Opera Bracelets - Jewelry for Opera Lovers
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Making Opera Bracelets

I’d like to give you some insight into the inner workings of Opera Bracelets! Each bracelet is individually handmade in my home studio in Rochester, NY. They aren’t made overseas, nor are designs farmed out to have someone else assemble them. It’s all me. I take the quality of my work seriously, so if you ever have a broken bead or other problem, I hope you will let me know so I can make it right for you.

In the interest of those who would like to know more details about the design process, here goes...

Making Full Story style Opera Bracelets        

These can take about 4-6 weeks of design work. First, I break down the libretto, using multiple translations if it isn’t a work in English. I never trust just one, as translations often have their own agenda. Some are concerned with rhyme, some with prose, few with accuracy.

When I have the story solid and know what I want to be sure I get into the bracelet and what I have to leave out, I work on condensing. Of primary importance: The story has to get “small enough” to fit on the fold up bead chart - and yet there must be enough room to put the photos of the beads onto it.

Once that’s set, I begin sourcing beads and charms. Each bead chosen represents something such as an aria, character or important plot moment. I strive to make meaningful choices. Sometimes, I have to choose things at random, if there is not enough detail about a character, but if there is some symbolism to their name or identity, I use it.

Don Giovanni BeadExample: Don Giovanni. I struggled with choosing a color for him but then I came upon one tiny line of Leporello’s dialogue; after witnessing the Don’s cruelty he says that Don La Traviata Alfredo beadGiovanni’s soul must be made of bronze. A bronze colored bead was then the obvious choice.

If characters have a role as a witness or a special quality of vision they get represented by “cat’s eye” beads. Example: Siebel in Faust, who though he promises to look after Marguerite instead witnesses her down fall. Example: Alfredo in La Traviata. He sees something in Violetta that no one else around her can see.

Example: Mimi in La Boheme. Her aria Mi chiamano Mimi associates her with flowers and springtime. Thus she is represented by a delicate glass flower bead. Click to see the La Boheme Bracelet

Yes, it's absolutely true, I agonize over every bead choice... sometimes staying up nights thinking about it! Once the choices are made, I hit the bead and charm supplier websites. A lot of times, I have a quest on my hands for just the right color or shape. When I finally order all the supplies (inevitably from at least 7 different places), they usually take a week or so to arrive.

Then, I spread it all out and start to put the elements together in a way that tells the story, looks good and also feels comfortable. Usually, I have to assemble and reassemble numerous times. The nature of a memory wire design often requires complete disassembly to change something.

When the design is finalized, it's a relief to make those first bracelets and have them ready to sell; however, getting a bracelet saleable on the website is a whole new project!  First, I have to take photos. Yes, I take those one’s on my wrist with my other hand (as if you couldn't tell). Once the shots are loaded onto my computer, I tweak the contrast/brightness and crop them. I use some of the photos to make the large bead charts for the product page, write all the product descriptions and captions and enter the SEO fields so that Google, Yahoo, Bing and the others can find the product in searches.

Then I can hit social media with links and photos to promote the new product - HOORAY!

But it’s never over really as beads get unexpectedly discontinued constantly! So, each design is babied with tweaks and redesigns as time rolls by. Usually, even small changes require a whole new set of photos and charts because I want customers to be absolutely sure about what they have purchased and I want them to love it!

Making “Inspired by…” style Opera Bracelets

These are somewhat simpler to put together because they do not require the creation of the intricately developed charts and individual bead symbolisms of my “Full Story” Bracelets. Many times, these bracelets represent an aria or character. The design still does require research into context, background and meaning. In sourcing charms, it’s crucial that they be “right”, as charms are much more dominant in these designs.

Example: The Un bel di Bracelet. I had seen this heart charm with the dots on it before. I really wondered: Un Bel di Heart“Why? Why those dots, what’s the point?”. But when it came time to design this bracelet, it was the perfect choice, reflecting quite literally Butterfly’s description of seeing Pinkerton as a dot far away getting larger and larger as he comes towards her home.

The colors and styles of beads are also important. For example, I felt the Habanera Bracelet would not be right with crystals or pearls. I wanted it to reflect Carmen’s “gypsy spirit” and be eclectic as if as the Gypsies traveled from place to place picking up lovely things on the way. So there’s glass, metal, opaque beads, clear, iridescent… a real mixture. Click to see the Habanera Bracelet.

Example: The Mimi and Moonlight Bracelet. I chose crystals to evoke snow and a lot of blue beads to represent the special color that occurs with a full moon shining over soft deep snow on the roofs - that strangely beautiful blue light that floods the room as Rodolfo turns around from the window and sees Mimi in its beam. Click to see the Mimi and Moonlight Bracelet

I hope this helps you understand the design process! I am also happy to take on special orders which you may find more information about on the Special Order page. And, of course, if you have questions always feel free to email me at cindy@operabracelets.com.   


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All Opera Bracelets are individually handmade in Rochester NY USA

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Click below to read about Opera Bracelets in the media and the MetOpera Shop

Opera Bracelets in Opera Now Magazine February 2012   Opera Bracelets Exclusive Jewelry at the Met Opera Shop    Opera Bracelets in NPR 's Deceptive Cadence blog November 2011    Opera Bracelets in the August 23, 2013 Rochester Business Journal


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