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Spring is approaching, and I’m starting to ponder my wardrobe. Soon it will be the right weather for dresses, shorts, sandals, and colorful beads (she said hopefully).

Charm bracelets are a great way to show off choice items from a bead collection, especially if you only have a couple of this or that fancy bead. I love these vintage “millefiori” beads from Japan, which are made by dotting the surface of the bead with a multicolored glass cane. Sometimes the bead is then enfolded in a layer of clear glass, like the big pink one at upper left.


Silver charm bracelet made with vintage Japanese beads.

Nobody knows color like the Italians, who also pioneered the crafting of glass beads. I hand-knotted this strand with black string to set off the colors. The mixture of bright, primary reds and blues with more muted green and orange is mood-lifting. Somehow the riot of color blends into a harmonious whole.


A string of round Italian chevron beads.

I also enjoy pastels, especially light pink. One of my most treasured strands is this extra-long one of vintage and antique trade beads. These beads are irregularly shaped because they were individually cut, not machine-made. They have a sculptural feel, like stones polished in a stream.


Pastel and brightly colored trade beads with a large decorated Venetian as a centerpiece.