One of the first custom pieces I made came about because of a request from a grieving mother. Hematite had a special meaning for her and her son and she wanted a rosary style necklace to wear in his memory. When she asked if I could create if for her, I said “of course”. Not knowing a lot about rosaries, it seemed like it would be simple enough, a handmade cross hanging from linked hematite beads, right? Wrong! As I researched rosaries, I realized there was a special format for the beads and a specific number connected to each other. There are many different types of rosaries, but the most common is the 5 Decades Rosary or the Dominican Rosary. This rosary is made with 5 sets of 10 (decade) beads. Each set is separated by a length of chain with one bead in the center. The centerpiece has 2 connectors at the top and one at the bottom so that the necklace connects at the top to each side of the connector with a drop. The drop consists of 5 beads separated into 1, 3 and 1, for a total of 59 beads.
With this information, I could have easily created a regular rosary for her, but the mom wanted it to be a specific length and wanted larger beads than normal. If I used the standard format of 59 beads, larger than normal, it would have too long to wear so I asked her if she was ok with some adjustments. Thankfully she agreed. Together, we created a plan to keep the size (12mm beads) and length (27in) she wanted while keeping the “rosary” that would have special meaning for her.
To incorporate all of these elements, I used 3 decades (10) of beads instead of the normal 5. Instead of using factory-produced “rosary” chain, each bead is hand-linked using stainless steel. Stainless steel is stronger than other silver-colored wires and does not tarnish, ensuring years of use.
The cross had to be something special, delicate, but strong enough to hold up, detailed, but simple. I created it by carefully shaping individual pieces of sterling silver wire, hand-forging it for strength then bringing all of the elements together to create the beautiful focal point.
She loved it so much, she asked me to create hematite choker and ring to go with it, along with another cross for a friend.
After seeing the final product, several other mothers who have experienced asked me to create rosaries in the same style, for them. Each with a stone that was important to their child. One requested tiger’s eye, another ordered two amethyst rosaries & gifted one to a friend who was close to her daughter. Another mom didn’t have a specific stone in mind, but knew her son’s favorite color was light green. I showed her pictures of several different green stones, agate, serpentine and some others. She chose a beautiful unpolished jade. The unpolished stone has almost a frosted look. Colors range from almost white to a light to medium green. Each told me how emotional they became when they opened the package and saw it for the first time. That is the point, the purpose of creating custom, memorial jewelry. It’s about having a physical link to the person, time or place to carry with you everywhere!