October Birthstone: Opal and Tourmaline

October Birthstone: Tourmaline and Opal
Zodiac Stones
Libra September 23rd-October 23rd: Chrysolite
Scorpio October 24th-November 21st: Beryl

Opal Specimens

Opal Specimens

Opals are famous for their colors, which cover the entire rainbow spectrum in brilliant flashes. Opals have a unique non-crystalline structure of submicroscopic silica spheres that are held together with silica and water. The ‘play of colors’ develops in volcanic cavities and openings as the silica hardens into an opal. Colors are added with the presence of different materials, yellow and red opals have inclusions of iron oxides, black, green, blue and red opals contain carbon and magnesium. Opals measure low to medium on the Moh’s hardness scale, coming in between 5-6, and are best cut into cabochons or carved into beads. Opals have a reputation for drying out, or becoming dehydrated, but only some of the lower gem quality has this problem. To make the most of opal materials, thin slices are cut and mounted onto a black onyx backing making a doublet. Additionally, a magnifying glass layer can be added to the top making a triplet. These layers help stabilize and improve the look of the stone as well as extending the raw material. Other types of opal are Mexican fire opal and Peruvian blue and pink opal, these rarely display the ‘play of color’, instead they have a milky soft color play with inclusions of clear watery opal.

Opal rough, ready to be made into cabochons.

Rough opals, ready to be made into cabochons.

The brightest and largest amounts of gem quality opals are primarily mined in Australia.  Other sources of opal include Nevada and Idaho, the Czech Republic, South America, and Ethiopia.  In late 2008, NASA announced that it had discovered opal deposits on Mars. In 1974, Pierre Gilson created the first synthetic opals that rivaled the natural, with a very regular ‘play of color’. These synthetic opals are not opal imitations but material containing some of the silica as an opal would with the addition of resins to harden.

Mexican Fire Opal beads

Mexican Fire Opal beads

Opals have a long history of being in and out of fashion; sometimes they are associated with good fortune and considered lucky. Other eras see opals much in disfavor, discoloring if the wearer is in bad health, opals worn by sufferers of the Black Death would discolor as the wearer had extremely high fevers, and dull as they passed away. The origin of the name ‘opal’ is even up for debate, some point to a Roman connection to the word ‘opalus’ while others choose the link to the Sanskrit ‘upala’ or the Latin ‘opalis’ meaning lucky stone. Opals are the talisman of thieves and spies as opals may confirm invisibly on the wearer. Opals are regarded as the stone that symbolizes hope.


Pink Peruvian Opal beads.

Tourmaline is also a stone of many colors: pink, green, yellow, brown, and black are all within the color spectrum of tourmaline. Its makeup is a complex aluminous borosilicate material with other metals mixed in to create colors. Tourmaline is trigonal, meaning its crystals form in a triangle, unique among common minerals. High on the Moh’s hardness scale, 7-7.5, it is a stone well suited to faceting as well as carving into beads. Tourmaline is a name thought to come from Sri Lanka, ‘”tourmali” meaning something out of the earth, and is used to describe yellow, green or brown tourmaline. Bi-color or watermelon tourmaline is highly prized, green with a transition to pink, resembling the cross-section of a watermelon. Tourmaline is piezoelectric, meaning will build and hold static charge if rubbed firmly against fabric or heated. Irradiation is often applied to enhance pink and red stones.


Tourmaline bead strands.

Tourmalines are mined around the world, Africa, South America and the US, in Maine and southern California.

Tourmalines are separated into their color groups when used to promote metaphysical qualities. Green and watermelon are used to promote peace and harmony, green is especially helpful for restful sleep. Pink is associated with grieving or loss of love, eases pain and promotes compassion. Yellow is for the academic, and helpful in business. Blue tourmaline is used for inner peace and self-expression.

Using Opal and Tourmaline in your designs

Opal beads of true gem quality can be very pricy.  Fire opal, pink, blue opals are much less expensive and widely available. The rich red-orange-brown of fire opal is a natural mix with gold.  As opals are quite lightweight (compared to some gemstones) make multiple strands to really push the color and texture forward.

