February 21, 2017

Good Luck Symbols from Around the World

Who say’s it has to be Saint Patrick’s Day for Good Luck? 

Offer your customers a wide variety of Good Luck Charms all year round! From Clovers to Ladybugs, from Pigs to Dolphins, you are sure to find something to please everyone. So let’s explore some of the hidden meanings of these international Good Luck Charms… 

Elephants– The Elephants are a symbol of health, longevity, love, wealth, and virtue. In some cultures Elephant figurines are placed on shelves and by doorways to ensure longevity and luck. The Ganesha, also known as Ganapati and Vinayakais a Hindu God of Luck. With his multiple arms and elephant head, he is is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the keeper of intellect and wisdom.

Four Leaf Clovers – The four leaf clover is an ancient Irish symbol of Luck. The Celtics believed that the clover would help them see fairies and avoid fairy tricks. There are many varieties of Clovers but the true lucky ones come from a white clover plant. The four leaves stand for faith, hope, love & luck. 

Pigs – Both Chinese and European cultures believe that Pig Charms have the power to bring good luck. Pigs are a symbol of wealth, good fortune, and prosperity! 

Horseshoes – Horseshoes symbolize good luck, power over evil, good fortune and fertility. The horseshoe is often associated with the horse’s strength and dependability. Many people believe it is best to hang a horseshoe with the open end facing upward – so your good luck won’t fall out!

Ladybugs – Ladybugs are a popular insect worldwide. In Germany ladybugs are literally called lucky bugs “Glueckskaefer”. Some cultures believe that if a ladybug lands on you and you don’t brush it off you will be lucky. And some ladybugs are luckier than others! You will be extra lucky if you spot a deep red ladybug with lots of spots. 

Shooting Star – A falling or Shooting Star grants the person lucky enough to see it a secret wish! A shooting star means that you have a chance to make all of your dreams come true. 

Dolphins – Dolphins are considered lucky in the Ancient Culture of Greece, Egypt & Rome. Ancient Sailors at sea found the sighting of a Dolphin to be a sign that land was near. This lucky charm would be perfect to keep someone safe who loves the sea.  

Keys – A key is one of the most important symbols of luck and one of the oldest charms. A key that is given between lovers in considered a symbol of unlocking the door to the heart. The giver of the key will be “lucky in love”. The Ancient Greeks and Romans believed keys represented the “Key of Life” which held the power to unlock the doors to send prayers to reach the gods. 

These are just a few examples of some of the many animals, plants and objects that people carry to bring them protection, success, health and of course…GOOD LUCK!


What about you? ARE YOU FEELING LUCKY?

 What do you carry around for Good Luck? 

Leave us a comment below and be entered to win a FREE Jewelry Supplies Starter Kit!

Contest ends March 3, 2017

January 17, 2017

Celebrate the Year of the Rooster!

Chinese New Year is just around the corner. On January 28, it’s time to welcome in the Year of the Rooster! Our Chinese Zodiac Charms are a perfect way to Celebrate the New Year! Create personalized gifts to celebrate Birthdays or to commemorate that Special Date! To make a simple charm necklace add an Initial Charm and your lucky gemstone color!

Shengxiao, also known in English as the Chinese Zodiac, is similar to Western astrology. It is represented by a circle of 12 animals and is based on the Chinese Lunar Calendar. Each calendar year is assigned to a certain animal and its associated attributes according to a 12-year mathematical cycle. The zodiac animals were carefully chosen for their lucky meanings and how they related to ancient Chinese people’s daily lives. The 12 Chinese Zodiac animals are in a fixed order according to Chinese Yin and Yang Theory. The yin or the yang of the animals was based on the odd or even number of their claws, toes or hoofs and they are arranged in a “harmonious” order. 


Read about your Chinese Zodiac Below!

Please Note: Chinese New Year moves between January 21st and February 20th. If you are born in January or February you will need to look up what year your Chinese Zodiac falls in.


