Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Beadaholique Is Giving Away 10 Lifetime Artfire Pro eCommerce Stores

Exciting news, everyone!  We are holding a contest with really fantastic prizes, potentially worth thousands of dollars!!

Beadaholique has teamed up with ArtFire to offer 10 lucky people a FREE Lifetime ArtFire Pro Account. That means no monthly fees, no listing fees & no closing fees ever!
It's easy to participate. Just email us at with an email containing the following:
  1. A picture of jewelry that you've made using components purchased from;
  2. A list of the components from Beadaholique that you used.

We'll pick our 10 favorites, and those lucky people will receive an ArtFire Pro account for FREE for Life. Contest ends Friday, October 8th, 2010. 

There are no other fees to sell in this great marketplace. So 10 lucky winners will pay nothing to have their work in front of buyers this holiday season and for years to come!

Listing and selling on ArtFire is quick and easy. Each Artfire Pro account comes fully loaded with top-of-the line selling features. Normally, one of these Pro accounts costs $15.95/month (although they are running a special promotion through September 30th).  This means winners will save over $190 dollars a year!  This storefront will be yours for life, so we can’t even calculate what its final worth will be!

For more info, click here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Vive la Vintaj Revolution!

Designed by Kathy Mannix

By: Andrea Morici, Senior Designer

It is hard to remember life as a jewelry designer before Vintaj Natural Brass Co. came along.  Let's cast our minds back--what materials did we, as beaders, have available to us?  Well, we had our beads.  Beads are ancient, and although many new types have been designed over the centuries, not many can claim to have revolutionized the industry.  After all, it is rather difficult to reinvent the wheel.  What about metals, findings?  We had silver.  We had gold.  We did the best we could with what we had.

As someone who has had very little experience with soldering, I often found that I was searching for ways to create pieces that appeared more "metal-smithed", as opposed to just simply "beaded".  My options were limited as far as how to display a focal bead and make it look like it was placed in a real jeweler's setting.  This notion was especially difficult for me since I desired to evoke a vintage feel with my work.  I'm sure some (if not most) of you can relate.

Enter Vintaj Natural Brass Co.

Vintaj was started by sisters Wendy Mullane and Jeanne Holland along with their good pal, Jess Italia-Lincoln.  It all began when the two sisters were teaching a jewelry design class to a women's group at their church.  One day, a fortuitous thing happened:  Jeanne decided to pry open a filigree bead and wrap it around a glass bead, creating a technique that the folks at Vintaj have since dubbed "creative settings".  When they asked Jess Italia-Lincoln to climb on board, her marketing acumen and keen eye for unique design further propelled the sisters' vision.  Thus, Vintaj was born, and the world of jewelry-making has been (in this humble beader's opinion) forever changed.

In the past decade, the price of silver has nearly quintupled.  The price of gold has climbed into the stratosphere.  So it is no surprise that, for a while now, beaders have been experimenting with new, more affordable metal options.   Simultaneously, trends have been leaning toward vintage and earthy looks.  This is the perfect storm that helped make Vintaj as popular as it is.  The old-fashioned brass stampings, with the signature Vintaj natural, earthy patina are so versatile in color and in function.  Finally, I can display my most precious beads by wrapping them like little treasures in warm, antique-ish stampings.

We, as beaders, are very lucky to be practicing our craft during a time of great innovation in the industry.  The plated items that have come along in the past several years are of a much higher quality than those that used to be available.  Also, we have seen some very interesting metals (and metal finishes) take center stage.  Not only brass, but also copper, pewter, gunmetal, bronze and Shibuichi (among others), are becoming popular alternatives to standard silver and gold in the world of jewelry design.  And almost every metal or plated metal is available in antiqued finishes.  Of course, you cannot have all of these beads, pendants, and stampings coming in cool metals and finishes without the accompanying findings and chain, which are now widely available.  We are fortunate to have these options at our fingertips.  I personally think that Vintaj may have had a hand in opening the door to this brave new beading world.  For that, I thank them.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In Which The New Swarovski Crystal Colors & Effects Are Revealed

Yesterday I gave you a sneak preview of the Swarovski Crystal Innovations New Styles due out in the Fall.    Today, I’m revealing the new crystal colors, effects and whatnot that the Austrians will be unleashing upon the world.

New Color – Sunflower
A rich golden sunshine yellow, ideal for highlight colors, especially in combination with this season’s plum colors, and evoking a rich warm tone.  Combine with gold metal findings for a classic look, or gun metal finding for a fashion forward edge.

