Sunday, February 7, 2010

Incorporating pearls into chain - Pearl Copper Fusion necklace

This piece started the other day as a great experiment with weaving beads into a piece of chain. It seems like a pretty simple idea, no? I thought so. I'd imagine that it's been done many times over by other jewelry artists, but, I had this vision of a strand of caged-looking pearls in my mind's eye when I started--something that a bride could wear to her wedding, even if that wedding would need to be a hair's width shy of traditional for something like it to be acceptable.

So, I began with two different sizes of 20 gauge copper rings that were cut quite awhile ago. 1/8" inner diameter for one and 3/16" inner diameter for the other. The idea was to construct a bead cage inspired somewhat by the basic byzantine weave. I could go on for ages about how much I love the byzantine, but it was those carrot-like angles that open towards each other in the byzantine that were the source of my inspiration here. What if I put a bead in there instead of a pair of rings? How could I accomplish something like that? Well, the result is not quite a byzantine with beads woven in, but more of a little creation of my mind and experimentation. Essentially, what I've done is create a frame around each bead using those two different sized rings, and I think it looks quite interesting!

What I really love about this particular piece is that it holds its shape quite nicely. In fact, whether it's hanging or laying flat, it looks the same. Huzzah! Achieving a piece that looks as beautiful laying flat on a table as it does around your neck is jewelry perfection, in my opinion *nervous laugh*.

I wove about 12 inches of pearls and copper rings before switching the chain to a basic 2-in-2 weave. The reason I did this was to make the piece adjustable in size, because it is meant to be worn as a collar/choker style necklace. It can be as small as about 13.5 inches and as large as nearly 18 inches. A small hook allows you to hook into any pair of rings in the 2-in-2 portion of the chain, making it as tight or loose as you like. This lets anyone get pretty much the perfect fit, no matter how they would prefer to wear it.

I finished the piece by hanging a Swarovski rivoli (a round cut pointed back "gemstone") mounted in antiqued copper to the front center pearl. From this lovely piece of clear crystal I dangled two rice-shaped white pearls, each capped with copper and connected to the crystal link with the same small copper rings I used in the rest of the necklace.

The pearls I used are about 6-7mm in diameter and are probably C or D grade pearls (they have nice luster, but many are almost a peanut in shape with very visible banding around the center). What's interesting about using these particular grade of pearls here is that when caged in the copper rings, the irregular shape of the pearls begins to disappear, making the entire piece look a bit more expensive than it really is. I love it!

I decided to call this necklace "Pearl Copper Fusion". I know it is not a rather inventive name, but as it is my most successful experiment yet with weaving any type of bead into a chain, it works. I am actually quite fond of this particular piece, but it will likely be listed soon in my Etsy shop. ^_^