Rock Solid Foundation. Stones to Strengthen.

'Twas the end of December, and all through the house, all creatures were frenzied; yes, even the mouse...

Reality check: Any mouse in my house *should* be frenzied. I have a kitten and she's speedy. However, the craziness that tends to come with Holiday season can get to be a bit much for us humans.

So, let's sit back, relax and take a look at some stones with metaphysical properties associated with strength.

We know that attributing properties to rocks may not be everyone’s thing. This blog is meant to inform and entertain, not preach.*

Quartz is said to strengthen and amplify any energy placed into it. It's also said to enhance the energy of other stone groups. Quartz is also believed to enhance the mind's ability to focus on the positive in place of the negative.If you're feeling like the whole "rocks having energy" thing is a little out there, it's worth noting that crystal quartz can can transform mechanical pressure or heat into electromagnetic energy, and vice versa. 

Carnelian is said to be a stone of action, helping us to overcome indecision or procrastination and increase feelings of independence. It is said to help enhance vitality and love of life and increase energy while helping to ward off negative energy, and feelings of jealousy or rage.

Red Jasper is known as the Stone of Endurance. It is said to bring physical strength, energy, and stamina. Red Jasper is also said to be a stone of emotional empowerment and courage.

Tiger Eye is said to boost will power, as well as emotional stability, and enhance energy. It is also said to boost hope, confidence, and optimism. Tiger Eye is also said to help people find confidence in their unique strengths and abilities while using them in alliance with their values.

Onyx is said to help develop emotional strength and stamina, and to bring extra support during stressful events. Like Tiger Eye, it is also said to help in issues of will power or self-discipline. It is also said to guard against draining emotional energy.

*If you 100% know that you don’t care or want to know about it - that’s totally OK. I’ve noticed that the metaphysical concept is like Cilantro or Black Licorice. It’s either something you like or something that makes your face go “eeew,” involuntarily. Since energy work and rocks are becoming more mainstream, we do want to take the time to offer some basic information.

All stones have an historic and/or contemporary reputation for various physical, mental, emotional and spiritual qualities. For our purposes, we’ll steer away from the physical healing aspect. As an artisan, you can certainly choose to provide that information to your customers. However, it’s extremely important not to offer your jewelry or stone lore as an alternative to care from a medical provider.

                                               - Erin, Dakota Stones
Read More
(1) Comments

They're the Tops!

Top drilled flower necklace design by Erin G.

Silver Leaf Top Drilled Drops
Top-drilled beads are perennial favorites for earrings and focals. Often we only see top drilled beads in high-end strands or sold as individual pendants in less expensive stone types.

Smaller top-drill beads in less pricey stone types can be lots of fun, but tricky to find... or findable only in 16" strands. We put our minds to it, did a little leg work, and got some top-drilled strands that we think are juuuuust right.

I couldn't wait to play with them, so I took home a couple strands of Crazy Lace Agate, sorted the colors and made a bloomin' awesome (if I do say so myself) necklace. I also discovered it makes a tasty headband!
ds Top Drilled Drops (below). Visit our top drill section for more stone types!

Ocean Jasper
Crazy Lace Agate
Yellow Moss Agate

Yellow Moss Agate
Stone Cold Truth #2: Multicolored beads look waaay different off the strand than on. If you look at a strand and find the variations in color or pattern distracting, take them off and sort them by color or opacity or pattern. It will give you an entirely different perspective! 
Erin, Dakota Stones
Read More
(0) Comments

Featured Designer | Sharon Borsavage

Sharon Borsavage
Name: Sharon Borsavage
Company Name: Livewire Jewelry
City & State: Plymouth, PA

"I feel blessed to be able to create and share it with others, it makes my soul sing!"
Recently published in the Dec., Jan., Feb. 2011 issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry magazine as part of a collaborative Round Robin necklace exchange with international participants. Published in Bead Trends January 2010 issue, and featured in the designer highlight section.
How did you get started in jewelry design?
Some of my first memories of art are sitting on my front porch at the age of 6 or 7 with a pile of paper, crayons, paper clips and staples, etc, and wanting to MAKE something, so I have always wanted to create as long as I can remember. I graduated with a BFA and concentrated on painting. The short story is I did various crafty things while raising a family, and always had the desire to make my own jewelry since I love wearing it. I took a few lessons at a local bead store and I was hooked. With the exception of a few online classes I am self taught, mostly relying on some very good books!
Do you have a method, source, or tool you look to for inspiration?
I don't think I really have a method. I usually start with a focal, bead or stone that I am really attracted to, and then the next bead or stone in the design feeds off of that one, until I feel the the piece flows and says what I want it to say. My tool I would say is a visceral one, it just has to feel right. Focals usually mean particular things to me, personal things, so the necklace, bracelet, etc, is a soulful or emotional story.