New Effect – Crystal Silver Night
A refined, almost translucent silver finish that works perfectly with Black Diamond and Jet Crystal, as well as with gun metal and antiqued silver findings, to work with the latest trend for classic yet edgy metallics.
New Pearl Color – Crystal Light Gold Pearl
A new classic neutral for pearls, ideal for both modern and vintage-inspired jewelry.   Mix with other light-colored Crystal pearls, or mix with gold and silver metallic crystals and metal findings.
New Protective Coatings – Crystal Bermuda Blue and Crystal Tabac
Have you been wondering why Swarovski hasn’t made the truly gorgeous Crystal Bermuda Blue finishes more available?  Turns out there was a problem with the effects, which are applied to the back of the crystals, wearing off with repeated skin contact and scratching easily.  Now that the new Protective Coating is coming out, you will see these finishes available on many more styles.
New Crystal Prints On Pendants and Beads
Do you wish this picture was bigger?  So do we!  But Swarovski  will be applying three different black graphic prints (looks like a paisley, a zebra print, and a botanical motif) onto three different clear crystal bead and pendant styles (looks like one of the baroque styles, and possibly the twist bead and the de-art pendant).  Funky!

Ceramics Marbled Seagreen – Line Extension
A soft sea-green color with varied flecks, including pink.  Will look great paired with soft pinks such as Light Rose and Vintage Rose.  This could also look really good with Vintaj Brass findings!
Ceramics Marbled Terracotta – Line Extension
A down-to-earth color, reminiscent of old clay pots and nature’s autumn colors.  Will look great with brown hues from pale Silk, to Smoky Quartz. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Preview of Swarovski’s New Fall Crystal Styles and Colors

Swarovski’s done it again!

More crystal colors & coatings, a new crystal pearl color, and lots and lots of new styles of beads, pendants and flatbacks.  Today I will give you a sneak preview of some of the most exciting new styles.

Tomorrow, I’ll give it up on the new colors and finishes!
Here are just some of the exciting new crystal styles to look forward to this fall: 
Large Hole Beads for Pandora-style Jewelry and Thick Fibers:
Some of your favorite crystal bead styles are coming out with large holes, the better to use with your Pandora-style bracelets and necklaces.  These larger holes will also be fantastic for those of you who really like to contrast materials and textures:  these beads will be perfect for combining with faux-leather, ribbon, satin and thick waxed cotton cords.  This earthy/heavenly look is very popular.
More new styles:
New Helios Pendant: New Wild Heart Crystal Pendant:
New Xilion Mini-Pear Pendant: New Clover Bead:
New Lucerna Bead: New Baroque Pearl in 6mm Size:
New Butterfly Flat Back: New Lochrose Sew-On:
    New  Hexagon Sew-On Stone:

Monday, September 6, 2010

Craft Fairs vs. Swap Meets?

So you’ve been making jewelry for a little while now.   Your friends, family, even friends of friends, buy pieces from you.  You’re working on setting up your Etsy store, but you’re looking for more ways to sell your jewelry.

Many jewelry designers get their start selling to the public at craft fairs or swap meets.  These two types of venues share quite a few characteristics:  you will usually have to pay for your 'booth' or 'table' space.   Some places may actually demand a percentage of sale in addition, though this is not really a sign of a quality setup (unless, of course, the percentage goes to a charity).

You will also have to provide your own displays and table cloth, at the very least.  I used to use black microfiber stretch velvet as a table cloth, as I could purchase whatever yardage I chose, it folded up easily without ever wrinkling, and dust could easily be shaken out of it.

When you purchase jewelry displays be mindful of whether you are at indoor or outdoor fairs, and of how difficult the displays are to transport, assemble, and keep clean with repeated uses.   Thin cardboard displays will not last long, and velvet displays will get dusty.  You may prefer 'leatherette' covered displays, or wooden ones, since you can wipe them clean.  You can make some stunning displays using old picture frames -- fill them with stretch velvet-covered foam core board (use jeweler's u-pins to attach jewelry), or with chicken wire. 

Many fairs will require that you bring your own folding tables, and chairs too.  Make sure you get items that will fit in your vehicle, and that you can lift and set up yourself.  If you attend outdoor fairs on a regular basis, you may need to get yourself a collapsible canopy to protect you and your customers from the sun and rain. I would also strongly advise getting a really good sun-blocking hat, and using sun-block generously.  Keep plenty of water and food on hand for yourself - even if you have an opportunity to leave your booth (doubtful!), fair food will be overpriced and probably junky.

Once you start filling your schedule with selling opportunities, don't forget to leave time for making more jewelry!  It might be hard to imagine now, but you will sell jewelry at one fair, and then you will need more to sell, possibly only a day or a week later.  This will be especially true in Fall and Winter, during the gift-buying season.  Many jewelry sellers start ramping up their materials-purchasing and jewelry-making in August and September so that they will have enough goods for the holidays.

