What is Prayer Jewelry?? (Part 1: The Rosary)

What is Prayer Jewelry??

Part 1: The Rosary

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It seems that every day at Bead World, we have customers looking for beads to make some form of prayer jewelry or asking questions about a piece of prayer jewelry they recently saw.  Within the last few years, the fashion world has “adopted” many of the prayer bead pieces that have been around for centuries and turned them into fashion staples.  I love the idea of wearing jewelry with intention!!  That’s even the motto of my own personal jewelry line.  It is really important though to have some background information when working with such a sacred item, so that we can be conscious of the history and handle it with the respect & honor it deserves when making or using prayer jewelry.

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While there are many, many different types of prayer jewelry, the two we see most commonly are rosaries and malas.  These are definitely the most popular examples of prayer jewelry turned fashion phenomenon!!  Some of the most common questions we get at Bead World are: What is a rosary/mala?  Why is it so popular (other than that it is beautiful)?  What is the significance & intention behind it?  Where did it come from?  How do I use it?  …and, most commonly, how do I make one?  Let’s chat…

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*Please keep in mind that there is a wide variety of interpretations and uses for every piece of prayer jewelry!!  My intention here is to give you some basic starter guide, but this is in no way a comprehensive, encompassing set of information.

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Rosary

The Rosary:

A rosary seems to be the most widely known piece of prayer jewelry, at least where we are.  Rosary inspired & cross jewelry was wildly popular a few years ago, and it seems to be making a big comeback!  Focal cross necklaces were seen at the spring 2017 runway shows and crosses are expected to be a common jewelry trend.

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Rosaries are used most commonly by Catholics, however some other religions use them also.  Anyone can use a rosary!!  Legend says that rosaries originated in 1214 when an apparition of the Virgin Mary gave the idea to Saint Dominic, and they’ve been in use ever since!  Traditionally, individuals were encouraged to wear their rosaries as a way to aid them on their spiritual and religious quest.  However, rosaries were only to be worn as a declaration of faith, not merely as jewelry.  You were expected to treat your rosary with respect and act appropriately whenever wearing it.  Obviously many individuals wear rosaries today without intending it to be a statement of faith.  It’s up to you to decide what your jewelry means to you and how you want to use it!!

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A rosary is a combination of 53 “Hail Mary” beads, 6 “Our Father” beads, 1 cross or crucifix, 1 rosary center or 3 loop connector, and chain.  You can use the same type of beads for the “Hail Mary” beads and the “Our Father” beads if you would like – they’re typically different to help you easily differentiate between the two though.  A rosary can be strung on flexible beading wire, knotted, or wire wrapped.  Personally we love wire wrapping rosaries!!  It gives you such a great opportunity to practice your wire wrapping skills.  After 1 or 2 wire wrapped rosaries, you’re bound to be a pro!!  For more information on how to make a rosary, you can check out our tutorial HERE, or you can purchase one of our fabulous rosary kits which has full instructions and step-by-step photos.

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As with most prayer jewelry, the beads on a rosary act as counters to help you mark your way through your prayers.  If you would like to pray the rosary in the traditional manner, start at the bottom where the cross or crucifix is and recite The Apostles’ Creed.  Then move your way up the short section of beads, reciting The Lord’s Prayer and then three Hail Marys (one for each of those beads).  On the short piece of chain after those three beads, say 1 Glory Be prayer.  The next bead is for The Lord’s Prayer, then skip the centerpiece connector and say 10 Hail Marys (one for each bead), and a Glory Be on the chain.  Continue saying The Lord’s Prayer, 10 Hail Marys, and a Glory Be until you have reached back to your connector piece.  Conclude with the Hail Holy Queen prayer and you have finished praying the rosary!  There are some variations on this, including other prayers that can be added and special intentions to focus on while praying.  You can also choose to design your own prayer that works for you, or to not use your rosary to pray at all.  It’s your jewelry!!  Make it work for you!

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So much information to digest!!  Let me know if you have any questions about the rosary that I didn’t answer and I’ll try to help.  Stay tuned for my next blog post where we’ll dive into malas!

Happy Beading!!

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