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Buffy's Beads

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Published January 31st 2011
Me: "That's a lovely necklace!"
My friend: "Thanks, I make my own jewellery, it's really not that hard..."
Me (continuing the conversation in my head): Hmmm, but I wonder where she gets all the bits of metal and pretty stones to make it out of?
If the above exchange has happened to you, and left you, like me, wondering more about the where than the how, then here's the answer to the mystery: It's highly likely your friend has been to Buffy's Beads in Kingly Court behind Carnaby Street.

This, quite wonderful discovery on the top floor, is were a lot of the lovely, sparkly, semi-precious stony things that go into the handmade jewellery you buy at the markets come from. Walking into this simplest of shops and you'll see a rainbow of precious stones, semi precious stones, wooden beads, freshwater pearls, Czech crystal beads, Swarovski crystals and mother of pearl beads, all hanging neatly in strings – arranged by colour, which is why it looks like a rainbow.

Strings start from under five pounds, then largely hover around the £10 - £15 pound mark before heading upwards to the precious stone end. The number of beads you get depends on the shape and size of the bead, the strings are all about 40cms long. Obviously the beads all come with holes already drilled though them, so they're all ready to go, all you need are the tools to change them from a string of beads into a jewellery creation. Which they Buffy's also sell. From a large variety of clasps and catches, and wires of all different gauges for bracelets and necklaces, to gold and silver hooks, studs, hangers and wire rods for earrings. Buffy's also does individual stones and specialist jewellery bases. So the limit to what you can create really rests with your own imagination.

Buffy's was opened by a jewellery designer who found that she couldn't find quality beads and stones in the UK, for acceptable prices, so they try to keep things affordable.

This shop is pretty much guaranteed to inspire, so here's just how easy it can be to put together a piece of jewellery:

Step One: Select a strand of beads or two, some medium gauge wire, a clasp, a packed of tiny metal tubes, and a packed of the small metal balls with the slit cut into them. You also need a pair of small pilers.

Step Two: Re-string your beads onto the wire in the order you want them in, making sure it comes out the right length. Don't cut the wire from the reel yet.

Step Three: Put one of the tiny metal tubes onto the end of the wire, followed by the clasp and then another tiny metal tube. Loop the wire over leaving plenty of room for the clasp to give a little then line to two metal tubes up and squash them onto the wire. Slip one of the metal balls with the little slits in it over the two squashed metal tubes and then gently close the ball's slit so the it totally covers the metal tubes. Pass the excess wire back inside the beads.

Step Four: cut the other end of the wire and complete the same process using the other half of the clasp. There you have it – you just made your own necklace.

Me: "That's a lovely necklace!"
My friend: "Thanks, I make my own jewellery, it's really not that hard..."
Me: "Oh, I know, they're really easy, but you made such a good choice with the beads, did you get them from Buffy's?"
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Why? It really is THIS easy
Where: 3 Kingly Ct LONDON W1B 5PW, nearest station Oxford Circus
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