All of the above are common considerations for both art fairs and swap meets.   However, there are differences between the two, and you may find that one is better for you than the other depending on a few factors.   

Art/Gift/Craft fairs can be a great venue, because the buying public is already looking for what you're selling, and are prepared to pay a fair price for hand crafted items.   However, craft fairs are usually put on only once or twice a year by any given organization.  They also tend to come in seasonal clusters. Summer is a good time for these, due to weather,  but the canny seller will find many more of them in the winter holiday gift buying season.  

You will have to search out lots of different craft fairs to fill your calendar.   Check community newsletters, and check with local organizations such as neighborhood councils, schools, churches and youth groups to see if they are holding art or gift fairs. If you have a friend who works for a large company in an office building, ask them if their company puts on a gift fair before the winter holidays.  Your friend can contact their Human Resources department for information to pass along to you.  Companies will usually invite vendors into the lobby or some other common area for one day, so that employees can easily shop for holiday gifts on their break.

In general, the organizers of art or gift fairs may ask for photos of your work, and a typical price range, before they grant approval.   Apply early, before too many other jewelry makers do.  Fair organizers will be looking for a variety of quality goods at their fair and will not want too many jewelry vendors.

For those of you in the Los Angeles/South Bay area today, you can check out the "largest arts & crafts festival in Southern California"  at Hermosa Beach pier.  Details here.

Swap meets are another venue for jewelry makers.   They have a different customer profile and a different kind of scheduling than gift fairs.

People who go to swap meets are either looking for antiques, inexpensive goods like tube socks, or fun fashion that is cheap cheap cheap.   Keep in mind that most people do not head out to a swap meet thinking, “Today I’m going to buy myself a brand new $100 necklace.”   Must of us go to swap meets thinking, "Today I'm going to look for some deals!"

Given this lower price expectation at swap meets, you will need to consider if they are an appropriate venue for your work.  If your work is labor-intensive, and/or made from costly materials, you may not be able to get anyone to pay you a fair price at a swap meet.

However, if you can turn out some inexpensive jewelry without sacrificing your standards or aesthetic, you may be able to move a lot of it at a swap meet.  Remember, inexpensive does not mean 'unprofitable!'  Charge enough money to cover *all* of your costs and pay for your labor.  People will try to bargain with you.  Make sure you have your 'lowest' price fixed firmly in your mind and don't be afraid to say 'no.'  One good trick is to tell people they can have a discount if they buy more than one, or more than two, items.

I sold my jewelry for  years at a major swap meet, competing for shoppers' attention with hundreds and hundreds of sellers selling a myriad of second-hand and bargain items.   I found that the best way to attract people to my booth was with prominently signed deals, such as “$5 Earrings!” displayed in an attention-getting way, such as in a decorative picture frame.   Impulse buyers couldn’t resist this kind of signage.   In between the bargains, I displayed higher priced items, such as necklaces and bracelets, and more expensive earrings.  Shoppers who came for the deals often stayed to peruse everything else on the table.

Besides lower price points, swap meets usually require dedication and hard work.  You may have to get on a waiting list for a booth.  Swap meets are grueling - you will have to show up early in the morning, and do a complete set up before customers arrive.  After a full day, possibly spent outdoors in sun or rain, you will have to break everything down, repack your vehicle, drive home and then unpack.  You will have to repeat this schedule every month, or even every week, lest you lose your spot.  Some months will be profitable, and some months you may not recoup your booth fees.  But you will have to hang in there to keep your booth space.

When I started out at the swap meet, I actually sublet a part of a friend's clothing booth, and placed my jewelry on a piece of cloth on a tiny folding table (a tv snack table!) in a back corner of the booth.  That first month, I didn't sell a single item!   The next month, I convinced my friend with the booth to allow me a little more 'frontage', and I put up two tiny tables, and invested in some cheap necklace displays, so some of the jewelry was hanging upright and visible.  I even pinned earrings to the necklace displays.

Over the next few months, I started selling a few items, and learned what stopped people in their tracks, and what people liked to buy.  I worked on making better jewelry, sourcing better and lower-priced materials, and I slowly purchased more jewelry displays and a bigger table.   Thanks to my friend, I was able to ease into the swap meet world at a relatively low cost.

When I eventually got my own large booth, my jewelry was better, and my merchandising and pricing were better.  I was ready to be a profitable seller of my own hand-made jewelry.   Some months I did very well indeed!

I strongly recommend trying one or both of kinds of fairs for selling your jewelry, if you can.  It’s a great way to expose your work to a wider audience.  And, importantly enough, it is a great way for you to get really useful feedback about your jewelry.

