Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why do I like beads so much??

Not exactly beads:  necklaces.  Beaded necklaces is what I collect, make and desire. 

I'm giving a talk tomorrow at a local gallery, and so this is the question that I will attempt to answer.  Gemstones, fine jewelry, gold chains and all don't really interest me. Antique jewelry does.  Separate beads are interesting, but it is the old beaded necklace that holds my attention. Why?

My parents were born in Arizona, and the fact that we visited grandparents in  Flagstaff when I was little is certainly a factor because the first jewelry I saw was large chunky necklaces of turquoise and silver.  I suppose it defined jewelry for me.  Later, on my first posting overseas in Jordan in 1980, I saw the large silver necklaces the bedouin women piled around their necks.  Then I scrutinized the amber, coral and turquoise beads adorning Tibetan , Asian and African women.  In South America I saw the huge quartz and stone necklaces of the ancient American cultures.
I will wear all of these for my talk tomorrow

I have the ironic problem that the beads I collect are valuable in their own right, but I've put myself in a jewelry buyer's market.  So where a bead buyer would appreciate the value of the beads I use, he only wants the beads. Yet the jewelry buyer usually wants a beautiful  necklace and doesn't care about the value of the beads.  There is a gap between the immediate beauty, and the historical and artistic value of the components that is bridged with education. 

For me, the necklace tells a story of culture, history, art and fashion. It is a universal testament to  beauty, art and adornment.  Humans have  strung together cut stones, worked metal, and  hand made beads, and thrown them over their heads to make themselves more beautiful, or more special, or more valuable for thousands of years.

That's why I like beaded necklaces so much.