Tourmalines offer so many colors! Many strands come with the colors graduated from one color to the next, try to keep them in order for the most sleek use of all the colors. Or break up the colors into separate piles so each group is more monochromatic. Tourmaline looks especially good with oxidized silver.

We have a winner!!

We put the random number generator to work today and chose a winner from the comments on our Design Team post. The winner was Cassi and she wrote “I have loved what Lori did with this kit –now I’m off to visit the other participants!”

Well Cassi, we are so glad you did, because YOU WON!!! (We actually already heard from Cassi and she said…and we quote “I’m so excited!” We are too, and your kit will be on its way soon. You can check out her beady blog at this link.

Stay tuned, all… because we have our next team challenge coming up in January. Thanks for all of your terrific comments. We love that you loved the challenge as much as we did.

Baubles & Beads Design Team REVEAL 9/18 and GIVEAWAY

Comments are closed!! We will post a winner shortly!

We are excited! It’s time for the first EVER Baubles & Beads Design Team Reveal. We are so pleased that our talented team has worked so hard to create some fantastic pieces. We have received a few sneak peek photos from our participants and want to share a teaser with you.


They look so cool even in their masked state, right?? We think so, too. The reveal is Wednesday, September 18th and you can find each post on the designer’s blogs listed below. Click on over and check out what they made AND you’ll find a special discount coupon code for our online store as well.

We had so many comments from readers about how much they loved the kit that we sent out to our Design Team, that we thought we would celebrate by having a little giveaway as well.


Photo courtesy of Lori Anderson

One lucky reader of our Bead Shop Girl Blog will win a design team bead pack. It’s exactly like the one pictured above that we sent to team member Lori Anderson.

If you’d like to win, just leave a comment below on our blog and we will pick one winner at random on Wednesday, September 25 and announce it here on the blog.

Thanks so much Team! You are amazing and talented and we are so exited that you liked your challenge pieces. Look for our next team challenge after the beginning of the year, but for now here is the list of the entire team, with photos. Click through to each Design Team Member to see their entire posts. So much inspiration. Enjoy checking it out!

Click here to see Jean’s entire post.

Jean Yates

Click here to see Erin’s entire post

Erin Prais-Hintz

Click here to see Michelle’s entire post.

Michelle Mach

Click to see Keirsten’s entire post.

Keirsten Giles

Click here to see Lori’s entire post.

Lori Anderson

Marie-Noel Voyer-Cramp** Marie got her beads just a trifle late, her post will be up soon!

September Birthstone: Sapphire

Alternate Birthstone: Lapis Lazuli
Ancient Birthstone: Carnelian
Zodiac sign for Virgo August 23-September 22: Sapphire
Libra September 23- October 22: Opal


Dark blue sapphire beads

Those born in September claim sapphire as their birthstone. Blue sapphire is a variant of corundum, ranging in color from a pure blue, light blue or darker shades and can have a dark greenish to violet-blue undertone. Medium blues with a violet tint are the most valuable and sought after. Multiple colors of sapphire are common, known as pink, orange, green, or purple sapphire and all are corundum with differing minerals or metals accounting for the variation in color.  Colorless or white sapphires have no minerals influencing their color. Blue sapphires are colored with a combination of titanium and iron, producing a blue hue. Sapphires like other corundum are very hard, a 9 on the Moh’s scale, and so are also used in industrial applications. Lab grown sapphire is used for bulletproof windows for armored cars and glass covers of instrument gauges in very high heat and pressure situations. Most sapphires are heat-treated to intensify the color and remove internal flaws, improving color and clarity. Natural gem quality stones are rare, and should have certification that they have had no treatment.


Rich multicolor sapphire beads.multisapphires

Gem quality sapphires are mined around the world. Australia, Sri Lanka, and Madagascar are primary suppliers. In the US, Montana has several locations where sapphires are mined from deposits and the most recently opened mine, the Yogo, produces fine blue sapphires.

