A Treasure Necklace Frames Your Thoughts

Your most precious memories live in a treasure necklace and the necklace lives to frame your thoughts forever.

©2013, Mary Ellen Merrigan, CA Treasure Necklace

©2013, Mary Ellen Merrigan, CA Treasure Necklace

Whether you gather objects on your travels or throughout your lifetime, or find charms to represent your thoughts, a treasure necklace is a personal representation of you.

Carol thought about a necklace for two years after she’d met me at a show where I wore my signature treasure necklace. When she finally contacted me, she said,

“I want a milagro-type necklace like yours. Can you do that?”

Each of the 19 sterling silver charms Carol brought to my studio contained a story.

The big airplane symbolized the travel she enjoys. She picked an angel to represent her daughter, a motorcycle for her husband’s hobby, and an eye because she loved its symbolism. (NOTE: The Nazar Boncuk charm (or Evil Eye Bead) stares back at the world to ward off the evil spirits and keep you from hard.)

Many of Carol’s charms were related to women: a torso with arms on the hips, legs, hands, heart, a bust, and so on.

“I want color,” she said about the beads. “Especially corals and blues. They look good on black.”

“I intend to wear this with everything. Most of my clothes are black or white, so it will show well.”

And so it – the process of creating a custom necklace – began.


Assembling a piece for someone gives me joy. It’s as if I opened a bead puzzle. You need to find “just the right bead” for each part of the project. What bead expresses them?

©2013, Mary Ellen Merrigan, CA charms for treasure necklace

©2013, Mary Ellen Merrigan, CA charms for treasure necklace

The charms themselves must hang easily, with each one looking special and pretty in its own right.

I had boxes of beads before me on the workbench and different possibilities laid out prior to beginning the work of assembling the charms. What a fun way to spend a studio afternoon!

If charms provide the decoration, then the framework is the necklace itself. Carol preferred a three strand necklace.

My treasure necklace process includes a questionnaire so I can refer to a customer’s interests and comments as I put their selection together.

Because I used large beads, I knew the middle strand needed to be smaller so it wouldn’t overwhelm the others. I wanted the center strand to peek through here and there, adding a sense of base color to the total presentation.

Found it! The specially shaped turquoise oblongs from Afghanistan became the primary bead for the center strand. Some call turquoise music for the eyes. I added a few touches of silver and a complimentary brick color to the layout.

On the third strand, I placed charms so they would hang in-between those on row one.

Detail made the finished piece visually interesting. Every glance frames something new, yet the overall effect was cohesive.

Vintage African Trade Beads added consistent color. As I explained to Carol, trade beads carry a special energy as they have traveled across continents and have been owned by many people. Originally, trade beads were used as currency.

Carol’s necklace included other special items such as award-winning glass beads purchased at the International Folk Art Festival from Cedi Nomadi of Ghana, various lampglass beads and a sterling silver clasp with turquoise insert purchased at the Tuscon Gem and Bead show in 2012.

Because the airplane charm was especially large and heavy, I added it on a separate cord with a slide closure to control its length. This allows Carol to wear it as part of the treasure necklace, or wear it separately as a t-shirt necklace.

As you can guess, this was a fun project that called “Create!” to me. It beaded together quickly and I could hardly wait to show my creation to Carol.

©2013, Mary Ellen Merrigan, CA Treasure Necklace

©2013, Mary Ellen Merrigan, CA Treasure Necklace

She loved it, exclaiming, “I couldn’t have hoped for better!”

How will you showcase your memories?