“ Online jewellery shop! „
Lovingthebead.com sells charms and beads for bracelets and necklaces of the Pandora, Troll, Lovelinks and Chamilia type. It is owned by the Diamondgeezer group, who I vaguely remember making an appearance on the BBC's Dragons Den, and they have a shop in the Cotswolds.
Over the last couple of years many people, including myself, have been seduced by bead type charm bracelets - you buy a bracelet or necklace and you can build up a collection of glass, silver, enamel or gold beads which can be mixed and matched to make an original piece of jewellery or to match your outfit. You can see and buy examples of filled bracelets on the site or make up your own.
I should say straight away that this website does not sell, or claim to sell, the branded beads and charms I have mentioned. They do however sell a range of beads from £2 up to £35 which are compatible with the originals. When I came across them whilst browsing amazon I decided to visit the site and see what they could offer; I have owned a Pandora bracelet for over a year now and slowly been building up a collection.
Original beads for Pandora wil set you back about £15 and up - I have one beautiful bead that was a special present for a significant birthday that was more in the £60 ball park - gold ones are even more.
Having found that I wore my bracelet a lot but that it was going to take me a long time to build up 20 or so beads that you need to fill an average 19cm bracelet like I own, I had looked around at non-branded beads and not been very impressed by the quality or prices. When I came across this site at £2 a bead it didn't seem like a huge risk so I thought I would buy a few beads to see if they would sit alongside my original beads alright - to be honest I wasn't expecting to be impressed. I was, however, delighted with my experience of this site and with the products I bought. This review is about my experience of this site, which I have used once thus far, but when means allow I will be purchasing again as I have my eye on some more beads.
The website is clearly laid out, and it is easy to find the different categories of beads. The pictures are clear, and in my experience a good representation of the end product. You can search by look - eg animals, theme, material or collection, the site is easy to navigate although I did find a couple of links (eg to enamelled beads) didn't work, but overall I found it easy enough to add beads to the basket and check out.
There is a huge range of items available. Most of the beads are just £2 for silver plate, but actual solid silver are £12 or more, which is still cheaper than the original beads.
I bought 1 Necklet in silver plate for £7, and 7 beads, with £2.50 postage this came to a reasonable £23.50 - about £1.50 less than 1 glass Pandora bead will set you back.
My beads came within 48 hours, with a receipt and a little card and gift bag, I was impressed by the speed and the fact that they sent me a dispatch email and postage was by Royal Mail.
So are the beads any good?
As I said earlier I was actually prepared to be disappointed - the site do say that if you are you can return the beads (at your own cost) for a no quibble refund. Once I opened my beads I am pleased to say that I was delighted and no way were they going back!
I bought a silver plated glass bead (E0586 on the site), which is red with white polka dots, that is of lovely quality, as are my other glass beads. They are non threaded beads (Pandora fans will know what I mean) so slide on and off, however I have a stopper on my bracelet, so that is not a problem. The beads are of a very similar diameter and I would say quality to Lovelink beads, and I was really surprised by quite how good they were. The glass is well crafted and the bead itself is not irregular and it doesn't look as if it cost £2. I chose a lovely red glass bead with a silver swirl through it, and a diamante and silver spacer that is just stunning. I was equally delighted by the enamel and diamante flower bead I purchased - I thought it might look "cheap" but it is lovely, and though silver plated it doesn't seem to be tarnished or worn on use.
When I bought the beads I was going to consign them to the back of my bracelet if necessary, but actually they mix in really really well and I wear them with pride. I have seen other "imitation" beads at craft fairs and the like and been less than impressed, so I was all the more thrilled with my beads. This may not be much of a recommendation but my husband failed to pick out the more expensive beads on my bracelet, and actually preferred some of the beads I bought from this site.
I did find that the necklet wouldn't take original Pandora beads as it was just too wide, however the links are a pretty good copy of my original, and I have worn it with Lovelink beads and the ones I purchased from this site.
I have no hesitation at all in recommending this site to anyone wanting to bulk up their collection or to buy a small treat for themselves - you can even buy a silver plate bracelet for 1p currently on the site if bought with beads. You can purchase a filled bracelet for £35 maybe whilst deciding if you want to buy the "real" thing, or as an alternative.
If you are worried about only having the genuine beads for whatever reason this isn't the site for you, but if you want to be able to change your look then this site is worth a look, and in my opinion these beads are better than imitation and just lovely in their own right. I really am loving these beads!
http://www.pandora-jewelry.com/ to see the original bracelets