Q: I have noticed that people in our area are wearing less and less bead jewelry, and seem to be going more and more to unadorned fine gold or silver chains. My last craft show was dismal; much admiration, few sales. I am wondering if the market for bead strands and the lariet-style jewelry is going or gone, and I have never seen anyone wearing amulet bags or the very complex seed-bead jewelry that is featured in the magazines. This is a small Caifornia town and styles here are very conservative, if that makes a difference.

A: It probably does. I live near Boulder, Colorado and the town seems to be populated with young people or old hippies. Beads are big here, and the current trend for the kids is hemp jewelry and trade beads. I haven't seen much conservative jewelry outside the "office" environment since I moved here. I don't know about predicting trends in fashion, but if the fashion industry is any kind of gauge, I've seen tons of seed bead work "on the runway" of late. Both as jewelry and clothing embellishments. I also come from New Mexico, where the style of beads comes and goes, but generally is always in fashion, especially that with an earthy or Native American flair. My opinion about craft shows is that if you're serious about selling, give them the heave-ho. Craft shows are great for selling low cost items or items hard to find elsewhere. They're generally not a great place to sell hand made jewelry because most craft show folks aren't there to spend money on nice jewelry. Save your $ and invest in a table or booth at an specialty (art) fair or jewelry show. The people attending those shows will be more appreciative of your work. This isn't meant to be a dis of craft shows, I just frequently hear from jewelry makers that they're not the best place to sell jewelry.