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Sunday, April 26, 2015


     I have been dying to write this post for months, but I had to wait so that I didn't spoil a wedding surprise last weekend.  Back in February, I had a lot of fun making statement earrings for my niece Melanie to wear on her wedding day.  She sent me a photo of the dress, we talked about what she might like, and then I made 3 pairs to give her a choice. 
     From the left, the photo shows a) a needle-woven pair with 3 mm Swarovski crystal pearls, fire polish rounds, crystal bicones and drops, and seed beads; b) a pair with glass flowers and silver chain holding dangles of 4mm pearls, 3mm pearls, and crystal rondelles; and c) another needle-woven pair with 8mm and 4mm Swarovski crystal pearls, crystal bicones, and silver-lined seed beads. 

Here are a few things that I learned from my earring marathon:

1.  Pinterest is a wonderful thing.  Of course you can look for photos of jewelry to inspire you and find beadwork patterns to follow (for free or a small fee), but the real advantage of a Pinterest board was as a place for discussion.  I set up a Wedding Jewelry board and designated my niece as a pinner so that we could both pin wedding jewelry that we liked and leave comments about the pinned photos.  It sure beat trying to do the planning through email, Facebook, or messaging.

2.  A good length for statement earrings is 2-2.5 inches (5-6.5 centimeters).  If your bride is taller or wants shoulder dusters, you can go crazy.  Just keep the weight of the earrings in mind; you don't want to make them too heavy to wear comfortably.

2.  Small, faux pearls are another wonderful thing because you can't find real ones anymore.  I wanted 2-3mm pearls for the earrings on the left (with the mint crystals) so I stopped at Wonder Sources, Inc. in NYC and talked to Mike, the owner.  Boy did I get an education on pearls!  It turns out that 2 and 3 mm pearls are hard to find these days because the pearl growers can make more money with the larger pearls so no one is growing small ones.  Apparently the sorting costs are the same for big and small pearls, so they don't bother with small ones anymore.

3.  Real pearls have very small holes, so you may not be able to use them in a design with many passes of thread.  I bought some real 4mm pearls but the holes were only large enough to get a 24 gauge headpin through them (to give you an idea of size), so they ended up on the earrings with all the dangles.  Luckily I figured this out before I plunked down the big bucks for 8mm pearls.

4.  If you need precision, you don't want real pearls.  I love the natural look of real pearls but a design like the one on the right would not work in real pearls; it needs the pearls to be the exactly the same size.

5.  Crystal Fireline in 4 or 6lb weight worked well for the needle-woven earrings, since you are dealing with sharp edges on the Swarovski crystal pearls and the crystals.  The 6lb worked the best but you could use 4lb in a pinch.  You would just need to make more passes through the earring to stiffen it.

So which pair did the bride wear on her big day?  Here are the winning earrings:

I was really thrilled to have helped make her wedding a special day.