Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Beads à la mode

Inspired by some of the unusual bead choices made by the students I mentioned awhile back who made rosaries in art class, I occasionally go looking to see whether anyone is making any really creative modern rosaries. Certainly Rosary Workshop, one of my favorite places to buy supplies, has some fine examples such as this one:

Historically, rosaries have tended to follow the fashions in jewelry of the time when they are made, and I have indeed found a few rosaries that are quite modern looking. But they seem to be pretty thin on the ground. Looking at my frequent hunting ground, eBay, there seem to be only half a dozen people doing anything that really looks contemporary.

Black-white closeup

From what I've seen, these modern-looking rosaries don't seem to sell quite as well as more traditional-looking ones. A little arithmetic on a sample of conventional glass rosaries tells me that about a third of the ones featured on eBay will sell, in any given week. For rosaries that look "contemporary," it's more like one out of four, though it varies.


What seems to sell the best is to take beads that are a little unusual -- barrel shapes, teardrops, cubes, bright colors -- and to make them into a rosary that's constructed in the conventional way, perhaps spending a bit more money to get a good quality, modern-looking cross and medals. Some of these sell as well as traditional rosaries.


Pricing is also important. A lot of eBay is about "collectibles," and people seem willing to pay quite a bit more for a rosary with "history," perhaps one that is very worn, has unusual medals or has some personal history attached. But new rosaries priced over about $25 seem to sell very slowly, and those in the $15 range do much better. (Of course the drawback to this is that the rosary maker gets very little money for the time they put in.)