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October birthstone: Blue opal necklace

At the Bead&Button Show, this strand of faceted Peruvian opal nuggets caught my eye. What drew me in was its range of colors: pale yellow, deep blue-green, and light blue flecked with brown and dark gray. (How handy that nature did most of the designing already.) For the earrings, I chose two stones that were similar in size and shape — I like that they differ in color. 

SUPPLIES

Necklace

  • 15–16-in. (38–41cm) strand 10–40mm faceted blue opal nugget beads (Artgems, Inc., artgemsinc.com)
  • 20–25 3–4mm spacers
  • flexible beading wire,.014 or.015
  • 2 crimp beads
  • toggle clasp
  • chainnose or crimping pliers
  • diagonal wire cutters

Earrings

  • 2 10–15mm faceted blue opal nugget beads (Artgems, Inc., artgemsinc.com)
  • 2 2-in. (5cm) head pins
  • pair of earring wires
  • chainnose and roundnose pliers
  • diagonal wire cutters

INSTRUCTIONS

Necklace

October birthstone Blue opal necklace 1
Step 1
On your work space, arrange nugget beads, balancing colors and shapes. Position the largest nugget so it’s off-center. Cut a piece of beading wire. (My necklace is 17 1⁄2 in./44.5cm.) 
October birthstone Blue opal necklace 2
Step 2
Center a spacer. On each end, string a nugget and a spacer, repeating until the necklace is within 1 in. (2.5cm) of the finished length. Check the fit as you string; you may need to change the placement of some nuggets. End with a nugget. 
October birthstone Blue opal necklace 3
Step 3
On each end, string a spacer, a crimp bead, a spacer, and half of a clasp. Check the fit, and add or remove beads if necessary. Go back through the beads just strung and tighten the wire. Crimp the crimp bead and trim the excess wire.
earrings
Editor’s tip
If you’re making earrings, set aside two of the smaller nuggets before stringing the necklace. If you want to make larger earrings, finish the necklace with a chain extender instead of a toggle clasp.
Earrings
October birthstone Blue opal necklace e1
Step 1
On a head pin, string a nugget bead. Make a wrapped loop.
October birthstone Blue opal necklace e2
Step 2
Open the loop of an earring wire. Attach the bead unit and close the loop. Make a second earring to match the first.
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