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'Beauty and the Bead' a Jewelry-Maker's Playground

The Vernon Hills store offers a variety of beads and jewelry-making supplies.

When you wander into her Beauty and the Bead store, owner Carol Greenspan wants to make sure you do so when you have time to play.

It's a beading wonderland, with tables and cases and wall displays filled with with a rainbow of beads. There are Lampwork glass beads, Japanese Cloisonné, Italian glass beads, strands of African beads and even some from Tibet.

And remember those mood rings? Well, Beauty and the Bead offers mood beads.

"We encourage creativity," said Greenspan. "I give (customers) permission to play. There's no such thing as the fashion police."

Greenspan initially opened Beauty and the Bead around 1995 in Libertyville. After a year, she moved to a space in Rivertree Court in Vernon Hills near Best Buy, where she stayed until about two and a half years ago. The store is now located in Vernon Plaza at 129 W. Townline Road in Vernon Hills.

"We've been around in one form or another for a long time," said Greenspan.

Greenspan said Beauty and the Bead is the oldest bead store in Lake County.

"This is a very specialized business. It relies heavily on discretionary income—and it's a bad economy," said Greenspan. Even with that, though, business has definitely gotten better, she said.

Her customer base includes not only beaders and jewelry-makers, but also people who are just using beads to embellish other projects, like dolls or doll houses.

Endless Variety

"It's a playground. That's the way I see it," said Greenspan. "I don't do crafts. But the minute I came into contact with beads, I was fascinated by the endless variety.

"I find them endlessly entertaining," she continued.

Beauty and the Bead, Greenspan said, offers a huge selection of semi-precious stones, and the store is nationally-known for its glass beads. The beads are largely color-coordinated around the store; the tables are covered with small, glass bowls that are filled with various beads.

She also has jewelry-making tools, chains and a large selection of clasps.

There are even pre-made bracelets and some gift items, like glass mobiles and jewelry boxes.

Jewelry Classes, Etc...

For those who love the beads but don't quite know what to do with them, Beauty and the Bead offers classes every month. Taught right in the store by Greenspan, the classes include Basic Stringing, Earrings, Multi Strand, Leather Wrap Bracelet and Kumihimo. The latter is an eight-strand Japanese braiding technique.

Greenspan will also hold birthday parties and girls'-night-out events, and she can create custom jewelry designs for events like weddings.

She also performs jewelry repairs, like re-stringing and clasp repairs. Greenspan noted that she doesn't set stones or perform soldering.

For more information, visit Beauty and the Bead's website and Facebook page.

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