Gemstones From Bead Fest

You'll have to wait another few days to hear all about my trip to Bead Fest Philadelphia this year, but oh, my! The food, the friends, the fun! So many vendors, so many beads: crystals, glass, ceramic, polymer clay, paper, and of course, gemstones!

It was my intention to find a couple of strands of gemstone beads to add to my collection this year, but alas, my bead money ran out before I found that special strand of gemstones. I did, however, have a little bit budgeted to treat myself to some gemstones from Gary Wilson's booth.

It's been kind of a tradition for me to seek out a gemstone cabochon or a few gemstone beads from Gary at every Bead Fest that I've attended since my very first in 2003! I've added quite a few spectacular cabochons to my collection in the past 11 years, and no, I still haven't gotten around to using all of them. (Even if I don't, I can still just take them out and look at them, right?)

This year was a little different. One of the first things I saw was a tray of the tiniest, top-drilled gemstones I've ever laid eyes on. They were matched up in pairs, and all I could think was how perfect these would be as earrings! I spent quite a while selecting just the right pair, knowing that I could take these home and make a pair of 5-minute earrings with them. Because after all, we beaders are all about instant gratification, aren't we?

You can make these earrings using any kind of flat pendant with a hole at the top, if you can't get your hands on a pair of top-drilled geodes like these.


  • 1 pair matching top-drilled gemstone pendants or geodes, about 1 1/2" long
  • 2 3" sterling silver head pins, 20 gauge
  • 2 Bali spacer beads, 2mm


  • Wire cutters or flush cutters
  • Chain nose or combination pliers
  • Cup file (for smoothing wire ends)
  • Round permanent marker or wooden dowel for bending ear wires

Step-by-step Instructions:

On a head pin, string one Bali spacer bead. Pass the head pin through the top hole of the gemstone pendant so that the base of the head pin is visible on the front of the pendant.
Bend the head pin at a 90 degree angle up the back of the pendant.
Make another 90 degree bend so that the head pin lays across the top of the pendant.
Using your finger, a round permanent marker, or wooden dowel, bend the wire towards the back of the pendant to form a loop. Shape the wire into an ear wire, and use your flush cutters to trim to the desired length. Use your cup file to smooth the ends of the wire before wearing your earrings.

Easy and beautiful, right? These earrings can be made with any kind of small, top-drilled gemstone bead or pendant, and they make lovely gifts, too!

Kaily agate from Mexico, featured in the Sept/Oct 2014 issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine

Learn more about the newest gemstones to hit the market and your favorite bead shop when you subscribe to Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine. Each issue is full of useful information about new gemstones, jewelry-making techniques, tools, and events. Make sure you subscribe to Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine so you don't miss a single issue!

Bead Happy,


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Jennifer VanBenschoten

About Jennifer VanBenschoten

Born in New Jersey in 1974, I escaped to the Adirondacks for the first time in 1995, making it my permanent home in 2000.  I have been interested in beads, buttons and making jewelry as long as I can remember.  It's probably my mother's fault - she was a fiber artist and crochet historian, and whenever she ordered supplies from one mail order source, she would order a huge bag of assorted buttons and beads for me and my sister!