A Look Back: The Flip Side

As many of you know, texture is one part of the Balance Bead equation. The textured back helps prevent the Balance Bead from slipping around because it creates a small amount of friction.

In September of last year, when I was just beginning to manufacture them, I hadn’t figured out a way to build the texture into the mold. Therefore, I had to hand “scratch” the back of each one with an engraving tool. That process was very labor intensive, and it prevented me from achieving a uniform look from bead to bead. And let’s be honest, it wasn’t very pretty!

By November, I’d created the first mold with a textured back. The mold was created from a hand-textured piece, so although I could now achieve uniformity from piece to piece, it still didn’t have a professional look. Also, can you see my meager attempt at branding on this version? I engraved “BB” into the piece for the first time.

In February of this year, I had a CAD (computer-aided design) model created based on my handmade design. The computer was able to achieve a level of precision my little hands could not. And check out the branding at this point: a real logo! I was pretty happy with the look of the back at this point and stuck with it for the majority of this year.

This month, I finished my newest batch of Balance Beads! Although I was happy with the previous version, I wanted the design to be just a little bit cleaner. See how the edge is smoother? The texture dots are more uniform? The logo is cleaner? I was able to achieve that by creating a revised CAD and using a metal mold (as opposed to a rubber mold which had previously been used).

You may also notice that the surface area is slightly greater than it had been in the past. Well, that’s a story for a future post!

A Look Back: A Weighty Issue

In almost all necklace designs, the weight of the clasp is significantly lighter than the pendant. The uneven weight distribution (heavy in the front, light in the back) can cause the clasp of the necklace to slip around. The goal of a Balance Bead is to help keep the clasp of a necklace at the back of the neck by more evenly distributing the weight of the total necklace. That's why we call it a necklace counterweight. 

Since the goal is to evenly distribute the weight of the total necklace, the weight of the Balance Bead really matters. If the bead is significantly heavier than your pendant, it will pull back your necklace. If the bead is significantly lighter than your pendant, it won't really help. If you've purchased a set of Balance Beads, you know that a set comes with two beads: a small bead (for very lightweight pendant necklaces) and a large bead (for heavier pendant necklaces). But did you know that we used to make three sizes?

Back in the early days of our product testing, we made three Balance Bead sizes: the two sizes available now and an additional smaller size. That tiny size weighed only 2 ounces. We thought it was needed for extremely delicate necklaces. However, we found that when a Balance Bead is that lightweight, it doesn't help at all. We discovered that the lightest weight that would work is 2.8 ounces. It doesn't seem like much of a difference when you're looking at the numbers but it makes a world of difference when you're actually wearing it. With that knowledge, we said goodbye to the little baby Balance Bead!

Wondering why the finish looks so different on the discontinued baby Balance Bead? I promise to cover that in a future post!

A Look Back: Finding Gold

For those of you who've been following Balance Bead since the beginning (thank you!!!), you know that the product has changed a great deal since the first batch. We spend so much time listening, evaluating, adjusting, etc. We thought it might be fun to take a look back at the changes we've made, why we made them, and how we made them. Let's start by taking a look at how we found our "golden" color.

The goal was always to create a Balance Bead that looked like gold but wasn't actually gold. As you can imagine, gold is just too costly a material for our purposes. We started with pure brass. Now here's the bad news about brass: it tarnishes very easily. It starts off looking almost golden and then significantly deepens in color over a relatively short period of time. Take a look at the image on the left. That's the color of brass cast several months ago, and it was never even in contact with skin. The color change is due to oxidation only. 

We searched high and low for a better material. Eventually, we found it: Sunshine Brass. Sunshine Brass is a nickname for a specific combination of bronze and brass. But we didn't stop there. We took our new material and focused on finishing. The more care we took in finishing, the brighter the golden color and resistance to oxidation. Just take a look at the piece on the right and you'll see what I mean. 

Wondering why we never went with gold plating? I promise to cover that in a future post!