How often do you work on your jewelry designs?
I work a full time job, so I try to work on my jewelry projects at least 3 times a week, but sometimes it is less due to sheer exhaustion!

How would you describe your design style or technique?
I think my style is very soulful, I have been told that, I am not really sure what that looks like but people have told me they can see that in a lot of my work. Recently it has become more primal, but still with glimmers of glam here and there. I guess it's very eclectic.

Do you work in any other mediums beside jewelry design?
Yes, I come from an art background so I do create collages. I love paper of all kinds! I love working with paints, inks, vintage papers, gesso, gel mediums, and all kinds of messy stuff!
What are your favorite stones to work with and why?
I have come to love turquoise the most. I adore the multitude of color variations in may come in, the depth of color, and the symbolism, meaning strength and protection. I am always attracted to the blue green colors of stones. I also like aquamarine, amazonite, and blue Peruvian opals, all because of the allure of the color. Turquoise and Peruvian Opals also can have a matrix pattern in them that can be more beautiful to me then the blue color! And, the green shades of turquoise can make me crazy excited as well, so I guess Turquoise is the winner!

What are your favorite shapes and sizes to work with and why?
I like working with faceted rondelles, 4mm to 6mm size works great for earrings. Larger organic chunks for bracelets and necklaces.

What's your favorite jewelry trend right now?
I don't really care for trends, but, I think I adapt to what the current style or fashion is. This year the big and bold statement necklace was all the rage. I think that concept helped me in a way as I tend to use some larger chunkier pieces in my necklaces. That fashion trend in the industry gave women confidence to wear something bigger and bolder than they normally would.

If you could pick one person living or not to wear your jewelry, who would it be and why?
I would want Frida Kahlo to wear my jewelry. To me she represents the epitome of independence, strength, and beauty. She was always adorned with beautiful jewelry and I would be thrilled to see her wearing mine.

What's next? What are you working on now?
I never know what's next! I have notes all over my worktable of things to try, and ideas floating around, and I just have to pick one! My ideas never run out. I am thinking something along the lines of more metal work, I love the physical part of forming metal. I would really like to start bezel setting stones. I have done it once, but it is calling me back. There is a brand new year on the horizon!
Read More
(0) Comments

Featured Designer | Andrew Thornton

Name: Andrew Thornton
Company Name: Allegory Gallery
City & State: Ligonier, Pennsylvania

Andrew Thornton is a professional fine artist who left the hustle and bustle of New York City for rural Pennsylvania. His work can be seen in private collections around the globe. He is a regular contributor to books and magazines. Andrew is also the Creative Director of Allegory Gallery in Ligonier, PA.

How did you get started in jewelry design?

My sister and her husband own Green Girl Studios, which is a metalsmith-based company that produces whimsical cast fine pewter, silver, bronze, and shibuichi beads and jewelry components. They needed help with a trade show and I had some downtime while I was preparing for a painting exhibition and offered to help. I think the key to good salesmanship is knowing your product and I quickly absorbed as much information as possible about jewelry making and construction. It helped that I had a background in fine arts, as some of the concepts are similar. That's where it all started! A show in Pittsburgh!
Andrew is using Matte African Turquoise rounds
from Dakota Stones
Do you have a method, source, or tool you look to use for inspiring your designs?
My main source of inspiration can be found in the actual materials. I feel like they all have a story and it's my job as a designer to help tell that story and coax it to life. I live in "controlled chaos" with beads and jewelry-making supplies everywhere. Looking at what some would consider a mess, I find patterns and relations. I'm also a visual hoarder and cover my walls in bits of textiles, postcards, art, and prints. I surround myself with visual stimulus. Nowadays though with Pinterest, I can keep virtual boards that help spark ideas. Having it on the computer is a little less shocking to visitors who get overwhelmed by my total immersion process.
How often do you work on your jewelry designs?
Before my partner and I opened Allegory Gallery, I would say that I spent at least a few hours every day making things or gathering supplies. Our business is part bead store, jewelry boutique, and fine art gallery and I find it hard to separate myself from my work. I would say that on average I spend at least five hours a day actively working on jewelry making... but usually it's more. When I'm not physically working on my projects, that doesn't mean that the designer in me takes a break. I'm constantly absorbing ideas and filtering information.

