Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Rhinestones as Links


When I first started making vintage-style jewellery, I bought mountains of different-sized rhinestones and settings. Among the many ideas swirling about my head was to use the stones as links. I envisaged, for example, joining several navettes in settings together with jump rings to make a chain. What could be more beautiful?

I quickly discovered that this was good only in theory. On a bust, the "links" in my chain all sat perfectly. But put the necklace on an actual person, and the rhinestones behaved like naughty puppies, rolling from side to side with even the slightest movement of the wearer's neck and shoulders. In a beaded necklace, this rolling motion isn't a problem, as the beads look the same from any angle. But when a rhinestone rolls, it's very noticeable, because often you end up seeing the setting rather than the stone.

I have since more or less given up on using rhinestones as links - except for one exception. And that's what I wanted to share with you today.

The exception involves what I like to call a "tight" design. This is design in which the rhinestone-link is somehow kept in check by other components. It can't roll because the other components won't let it.

Here are some examples. The first is a glorious bracelet made by a customer of mine named Jillian. As you can see from the picture, Jillian has secured two 8 x 4 mm ruby AB navettes between a pair of small filigree triangles. So the navettes are used as a sort-of link, but they are reined in by the triangles, preventing them from rolling. It helps, too, that the navettes are quite small. This makes them easier to tame! Click to see a larger version.

Here's a necklace I made myself. Click for the larger version, and you'll see that I used the same size navette (8 x 4 mm) as links between some antique-brass daisies with filigree petals. The pendant is a large plaque featuring a pretty garden nymph. (Isn't she lovely?) Again, the structure and design of this piece prevent the navettes from flapping about:

Here's another example. This time I used 10 x 5 mm navettes:

Even with their limitations, rhinestones are still among my favourite jewellery-making components. Why? Because what they lack as links they more than make up for as spangly dangles. Check out these earrings, for example:

And don't forget you can also use them as a glue-in design element, as seen here:

All you need is a whip and a chair, and those rhinestones will be working for you in no time. You just need to show 'em who's boss!

Your blog could not have been more timely. I have just finished a pair of earrings and was about to attempt a matching necklace using some pear-shaped rhinestones as dangles. I was going to use some navettes in the design too, but I think I'll skip those now. Your tips are invaluable and save me a lot of time preventing the mistakes you mentioned. However, I do have a question regarding the earrings I have made, which are really long. This was my intention and they really look quite stunning, however, the pears often roll to the side. I’m not sure if they do this because they are knocking against each other, or whether it’s because of the length of the strands. (Each strand consists of 3 eyepins with beads, plus jump rings in between.) Have you got any tips as to how I might be able to improve their stability Siobhan? If not, I can live with them the way they are...(PS. I especially love your necklace. It's just gorgeous!)
Yes, I too had discovered the non-joy of trying to turn rhinestones into links on their own....was awfully frustrating for the same reasons as you have mentioned here Siobhan - they just do not sit right once you put the piece on! So you do tend to get more creative in trying to think of a better way to use them as links, just as you have shown with the pictures - the first two in particular. I must admit that once I started purchasing rhinestones from your store, I very quickly became addicted to them...they're just so pretty ^_^
A whip and a chair! Hah so thats my problem? haha. Those designs are all just lovely, and there's so many different designs rhinestones can be incorporated into, it just blows my mind! Thanks for sharing your wisdom again Siobhan!!
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