Sure, you could always go to a local jeweler and buy a lovely beaded necklace, but then again, why not try your hand at making one yourself?
Long Island has several bead stores that offer group classes and private instruction in the art of jewelry making (for a fee, plus the cost of materials). You can stop at a basic jewelry-making class or go as far as your interest and imagination will take you.
Options abound. Create a single strand of sparkling Swarovski crystals, colorful gemstones or polished glass to adorn your neckline or wrist, or tackle more intricate works of art that are sure to get attention.
Here's a sampling of the local shops that offer classes. Advance registration is necessary:
Beads n' Stitches : 153 Broadway, Hicksville, 516-396-9893; 539 Bedford Ave. Bellmore, 516-783-1124; beadsnstitches.com
COST : $20-$45, plus materials
You can choose from more than 20 2 1/2-hour classes, including basic to intense bead work, wire linking and working with chains. Work in a class with about a dozen people or alone at a table on the sales floor. The store provides tools, and a wide array of beads are available for sale. "It's a great bonding thing with mothers and daughters-in-law. We've had a lot of that recently," says Maryann Olson, who helps runs the family-owned business. After the initial instruction, beading takes only a few minutes, she adds, and "they go home with something beautiful."
Park Avenue Beads : 3341 Park Ave., Wantagh, 516-221-7167, parkavebeads.com
COST : $20-$30, plus materials
Owner Gail Siena has been selling beads for 19 years at trade shows on Long Island and throughout the Northeast. Her store sells lots of freshwater pearls, Swarovski crystals, seed beads and stone beads, including jasper, quartz, lapis, jade and mother of pearl. Classes cover basic stringing to more elaborate hand-wired pendants.
Island Bead and Jewelry : 510C Montauk Hwy., Eastport, 631-325-2323, islandbeadandjewelry.com
COST : $25-$125, includes some materials
Owners Debbie Foglia and Eileen Collins offer group classes as well as private and semiprivate instruction in jewelry basics and basic beading, and birthday parties for kids. The store carries assorted beads in polished and raw forms, including semiprecious stones such as jade, onyx and garnet, Swarovski crystals, turquoise, glass beads from Czechoslovakia and vintage beads. Of note: "Family Beading" classes are held most Saturdays at 3 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m., where $25 includes all supplies, instruction and use of tools to create a bracelet.
Haven Art : 29 Haven Ave., Port Washington, 516-944-6765
COST : $20 and up, plus materials
"We don't only do necklaces and bracelets, but also how to embroider with beads," says instructor Minnie Osher. "Beading is more than jewelry." The studio offers beading parties for children ($25 per child, including refreshments and party favors). And on Thursday nights, there's a free "Wine and Whine" class for adults who need help completing unfinished knitting or beading projects. Says Osher, "They have a glass of wine and they moan and they groan about everything."
Wall Street Bead & Jewelry Exchange : 14 Wall St., Southampton, 631-283-6843, wallstreetbead.com
COST : $15 for half an hour
This East End shop specializes in jewelry and beads from India, including precious and semiprecious gemstones and up to 18-karat sterling silver beads. You'll also find Swarovski crystals from Austria, glass beads from Czechoslovakia, Japanese delica beads and freshwater pearls from China. There aren't any workshops scheduled for January, but you can make an appointment for instruction in basic knotting, stringing and wire-wrapping.
Beach glass jewelry class : Kermit W. Graf Building, 423 Griffing Ave., Riverhead, 631-767-5142 (registration required), cce.cornell.edu/suffolk , 1-3 p.m. Jan. 17.
COST : $15
Learn how to create your own eco-friendly jewelry using beach glass, seashells and other materials collected from nature in this all-ages class hosted by the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County.