Sapphires get their name from several ancient roots, Latin, sapphirus meaning blue, and the Arabic saphir. It is known as the ‘”Celestial stone” and used in many religions from a  sign of the heavenly realm, to gods like Apollo, and the Virgin Mary. Sapphires are believed to offer protection from harm and envy, ensure fidelity and guard one from snakes and serpents.

An alternate to sapphire for a September birthstone is another blue stone, Lapis Lazuli. Its deep blue color has been an attraction for generations. The blue color varies from true dark blue to violet and greenish blue. Its color can be improved with heat and dyeing treatments. The mineral composition of lapis is lazuirte, a feldspothoid silicate mineral. It may contain, white bands of calcite, blue sodalite, and pyrite. Lapis is a soft stone 5-6 on the Moh’s scale which means it is easy to cut into cabochons and beads.

Lapis lazuli has been associated with truth, friendship and harmonious relationships. When worn next to the body lapis is said to help with headaches, sore throats and varicose veins.


Natural lapis rough from Afghanistan


Faceted and smooth lapis beads

Suggestions for using sapphire and lapis lazuli in your jewelry

Try mixing blue sapphires with black, onyx or faceted spinel, the darker color with enhance the blue color. Just a few beads? Use precious stone beads to their best advantage, an illusion knotted necklace shows off just a few lovely beads. Colorful mixed sapphire beads have warm tones, adding gold will make for a ‘rich’ design.

Lapis lazuli is often set in silver for rings, pendants and bracelets, blended with turquoise, coral, spiny oyster and sugilite in the Native American jewelry palette. Lapis is a natural mate for pyrite, in a gold-ish metallic color.

Introducing the Baubles & Beads Blogger Design Team

We are super excited to announce the debut of the Baubles & Beads Blogger design team. We sent the call out in late July and FIVE top bead bloggers agreed to join in on the fun.


Here is the story…
Each of the five bloggers received a package of beads, cord, findings and other cool stuff from our online shop. Each blogger is going to work their design magic with the components that we sent and put their own creativity to the test.

Check out what we sent them…
bbchallengekitImage from Michelle Mach’s blog Beads and Books

Each blogger received the same package with color variations. Their challenge is to create 1-3 pieces of  jewelry that incorporates the collection that we sent over.

You can check out our five talented bloggers at the links below…

  • Name: Erin Prais-Hintz
  • Blog: http://treasures-found.blogspot.com/
  • About: Erin Prais-Hintz is a creator, inspirationalist, encourager and connector. Everyone has a story to share, and Erin finds great joy in telling those unique stories through her one-of-a-kind treasures. She has been featured in dozens of publications including: Stringing;  Bead Trends; 101 Bracelets, Necklaces & Earrings; Bead It Today; Bead Soup; 30 Minute Bracelets; Polymer Clay Global Perspectives; Showcase 500 Art Jewelry Necklaces. She is an exhibiting member at Gallery Q in Stevens Point, WI. You can find her popular Simple Truths at http://www.TesoriTrovati.Etsy.com or her jewelry for sale at http://www.TesoriTrovati.com.
  • Name: Keirsten Giles
  • Blog: http://cerebraldilettante.blogspot.com
  • About:  Keirsten says, “I’m a learner at heart, and the process of learning a new skill is what gets me up in the morning. As soon as I feel I’ve mastered one skill, I move onto the next. I get bored if I use the same techniques for too long. What I didn’t know when I started out making jewelry is that there is a virtually unlimited world of techniques and skills to explore and master, which makes it a perfect medium for someone like me. I’m only limited by the hours in the day.””I work a full time day job, so I find myself making jewelry in strange places and at odd times. I work in my car, parked at the local park, nearly every lunch hour, working on metal components. It’s amazing what you can do with a board in your lap, a hammer and a bench block. I’ve made jewelry in campgrounds, in empty offices at work, and in the driveway at home. We live in a tiny house, so I have to be really resourceful with space, and find ways to make do with a minimal amount of equipment and tools. I think this has made me innovative. My “”studio”” consists of a couch, a coffee table, a kitchen counter, the floor, and of course my little car.”
  • Name: Michelle Mach
  • Blog: www.michellemach.com/blog
  • About: Michelle Mach is a jewelry designer who edits jewelry books and writes mostly about beads and jewelry.  More than 100 of her original jewelry designs have appeared in Jewelry Stringing, BeadStyle, Bead-It Today, Bead Trends, Beadwork, and other magazines.  She sells her handmade jewelry on Etsy and in selected U.S. galleries.
  • Name: Marie-Noel Voyer-Cramp
  • Blog: http://skyejewels.blogspot.com
  • About: Marie-Noel says “I have been married for almost 10 years, we have 4 growing and busy children. I just beat Breast cancer after a long fight. We live in Calgary Alberta in beautiful Canada. I am a published jewelry designer, a scrapbooker and card maker, with an intense passion for creating. Please visit my website at http://skyejewels.com as well as two Etsy shops. I truly LOVE to read your comments on my blog and hope you will follow me on my journey :)”
  • Name: Lori Anderson
  • Blog: http://www.prettythingsblog.com/
  • About: Lori is a mover and shaker in the online bead blog world. She is the driving force behind the very popular online Bead Soup Blog Party. She is the author of the popular book “Bead Soup” based on the hop. You can find out more about Lori’s journey through the bead world as well as information on eBooks and tutorials, on her blog.

