May Newsletter


Artists and Ivory

This last week-end, May 3 and 4, was a great week-end for artists in our home town of Takoma Park. Over 70 artists were displaying and selling their work in 30 small shops and restaurants. The Art Hop, as it is known, has become a tradition here in Takoma. There were receptions, a trolley to take customers to the different venues, and a gleeful celebration of art and creativity. S & A Beads showcased the work of two artists:


Elizabeth Eby is a fabulous glass artist. Each of her plates and bowls is a unique work of art. At $150 each, they make great Mothers’ Day gifts.



Rabihah Mateen of RAM Jewelry Designs is an extraordinary jewelry maker. We especially like the way she uses the antique and collectible beads that we love so much, in her work. You’ll want to see it, be inspired by it and maybe even own it.

We had such a good reception for these works of art that we decided to continue featuring them in our window through Mother’s Day. If you are in the DC Metro area, you might want to come by to enjoy these one of a kind works of art.

Of course, S & A Beads is hopping with exciting art 365 days a year. We have instituted a new featured artist program that will prominently display the works of some of the best artists in the region. This month we are especially excited by the work of our own Carlista Martin.

On another more serious note, we have been following with great interest new rules about ivory artifacts being considered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. See USFWS Moves to Ban Commercial Elephant Ivory and Rhino Horn Trade. These proposals have caused quite a stir among antique collectors, musicians and jewelry makers. I won’t try to summarize the rules since they are not final. In general, however, it will be more difficult to buy, sell and transport ivory artifacts. The aim is to stop the slaughter of elephants, which we support. The problem arises in connection with artifacts that were manufactured before there were any rules barring the killing of elephants. Most artifacts from that pre-1976 period are still legal. However, Fish and Wildlife wants to place the burden of proving the age of the items on the owners.

The subject came up when a customer brought in a vintage ivory necklace for re-stringing and re-design. Based on the stringing technique in the original, the appearance of the ivory, the clasp and other indicators, we judged the piece to be a vintage 1950s necklace, well before the ban on harvesting ivory took effect. Of course, after we finished re-stringing it, it looked like new. Which is the problem. We provided our customer with a signed note saying that in the judgment of our artists, the piece dates back to the 1950s. It is now our policy when taking in ivory repairs, to provide such a statement, but only when warranted.

This is probably a good time to remind our folks about all of the great ivory substitutes. Our horn and bone beads, from camels, water buffalo and other domesticated animals, and our many shells and pearls provide artists with a great palette for designing.

Have a beautiful May!

Larry