The Rat is known for intelligence, adaptability, quick-wit, charm, being sociable and artistic. Its element is Water. Years of the Rat 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960, 1948, 1936

The Ox is known for loyalty, reliability, thoroughness, strength, being reasonable, steady, and determined. Its element is Earth. Years of the Ox 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961, 1949, 1937

The Tiger is known for enthusiasm, courageousness, ambition, leadership, confidence, and charisma. Its element is Wood. Years of the Tiger 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, 1938

The Rabbit is considered trustworthy, emphatic, modest, diplomatic, sincere, sociable, and great caretakers. Its element is Wood. Years of the Rabbit 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951, 1939



The Dragon is considered lucky, flexible, eccentric, imaginative, artistic, spiritual, and charismatic. Its element is Earth. Years of the Dragon 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952, 1940

The Snake is considered to be organized, intelligent, philosophical, intuitive, elegant, attentive, and decisive. Its element is Fire. Years of the Snake 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965, 1953, 1941

The Horse is considered loyal, courageous, ambitious, adaptable, intelligent, adventurous, and strong. Its element is Fire. Years of the Horse 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954, 1942

The Goat is known for being crafty, warm, elegant, charming, intuitive, sensitive, and calm. Its element is Earth. Years include 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967, 1955, 1943



The Monkey, often depicted holding a peach which represents longevity, is considered to be quick-witted, charming, bright, versatile, lively, lucky, adaptable, and smart. Its element is Metal. Years include 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968, 1956, 1944

The Rooster is known for honesty, energy, intelligence, flamboyance, flexibility, diversity, and confidence. Its element is Metal. Years of the Rooster 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969, 1957, 1945

The Dog is considered to be loyal, sociable, courageous, diligent, steady, lively, adaptable, and smart. Its element is Earth. Years of the Dog 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958, 1946

The Pig is considered to be honorable, philanthropic, determined, optimistic, sincere, and very sociable. Its element is Water. Years of the Pig 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971, 1959, 1947


What’s your Chinese Zodiac Sign? 

June 8, 2013

Adventures in Judging :: Bead Soup Blog Party Winners

Recently, I was asked to be on the judging committee for Bead Soup Blog Party 7. I have to say, with so many talented jewelry designers using such a beautiful variety of beading techniques and jewelry supplies, it was hard to pick winners. There were over 900 pieces submitted by over 500 hundred participants!

What is the Bead Soup Blog Party and how can you get involved? Every January a new contest kicks off. Start by signing up and filling out the Bead Soup Blog Party form. After all the entries are collected,two lucky bloggers are paired together. The two bloggers will send each other beads and findings from their personal bead stash and the fun begins! The idea is to strengthen the beading community and create beautiful one of a kind jewelry.Visit Bead Soup Blog Party to learn more and see past winners.

The mastermind behind this amazing contest is Lori Anderson. You may remember she was recently a Nina Designs Blog Partner. Lori runs several successful beading blogs, an online shop and is a published author! When Lori asked if I would be interested in judging the 7th Bead Soup Blog Party Contest, I jumped at the chance.


Above are my choices for each category. There were other winners picked by the other judges. To see the full selection of winners, browse Lori’s post here. There were too many to showcase them all!

Stop by each of the winners blogs for jewelry inspiration or for a handmade piece of jewelry for yourself!

Judges Choice (Upper left)  ::  Malin de Koning of Beading by Malin de Koning.

Best Use of Color (Upper right) :: Megan Milliken

Judges Choice (Middle left) ::  Silvia Sernicola of Pipa the Latest.

Grand Prize (Middle center) ::  Kris Lanae Binsfield of Cherish Designs.

Best use of Seed Beads (Middle right) :: Debbie Rasmussen of A little of this, a little of that.

Best Wire Work (Lower left) ::  Kristina Hahn of Peacock & Lime.

Best Use of Fiber (Lower right) ::   Agi Kiss of Moon Safari Beads.