How would you describe your design style or technique?
I work with a little of everything. I work with metal, metal clay, ceramics, polymer clay, resin, bead-weaving, and more. I tend to gravitate towards techniques that best suite the materials that I'm working with. When I first started out, I looked at the jewelry as sculpture and tended towards more elaborate pieces. Recently, I've rediscovered simple stringing and have a love affair with the satisfaction of creating more wearable pieces. This doesn't mean I've stopped making over-the-top haute couture pieces, it just means that I've become okay with making things that can be lived with and can adorn without overwhelming.

Do you work in any other mediums besides jewelry design?
As a creative person, I think it's important to work with as many mediums as possible. The ideas spark other ideas and I have found different tricks and techniques working with things other than jewelry design. I love collage and painting. I love drawing and writing. I love cooking and baking. I love trying new things. I know... it's a lot of love, but this is more than just a hobby for me: it's my passion.
Andrew is using double drilled Matte African Turquoise
from Dakota Stones
What are your favorite stones to work with and why?
I'm a magpie and can just about appreciate any stone you put in front of me. I adore labradorite, as it was my first "stone crush". If it was made of that rainbow-infused grey stone, I had to have it. It'll always hold a special place in my heart. Over the years, I've come to fixate on rubies and sapphires. The rough stuff please! While the stones with pristine clarity and razor-sharp facets are certainly lovely, I enjoy the character of the inclusions and color variations of the more natural stones. I would be remiss in not mentioning hessonite garnets. I am a smitten kitten with the saturated color that hovers between burnt orange and red wine.

What are your favorite shapes and sizes to work with and why?
Like the question about my favorite stones, I have a lot of different favorite shapes and sizes. But one shape that I'm definitely drawn to is the faceted oval about the size of a cough drop. It looks like "treasure" to me. I think back to my childhood fantasies of having a treasure box filled with precious gemstones and the faceted oval looks most like those imaginary gems. It has beautiful way of display the stone, glinting facets that showcase the depth and character of the stone. One stone can simply be strung on a headpin and wire-wrapped to create a stunning earring. Or they can be used in a chunky multi-strand necklace to give off a rich, opulent feel.

What's your favorite jewelry trend right now?
Trends can change so fast, that I always encourage people to create pieces that speak to them and will be timeless. With that said, I do enjoy the resurgence of long, flapper-style necklaces. I imagine that period shows like Downton Abbey are partially responsible for bringing back the dripping necklaces. What I like best about the long necklaces is that they can be doubled-up and worn as a multi-strand necklace or wrapped around the wrist to capture the look of wrap style bracelets. Versatility in design really interests me.

If you could pick one person living or not to wear your jewelry, who would it be and why?
While it's tempting to pick a young starlet or celebrity, but I think I would want the artist Kiki Smith to wear my work. If you've never seen her, she's got long flowing waves of gray hair and she's covered in tiny star tattoos. She looks like a fairytale character from one of her pieces. She's got a bohemian, artsy style, but is still classy. I also like the idea that my designs would appeal to other artists and makers of things, and that as a storyteller, they'd appreciate what I try to do with my work.

