Components. There is something so warm and poignant about these pieces. Every Crucifix, Centerpiece, and Medal is a hand-cast reproduction of vintage and antique originals found all over the world. My favorite pieces were worn smooth by their original owners, and I always wonder who that person was, and how it brought them closer to Christ.
In these extraordinary works of sacred art, we are bequeathed the legacy of faith in the Family of God. They are truly special and rare, and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the faithful casters who are devoted to bringing us these miniature masterpieces.
The Mantle Wrap. It began with my frustration with my wire-wrapping technique. I was thrilled with the permanence of the construction, but the beauty was… lacking. The links were stiff and awkward, and I was concerned that the wraps would only hinder prayer, not help. And then inspiration struck: “If I wrap it like this…” It was in that moment that I was given the gift of the Patina Wrap, and I haven’t looked back since. I believe that it is the most beautiful, durable, and manageable wire-wrapping method that you will find anywhere. And it’s guaranteed for life.
Wire. Durability, ease of care, and aesthetic are just a few of the reasons that I use solid Fine Silver (.999) and solid Bronze. There may be a few rosaries offered in Argentium Sterling (.930) or oxidized brass wire to begin with, but when that supply of wire is gone, we will only offer solid fine silver and bronze. And maybe gold…
Silver a visual neutral and behaves like white and goes with absolutely anything, and lends a certain joy to each rosary. As a wire worker, it’s easy on the hands (bronze is not) while still being incredibly durable. And you never have to wonder if solid silver will wear off from a lifetime of use. It’s steady, reliable, timeless, and lends itself equally well to both masculine and feminine designs, and is equally adept in both simple designs and ornate. It’s wonderful to work with and even better to own.
Bronze brings something entirely different to rosary design. It’s earthy and deep, and quiets the mind to contemplation like no other. It begins as a warm gold and ages to a deep, rich old-penny brown. Both are a breeze to care for, only needing a simple soft cloth to keep them looking their best.
For both wires, I use thicker gauges of 21 and 20 for an even stronger link, and sometimes 19 depending on the needs of the design. If you’ve ever noticed the wire links of the old antique rosaries, you’ve probably noticed the thinness of the 24 and 26 gauge wires, which, sadly, is why they often broke. Gauge is as important as the quality of the alloy in determining how long your rosary will last. Thicker = stronger.
Mohs. The Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness measures how easily a mineral can be scratched. Talc is the softest mineral and is scored as a 1 on the MSMH. The diamond, one of the hardest substances on earth (but not the hardest) is rated at 10. Over the years, I’ve learned the hard way to pay attention to hardness. In the past, I’ve chosen some lovely stones that fit a particular design, but then the beads crumbled and broke under the stress of wire-wrapping. It’s a painful and important reminder that there is more to good design than simple aesthetics. A rosary has to be tough. There are toddlers, washing machines, the floor of the van, the inside of backpacks, war zones, dogs, cats – you name it, a rosary has to survive it, and the soft stuff just can’t hack it. I play it safe and keep my lower Mohs threshold to about a 6. Fortunately, the Quartzes and Jaspers – the bulk of the stones I choose – are right around a 7. They’re not afraid of your kids, your deployment, or your washing machine.
Stabilized Paters. When I began using Lampwork in my designs, I had a new problem to solve: very large holes that are several times the diameter of even thick rosary wire, causing the beads to wobble. Being one who struggles terribly with my own distraction during prayer, I didn’t want create distraction to anyone else’s prayer.
The solution comes in stabilizing. I first trim small pieces of acrylic stoppers to fit the bead hole, then run the wire through the stoppers, insert into the bead, then complete the finish work. The end result is a Pater bead that is rock solid: no wobbles, no worries – just pray.
Minerals and Gemstones. [Mohs 6-9} Minerals and gemstones are the perfect choice for prayer beads for so many reasons. They are endlessly fascinating to look at, and inspire prayerful meditation. The Jaspers are as varied as the imagination; Agates are delightfully translucent; Hypersthene and Kunzite are brilliantly chatoyant; Amethyst, with the color of kings and anticipation, beckons… And because they are natural, each bead is its very own work of art.
But my favorite aspect of minerals and gemstones is how each one tells the story of faith in its own way. Picture Jasper calls to mind the dusty road on the way to Emmaus, while faceted crystal reminds me of the New Jerusalem. Some minerals have been literally millions of years in the making, waiting patiently to be discovered while Christ walked the earth, and now they serve to pull us deeply into the Mysteries. I can think of no better use for a bead than to lift the heart and mind to Holy God.
Swarovski® Crystal. [Mohs 6-7} The name Swarovski is recognized the world over as the finest crystal components that you can find anywhere. These Austrian beauties can’t be beat for their precision-cut facets, consistent quality, exhaustive range of colors and effects, shapes, and sizes – although many have tried. Not to mention, the entire reason that we love crystal in the first place – that jubilant rainbow flash! Swarovski is the only brand of crystal that you will find at Rosary Bench. It never disappoints.
Gem-quality Pearls.* [Mohs 2.5-4] There is nothing that drenches the eye quite like the jewel of the sea. Pearls are incomparable and absolutely irresistible when worked into a rosary. The feel, the weight, the very sight of them is a delight in every way. They possess a particular inner glow that reminds me of Our Blessed Mother, reflecting the light of her Son.
Nacre is the lustrous outer coating of a pearl, and why I love them so much. Like wire, when it comes to nacre, the thicker, the better, the more resilient – and the more valuable the gem. I am very blessed to have found a wonderful pearl house with extraordinary gems. They hand-select my pearls and always include a GIA-certified written appraisal of the raw strand’s value. When it comes to the very finest in pearls – such as Hanadama Akoya pearls – everything is perfection: absolute round, no surface flaws, luminescent color, and a reflection so defined that even facial features are distinct when looking at these pearls. Pearl rosaries of this quality are a rare investment and come with a GIA-certified appraisal for insurance purposes.
* Pearls are where I break my own rule when it comes to Mohs Hardness; at 2.5 – 4 they are very delicate, and not up to the task as your daily rosary. A gem-quality pearl rosary is a legacy rosary to mark such special occasions as a wedding, a birth or adoption, a graduation, entrance into the Church, and so on. Keep them well-protected from daily life for an extraordinary family heirloom.
Back to the rules: for the look of beautiful, gemmy pearls without the worry and fuss, I have to thank Swarovski again for their ingenuity. Their line of crystal pearls is absolutely gorgeous. The look, weight, and feel of these beads is nearly identical to the real thing for a tiny fraction of the price. And they’re hard enough to take whatever you dish out. [Mohs 6-7]
Rosary-making is personal for me. My prayer beads aren’t just a thing to sell, but they are an expression of my on-going conversation with the Holy Spirit – a little look inside my heart.
I thank you for spending your time learning about Miracoli Rosaries. Make sure to scroll down to subscribe to our email list; that way you’ll always be up to date with our latest news.
Thank you so much for visiting. I hope that I can be of service to you as your Rosary Maker.