When Australian-made Bright Beads pendant lights hit the market several years ago, not many of us had ever seen anything quite like them. Now that’s all changing, and though the new knockoffs may not be quite as exquisite as the ones Marz Designs makes, they’re a whole lot more affordable.
The necklace-bead pendant, as it’s being interpreted in 2016, warms up industrial sleek and rustic with the richness of lathe-turned wood, the shimmer of shiny metals, and the pop of brightly colored acrylics and ceramics. Wood versions play to preferences for natural materials, and various interpretations, regardless of material, have an artisanal, one-of-a-kind look.
Since anyone can buy an inexpensive light kit at a hardware store and cobble together their own version of a one-of-a-kind light for a modest investment, retailers are responding with more refined components. Light kits come in dozens of cord colors and coverings, decorative bulbs are fashioned into a variety of shapes and finishes, and IKEA recently upped the game by offering an inexpensive set of plastic metallic-colored geometric beads made for stringing on light fixture cord.
My prediction is we’ll soon see a greater variety of beads made for those who want to string together their own lights, and we’ll see them in wood, metal, plastic, ceramics, and even glass.
You’ll get no argument from me that Marz makes the Cadillac of the necklace pendant lights, with beads sourced only from Forest Stewardship Council certified oak, ash, walnut and maple. But they are a significant investment, particularly if you want a grouping.
Bright Beads come in six configurations, ranging in price from $405 to $505 each. A cluster of three is $1,260, and the cluster of four shown above is $1,580. Finishes in addition to the original mix are smoked ash and indigo, both of which allow the natural woodgrain to show through. See the full line of Bright Beads at the Marz Design website.
Knock (off) on wood
- Hand-Turned Oak Beaded Pendant from Lightworks Online, natural or grey-washed finish, $199 each
- Pure Balance Totem Light from Dot & Bo, two lengths, $168 and $199 each
- Beaded Necklace Pendant from Anthropologie, mango wood, two lengths, $78 and $98 each
- Charm Pendant from The Land of Nod, regular price $59 (on sale for $39.97 as of this writing)
- Wood Bead Electrical Cord Swag Kit from Cost Plus World Market, $49.97.
Variations on a theme
This next group varies from the playbook a bit. They aren’t made of separate beads but achieve a similar look with one-piece wood, resin metal or porcelain bodies that resemble candlesticks.| 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 |
6. Moresque painted porcelain fixture by Seletti can be used as pendant or table lamp, $177.99
7. Wood-Finish Three-Light Pendant from Target, resin, $119.99
8. Industrial Loft Metal Caged and Turned Wood Pendant Light from Bella Home, $68.90
9. CB2 Candlestick Pendant Light, sandcast aluminum finished in brass, $69.95
10. Cost Plus World Market Black Metal Deco electrical cord swag kit, matte finish, $39.99
And the winner is…
Anthropologie! Hands down.
Anthro’s Bead Necklace Pendant Light, in my mind, is the best value. The two lengths provide enough variation of form, shape and color to mesmerize me for some time to come. By all means, if you can afford Marz Bright Beads, go for it. But the Anthropologie price is more my speed, and by the time I got three, my pocketbook would be crying.
There’s no shortage of fancy cord kits and specialty bulbs out there if you want to take this project on. The real issue is finding beads large enough in circumference with a large enough hole to thread an electrical cord through, in the shapes and finishes you desire. Here’s a sampling of what I found…
SOURCES (clockwise from upper left unless noted otherwise):
Other DIY links relevant to this project:
- Convert a plug-in cord kit to a hard-wired fixture.
- Convert a hard-wired fixture to a plug-in.
- Add a hard-wired light and switch.
Please note that you undertake any project at your own risk. I have not tried these tutorials. How would I do it? I’d save time and aggravation and call an electrician or handyman, but I wish you luck and would love to see your finished lights. Just post photos in the comments.