What's next? What are you working on now?
We're in our third year of business at Allegory Gallery and that's really exciting! Being a little more established, I can devote my attentions to building our brand and furthering our mission of being a source for creative inspiration, instead of being focused on the everyday operations. We're working on more events in town that network art venues and developing retreats that spotlight talented artists and highlight the beautiful region that we live in. I'll be teaching in New York at the Whole Bead Show in the spring and at Bead&Button in Milwaukee with my sister in the summer. Currently we're working on the back-end of our online store, and I'm looking forward to adding more unique beads, findings, and components. I'm also working on some secret projects that I can't quite yet spill the beans on. Let's just say that the projects are a long time coming! If you're interested in keeping up with me, I encourage you to visit my blog: and keep up with Allegory Gallery at Like Allegory Gallery on Facebook to stay on top of the things we are planning, new products we're carrying, and little bits of life in our charming town, Ligonier.
Read More
(3) Comments

Featured Designer | Michelle Mach

Michelle Mach
Michelle Mach is the author of Unexpected Findings: 50+ Clever Jewelry Designs Featuring Everyday Components. More than 100 of her original designs have appeared in publications including Jewelry Stringing, BeadStyle, and Beadwork. She's also worked as an editor on several jewelry titles, including Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry, Mastering Herringbone Stitch, and Bead Metamorphosis. Her use of unusual materials in her work has caused her friends and family to always ask, "Do you want to use this for a jewelry project or is it okay to throw it away?". When she's not making jewelry or writing about it, she enjoys reading mysteries, searching for the perfect banana bread recipe, and figuring out if the plants in her yard are flowers or weeds. You can find her blog and current projects on her website at

How did you get started in jewelry design? I've always made things whether it was tie-dye t-shirts or dresses for my dolls. It never occurred to me that regular people could make jewelry until I found the first issue of Stringing magazine at a bookstore. I didn't make anything from that issue, but it did start me on the hunt for beads.

Do you have a method, source, or tool you look to use for inspiring your designs? I find inspiration everywhere. Seriously, every time I visit this noodle shop near my house, I remember that I want to make a pair of earrings based on the silver spiral light fixtures! I do keep a sketchbook with design ideas, so if I ever get stuck, I can flip through it.

How often do you work on your jewelry designs? I usually design every evening for a couple of hours. When I worked a traditional 9-5 job that was my only free time and now it's become a habit. If I'm too tired to make anything, I still may pull out my sketchbook and doodle some ideas.

How would you describe your design style or technique? I'd describe it as romantic whimsical. I'm especially fond of using flowers in my jewelry, as you can tell if you look through my book Unexpected Findings. At the same time, I love using unusual items like dollhouse parts or old coins or using a traditional item in an unusual way. For example, in my Last Blooms necklace, I used a pendant bail as part of the clasp.
Do you work in any other mediums beside jewelry design?
Last year I exhibited my work in an art gallery for the first time. I created two wall art pieces using bottle caps, wire, and copper and brass for a beer-themed exhibit (my home town is know for its craft breweries). At about six inches across, they were some the biggest pieces I'd ever made (way bigger than any pendant!), but were some of the smallest pieces in the gallery. It was fun to use some of the techniques I've learned for jewelry in a completely new way.

What are your favorite stones to work with and why? I naturally gravitate towards blues, purples, and greens. My gemstone collection tends to be heavy on turquoise, lapis, amethyst, amazonite, and peridot. Sometimes when I'm at a bead show, I'll deliberately buy stones out of my color comfort zone to challenge myself. That's how I ended up with the pink crazy lace agate from Dakota Stones that ended up in the Gypsy Girl bracelet project in my book.
What are your favorite shapes and sizes to work with and why? The faceted rondelle in a small size (4-8mm) is my go-to shape for jewelry designs. It fits into any design and the facets add texture and interest. I also like shapes that are somewhat unusual, such as a diamond shape with holes running from corner to corner. I do still buy a lot of rounds, especially in the 3-4mm size, since those make great spacers.

What's your favorite jewelry trend right now? I love the increased use of leather, ribbons, and cords in jewelry. It's a fun way of adding color and texture to designs. Plus, I find knotting very meditative. It's very relaxing to sit with a spool of cord and a pile of beads and end up with a finished necklace in an hour or two.

If you could pick one person living or not to wear your jewelry, who would it be and why? I read a lot and I always study author photos on books. I've noticed that mystery writer Sue Grafton always has colorful handmade earrings on in her photos. Her personal look is fun, which is a contrast to the sometimes dark themes in her books. Contrasts fascinate me.

