The Difference is in the Details
There is something so warm and poignant about these pieces. Every crucifix, centerpiece, and medal is a hand-cast replica 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 their faith brought them closer to Christ.
Durability, ease of care, and aesthetic are just a few of the reasons that I use solid Argentium silver (.930) and solid bronze. I also like that they are truly noble materials, which makes them an especially lovely choice, a sort of liturgical echo that rings out from Holy Mass.
For both alloys, I use thicker gauges of 21 and 20 for a strong 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 the wheelhouse of strength when it comes to durability. Thicker = stronger.
The Mantle Wrap
Not long after I began wire-wrapping rosaries, I became frustrated with my technique. I was thrilled with the permanence of the construction, but I had no peace about the aesthetic. My links were cumbersome and awkward, and I was concerned that the wraps would be a distraction to prayer, not a help. And then inspiration struck: “If I wrap it like this…” It was in that moment that I was given the gift of the Mantle Wrap, and I haven’t looked back since. I believe that the Mantle Wrap is the most beautiful, durable, meditative, and nostalgic wire-wrapping method that you will find anywhere. And I guarantee it for life.
The principles of Gemology set the limits of a rosary's beauty and durability. Hardness, toughness, and stability are at the core of the Gemological principle of tenacity, a principle that I have learned to respect. The broken Rhodochrosite bead is a great example of what happened when I ignored gemology.
Hardness. Did you know that dust in the air falls on the Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness of about 7? It contains a lot of silica, which is a quartz, which scratches anything softer, which is almost everything in your house.
The Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness measures minerals and metals on a scale of 1 to 10 according to how easily they can be scratched. - or a metal Diamond is at the top of the heap at 10, which talc rates at 1. Quartz, Agate, and Jasper have a hardness of 7 - 7½. Softer, “soapier” minerals like Sodalite are around 5.
Toughness. Hardness and toughness are not the same thing. While a diamond is the hardest mineral on the Mohs, it’s very brittle and can shatter on impact. Quartz fares far better than diamond, but Jade tops them all for toughness.
Stability. Some minerals are very resistant to the effects of light, heat, and chemicals, while others are not.
A rosary has to be tough. There are toddlers, the floor of the van, the inside of backpacks, war zones, dogs, cats - you name it: a rosary has to survive it all, and the soft stuff just can't hack it. I play it safe and keep my lower Mohs threshold to about 6½ - 7. Beads of this hardness include Jaspers, Agates, Swarovski crystal, the Quartzes and more. They’re not afraid of your kids, your deployment, or your washing machine.
Pearls are in a class by themselves. While easily scratched, they're actually pretty durable.
Their glow reminds me of how Our Lady reflects the of her Son. This radiance comes from the pearl's nacre, the lustrous outer coating. Like wire, when it comes to nacre, the thicker, the better, the more resilient, and the more valuable the gem. Freshwater pearls are nacre to their tissue-nucleated core, making them more durable than their saltwater counterparts.
Ps. See my phone's reflection in this pearl? This is gem-quality.
The difference is in the details. But the most important difference of a Miracoli rosary isn't about the wire, the beads, or its maker. It's about your faith, the people you love, and who you want to become.