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One-of-a-kind jewelry can give your wardrobe a much needed face-lift and adds an element of creativity to your fierce personal style. North Carolina beadwork artist Kathryn Berkowitz encourages budding jewelry designers to "be fearless and just try stuff." Your first piece may not be your dream accessory, but if you keep at it, you're sure to create a runway-worthy fashion focal point sooner or later. Practice makes perfect, and sometimes the most unexpected elements turn your handmade necklace from drab to fab.
Inspiration comes from funny places, not just the fashion world. Berkowitz suggests scouring your home from top to bottom to uncover hidden treasures that are sure to add polish to earrings, necklaces, bracelets and more. Antique keys, broken pieces of old jewelry, buttons and photographs are ideal for creating eye-catching accessories you won't see anyone else sporting at your next social gathering.
Go on a treasure hunt. Thrift stores and antique shops may not carry the latest Prada bag or Blahnik pumps, but they are treasure troves for old jewelry and household items that are easy to turn into new pieces of jewelry. Let your imagination run wild. Keep in mind colors and patterns from your favorite outfits, or look for bold pieces that will pop on a more neutral ensemble. Old jewelry is easy to take apart --- take advantage of unique beads and prices lower than you'll find in any jewelry store.
Wholesale events conserve your beauty budget while upping your fashion IQ. Berkowitz suggests applying for a wholesale license in your area, especially if you hope to make a profit by selling any of your jewelry. Wholesale bead events are often held at convention centers in major metropolitan areas several times a year. Vendors set up seas of tables with the hottest beads on the fashion scenes for lower than low prices.
Classes organize your creativity and make it easy to put together the beads and pendents you've collected so that they truly reflect your fashion sense. Berkowitz suggests checking for classes at local bead shops when you are getting started. Bring your own beads from home, or pay to use some of theirs. Instructors are generally experienced jewelry designers who will give you the knowledge boost you need to burst your way onto the fashion scene with your unique accessories. Once you know what you are doing, it will be easy to build your jewelry from the comfort of your own home.
The Internet is a jewelry diva's best friend, especially when you're stuck on a design in the wee hours of the morning and no bead shops are open. Berkowitz encourages fashion-savvy creators to check out sites like Around the Beading Table that offer beading patterns and tutorials, book suggestions and more.