What's next? What are you working on now? The holiday season tends to be busy for me. This week I'm working on finishing up some new steampunk jewelry designs for Allegory Gallery in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. After the holidays, I'd like to experiment with a few ideas for a new jewelry line. I'd love to branch out and do more work for shops and galleries next year.
Read More
(0) Comments

Featured Designer | Heather Lawrenz

Heather Lawrenz
Heather Lawrenz has been "artsy" her whole life, but was bit by the jewelry bug 15 years ago, after taking a basic jewelry-making class. Her passion for creating and networking led her to launch her own jewelry line in 2003, and although her styles have evolved, her love of non-traditional materials has remained constant. Found objects and natural stones inspire the jewelry she designs, and she finds gratification in bringing together unexpected components. Her current jewelry lines feature colorful metal components that she cuts from decorative tins, and upcycled leather from purses and belts. Heather designs out of her home studio in MN, where she lives with her supportive husband, and sassy Mini Schnauzer. With each new design, she strives to create beautiful jewelry that women want to wear every day. Find Lawrenz Jewelry online at or at art fairs, galleries, and boutiques around the US.

How did you get started in jewelry design? In 1999, I took a basic jewelry making class, and I was hooked! Since then, I have eagerly learned new techniques, such cold connecting and metalworking each year.

Do you have a method, source, or tool you look to use for inspiring your designs? I often start with a color palate I want try, or a particular shape of stone or found object to work around. Most recently, I have been having tons of fun scouring second-hand shops for decorative tins that I can cut up to use as focal pieces, or accents in my jewelry.

How often do you work on your jewelry designs? Nearly every day. If I am not physically creating jewelry, I am searching Pinterest or fashion magazines for inspiration. When I hit a creative block, I sort my collection of beads and findings, and that organizing inevitably sparks ideas for different color and stone combinations. As a bonus, I often unearth beads I had forgotten I had, and remember the designs I had wanted to try.
How would you describe your design style or technique? My style has evolved over time with each new technique I learn, or found element I use in my designs, but I would say my overall style is "refined organic".

Do you work in any other mediums beside jewelry design? I have an art background in drawing and printmaking, and in the future I plan to incorporate these mediums into my jewelry, or do some collaborative pieces with other artists who work in 2-D.

What are your favorite stones to work with and why? Kyanite, labradorite, jade and rhyolite. These stones have depth and variegation that naturally show a color palate starting point for me.
What are your favorite shapes and sizes to work with and why? Trillion and marquis shapes. I enjoy giving them a very simple wire wrap, which lets the stone take center stage.

What's your favorite jewelry trend right now? Re-purposing! I love that most people have a general understanding and appreciation of green craft, and keeping things "out of the stream". My friends and customers are eager to help me find my raw material, and see what I will turn it into.

If you could pick one person living or not to wear your jewelry, who would it be and why? Rachel McAdams as one of her characters in a movie, because she tends to play real women with quirky fashion sensibilities, and has fun with her style.

What's next? What are you working on now? I am constantly looking for the next raw material to re-purpose and combine with more traditional jewelry elements.
Read More
(0) Comments

Featured Designer - Aisha Formanski

June 8th, 2014
Featured Designer - Aisha Formanski

Aisha Formanski has worked in the DIY jewelry and beading industry since 1994. As a jewelry maker and fiber artist, Aisha's work has been featured in Intertwined: The Art of Handspun Yarn, Modern Patterns and Creative Spinning, Spin Off magazine, Bead&Button magazine, Jewelry Stringing magazine and Step by Step Wire magazine. Her passion for creating jewelry inspired her to open her own business in 2010, Everthine Jewelry. Aisha's work at Everthine Jewelry combines her traditional jewelry training with her knowledge of craft melds. Her formal jewelry and art education took place at Minneapolis Community and Technical College and Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts. Her professional jewelry work has included a wide range of endeavors, teaching and buying for bead stores, consulting on trends in the bead and jewelry industry, and currently working on the Education Team at Love of crafts and teaching come together in Aisha's strong desire to continue education for future generations about traditional handcrafts. In November of 2013 Aisha's book New Directions in Punched Metal Jewelry was published by Interweave Press/F&W. Aisha currently resides in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

In New Direction in Punched Metal Jewelry discover a simple technique that creates striking and original results. Using basic metal punch tools--dots and lines--author Aisha Formanski brings a fresh approach to jewelry-making inspired by Mexican stamped tin mirrors. Styles range from direct references to the Mexican folk art that first inspired her to geometric patterns that resemble tin ceilings or printed fabric to designs that look like Japanese sashiko or other embroidery. Aisha focuses on inexpensive metals such as copper, brass, and nickel and shows how to create basic punch designs with just one stamp. She then demonstrates how the same design can be elaborated using two, three, or more different punches.