Photo from Jean Yates.Image from Jean Yates’ blog “Snap out of it Jean, There’s beading to be done!”

Thanks so much for joining us, you super-talented bunch of ladies! We can’t wait to see what you come up with. Check back on September 18th for the reveal on what each blogger created. Meanwhile, make sure and check the blogger links above. A wealth of bead-related beauty awaits you.

Huib Petersen: Flowers, Ocean Life and Right-Angle Weave

Huib Petersen
Showing at Baubles & Beads
Thru September 30th

For many years Huib Petersen’s jewelry enchanted those of us lucky enough to connect with him. With a studio in San Francisco, he was one of our local treasures. After nearly two decades he remains a local treasure, the greatest difference being that we must now share him with the world. Recognized internationally for his designs and instruction, Huib is now one of the most sought after designers for bead woven jewelry depicting flowers, ocean life, and right-angle weave structured forms. We are honored to showcase 18 pieces from his collection, including bracelets, necklaces and handlets, each piece worthy of awe.

Wall Flowers

Wall Flowers Necklace

Needlecrafts first caught Huib’s attention when he was a child growing up in a small town in Holland. Encouraged by his mom, grandma, and the local needlecraft store owner, he picked up crochet, knitting, tatting, macramé, bobbin lace, needle lace, and embroidery with ease.

Going Medieval

Going Medieval

In high school, Huib discovered the theater and loved every aspect of it. He strengthened his existing skills and learned new ones — acting, directing, puppetry, costume design, stage design, backdrop painting, singing, and writing.

In 1995, Huib moved from Holland to San Francisco and opened a small arts and crafts workshop and gallery on Nob Hill. Inspired by a chance encounter with 19th-century Russian beadwork, he discovered the beauty and challenges of designing with beads.

Swim Around My Wrist Bracelets

Swim Around My Wrist Bracelets

Huib uses different sizes of beads as a building material — like little bricks — and a variety of traditional stitches as a flexible, tensile sort of mortar. Placing beads one by one, row by row on top of each other, he combines his needlework, theater, and jewelry skills to create sculpted bugs, butterflies, birds, and sea creatures in their environments. The result is a unique kind of wearable art that offers the intricacy of embroidery and lace, the depth of a theater set and the durability and brilliance of glass.

Enchanted Waters

Enchanted Waters

Huib has been doing beadwork full-time for many years and all of his pieces are unique. His work is featured in Beading Across America. As an instructor, his endless creative energy is very apparent in the classroom and to all of us who know and work with him.

