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.
Wire. Durability, ease of care, and aesthetic are just a few of the reasons that I’ve selected solid Argentium Sterling Silver (.930) and solid Bronze. Argentium is a special low-tarnish Sterling, and is the only silver that I use for my links: it’s brighter than conventional silver, is a jeweler’s dream to bend, and is a classic choice that will stand the test of time.
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 (22 gauge is commonly used in rosaries today). 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.