The design possibilities are endless! In addition to Aisha's stamping and design techniques, enjoy tutorials on basic metalworking skills:
  • Riveting
  • Creating holes
  • Shaping
  • Antiquing
  • Basic polishing
  • And filing

Aisha focuses on inexpensive metals such as copper, brass, and nickel and shows how to create basic punch designs with just one stamp. She then demonstrates how the same design can be elaborated using two, three, or more different punches. The design possibilities are endless!

Click the image below to watch a short video interview with Aisha.
Aisha Formanski Instructor for Beaducation

We asked Aisha to create a design using our Black Gold Amazonite. We love how she used the stone with metal pieces to create a balanced design.

Read More
(1) Comments

Featured Designer: Meredith Atwell of BeachBu

Interview with:

Meredith M. Atwell

- from Tampa, Florida -

Featuring Handcrafted Jewelry, Accessories, and Findings

Behind the designs of BeachBu Handcrafted Jewelry, Accessories, and Findings is jewelry designer, Meredith M. Atwell. As a part-time model in her teens, Meredith was exposed to the fashion industry at a young age. While she continued to model in her twenties, Meredith eventually realized it was not the modeling she enjoyed so much, but the creative opportunities the fashion industry had to offer.

Knowing she wanted to pursue a career in fashion design, Meredith attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles, California. It was at FIDM that Meredith's love of fashion grew, and she developed a keen sense for design, which later led to her jewelry making.

Meredith first started making jewelry after coming across Olive Wood Beads when living in Malibu, California. Not long after that, she started selling jewelry pieces from her home, which ultimately led to the creation of BeachBu. Inspired by the scenic beaches and the sun and sea worshippers in Southern California, Meredith created BeachBu for the free spirited girl who wants to wear her jewelry in the surf by day and to a beachside café at night.

As BeachBu continues to grow with the recent launch of the website, Meredith spends most of her time designing jewelry and seeking out new gemstones. Meredith uses a variety of gemstones, metals, and techniques in her designs, and she hopes people enjoy wearing their BeachBu pieces as much as she enjoys creating them.
The Wizards Bracelet in Titanium Coated Crystal.
Can be purchased here.

The Point Bracelet in Pyrite.
Can be purchased here.

The Zenith Point Bracelet in Brass.
Can be purchased here.

The Dakota Stones Interview with Meredith Atwell:

How long have you been a jewelry designer?

I first started designing jewelry about 3 years ago when I began making pieces for myself. I came across Olive Wood Beads while living in Malibu, California and found them so unique and different that I wanted to make something for myself. I didn't have any experience or training in making jewelry, so I just taught myself as I went along and one piece turned into two and two into three and so on. I received a lot of positive feedback from my friends and family on the pieces I designed for myself, so I kept making them and eventually started selling them from my home.

The Outers Necklace. Can be purchased here.
My interest in jewelry design and different metals, beads, and stones has continued to grow over the past 3 years. The requests for my pieces continued, so about a year ago, BeachBu, Incorporated was created, and we moved into an office and showroom in Tampa, Florida. Just recently, the BeachBu Team was excited to announce the launch of our new website It has been a very exciting time, and we hope that everyone enjoys our website and our products.

How did you come across Dakota Stones?

I discovered Dakota Stones during the summer of 2013. I was looking for a vendor with Blue Impression Jasper stones because my previous vendor was sold out. After exploring the Dakota Stones website, I quickly noticed the quality of their gemstones. Since I started working with Dakota Stones last summer, I have been nothing short of 100% satisfied. They are truly professional, and in my opinion have some of the highest quality stones.

Do you have a method or source you look for using inspiring your design?

