How Beading is Good for Health and Happiness!

The art of beading has been around for hundreds of years, dating back to the 14th century when the first glass beads were produced. What has made the art of beading withstand centuries and what is so lovely and beautiful about it? People of all ages have enjoyed the craft of beading for generations and each day more are getting themselves involved in beading and jewelry making. This beloved hobby is not only fun for people and a way to express creativity or earn a small profit, but the best part of all is that beading is good for your health! Oh yes you read it right, beading has many health benefits too! Both adults and children can experience the many therapeutic benefits of beading and jewelry making. Beading requires skills used by your brain to think, reason, and focus, but most of all, it relaxes us and makes us happy!

Beading for our Mental Health

Did you know that approximately 1-in-5 people GLOBALLY have a mental health disorder at any given time? From anxiety and depression to eating disorders and substance abuse, the mental health of the global population is on the decline. Our fast-paced lifestyles and constant hurrying to our next commitment is in no way beneficial to our overall well-being. We strive for success but barely give ourselves time to rest and enjoy the things that truly make us happy and calm our ever-moving minds. It is so important that we take into account our brain health and overall well-being and put into practice things that bring us joy, soothe and comfort us, and provide anxiety relief.

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Photo by Juan Pablo Arenas on Pexels.com

One of those comfort-bringing practices is art and crafting, and beading falls into that category. But you may ask, how is beading actually good for my mental health?

Encourages Mindfulness and Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Beading keeps our hands busy and our minds at ease. The time spent beading necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and embroidery requires full focus and concentration on the present moment, allowing us to practice mindfulness, and helps prevent our thoughts from wandering. The time we spend beading is spent constructively, and with purpose, and helps us escape the world around us, slow down, and focus on one task, one bead at a time. Many beading projects are done by stringing beads one-by-one, forcing the beader to take his or her time and to fixate on a singular task.

The repetitive nature of stringing beads is calming, almost like meditation. It can help to relieve stress by preventing a beader from trying to multitask, encouraging them to maintain focus on a sole task. Starting a pattern and growing with it slowly helps a person to slow their mind, be patient, and witness their creation unfold gradually. Beading allows one to abandon other life stressors and escape into an activity that will sooth and calm the mind. As Pablo Picasso famously said, “art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

Boosts Our Creativity and Self-Esteem

Not only does beading promote mindfulness and relieve stress, it also encourages creativity and boosts our self esteem. The art of beading and the endless design and creative possibilities that come with that, gives the beader an area to let his or her imagination work. There are thousands of beads to choose from, in hundreds of colors and finishes, all ready to be used to create something beautiful. There are endless beading materials to choose from, from seed beads and Czech pressed glass, to gemstones and freshwater pearls, giving a beader endless possibilities.

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Photo by Avinash Patel on Pexels.com

Whether a beader is following a pattern, or developing their own design, the individual can play around with color combinations and textures and watch their design unfold. The end result of one’s imagination and creativity put to work is a finished piece that it’s creator can be proud of. After cycling through the entire creative process, the piece of jewelry can provide a person with a sense of accomplishment and bring them pride, joy, and satisfaction. Beading makes us feel happy, and when we as humans do things that make us feel good, our brains respond by releasing endorphins. Endorphins are the very chemicals in our brain that reduce stress and promote happiness. Art therapy is also proven to help alleviate anxiety by reducing the stress hormone cortisol in our bodies.

Encourages Socialization

Beading can be done is a group setting as well, allowing individuals to share ideas, stories and help one another out. In addition, it gives beaders the opportunity to provide each other with positive feedback and recommendations in design. Take Potomac Bead’s Beading and Jewelry Making Facebook Group for example. It is an online community where people can share their work, ask questions, provide feedback, and encourage one another.

Beading is Beneficial for Children Too

Imagine a situation where a child is beading, grasping the small beads one at a time and stringing them on thread. The repetitive motion of the beading process is extremely beneficial to a child’s fine motor skills as it strengthens their small, growing muscles. The act of grasping both small and large beads repeatedly for a particular pattern involves many hand movements. These repeated movements can help develop and strengthen a child’s grip and hand dexterity, which can lead to improved writing and coloring skills at school.