You can view more of Huib’s work on exhibit at our store in Berkeley, CA or visit his website.

DIY -Riveted Leather Bracelet

rivetsampleTools Needed
Hole punch
Chasing hammer or brass hammer
Rivet setter with mini anvil

Materials Needed
1 foot length of leather or ultra suede strip, 1/2″ wide
3 woven disks
5 compression rivets
A clasp

The most difficult aspect of this project is correctly sizing the bracelet. This step is easiest if completed prior to adding any embellishment to the bracelet.

Attaching the clasp & sizing the bracelet

Step 1: Make two marks on the leather to indicate where holes need to be punched. The first mark should measure 1/4″ from the end of the leather strip while the second hole should measure 1 1/2″ from the end of the strip.

Step 2: Use a hole punch to pierce the leather. Make certain that the hole is centered on the leather strip.

Mark two holes at one end of the leather. Use a hole punch to pierce the leather.

Mark two holes at one end of the leather. Use a hole punch to pierce the leather.

Step 3: Feed the leather through the closed end of the “Z” clasp.

Step 4: Bring the two sides of the leather together by feeding both sides of the compression rivet together through the pierced holes. The eyelet side of the rivet should be positioned on the inside of the bracelet while the domed side of the rivet should face the front of the bracelet.

Step 5: Position the rivet in the rivet setting tool. Gently hammer the rivet closed by hitting the end of the riveter several times.

TOOL TIP: The concave sides of both the riveter and anvil help maintain the domed shape of the compression rivets. We prefer to use the flat side of the anvil for the back of the rivet and the concave side of the riveter for the front (domed cap side) of the rivet.

Position the leather thru the closed end of the clasp and secure it in place by inserting both sides of the compression rivet. Use the rivet setter to fasten the rivet.

Position the leather thru the closed end of the clasp and secure it in place by inserting both sides of the compression rivet. Use the rivet setter to fasten the rivet.

Step 5: Wrap the bracelet around your wrist and feed the opposite end of the leather thru the “Z” clasp. Make certain there is a little slack in the bracelet length as it is needed to be able to fasten and unfasten the leather loop that is about to be made.

Step 6: Cut the leather strip leaving 3/4″ from where it folds over the second side of the clasp. Mark and pierce the holes using the same measurements used in Step #1.

Step 7: Bring the two sides of leather together by inserting the rivet into strips with the domed side of the rivet facing the outside of the bracelet. Use the rivet setter and anvil to tighten the rivet closed.

Wrap the bracelet around your wrist and double the opposite end around the "Z" clasp.

Wrap the bracelet around your wrist and double the opposite end around the “Z” clasp. Cut the leather to size, mark where the holes should be and pierce the leather. Secure the leather in place by riveting the end closed.

The bracelet form is now complete. If needed, the open end of the clasp can be adjusted open a bit more to accommodate ease of attaching the leather loop. CAREFUL: the clasp can break if pulled apart too much, a little space goes a long way.

The completed bracelet form.

The completed bracelet form.

Adding embellishment to the bracelet

Step 8: Mark and pierce three holes for the bracelet embellishment. Begin by marking the center point of the bracelet then make a mark on either side 1 1/4″ away.

Mark and pierce three holes to accommodate the disc embellishment.

Mark and pierce three holes to accommodate the woven disk embellishment.

Step 9: Secure the woven disk to the leather strap by feeding a rivet, domed end in front, through both pieces.

Step 10: Hammer the rivet in place using the rivet setter and anvil.

Step 11: Repeat Steps 9 & 10 to attach the two remaining disks.

Attach embellishment discs to the leather bracelet by riveting them in place.

Attach embellishment disks to the leather bracelet by riveting them in place.