My time while living in Southern California, particularly Malibu, has been a huge inspiration to all of my designs. The views in Malibu are majestic, and the culture and lifestyle are full of arts and crafts, so inspiration is everywhere. Specifically, my inspiration is drawn from nature, particularly the beach, but I am inspired a lot by the bohemian lifestyle and culture of artisan products.

The Mistos Necklace.
Can be purchased here.
Additionally, since going to FIDM in Los Angeles, I have been very big on trend forecasting. I love clothing, fashion week, and seeing the latest trends, so I like to incorporate my nature-inspired visions with jewelry into current fashion trends. A lot of times I find myself asking, 'What piece or pieces of jewelry can make this outfit pop?' I think jewelry plays an essential role in fashion, and if pieced together properly, then it can pull an outfit together.

How would you describe your design style or technique?

My design style definitely emphasizes nature and the bohemian lifestyle, but my goal is to create something that is unique. I always say I like to break the rules by creating pieces that mix metals, use a variety of gemstones, and lack symmetry. I like to try thinking outside the box when I'm designing because I like creating pieces that are unexpected or one-of-a-kind.

Do you work in any other mediums beside jewelry design?

Currently my main focus is jewelry, but I definitely want to expand beyond jewelry in the future and bring the BeachBu culture to life in another realm. I truly love fashion and what the fashion industry has to offer. It's limitless, so you will definitely see BeachBu designs in other arenas in the future. I would also like to collaborate with some other designers and artists at some point in the future as well.

The Trancas Bracelet in Snowflake Obsidian & Brass.
Can be purchased here.
What is your favorite stone, shape, and/or size to work with and why?

My favorite shape is the 8mm faceted rondelle. It lays well, looks great in any shade or color, and compliments other stones and statement beads. One of BeachBu's bestsellers is the Trancas Bracelet, which is primarily made of 8mm faceted rondelle beads.

What trend have you been noticing? Where do you see it going?

Stacking bracelets and necklaces has been a big trend for the last couple of years. I think more recently, mixing and matching different pieces and metals has increased in popularity. It used to be that people didn't think they could or should mix different metals, but at BeachBu, that's what we love!

With that said, jewelry is timeless. It's never going away. It's going to be around forever, and even though the trends will change, that's what makes it exciting!

If you could pick one person (alive or dead) to wear your jewelry, who would it be? Why?

I would have to say Kate Moss. She is such a style icon, and she fully embodies the BeachBu vision with her effortless style and class. It would be a great honor for her to wear BeachBu's designs.
The Porterdale Bracelet Set.
Can be purchased here.
What's next for you?

BeachBu, BeachBu, and BeachBu. With the recent launch of our website, there is a lot of work to do. I plan on continuing to focus on designing and creating new pieces and collections. Fortunately for me, BeachBu now has a great team, and since my sister just came on board, it has allowed me to spend all of my time on the creative side of things.

Right now BeachBu is working on the launch of our Spring/Summer 2014 collection. We are really excited to debut the new pieces and colors of the season, so be sure to register on our website at for the latest updates and promotions.

"The Surfrider Bracelet in Mixed Impression Jasper." New Spring/Summer 2014 Collection. Coming Soon!

Connect with BeachBu online:

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Find us on Pinterest



Dakota Stones | 7279 washington ave s. | Edina | MN | 55439
Read More
(0) Comments

January Featured Designer: Kate Richbourg

Kate Richbourg 
Company: Kate Richbourg Jewelry Educator 
San Mateo, CA

     Kate Richbourg
was raised on a small farm in Gilroy, California.  As a child, she would spend hours stringing beads and creating
her own jewelry.  It was a phase she never quite outgrew. After completing college, while trying to get excited about the transition to a corporate career, Kate saw a want ad for a bead store and lost no time in applying.  Soon she was teaching classes and writing articles that were published regularly in magazines. During this time she took a basic metalworking class at a local community college that opened her eyes to the possibilities that metalworking had to offer the jewelry designer.  She began teaching metalworking to the masses and never looked back.


    Simply put, Kate Richbourg loves jewelry.  She loves to teach it. She loves to make it. She loves to wear it.  Teaching and designing jewelry since 1992, she teaches at national shows, bead societies and bead shops and is published in a variety of jewelry magazines and is the author of the popular blog "We Can Make That at Home.  She has also appeared on several episodes of the DIY and HGTV network shows "DIY Jewelry" and "Craft Lab." Kate is the author of the bestselling book Simple Soldering: A Beginner's Guide to Jewelry Making.  