August 2, 2011

Jewelry Designer Success Story: Peggy Li Creations

Peggy Li is a jewelry designer who graduated from UC Berkeley with a science degree. When you see her jewelry it’s pretty clear she was destined for a creative career. She is a Bay Area local and can be found selling her creations at the Burlingame Farmer’s Market most Sundays. Although she never imagined one day owning a jewelry business, she’s been running Peggy Li Creations for ten years now. Peggy started designing jewelry for herself and her friends. When people started asking where they bought their jewelry, she figured she was on to something. Her jewelry is light and whimsical, feminine and timeless, and, above all, easy to wear. Peggy Li’s jewelry has been featured in magazines like Lucky and Oprah, as well as on TV shows like “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” and “Private Practice.”

She also blogs at Peggy Li: Musings of a Handmade Jewelry Designer, where she offers valuable posts on starting a jewelry business and lessons she has learned along the way. You can also find Peggy Li Creations on Facebook and Twitter as well. We tracked her down for a short interview. Here’s what she had to say:

What’s your favorite Nina Designs jewelry component?
My favorite is the simple hoop earring finding with a hammer finish. It is simple, elegant, but obviously handcrafted. It is the perfect beginning to beautiful designs. I believe this was the first Nina Designs item I purchased and I’ve been hooked ever since.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced as a jewelry designer?
I think the greatest challenge I’ve faced as a jewelry designer is to embrace the side of me that is entrepreneurial and creative and express it. When you run your own business, you have to live it 24/7 and I believe in trying to continue to grow, learn and understand my business. For a long time, I didn’t like talking about my jewelry design and my jewelry business — it wasn’t a “real” career to me, and yet my creative side kept me trying, pushing, and exploring where it could take me. My business has constantly rewarded me in return! It’s been a great ride and experience.


June 30, 2011

Jewelry Design Success Story: Alison Kelley Designs

This month we’d like you to meet Alison Kelley, a jewelry designer who grew up in a family of artists, woodworkers, and seamstresses. Her family roots are in Malta, a tiny island in the Mediterranean Sea that inspires her jewelry design. Alison started designing jewelry 17 years ago, but in the last few years, with the encouragement of her husband and three sons, she has turned her passion into a successful small business.

What is your favorite Nina Designs charm?
I love the sterling silver pineapple charm. It’s the first charm I ever bought from Nina Designs and still my favorite. It reminds me of my second honeymoon in Maui. I love pairing it with a white fresh water pearl and a champagne cubic zirconia.

Where do you find your inspiration?
Color is my biggest inspiration. I love to study how nature combines colors. This makes it easier for me to come up with inspiring color combinations for my upcoming jewelry designs. I used to watch a TV show on BBC America called “What Not to Wear,” hosted by Trinny and Suzanne, who offered advice on how to wear color and that’s always stayed with me whether I’m designing jewelry, decorating my home, or getting dressed.


May 31, 2011

Jewelry Design Success Story: S.IN. Jewelry

Meet Dawn of S.IN. Industries

I consider myself lucky to work in a creative environment where women sketch silver charms, talented silversmiths bring them to life, and jewelry designers use them to make beautiful jewelry. Sometimes I even get an insider’s glimpse into the lives of jewelry designers when I meet them at tradeshows and talk to them over the phone. These little glimpses often fill me with inspiration and get me all pumped up to start a little side business of my own. Today I thought I’d share this inspiration with you by introducing Dawn Floen of S.IN. Jewelry.

Dawn is a successful jewelry designer living in Alberta, Canada. She is also a retired visual art teacher and a hobby photographer who enjoys finding and repurposing antiques from flea markets & yard sales. Her favorite holiday is scuba diving in Australia. And, her favorite bead buddy is her pomeranian, JJ, who loves to lounge on his pillow right next to her workbench. What’s really neat is how Dawn has integrated all her favorite activities into her daily life. Way to go Dawn! Thanks for sharing your story.

