The Story of A Necklace

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Beki Haley of Whimbeads decided that she needed to make some room in her bead stash and part with some of her vintage Swarovski crystal beads and components. She said that she wanted to make sure that they went to good and loving homes, and wouldn't you know it, I just happened to have some room in my heart (and on my work table) for a little bit of sparkling vintage crystal goodness.

It's been a long time since I designed any kind of fun necklace making project with two-holed seed beads, and as soon as I saw these vintage crystal rectangles listed in Beki's Etsy shop, I knew I had to have them. I loved the deep, topaz color, the gem-like shape, and the idea that I could somehow design a quick and easy necklace making project with these crystal bead beauties.

Once they arrived, I found myself looking through the bag of goodies that I picked up at Bead Fest Philadelphia in August, and for some reason, these gold-luster olive green Twin seed beads just jumped out at me. Next, my eye fell on my last little bag of 3mm round druks from York Beads, and a little tube of matte metallic grey seed beads that was supposed to have been cleaned off my work table weeks ago… When I put them in a little pile on my bead tray, they started to sing, and I was more than happy to listen!

(Top) The second and much-improved necklace base.

(Bottom) The original necklace base. Pretty, but needed some improvements.

The last hurdle in the design process: how to zip up the little picots along the bottom of the necklace.

Of course, there were a few, um, quirks to work out with this particular design.

The first little problem was that I grabbed my 10 lb. Fireline instead of the 6 lb. For anyone who has ever wondered, size 15 seed beads do not mix particularly well with right-angle weave and 10 lb. Fireline. I was popping beads faster than the speed of light. And I was still trying to figure out the best thread path for this necklace base, so eventually, I realized that I was going to have to stop where I was and start over.

But starting over was exactly the right thing to do! I wasn't happy with the amount of thread showing between the Twin seed beads, and I wanted to add a bit more color to the necklace base. And there they were — those dusky matte metallic grey seed beads, just staring me in the face. They mixed beautifully with the olive green Twins, and after a few units of right-angle weave, I realized that they also gave the base of my necklace-making project a wonderful bit of dimension. Outstanding!

The last part, the part that drove me completely batty, was trying to figure out the thread path for adding the Swarovski crystal beads and the little scallops between crystals. I stitched it, tore it out, tried something else, tore that out, and tried a new thread path. While that last thread path still left some room for improvement, I can work that out when I make the next version of the necklace, and it resulted in a more secure attachment of the heavy crystal beads to the bottom of the necklace base!

Now I need your help. I can't decide if I should add one more layer of embellishment on the top, or call it finished and just start wearing and enjoying this beaded necklace while I work out the kinks and write the project instructions. What do you think?

While you're pondering my necklace making design dilemma, take a look at our brand-new eBook, 10 Favorite Pink Jewelry Projects. During the month of October, 30% of the proceeds go to funding breast cancer research in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Download your copy of 10 Favorite Pink Jewelry Projects and make something special for someone you love!

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!    

26 thoughts on “The Story of A Necklace

  1. Hi Jennifer,
    I hope you don’t mind my two cents but I think less is more sometimes, you should stop where you’re at. I also liked the look of the dropped picot before you zipped it up, it gave the necklace a lighter airier look. Maybe you can do that on another necklace. I know you worked hard on developing the pattern but it would be nice if you could share it somehow.
    Regards and best wishes.

  2. Hi Jennifer,
    The Necklace is very pretty. I think “Love and Patience” would be a good name for it, because of
    “Your love of beading and your patience for designing”.
    I like it just as it is.
    Thanks for sharing your talent with others.

  3. Hi Jennifer,
    I love the Necklace just like it is. I think a good name for it would be “Love and Patience” because of your love for beading and your patience for designing.You have a very special gift and “Thank You” for sharing your talent with others.


  4. Hello, Jennifer!

    Beautiful necklace. I don’t think the top needs more, I think the bottom needs something. Perhaps a string of beads going from the middle of the space between the stones to the next space between the stones. I want to call it fringe, but I don’t know if that’s the right term. I think that would make the stones more a part of the necklace.

    Thank you so much for your newsletter. It is full of interesting ideas for beautiful projects.

  5. I feel the necklace is perfect just as it is. Another layer of embellishment would lessen the effect of the vintage crystals. You want them to stay the focal point. Wear your necklace, figure out the instructions and while pondering, make yourself a pair of matching earrings to go with the gorgeous necklace.

  6. Hi Jennifer,

    I like it just the way it is – love the design you put in between the crystal beads and the embellishment you put in green in the diamond shape in between these scallops. Also liked the little golden beads – guessing they are the 15o beads – they give a very delicate touch – great work! Will look very nice when you wear it. Thanks for sharing.


  7. I think it is beautiful just as it is. How I envy beaders like you who can come up with such gorgeous ideas. I love to bead, but I need instructions! And you all need beaders like me to buy your magazine, books, etc., so that we can bead, too. Keep up the great work

  8. I’d like to see a little more of the topaz – perhaps added to the centers of where the 4 gray beads meet – but only in the sections between the topaz sections.

  9. I would like to comment on the necklace. The contrast between the simplicity at the top of the piece and the drops at the bottom is lovely. I would absolutely call it finished. Sometimes we forget that less is more.

  10. I would like to comment on the necklace. The contrast between the simplicity at the top of the piece and the drops at the bottom is lovely. I would absolutely call it finished. Sometimes we forget that less is more.

  11. hello jennifer!

    I’m with the “add-to-the-bottom” crowd 😉

    my personal taste runs to the Victorian style, wide laces. To my eyes the base is a bit too crowded and could benefit from some added arcs, in between the crystals and bellow them. I loved the picots you originally put between the crystals. Maybe something like that?

    anyway, this is an amazingly inspirational story, and the design is to die for 🙂

    good luck,
    and thanks for sharing

  12. hi jennifer

    i think that you should call it good as it is right now. keeping it simple will continue to show it’s glamorous style. i think it is just gorgeous!!! i can’t wait until you put the directions out for the public eye. if you could send me a copy as soon as it’s done it wouldn’t be soon enough!!!!!

    thank you for sharing your designs with us!!

  13. Hey Jen,

    Thank you very much for the lovely blog and link to my little Etsy De-stash! I’m so happy you found such a beautiful use for these Vintage Swarovski beads!

    I couldn’t be happier to see them being used in such a pretty necklace! It is unique and inspiring!


  14. Hey, Jennifer. the necklace is beautiful, I am also a member of “add to the bottom” of the necklace. I think open work in the middle where the crystals are and more seed beading below would be absolutely stunning! I love your work and emails. thanks for sharing!!

  15. Hey, Jennifer. the necklace is beautiful, I am also a member of “add to the bottom” of the necklace. I think open work in the middle where the crystals are and more seed beading below would be absolutely stunning! I love your work and emails. thanks for sharing!!

  16. I definitely wouldn’t add anything to the top. I liked the picots before they were zipped too. And I think a crystal in green or topaz would look awesome at the tip of the picot. It needs more crystals to tie in the big ones. Or add another row of beads in a picot shape with a crystal at the tip or even a wire wrapped crystal drop. Use your wire wrapping skills! 🙂

  17. I’m curious why you are writing the project instructions. Is that for yourself? Wouldn’t this project be hard for others to replicate? These crystals are so unique and maybe I am just not shopping at the right places but I’ve never seen beads like these crystals a d if I did find ones with similar shapes and holes they may not be the same size right? Just wondering..,

  18. Dear Jennifer:

    I love the necklace the way is is because you have the 2 contrasts – beads with crystal accents. It is lovely the way it is with this simple elegance.