By Nir Kronenberg

The story of the Crown Bead began over 3 years ago in the place where many of my bead stories tend to begin: in the office of our glass factory in Jablonec, Czechia. I had asked to see some of their older beads, the vintage stuff. As the owner presented me a dented tin case while rolling through a story of how old bead molds could be found lodged in the foundation of the houses in the area, I also rolled a dozen new finds from this trove through my fingers. They were all interesting, transporting me back to a time when Czech Beads dazzled in the elegant fashion shows of the early 20th century. I imagined those haughty gilded ladies of the roaring twenties showing off their wrists and necks with the latest costume jewelry, some of which surely carried these very beads, or at least their vintage likeness.

One particular find caught my eye; it was bold and startling to behold. It's fattened center shimmered resplendently with attention-grabbing facets. I loved how it forced me to admire its prestige; even if the bead was not subtle, it had a way of imposing itself on me. As I turned it around on it's thimble, I thought it would be worth taking a chance on; it may not be for everyone, but somebody would want to make a statement with this baby.

crown beads

A few months later I requested the factory to remake the mold. But when we received our first sample in the mail, I was a bit disappointed. They could not replicate some of the complex faceting on the original bead. What we received was still beautiful, but lacked some of the indented cuts. In an interesting departure from how technology and methods tend to progress with time in the rest of the world, in the universe of Czech Glass Bead making, technology and methods tend to regress with time. Why? It's not just an industry, but a craft that has been handed down by makers from generation to generation. If someone dies and doesn't pass on their skills or knowledge to another person, then techniques are lost. In this manner the entire Czech Bead enterprise is slowly dissipating.

It took me a while, with the bead on my desk for almost a year to pull the trigger on production. I asked my office staff and intrepid traveling sales-lady Shelley, who always has a finger on the pulse of quirky bead-lady penchants. Did they like this? None of them had seen the original bead with its extra rich cut, so they had the fresh eyes I needed. The answer was unanimously "yes". Of course, I worried whether or not it was an excited "yes". The samples sat on my desk some months longer, occasionally getting scattered among to-do lists, invoices and bills to pay.  When I finally wrote the factory that I wanted to produce it, it was more out of a sense of duty to take the samples off my desk already.  

To be clear, ordering any new bead involves a risk. Did you know that there is a 10 kilo minimum per color glass for each shape? Hold one bead in your hand. Now multiply that bead until you get 10 kilos of it. That's a bleep-ton of one kind of bead to own. The risk was not only quantity, but price, as the facets and size induced more labor and material costs.  But as I peered through my competitor's bead offerings, I realized that nobody else was being this audacious. If there's one thing I've learned over the years as the owner of Nirvana, it's that you have to go bold or go home. In a world where everything has been seen and done at least once, the only thing left is to do something that will get you noticed.

Fast forward to the end of 2020, the year of plague and stay-at-home misery. As I opened the first batches of the new Crown Bead production, my heart leapt in excitement to see that this fat new baby was indeed as it should be; still glorious in its bold faceting, but now with brilliant Nirvana colors and finishes. We did what we do best; taking the soul of an old bead and casting it anew with a distinctive modern touch. The result was well worth the wait and the worry, and vindicated my intuition to remake this vintage bead.

We ask you to complete the story - will our customers reward our adventure, or shy away?  I think I know most of you well enough to know your response.