August’s Birthstone -Peridot

Alternate birthstone: Sardonyx
Ancient birthstone: Sardonyx, carnelian, moonstone and topaz
Zodiac stones for Leo July 23-August 22: Onyx
Virgo August 23-September 22: Carnelian

Strands of peridot beads

Strands of peridot beads

Lucky are those born in the heat of the summer month of August! Their birthstone, Peridot, is a vivid green with hints of gold to match the saturated summer colors. The gem form of olivine, peridot’s chemical composition, iron magnesium silicate produces the intense green-gold color of peridot. Shades of peridot can spread over the green-yellow-brown spectrum, depending on the area the stone is mined and the amount of iron in the material. Peridot is never manmade, or treated to change its color, common mistaken identities could be green garnet, emerald, tourmaline and glass.

With a hardness on 6.5-7 on the Moh’s scale it is a fairly sturdy stone, it should be protected from acids, abrasive rubbing on harder materials and not steam or ultrasonically cleaned. The island of Zabargad, which means ‘Olivine’ in Arabic) east of Egypt in the Red Sea was the primary source of peridot for the Egyptians and the ancient world. Peridot was made into beads and cabochons set into religious artifacts as well as royal jewels. Currently mined in several locations around the world including Hawaii, Arizona, Burma, Afghanistan, China and a particularly fine deposit in Kashmir, Pakistan. It is also a stone mined in antiquity. Peridot is a generous metaphysical stone; it helps with overall wellness, especially to the internal digestive system, is good for producing restful sleep and even assists in financial matters.

Sardonyx is the alternate birthstone for August, a stone with alternating reddish-brown (sard) and white (agate) in parallel bands. Its name and appearance can be confusing as well as common variations on its name. Sard is a deep brownish red stone (in the microcrystalline quartz family) onyx is the name applied to the black and white banded or wholly black stone. Sardonyx is a member of the onyx family with red instead of black layers. Separating sard and carnelian is more difficult; stones called carnelian (reddish-brown chalcedony) looks very similar to sard. Sard is usually the term describing the darker and more brownish material with out layers.  Its most popular use of Sardonyx  is for carving cameos, intaglio cabochons, cabochons and beads. The layers of white are carved in different depths with the colored material forming the background. Sardonyx is a 7 on the Moh’s scale, very durable, but soft enough for carving. Mined widely around the world. Brazil, Madagascar, India and Uruguay are large producers.  Sardonyx is the stone for students as it helps to assist in the processing and retention of new information. It is known to increase stamina, self-control, as an aid to happy relationships, and encourage an optimistic outlook.

Sardonyx cameo ring.

Sardonyx cameo ring.

Suggestions for using peridot or sardonyx in your designs

Mix the lush green-gold of peridot with gold beads for a classic look that Cleopatra could have envied! A lighter touch of peridot could be to mix peridot with either crystal quartz, green aquamarine, or green kyanite. The reddish-brown and white of Sardonyx has an ageless quality, mix it with oxidized silver for a traditional piece or look to white agate, gray moonstone or dark carnelian for good color matches.

Read more about peridot at the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) website.

DIY -Galaxy Bracelet

GalaxysamplesTools Needed
Light-duty wire cutters
Chain nose pliers (2 pairs are helpful)
Hypo-Tube cement

Materials Needed For a 7″ Bracelet
1 1/2 yards .5mm leather
1 foot 3mm rolo chain, cut into two 6″ lengths
7 inches 3mm rhinestone chain
Four 6mm 18 gauge jump rings
1 toggle clasp

This design is made by feeding leather through every other link of two chains using a figure-8 pattern. Rhinestone chain is “caught” in the middle by crossing the leather over both the front and the back of the chain, between the rhinestone links. When weaving the chain it is important to keep the leather loose so that it rests along the outside edge of the chain links.


Step 1: Attach a jump ring to the 1st link of each rolo chain using two pairs of chain nose pliers.

TIP: Notice how the links of the rolo chain are positioned so that each link alternates direction, one facing forward, one facing sideways. The leather is woven through the vertical links (those facing sideways).

Step 2: Feed the leather through the third link of each chain so that there are equal lengths of leather coming out each side of the chains.

