of interest. These points may be the brightest (or darkest) colors, or the largest expanses of color. They may be directional shapes and elements, like lines or arrows. In fact, any element that stands out from its surroundings becomes a point of interest, or focal point….

Download and read it in full.

In the Feb. 18, 2010 episode of Project Runway guest judge Tory Burch said “I’m not sure that blue and orange are that complementary, do you think so?” Heidi, Michael, and Nina (the show’s regular judges) agreed with her.

Maybe Tory meant “I’m not sure that blue and orange are that complimentary, do you think so?”

In either case she – and they – are wrong. And it irks me that fashion designers don’t take the time to understand how colors interact with one another.

Blue and orange are complementary: they visually complete each other. Blue and orange are also complimentary: conveying a compliment, something that is flattering.

I’ve run across so many people that should understand color, but don’t: interior designers, graphic designers, jewelry designers, painters, artists of all mediums. And now, the top fashion designers in the USA.

Color is absolutely critical to these professions — it can make or break a project. Color influences mood, decisions, behavior. It definitely influences how people spend (or don’t spend) money.

It’s shocking to me that these artists do not see the value of learning about color. Why wouldn’t artists want to expand their color knowledge (and possibly their income) to develop their mastery? It’s not hard, and it’s a lot of fun.

Leaving a BeadFest show I shared a shuttle van with another teacher and her assistant. They asked what I did and I told them I taught color. The assistant said “You should see [the teacher in the van]’s work – she’s great with color!” And they opened up many cases of her beadwork. It was all the same three pale colors used in combination. They were lovely combinations, not a thing wrong with them. But over and over the same combinations, the same degree of paleness, the same predictability. (I bet she doesn’t know that humans can see the most subtle shift in color, and can visually distinguish perhaps as many as 10 million colors.)

Years ago, before I’d published my color books, a very well-known bead author said to me “No one will want to spend time learning about color: there’s just not that much to learn. I know what works well together.” (By the way, after 40 years of doing so, I still study color on a regular basis and am still learning.)

I find many artists engaging in two severly limiting behaviors: operating under the the arrogant assumption that they know all there is to know about color, and limiting their work to a couple of combinations they feel safe with. They don’t risk anything. The price is that they don’t gain anything. There’s no personal voice singing through the work, you can see and feel the timidity of playing it safe. It’s mediocre. It’s boring.

As artists on a path of growth we start with the academics: theory and the color wheel. We learn the basics so we know how colors interact optically and impact us emotionally. Then we have the confidence to expand into our own voice, working intuitively and expressively on a solid foundation of learned knowledge. Then comes the magic. Then the mastery. Then the whole cycle all over again, many times, microcosmically and macrocosmically. A never ending, fun-filled journey, rich with rewards.

Congratulations and thank you, Dear Reader. You are not one of the folks blindly unconscious to the value of understanding color. You would not be reading this if you were!

Project Runway Judges: You are welcome to take any of my classes and learn about color with me. I can show you 50 ways to make the complementary colors blue and orange look fantastically complimentary. We did it in my Denver classes.

I’ve been following what I can of fashion week, and am particularly interested in accessories (there are just NOT enough photographs of the accessories!) and how the economy has impacted sales. Here are excerpts from a hope filled article by Kristina Cooke that you’ll all like reading (bold font is MY doing):

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Designers at New York Fashion Week are betting on accessories such as belts, boots, jewelry and even a pearl-studded scrunchy to tempt shoppers during the recession.

It is not just that accessories are a more affordable way for consumers to make a fashion statement, some buyers can also be enticed by one-off investment pieces — as long as they are unique, experts at New York Fashion Week said.

Accessories sales have held up better than clothing in the worst recession in some 70 years and according to market research company NPD Group they are poised to be one of the earliest fashion areas to recover.

Designers are taking note.

Bold belts, necklaces and bracelets featured prominently on New York Fashion Week runways as designers show collections for spring and summer 2010 and one of the most talked about pieces in Marc Jacob’s collection was a pearl-studded hair scrunchy.

