Google the words “bead jewelry,” and page after page of Web sites pop up, vying for attention.

With the explosion in popularity of beads, more and more former amateur jewelry makers are turning pro. In the fiercely competitive marketplace of bead jewelry, designers have found that adding value to their pieces helps them to stand out from the crowd. Often, that means using more personal elements like artisan-made lampwork beads, and moving away from plain glass or crystall beads to gemstones.

If the gems cost a little bit more, they’re worth it because they sell, say designers.

“I can’t even keep earrings with gemstones in stock. Every time I make them, they’re gone,” says Susan Goracy of Bijouterie in Tavernia, Florida.

Denise Perry of Krista’s Corner uses silver as the base for this ring with multicolored tourmaline beads woven on fine-gauge wire.

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bead jewelry
She Is Anyway by Ann Chavez of Jackalope Jewels combines lampwork by Brad Pearson with lapis, malachite, coral, aragonite, Sleeping Beauty turquoise, 22K gold vermeil spacers, and handmade findings.
Moonscape by Susan Goracy of Bijouterie uses a handmade lampwork Moon bead by Mari Johnson, mother-of-pearl, lapis lazuli, Swarovski crystals, a pewter star, and Ball silver beads and findings.
This necklace by Gail Hanley of Beadazzled includes handmade lampwork “lentil” beads, olive jade, and Bali silver beads and findings.
A bracelet by Laurie Hyatt of LL Designs made with handmade lampwork beads, Kingman turquoise, malachite, apatite, chalcedony, hemimorphite, freshwater pearls, jade, chrysocolla, and Bali silver beads and findings.