This is one of the newest additions to my bead stash – a huge strand of carnelian shapes from the early to mid-1900’s. It’s hard not to respond to the sheer mass of the strand, it’s about 42 inches long, contains roughly 100 pieces, and it’s heavy.
What’s really special is the unique beauty of each individual piece – there are lovely variations in size, in shape, and in coloring that make each piece special in its own right. I plan to approach designing jewelry using these beads by doing some sketches first. I’m not sure where I’ll head yet, it will come when I sit down and commit to the design process.
Newly manufactured carnelian beads are available as well. Many of the ones I have seen have been treated by heat and other means to enhance their color. The resulting beads have a deep red color but often lack any variation whatsoever. I still buy them and use them, but it’s not the same as these rustic, weathered beads.
Maybe what I see happening with carnelian and other gemstone beads is like a microcosm of our society – one where the same stores and restaurants are increasingly found in every city and town – they have their place and purpose – but tucked away here and there are unique, independent businesses – gems of our communities.