Many stores that focused on clothing are opening up to having bigger displays or bigger buys for accessories and shrinking their buys for clothing. You’re just seeing a different kind of market right now and I think designers are recognizing that,” said Jodie Snyder, whose DANNIJO jewelry partners with designers such as Carlos Campos and Bensoni.

Luxury brand Henri Bendel has stopped selling clothes at its flagship Fifth Avenue boutique to focus on accessories, gifts and beauty products.

Australian designer Anna Coroneo scaled back her collection of dresses this year but is rapidly expanding her accessories offerings. Her key accessory — silk beads — has been popular with consumers worldwide and she is now working on a scarf collection based on her own artwork.

“Accessories are really important right now,” designer Jill Stuart told Reuters backstage after her runway show, which featured fishnet boots and sparkly belts.

Belts played a key role in a number of collections, coming in a variety of widths and textures including on evening gowns and high-waist swimsuits.

In the first half of 2009 belt sales performed significantly better than other accessories, rising 32 percent compared to a year earlier, according to NPD Group data.

The economy has forced designers to become more attuned to what the consumer is looking for and give them a compelling reason to buy, experts said.

In the past decade “consumers were afraid of missing out on the next big thing. Now that the paradigm has shifted, consumers are king again and they are pushing back. They are much more discerning in their purchases,” Ann Watson, a fashion retail consultant, told Reuters as she sat in the audience of Brazilian designer Carlos Miele’s show.

Maria Bogomolova, executive director of couture jewelry designer Alex Soldier said the well-heeled were prepared to open their wallets for unique pieces that were seen to be timeless. Alex Soldier’s jewelry retails from $995……”

I just posted 5 gorgeous color kits of the “Sparkling Draped Loop Collar” project from The Beader’s Color Palette. This is one luscious, extravagant beauty… and unbelievably easy to make. Check them out!

Japanese Beetle palette

Japanese Beetle palette

Bubblegum Glam palette

Bubblegum Glam palette

Passionfruit palette

Passionfruit palette

Spring Meadow palette

Spring Meadow palette

Starry Night palette

Starry Night palette

I had the honor and pleasure of teaching color and beading classes at the Great Lakes Beadworkers’ Guild. What an energetic, generous, and talented group of bead artists live up in Michigan! It was a joy-filled week, and I came back to my studio recharged and inspired.

One class I taught was the “Collar of Glass and Light” project from my book, The Beader’s Color Palette.

One of the class participants, Rhonda Gross, approached the project uniquely. I so enjoy the effects Rhonda achieved by repositioning the color arrangement in her version that I wanted to share it with you and note the differences. You can read the full version in the October 2008 installment of my FREE monthly color column PDF: Margie’s Muse.

Here’s a brief summary:

The book version of the “Collar of Glass and Light” distributes colors throughout the piece in such a way that each color gets equal focus, resulting in a mass of sparkling color and light with a tesselated patterned effect.

“Collar of Glass & Light” necklace by Margie Deeb
“Collar of Glass & Light” necklace by Margie Deeb
Rhonda Gross ordered the same group of colored triangle beads in a dark to light gradient from the neck outwards, creating the illusion of depth. Her arrangement is a bit more quiet and gentle, and the use of cool-toned silver rather than gold adds to the calm.
Rhonda Gross’s version of “Collar of Glass & Light”

Rhonda Gross’s version of “Collar of Glass & Light”

You can see close-up photos and understand more when you read the October 2008  Margie’s Muse.

Thank you, Rhonda, for letting me feature your work, and for inspiring me. Rhonda can be contacted at:

Materials kits for the “Collar of Glass & Light” will be available online after Oct 5, 2008 at


I love ancient jewelry! Look what I found on National Geographic! See the earliest known gold necklace created in the Western Hemisphere-found in a burial site near Lake Titicaca in Peru.