Designing Jewelry with Buttons

April 15, 2018

Designing Jewelry with Buttons

This spring, we're sharing a little-known fact about Island Cove Beads...we have a beautiful collection of buttons too! Read the interview with Island Cove's owner Colleen Ewart about her unique collection of vintage Czech glass and metal buttons, and how you can use them in your jewelry designs.

The Button Collection at Island Cove Beads & Gallery

Q: Where does Island Cove source its collection of buttons? How have you grown your collection of vintage buttons over the years?

A: "Years ago I saw some vintage glass buttons in a bead shop and they reminded me of the buttons I'd seen in my grandmother's button tin growing up. I bought a few, and then started searching for even more buttons. I soon came to realize that glass buttons could be used as clasps in my beaded jewelry designs. I always had my eye out for unique buttons and picked up a few more here and there over the years. Once, a friend of mine acquired a huge lot of vintage buttons from eBay and shared some with me. More recently, during one of my trips to the annual Tucson Gem Show, I discovered beautiful hand-painted buttons from the Czech Republic."

Designing Jewelry with Buttons

Q: When would you choose to use a button clasp instead of another type of clasp?

A: "I love using buttons as clasps because they're just as pretty as the glass beads in the bracelet design. I've also used glass buttons in custom designs for people with metal allergies who can't wear jewelry with more traditional metal lobster claw, magnetic, or toggle clasps."

Q: What is your favorite way to integrate buttons into your jewelry designs?

A: "My favorite way to use them would be as a focal point in a lariat necklace! We teach a few classes at Island Cove that integrate buttons as clasps including the Boho Beach Wrap Bracelet, Denim to Diamonds, It's a Wrap Bracelet, and Braided Wrap Bracelet." 

button clasp jewelry Lariat necklace with button

Glass Buttons

Our glass buttons come in a variety of sizes, colors, and finishes. If you're looking for a nature-inspired button, check out our dragonfly and flower buttons. The collection includes more modern, geometric styles too.

starflower glass buttons large glass buttons contemporary glass buttons

Metal Buttons

If you'd like to add a hint of metallic shine into your designs, Island Cove also carries a variety of metal buttons. From floral designs to beach-themed styles like these sand-dollar buttons, you can choose from silver tone, gold, antique copper, and antique bronze finishes. And not all buttons are round - check out our cool square-shaped buttons!

metal buttons metal sanddollar buttonssquare metal buttons

Czech Glass Buttons - a Historical Timeline

  • Prior to 1732, lampwork was the sole method of button and bead making.
  • In 1732 the first button mold was invented and used to make pressed buttons, but metal shanks had to be inserted by hand into the glass.
  • 1832 - the first bead mold with integrated shanks was introduced into the manufacture of pressed glass beads at the Prague Trade show.
  • By 1890 there were over 2,000 agents and manufactures of beads and buttons in Gablonz, Bohemia.
  • 1989 - there were only 2 Czech glass button factories left operating: H Glass and Elegant.
  • 2050 - the estimated "death of the industry," the year new Czech glass buttons could disappear, according to Wild Things Beads

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