Maintain a pleasant demeanor at your booth, and do not take people’s remarks personally.  You may make a sale by educating people about your jewelry (”That’s real amethyst, and vermeil, which is made of...” --you get the picture), or you may get educated by your customers.

When the third person puts your favorite necklace back down on the table after trying it on and saying it’s too short, or they wish it was a different color, engage them in a friendly chat about jewelry.  Ask them how long they like their necklaces to be, or what colors/gemstones they like.  Take mental note of their age and personal dress style.   If people tell you they're looking for a certain kind of jewelry that they saw on an actress on a tv show, or something that 'everyone' is wearing,  do your research.  Can you make something you like that fits in with current fashions?  Bring this information back into your jewelry designs. 

I learned some good lessons at the swap meet, even some embarrassing ones (is anything worse than when a beaded piece breaks in the hands of someone who is simply trying to put it on?).   There are always people who will sniff and say they only wear 'real' jewelry (translation: gold and diamonds).  Just smile!   There are always people who will say right in front of you that they (or their best friend) could make the same thing easily.   Just smile and agree, "It's fun to do, isn't it?"

People will pick up your beloved jewelry and toss it down again in a messy pile.  Just smile, and straighten your display as soon as it is polite to do so.   Keep a 'beady' eye on your table to prevent theft.   If you look alert and meet people's eyes, casual shoplifters usually won't try anything.  Oh, and never ever ever tell somebody where you get your materials, or how to make jewelry.  You worked hard for your knowledge.  Don't give it away!

If any of you have tips on ways to sell your jewelry, please share by commenting below!!


Friday, September 3, 2010

Jewelry Trends

by Andrea Morici
Senior Designer, Beadaholique

Well, it's September already and fall is rapidly approaching.  This is my favorite time of year, fashion and otherwise.  For me, one of the most exciting parts about this month is my annual trek down to the local bookstore to pick up the monstrously thick fall issues of the leading fashion magazines.  "978 Pages of Glorious Fall Fashion!", or something to that effect is usually plastered across the front page in tantalizing bold print.   

As a jewelry designer, I'm sure everyone can guess what I'm looking for: jewelry trends.  I am never happier than when the high fashion jewelry designs that I spot on the glossy pages of Bazaar or Vogue are easily replicable by the likes of me, a humble beader.  This year, after wading through page after page of outlandish accessories such as humongous metal chokers that resemble torture devices and thick blinged-out bangles piled halfway up the arm, I started to recognize a simpler, more subtle jewelry trend: the pendant on a chain. 

I know it sounds utterly basic, but just think about the options we have as beaders!  We now have so many different styles of chain available in bright and antiqued metal finishes.  We can make the chain long, we can wear it short.

We can layer!  And as for the pendants, the sky is the limit.  You can create your own pendant using wire-wrapping techniques and gemstones.  You can add multiple pendants and charms to one chain.  You can mix metals.

This trend is very doable, and oh-so-versatile. 

I myself can't wait to don a turtleneck sweater, a chic jacket, a pair of tailored wool pants, some ultra-cool wedge ankle booties, and most importantly, a long chain with a super awesome pendant (or two, or three) suspended from it.  I'm especially thrilled about the prospect of experimenting with resin in my pendants.  Stay tuned for the results of that adventure.  What about you, dear beader-reader?  Have you seen any jewelry trends lately that have knocked your proverbial socks off?  If so, I would very much love to hear about them!

Happy beading, and happy fall to one and all.

P.S. Here are a few pendant-friendly projects (with free instructions!) designed by Andrea - Ed.

Lover's Embrace Necklace
Buttercup Necklace

Frog Pad Necklace
Iridescent Ice Necklace

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Exciting Ezel Color Filigree

We get a lot of beautiful and original beads and findings on our website.  My fiscally responsible business partner is always telling me to be careful, and to not buy too much of anything at any one time.  "Try to gauge the market, guess what people will want to buy.  Don’t fall too much in love with anything," he says.

I try to be good, I really really do.  But sometimes something comes along that’s just so pretty and so unique, that I have to have it ALL.   That was the case when I saw the gorgeous colored filigree stampings from Ezel.

I went crazy and got a huge variety of the most gorgeous filigree!!  The great thing about the color on this filigree is that it is a type of epoxy, not enamel, so the filigrees can be gently bent, which is great for adding dimensionality and layering.

Seriously, how could you resist this black paisley filigree stamping?   

Or these leaves?

And then there are the filigree circles
the fancy chandelier shapes,
and the butterflies!

That’s all very well, you may be saying, but what do you do with this stuff?   Well here are just a few projects that our designers have made with these colored stampings.  Click on the photos to get free instructions.   These filigrees are so much fun!

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