Bargain Basement Beauty: Create This Necklace Under $25

Feb 27, 2009

Can You Design a Necklace for Under $25?

Of course you can!  The real challenge is to design something for that amount that looks like it came from a pricey boutique--or Stringing magazine.  Danielle Fox, Elizabeth Murray, and I all took the challenge for the Spring 2009 issue.  I had so much fun, I decided to make a second "under $25" necklace just for Beading Daily.

Big Mistake?

For this necklace, I did something you probably shouldn't do if you're on a tight budget:  I fell in love.  With a bead, of course, or more precisely, with a pendant.  When I saw the green and lavender porcelain pendant by Chinook Jewelry Designs, I decided I had to have it.  And then, because I'm challenge-addicted, I decided I would buy it and still stick to my $25 budget.  I wanted to prove that it was possible to include a one-of-a-kind handcrafted element in a design if you economized in other areas.  (And I did prove it--see my costs below!)

Here are two more things I learned:

  • Consider cuts/shapes/sizes, not just bead type
    If you have your heart set on certain gemstones, look at a variety of sizes and shapes.  I found that faceted gemstones tended to be more expensive than smooth ones (though not always).  Also, smaller beads are not necessarily cheaper!
  • Watch your metal prices
    You may decide to use less expensive metals like brass, copper, or plated silver.  Or you may decide, as I did, that you can afford sterling silver for selected elements like a clasp.

The Damage

Here's what my bill looked like:

16" of 2mm jade rounds $4.70
16" of 4mm green aventurine rounds  $4.70
16" of silver-plated chain $2.88
3 lavender 6mm glass lentils .42
1 sterling silver 20x6.5mm filigree fishook clasp $3.12
1 porcelain pendant $8
1 silver-plated 10mm bail .04
2 sterling silver twisted crimps .22
6 sterling silver 5mm jump rings .48

TOTAL:  $24.56

Total price does not include beading wire, tax, shipping, minimum purchase requirements, or volume discounts.  These are retail prices and don't reflect any special sales or discounts.  (Resources are all listed in the project instructions.)

New Free Project:
Sari Sunrise
Michelle Mach

This sweet 3-strand necklace with a handcrafted porcelain pendant won't break the bank!


You can find instructions for my first "under $25" necklace--a brass and amazonite piece with a layered pendant--in the spring 2009 issue of Stringing.  You'll also find 12 more "under $25" projects in this issue, plus some additional tips for saving expenses.  I absolutely loved taking on this challenge and I hope you do, too!

Challenge Yourself and Win!

If you're up for the challenge of designing on a budget, why not be rewarded for your efforts?  The Bead Star contest has an "under $25" category.  This is the only contest category that requires receipts (which is a little more work), so I'm betting that fewer people may enter it.  Go for it!

Michelle Mach shares free projects every Friday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Michelle, please post them on the website.

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Mary AlineJ wrote
on Feb 27, 2009 9:59 AM
Why mix sterling findings with plated chain? Doesn't make sense ... even if you ARE trying to stay under $25.
Cari@11 wrote
on Feb 27, 2009 11:55 AM
Buy good quality findings and chains, but Michaels has a good selection of inexpensive beads.
on Feb 27, 2009 8:33 PM
My favorite place in the whole bead store is the 1/2 price table - I have been inspired by many a strand of beads marked down to the $4, $5 and $6 price point. I try to limit my purchase of pricier items (like crystals) for sales and coupons.
kbodner wrote
on Apr 8, 2009 6:11 PM
I get a lot of my beads from the dollar bin at our local bead store...No one could tell the difference!!!