Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Reviews: California Bead Stores, Part 1

Last week my husband and I drove the Coast of California from San Francisco to Anaheim. For us, that's a lot of driving, so we made a lot of stops to stretch it out for a full week. I was hoping to hit quite a few bead shops along the way, if only to see something different. Unfortunately, the list of shops I had made (which I had meticulously compiled from the internet and bead magazines) was left behind on the living room coffee table. So things were a little more hit-and-miss than I would have liked, but oh well. Anyway, I thought you guys might like to hear about some of the shops I visited, in case you're planning your own Central California trip!

Day 1: San Francisco
We arrived to our hotel quite late in the afternoon, so we only had time for one destination, and we chose Chinatown. It was beautiful, colorful, smelled amazing, and was busting to the seams with tiny shops selling all sorts of items. Half of which seemed to be jewelry shops selling strands of pearls, turquoise, coral, and occasionally other gemstones right in their doorways. I resisted the temptation to bore my husband to tears, knowing that with the emphasis on pearls I probably wouldn't find anything I liked anyway. But boy was it difficult to stay out of those shops!

Day 2: Monterey
Monterey is a sweet little coastal town with so much to see and do. Cannery Row, a shopping district next to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, was a bit of a tourist trap but still lots of fun to explore!

Let It Bead at 700 Cannery Row, 2nd Floor, Monterey CA
This is a very pretty shop, with faeries, tiny lights, and all sorts of fun and shiny items decorating the entrance area. Unfortunately for me, this shop is meant to cater to tourists who want to make their own jewelry on the spot: lots of glass and plastic beads to choose from, with help behind-the-counter to finish it up for you or just answer questions. While this may be a good business model for a shop in a touristy destination, it is not at all what a beader with any sort of experience is looking for. They had a few interesting pendants behind the counter, pinned to a wall, but in the end it wasn't worth it to interrupt the conversation between the salesperson and the customer she was helping make a bracelet for. As the only bead shop in town (that I could find anyway), it was quite disappointing.

Silver, Sand, and Stone at 700 Cannery Row, 2nd Floor, Monterey CA
Their windows filled with turquoise and coral looked promising, so I stepped inside. What I had thought were strands of turquoise turned out to be necklaces. This is a little shop with a gorgeous selection of handmade Native American jewelry. No real beads on sale, but quite easy to spend too much time and money there anyway!

Rock Your World at 685 Cannery Row, Suite 109, Monterey CA
This is such a cute rock shop! Occasionally while perusing a rock shop, you may make an interesting find between the shelves of crystals, fossils, and jaspers. This was not my lucky day for such a find, but there was plenty to look at, and I had a nice chat with the woman behind the counter about the mysterious Monterey Bay fog.

Day 3: Drive to San Simeon via Carmel
We actually spent much of the day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, so with so much driving in front of us, we only had time to visit one bead shop in Carmel-by-the-Bay. Unfortunately, A Bead Above was no more - we confirmed with another shop in the building that we did have the right address, but that the shop had closed down. There is a possibility that this is actually Let It Bead's original location, since the only website address I can find re-directs to that shop's "in-progress" website.


Rose Works Jewelry said...

I'm drooling and jealous!

storybeader said...

sounds like a great drive - I love California. Did you drive the coast road? Don't have a bead shop in town anymore - have to go to Oklahoma City or Tulsa. California is a bit far...

Linda Pruitt said...

I used to live in California. Have traveled this way before, but never visited bead shops at that time. Wasn't into beading then. Thanks for the tour!

Splendid Little Stars said...

I have to say, I visited Monterey Bay Aquarium on a vacation, and it was wonderful!