Encourages Creativity and Imagination

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Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Beading gives children the perfect outlet to use their creativity and imagination. With beading, there are no lines to color in or rules to follow, only creative freedom. Beads are available in all different shapes, colors, sizes and textures. From fun lampwork beads and colorful mixed magnesite gemstones, to wooden beads and metal charms. Children are able to play around and experiment with color combinations, patterns, or no pattern at all! A child’s unique creation is made possible by their own originality and imagination which is vital for their developing minds.

 

Improved Fine Motor Skills and Concentration

As children get older, they are required to concentrate more and more, whether that be in school, or doing chores, or while riding a bike. The art of beading requires a certain level of concentration from the beader. If a child is sticking with a pattern, they need to concentrate on which beads they need to pick up, how many beads to use, and in which order they need to thread the beads. In addition, the child needs to focus on threading a small thread or string through the small hole of a bead. All of these things require patience and focus while helping to fine tune visual motor skills and gross motor skills. These seemingly meaningless tasks are great tools in helping children sharpen their minds with persistence, concentration, and focus on a specific task.

Offering a Sense of Accomplishment

When the piece they are creating is finished, a child then experiences the joy and satisfaction of a job well done. In addition, children then have a tangible item, imagined and created by only them, that they can be proud of. The satisfaction and pride in their work will grant a child a sense of accomplishment and provide them with a boost of self-esteem that every child needs to feel.

Great Teamwork

Beading as a group activity will help a child create playmates and make the whole activity more fun. Forming ideas with other children teaches a child how to collaborate and work with other children. It promotes sharing and the importance of teamwork and allows children the opportunity to encourage and give compliments to one another. Being able to share ideas with peers also helps to build a child’s self confidence in their ideas and abilities.

Conclusion

Are you having a rough day or week? Are you experiencing anxiety symptoms, feeling lonely and uninspired, and in need of a confidence boost? It is no secret that art is therapeutic and helps relieve our stress and gives us a boost of happiness. There are many studies on this very topic. Beading will help calm your mind and anxieties, and propel you to beautiful creations that you can delight in.  Allow your imagination to run wild, grab your beading supplies, and start creating!

#Happy Beading! – No pun intended =)

-Lindsay

How to Tell if Your Gemstones Are Real Or Fake

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If you’re like me, you like a beautiful gemstone necklace, bracelet or set of earrings.  There is something about making or purchasing jewelry with genuine gemstones that makes it more unique and special.  I particularly enjoy gifting handmade jewelry to my friends, family, and my kid’s teachers around the holidays. There are thousands of affordable, semiprecious gemstones out there to choose from, in hundreds of shapes and colors.  Unfortunately, although many of these beads are labeled as gemstones, many of them are not. There are certainly 100% natural gemstone beads and cabochons available, but there are also many imitations, manmade, dyed, or altered stones as well.  Manmade gemstones are beautiful, and a great addition to any piece of jewelry, they just aren’t natural. If you do prefer authentic stones, you need to educate yourself on what to look for and how to make an informed purchase.

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

To be clear, there is no fool-proof way to ensure your gemstones are 100% natural other than taking them to a certified gemologist and having them examined under a microscope.  There are, however, a handful of things you can take into account when shopping for gemstones that will help you to determine if you’re purchasing natural gemstones or fake gemstones.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re shopping for gemstone beads or gemstone cabochons.

DESCRIPTION PRICE COLOR SELLER


DESCRIPTION

The more information that is available for the gemstones you are purchasing, the better.  Thoroughly read product descriptions and look for ones that are transparent and forthcoming with information about the gemstone beads or cabochons they are selling.  In the description, look to see if the seller lists the origin of the stones or where they are mined. Knowing where a gemstone comes from or where it was mined will help in determining whether it is an authentic gemstone.  In addition, look to see if the description of the product includes terms like “dyed” or “manmade”. There are many stones available in the market that appear to be real gemstones, but in fact they are dyed or chemically treated stones made to look like natural gemstones.