Step 3: Feed one end of the leather into the next vertical link of both chains and pull it through loosely, using a figure-8 pattern.

Step 4: Feed the second end of the leather through the chains using the same technique so that both cords are running through the same links.


Step 5: Position the 1st link of the rhinestone chain between the two strands of leather, one piece in front and one piece behind the space in between the rhinestone links. Keep the tension on the leather loose enough for the rhinestone chain to be positioned between the two rolo chains and the leather cord resting on the outside edge of the horizontal link.


Step 6: Continue weaving the bracelet, feeding the leather cords through the vertical links in a figure-8 pattern, catching one rhinestone link with each stitch. Weave until the bracelet is 1 inch shorter than the desired finished length.

TIP: When weaving, drape the chains over your hand as you feed the leathers through, flipping the piece over as you work, feeding one leather on the front side of the piece and feeding the other leather through the backside of the piece.

Step 7:  Cut off any remaining rhinestone chain links and cut the rolo chains so that there are two links beyond the final leather stitch.


Step 8: Tie the two strands of leather together in a square knot on the inside of the bracelet. Use cement glue to secure the knot and allow it to dry for 10 minutes. When dry, trim the ends of the leather with light-duty wire cutters.

Step 9: Attach the last links of the rolo chain with a jump ring using two pair of chain nose pliers.


Step 10: Finish both ends of the bracelet by attaching each end of the clasp with a jump ring.

Designer’s Note: Adjustments to length can be made by using either longer or shorter chains. Adding additional jump rings at the end of the bracelet can also increase length. Enjoy!!

A big shout-out goes to Dean for the great design idea! Thanks, Dean -BSG

July’s Birthstone -Ruby

July Birthstone: Ruby
Ancient birthstones: Turquoise, Onyx
Zodiac Sign: Cancer June 21 – July 22
Zodiac Stone: Emerald
15th and 40th Anniversary stone

Smooth and faceted ruby beads.

Smooth and faceted ruby beads.

Rubies are a variety of the mineral corundum, an aluminum oxide mineral, with chromium responsible for its rich, red color. Rubies are harder than all other stones except diamond; registering a 9.0 on the Mohs hardness scale. As a durable stone it is suitable for everyday wear and set in a variety of jewelry, such as rings, pendants and earrings. Ruby beads are usually made from stones that have lower transparency but still show the medium red to slightly purplish red that is most desired. Large size rubies are especially rare. They are highly sought after and come from the mining areas of Burma and Thailand.

Rubies are a stone of passion; as the red color signifies the rule of the heart, wear rubies as a guard against psychic attacks and overly amorous desires. Rubies are said to cure bleeding and make warriors brave and invincible.

Turquoise beads.

Turquoise beads.

For those looking for a different take on the traditional, the ancient birthstones for July, turquoise and onyx, offer radically different colors. Sky blue turquoise has been sought after from ancient times, in the Middle East to the Americas. The blue color can range from a bright shade of blue to green depending on the copper content. Turquoise is a softer stone and usually cut for cabochons or beads. Onyx is a black version of chalcedony, sometimes variegated with stripes, it is prized for cutting both faceted and carved stones for jewelry. Usually dyed to enhance the dark color, black onyx takes a fine polish for a highly reflective surface.

Onyx beads.

Onyx beads.

Using rubies, turquoise and onyx in your jewelry adds so many options! The red of rubies works well with the warmth of gold, so mixing with gold beads is a sure bet. As rubies can be colored into the reddish purple color range adding a cool color like gray pearls may be a good match. Turquoise blends well across the color wheel, looking wonderful with the orange-red of coral or carnelian, and also with its closer neighbors like the cool-green amazonite. Traditional Native American’s use turquoise with silver, but mix in gold for a striking contrast. Onyx beads have a marvelous rich black color, a modern mix of color might be to mix them with opaque white agate, or with striped onyx beads. Black pearls and onyx would present a subtle mix, with the nacre of the pearls in contrast with the gloss of onyx.

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