If you can remember, describe the first piece of jewelry you made. Do you still have it?
I started creating jewelry in 2006. It’s my friend’s fault. She was wearing a new beaded watch that I adored. I asked where she’d gotten it, and promptly went to the website. After seeing the prices, I decided I could make my own. After all, I was an art teacher. I can do this! So, I started where so many of us do. I went to Michael’s. I bought a few beads and supplies and made my first watch. It had teal ocean-coloured lampwork beads and pewter accent beads. And, yes, I still have it.

Before I knew it, I had a desk covered with hundreds of dollars of supplies. Then I started finding beads on ebay. Soon my husband pointed out that I had more than enough jewelry for one person and since I wasn’t going to stop creating any time soon, he suggested I start selling my creations. Soon after, Sunshine INdustries was born. I discovered Nina Designs a bit later when I graduated to precious metals and I’ve never looked back. I now have a large studio, an etsy shop, a website, a blog and enough supplies and tools to keep me going for years!


November 30, 2010

Jewelry Design Success Stories

Meet Brandy Thomason of Bella Vita

The “who, where, and how” behind fabulous jewelry designs is just as interesting and inspiring as the jewelry itself. This month we’d like you to meet Brandy Thomason of Bella Vita Handmade Jewelry. Brandy is a successful and free-spirited jewelry designer living near Little Rock, AR, with her partner, Matt, and their adventurous puppy, Arlo. Her online store encompasses three very distinct lines of jewelry that feature semi-precious gemstones, vintage glass, and found objects. Brandy’s jewelry is breathtaking and quite an inspiration.

Check out her designs at www.bellavitajewelry.net. Become a fan of Bella Vita Handmade Jewelry on Facebook. And, peruse her blog, where you’ll get lost in her rich, colorful photos and meet her darling puppy, Arlo.

We managed to catch up with Brandy and ask her a few questions. Here are her answers:

When did you discover your talent for jewelry design?
I discovered my love for jewelry design early. When I was 12 years old I made friendship bracelets with seed beads on floral wire. By the time I was 14 I practically lived at the local bead store where I learned to macramé, properly crimp beads and much more. I received many compliments on my jewelry and began selling it in high school. I thought my interest in jewelry was just a phase and that I would soon get tired of it. I went away to college and earned my degree in Interior Design. I enjoyed it, but after my first job in an architecture firm I decided it wasn’t for me. Before long I found myself heading to the local bead store in Little Rock to fill out a job application! I started there the next week. Then I dug out my old bead boxes and made enough jewelry for a little Christmas show at a friend’s house. I got so much praise I decided maybe I should pursue jewelry design. I started Bella Vita Jewelry in December of 2008. Over the last two years I have come to realize that this is what I am supposed to be doing. It comes so naturally I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

(psst . . . click on the link below to read more).

September 30, 2010

Jewelry Design Success Story

Meet Lezli

There are as many avenues into jewelry design as there are jewelry designers. Each story is unique and inspiring. In our first Customer Success Story we’d like you to meet Lezli Goodwin. Lezli is a well known jewelry designer, accomplished modern painter and creative director for Bead World Inc, an Arizona chain of boutique bead stores. Her modern beaded jewelry features metaphysically active gemstones, gorgeous sterling silver findings and exquisite handcrafted techniques. Lezli Goodwin Jewelry and Design is celebrating its tenth year by launching a fabulous new web site this October!

We asked Lezli a series of questions. Here are her answers.

Who is your ideal customer? Who do you make jewelry for?
My client is fun, active and stylish. She probably does yoga, goes out dancing with friends and has an infectious laugh. She’s the kind of gal who would pull you aside at the bar to tell you she loves your dress. She’s reached the point in her life where she can afford really nice things, but wouldn’t wear stuffy, formal jewelry. She prefers sassy, bohemian pieces made with really gorgeous materials. Once I have a really clear image of that woman in my mind, I go to the beads and findings I have on hand. It’s really organic, the way the right combination of materials emerges. At the end of the day, no matter how beautiful it is, it has to be the perfect balance of gorgeous and wearable to make it into my collection.

(psst . . . click on the link below to read more).