The first pieces I worked with were Hill Tribe Silver. I've written about Hill Tribe Silver before. It's one of my favorites, perhaps because the pendants are so natural, or perhaps because the tribe is named Karen...
Here's a description from the Artbeads Website:
These Thai beads and pendants are made by the Karen Hill Tribe in northern Thailand using traditional tribal methods passed down from generation to generation. Purchasing these Thai beads helps sustain a traditional craft and provides the Karen people with a reliable source of income. The silver content in our Hill Tribes silver beads and pendants is typically 95-99%, even higher than sterling (92.5%). This higher silver content is softer and therefore easier to shape into all the unique and wonderful styles. On close inspection you will notice that no two pieces are exactly alike, attesting to the handmade nature of these beautiful pieces.
When Hill Tribe Silver was first available, there were pendants and beads to choose from, but not many findings. Now, you can find everything you need to complete a necklace. I fell in love with this flower pendant, but I'm also happy I could choose cones and a clasp to match. Because the silver is more pure than sterling, it has a whiter appearance. I'm happy that the finishing components match the focal pendant. For this necklace, I mixed in some tiny 3mm pearls, seed beads that reminded me of the sea and sand, and some knot-shaped accent beads I had in my stash.
Here's another view:
Next came these cute Hill Tribe Silver hearts. I was in a Twilight mood, so I added ruby red crystal drops. Meredith's photo treatment creates a softer, more organic mood, though -- similar to the spirit of the original hearts.
I switched gears when it came to the Czech glass, going for a more sophisticated holiday-party look. I love these fire polished dark green round beads, and while my design may not be the most creative, it's classic, especially for this time of year. I created a cascade by extending a length of chain, and wrapping a bead on each side of each link, with three on the bottom. Then, I added a few linked beads to accent the chain. The necklace is about 15 inches, with a 3-inch dangle.
While I was compiling my order, a suggestion popped up. I really like it when websites have the "you may also like" feature, because honestly, there are so many choices it can be hard to decide. I never would have seen these beads, but I was intrigued by the silver lining. I chose five 10 mm and decided to pair them with 4 mm silver and blue rounds. By stringing random patterns and adding 6 mm silver rounds, I created an icy holiday mix that really catches the light.
Just because I can't choose from Meredith's great shots, here's one more of the flower pendant:
So, what do you think? Did you make any gifts for yourself this year?
Disclaimer: I have received these beads free of charge from Artbeads. My review is my own opinion and I have not been paid for my endorsement.