What’s in a Name – quite a lot I think!

So why call my jewellery line and online shop Big Skies Jewellery?
Well, I recently went back to England to visit my parents, who still live in the same village that I grew up in – Brancaster, in the county of Norfolk.  Although I lived in Norfolk for over 20 years, every time I go back I am still amazed by the skies.  I am not sure what it is, maybe the cloud formations (cloud…in England…..how surprising?), but it’s very dramatic. 
The skies there have the ability to stop me in my tracks and gaze upwards.  When I mentioned this to my mother, as I was trying to take arty sunset photos on the beach, she just nodded and said yes, Norfolk is known for its “big skies”.  So when I set up my new Etsy shop, and had to put a name to my creative outlet, what better than Big Skies  – something inspirational which also reminds me of where I come from and who I am.

Why We LOVE Turquoise

Turquoise Necklace Handmade Handcrafted Bead
The main reason we love turquoise is because it looks amazing!  But, turquoise is also said to attract money, success and love. Its powers include protection, healing, luck, friendship, and courage. It also relaxes the mind, and eases mental tension.  So let’s be honest, what is there not to love about turquoise? 
Turquoise is indigenous to the Americas, Egypt, Iran, Tibet and China.  Other names for turquoise include the “fallen skystone” and the “gem of the centuries”.
Turquoise Earrings Handmade Handcrafted Bead
Turquoise ranges in colour from sky-blue (the most popular colour) to blue-green to apple-green (the rarest colour).

If you wear turquoise it should not be exposed to oil, cosmetics and household chemicals – always remove turquoise rings when washing your hands as its colour may not remain stable and it is a fairly soft stone.


Turquoise Necklace Handmade Handcrafted Beaded


If you are born in December, lucky you as turquoise is the Jeweller’s birthstone for December.  It is also the gemstone for the 11th year of marriage.
Turquoise is ever popular.  In the United States it is mostly utilised in silver settings, per the Indian Jewellery fashion trend.  In the Middle East it is commonly set in gold, sometimes with diamonds.  Whatever the style, turquoise always looks amazing.

Squeaky Cat!

I have four cats.  I know…..I am one cat away from being “crazy cat lady”. (I checked online, you definitely have to have 5 cats to qualify!)  I didn’t mean to have four cats; the last one was spontaneously adopted from the car park of my husband’s golf club…..  Cats love two things, well three if you count food; they love shiny things and they like sitting on things.  Now, when you have a bead workstation, in my case a dining room table, you are creating a veritable cat paradise.   Cats also hate one thing in particular, apart from dogs, and that is being ignored, boy do they hate that – so where your attention is, is exactly where they need to place themselves.  (I am sure my cats think my laptop is a butt warmer!) So if you are beading at the table, then that is the place to be for a cat.  One of cats, Squeaky (called so because when she meows she sounds like a rusty gate being opened) took this to the extreme and actually plonked herself down right on top of the very bead project I was working on.  She is a beautiful cat, but I fear has a brain the size of a pea….

Usually my workstation does not look quite so chaotic (in the pic above), but I had just obtained a consignment of new stock and was in a hurry to experiment with all of it!   And if you think the towel I was working on was the attraction….oh no no…bead trays are just as enticing!


Mission accomplished!!



Discount Available on all Jewellery by Big Skies Jewellery

Use the coupon code NOVBLOG10 on checkout to receive a 10% discount on any purchases made before the end of November from my Etsy shop! new Etsy.Mini(7398871,’thumbnail’,4,3,1,’http://www.etsy.com’);

Turquoise, Brass and Agate Necklace…the finished product

Turquoise necklace, handmade, also using brass, agate and carnelian

This is the finished necklace that I started on Sunday afternoon using turquoise beads of different sizes, a faceted agate oval focal bead, brass beads and findings and carnelian.  It looks quite different to what I first had in mind, but that’s how it goes sometimes.  If something doesn’t look quite right or sit totally well with the eye, you start playing around and then the design takes form as you go along.  Originally this necklace was only going to use turquoise and brass, but when I was looking for an interesting focal bead, my eye landed upon the oval facet cut agate bead, which is a thing of beauty – and from there on the the necklace took a different design turn.

Turquoise necklace, handmade, also using brass, agate and carnelian
I used a variety of different sized turquoise beads – from 16mm rounds, 14 mm roundels, 12mm rounds and 8 mm rounds.  Each of the brass findings is also different – there is a mix of beads, bead caps, diamante charms and daisy spacers.  The bead string is securely fastened directly onto the neck chain.
Turquoise necklace, handmade, also using brass, agate and carnelianTurquoise necklace, handmade, also using brass, agate and carnelian
I think I need to add a matching bracelet and earrings – that can be tonight’s project!