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Mojave Turquoise

Let’s take turquoise for example. You’ve probably seen many beautiful turquoise beads available for sale but would it surprise you to know that around 90% of turquoise beads and other products are not actually turquoise? They are beautiful and certainly look like the real thing, but they are actually dyed howlite or magnazite.  Howlite is a white stone that is extremely absorbent and is dyed and treated to look just like turquoise. If a seller is selling dyed howlite, the product description should be transparent and tell you that.  So again, if you want authentic stones, do your due diligence and thoroughly read up on all available information on the product you are looking to purchase. Read descriptions closely, look out for the origin of the stone, and be aware of keywords that would raise a red flag such as “manmade”, or “dyed”.

One important suggestion I want to add is, if you’re looking to make gemstone jewelry that you will then resell, be sure to offer all information in your finished piece as well.  Be clear about where the stones are from, what they are, whether you’re using sterling silver, and another other information you can provide.  Buyers appreciate the information and will be more likely to make a purchase if they know exactly what they are purchasing.


PRICE

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Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

The price of a product is often a telltale sign of real or fake.  Have you ever wanted to purchase something and the price is so low that it makes you think, “this is way too good to be true”?  If you ever ask yourself that question when purchasing gemstone beads or cabochons, then it probably is too good to be true.  Authentic gemstones are unique and special and rarer than you think, causing their price points to be much higher than their imitation counterparts.   For example, real turquoise is in limited supply and only makes up about 10% of the market and therefore carries a high price. If you’re looking at a 16” strand of Kingman turquoise beads with a price of $75-$100, you are more than likely looking at real turquoise.  If you’re looking at a strand of turquoise with a price of $5, you can be pretty certain it’s not authentic but rather a dyed, altered stone. When making a gemstone purchase, do your homework and research the average prices of those stones and then some comparison shopping.


COLOR AND APPEARANCE

Another important factor to keep in mind when looking for gemstones is the color and overall appearance of the stone.  Truly natural gemstones like African Opal are only mined, cut, and polished and not altered in any way. They contain blemishes, flaws, and imperfections and no two beads or stones are exactly the same.  An authentic stone will have grooves and divots that you can feel when running your fingernail over the surface.

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Mixed Agate

If you come across a strand of gemstone beads that are especially colorful, vibrant, smooth, and shiny, like Mixed Agate, it is very likely these beads are dyed and altered in some way.  Let’s take goldstone for example. Goldstone is a very sparkly, copper-colored stone that was made to look like Sunstone, but is not an actual stone. Goldstone is actually made up of glass that is infused with copper to give it that sparkly, sunstone look. So, as you’re looking to purchase gemstones, take into account their overall appearance and be leary of a strand that is overly colorful, and bright.

 


SELLER

The last and possibly the most important factor in purchasing real gemstones is buying them from a trusted seller.  A reputable dealer will check all of the above boxes. They should provide a thorough description of the product and be transparent about where the stones are from. In addition, they should disclose if the stones are composite stones and whether they are chemically treated or altered in any way.  Be cautious of a seller that is not forthcoming with this information. Do some research on the seller by checking out their sales review. Consumer reviews are an excellent resource to find out information about a seller, whether that information is good or bad. Lastly, do not shy away from asking the seller for more details or information.  A good vendor should be readily available and willing to answer any additional questions you have about their products.


WRAPPING UP

The market is full of gorgeous gemstone beads and cabochons with hundreds of colors, cuts, and styles to choose from.  If you’re in the market for authentic beads, do your homework and take your time with your purchase so that you can make an informed decision and make sure you’re getting exactly what you want.  If you are on the search for gemstones beads or cabochons, the Potomac Bead Company has hundreds to choose from, including natural and manmade.  If you have any questions about any of the products available, we will be happily answer those for you and make sure you have all the information you need to make an informed purchase.  We will be able to provide you with any and all information you are looking for when making your purchase.  The Potomac Bead staff can also make recommendations to you for which beads or stones to choose that fits within your budget. And lastly, check out our Better Beader Episode on Youtube titled “Are Your Gemstones Real?” for more information and examples on what to look for.

Happy Beading!

-Lindsay