 Necklace featuring my Dapped, Capped and Soldered beads from
the class of the same name.  I love
they way the Dakota Stones matte beads contrast with the
metal patina.


This necklace is made of wire that I twisted and formed into links. The pearl section is strung with freshwater pearls and finished with a handmade toggle clasp. The centerpiece is wire wrapped and features a double loop bail.


Detail of the necklace clasp. The necklace is strung on Soft Flex wire so I made coiled wire to cover the end loops above the crimp tubes. I also made a simple clasp component with twisted and soldered wire rings and a large hook and eye clasp.

The Dakota Stones Interview with Kate Richbourg:

Do you have a method or source you look to use for inspiring your designs?
Since my main focus is teaching and writing about how to make jewelry, one of my guiding thoughts and inspirations is simply what will my students enjoy learning? I try and always push myself forward to try out new techniques and methods so I can inspire and instruct. A new tool or stone or bead can always bring new ideas for a class or an article.

  How often do you work on your jewelry designs?
I am so lucky that I get to design jewelry for a living, whether it is for a class, a demo an article or as Creative Director for the Gaston Collective Jewelry Company. I have my hands on the beads and metal every day.
I always seem to have a piece of wire, a bead or a pair of pliers in my hands.

How would you describe your design style or technique?
My design style is definitely "organic". I like to play with materials and see what they evolve into. My favorite pieces evoke ancient relics or found objects. I love to work with semi-precious stones and metal- the more rustic, the better. Copper and brass are the perfect compliment to stone and I love to pair the two elements together.

How did you come across Dakota Stones?

How did you come across Dakota Stones? I was introduced to Dakota Stones by my good friends Bruce and Dee Dee Ogilvie. I was blown away by the quality and the prices and that they carry semi-precious beads with large holes! Any bead that fits easily on a 14-gauge wire is okay in my book!

What is your favorite shape/ size to work with and why?
It might sound dull, but my favorite bead is an 8mm round semi-precious stone. They are perfect for wire-wrapping. I also love to knot a strand of simple round beads with vividly-colored thread. It's a new twist on the traditional knotted pearl necklace.

What is your favorite stone to work with and why?
Picking a favorite stone is a tough one. Right now I am really into freshwater pearls and large semi-precious rough stones. I also really like the matte beads that Dakota Stones offers. They are a perfect mix with metal. Also stones with large holes! It's brilliant to be able to pair those with heavy-gauge wire. No drilling needed!

What trend have you been noticing?
Metal! Wire! Soldering! 
All of those things are really hot in jewelry making right now.  Where do you see it going? It's exciting to see designers that usually only work with beads incorporating self-fabricated components into their designs to make their pieces really unique and interesting. I definitely see that trend continuing, because once you start working with metal, it's hard to stop.

Do you work in any other mediums beside jewelry design?
I like to think of myself as an "omni-crafter". Besides jewelry,
I also like to sew, quilt, knit, spin yarn, you name it. I always like to have my hands busy.

What's next for you?
Well, right now I am working on ideas for my second book. I am really into using the Flex Shaft and Dremel tools to drill stones and polish, shape and texture metal, so who knows what is going to evolve?
I am creating some really fun stuff. My first book Simple Soldering was really fun to write and has been really well received, so hopefully number two will go as well. I have high hopes.

If you could pick one person living or not to wear your jewelry who would it be and why?
Well, I have been watching a lot of Masterpiece Theater lately and am especially hooked on Downton Abbey and particularly the fashion of the early 1900's. I would have loved to be a jewelry designer for one of the major fashion houses of the day and designed beautiful Edwardian pieces to complement the fantastic clothes from that period. If the producers of Downton Abbey are looking for a jewelry designer,
I am definitely available!

Connect with Kate Richbourg Online:

Like us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter   Find us on Pinterest


Read More
(1) Comments

December Featured Designer: FLIRT

December Featured Designer: Laurie-Anne Clinton of Flirt Designs
Read More
(0) Comments
More results: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ...27 Next Page