If you’re into fashion and jewellery, and enjoy a good laugh

…then follow Wendy Brandes Fine Jewelry blog: http://wendybrandes.com/blog/

Her blog motto is “wear what you want” (which pretty much means know the style rules…..and then break them!) and her favourite necklace is her IDGAF necklace – need I say more???

A lazy Sunday afternoon…..with Turquoise

Turquoise is one of my favourite gemstones.  It has been mined as far back as 6000 BC making it amongst the first gemstones to be mined.  It was greatly prized by the Egyptians and has the claim of being the only gemstone to have a colour named exclusively after it.  To learn more about turquoise, try the All About Gemstones website: http://www.allaboutgemstones.com/semi-precious_gems_turquoise.html

I love the versatility of turquoise, it looks fantastic with both casual and smart clothes. It mixes especially well with black, grey, peach, red or white. 
Turquoise bracelet, handmade, also using silver style bali beads and an indian kashmiri bead
From a design perspective I usually mix turquoise with silver, but today I started working on a piece using brass beads and findings instead.  Turquoise and silver is a classic mix, but in my mind turquoise with brass actually looks just as good.  I am so pleased with the results!  I am working on a necklace that utilises a large oval, faceted, dark red/orange agate focal bead at the centre, with a couple of carnelian beads thrown in too, to pick up the colour of the agate and accent against the bright blue turquoise.  What a great colour combo – turquoise, dark reddish orange and brass!  I can’t wait to finish it tomorrow and get the photos uploaded.
Turquoise bracelet, handmade, also using silver style bali beads and an indian kashmiri beadTurquoise bracelet, handmade, also using silver style bali beads and an indian kashmiri bead
I also finished a couple of turquoise bracelets, both with silver beads and findings.  Each has a filigree silver heart charm and an extra turquoise bead drop near the clasp for a little extra bling and interest.  In one of the bracelets I used a blue and silver Indian Kashmiri clay bead at the centre,which works really well.
Turquoise bracelet, handmade, also using silver style bali beads and an indian kashmiri bead
Turquoise bracelet, handmade, also using silver style bali beads and an indian kashmiri bead

So What’s Everyone Doing This Weekend?

It’s Friday afternoon and the weekend is almost upon us, what are your plans?  I think a small glass of wine after work may be in order to kick the weekend off!

Tomorrow we are having a good old fashioned South African braai (barbeque for any non-South Africans reading this).  I am hoping the Highveld thunderstorms keep at bay for the afternoon; fingers crossed its not a washout!  Having guests may mean that I need to tidy up my bead station, aka our dining table.  Although the chaotic sight of my entire collections of beads and findings scattered around our dining area fills me with cheer, it does tend to scare the crap out of other people, including my husband. Actually I think he just gets confused looking at it all….so he tends to walk past with blinkers on.  When I do beadwork I like to be able to see everything I have….literally everything…..

So I better do some tidying up tomorrow morning, although I will be leaving my finished pieces strategically out in case any of my guests have the urge to purchase some early Christmas presents 🙂

Sunday will hopefully be devoted to beading, I have lots of ideas for some great Christmas gifts for a beadshow I am having at work in a couple of weeks….

Enjoy the weekend!

New Materials Arrived Today – Gemstone Chips and Tigers Eye Pendants

I have spent today at work in great anticipation.   My husband collected a consignment of new materials from one of my favourite gemstone suppliers earlier today – Silver Hills Gems in Hartbeespoort, north-west of Johannesburg.   Silver Hills Gems provides beautiful quality beads and findings at really good prices (check their website out: http://bronnrocks.com/catalog/ ). 
Silver Hills often have unusual focal beads that really appeal to me and my design style. Two items I was especialy looking forward to receiving were a Tigers Eye heart bead (28mm high) and a Tigers Eye flower shaped pendant (36mm).  So many design ideas are floating through my head right now!
I also ordered a lot of different gemstone chip strings – lemon jade, lapis lazuli, periodot, smokey quartz, red aventurine, aqua marine…….  I want to make some long chip necklaces, plain but in blocks of colour with small silver or gold accents in between the colour blocks.  Colour blocking is very much in trend right now.  Perhaps  peridot, smokey citrine and red aventurine……with gold spacer beads…. 
My new materials have arrived…..
So finally I have my hands on my new gems and can start playing with the different colour combinations, exploring which ones ‘talk’ to me. The most satisfying thing about making gemstone jewellery is the ability to turn a vision from my mind’s eye into a real piece of jewellery in my hand.  What could be better than that?  And knowing that other people are wearing my jewellery and seeing other people wear my jewellery, gives me way more joy than wearing it myself – and I love to wear jewllery!
Aren’t these Tigers Eye pendants beautiful?
Keep an eye out for the lovely results of these fabulous new materials….