If you have flowers from a special event in your or a loved one's life -- wedding, birth, funeral, etc. -- we will be happy to create from them beads that can be incorporated into a rosary. This is sometimes referred to as a memorial, keepsake, legacy, remembrance or heirloom rose petal rosary.
For the beads alone, the cost is $0.50 per bead, or $30 for enough for one rosary (60 beads). Custom rosaries start at about $65 with silver-plated parts. Gold plated, sterling silver, gold filled, 14k, flexwire and cord rosaries are also available. The price depends on the current cost of selected parts, and can vary.
More Information about Our Processes
There are many different processes for making rose petal rosary beads, most of which involve boiling a large number of petals and mixing them with various organic ingredients. We do it a little differently because we not only wish to preserve the flowers, but want to make sure that the finished bead is going to last as long as possible. We chop and then grind the dried petals down, gently knead the rose powder into the chosen clay, hand-roll the beads to 8mm each and fire them (unglazed) in a kiln. This creates strong, ceramic beads that contain the essence and elements of the original petals, thereby preserving the memory for a lifetime. Alternatively, we can use polymer clay. Both materials are excellent, but each has its advantages and disadvantages:
| ||Ceramic Clay||Polymer Clay|
|Color and Appearance
||Ceramic or "earth" clay starts out white, brown or terra cotta. We add clay stain to bring about other colors, but the colors are generally soft, pastel-like, and have a matte-finish. Name a soft, pastel color, and we can "make it happen" with ceramic clay. We do not glaze the ceramic beads. The flower fragments cannot be directly seen in the clay, but irregularities in the surface reveal them.
||A large variety of colors are available, including strong, bold ones not available in ceramic clay. Also, colors can be easily mixed, and additives kneaded in to give the beads pearl-like, sparkle, translucent, or even glow-in-the-dark effects. They look smooth, almost polished, compared to ceramic clay beads. The flower particles are usually visible to the unaided eye.
|Shape and Size
||Whether ceramic or polymer, we usually make the beads 8mm spherical (unless requested otherwise). We can make larger, smaller and other shapes upon request (cylindrical, barrel, square, disk, pony, conical and others).
||Ceramic clay beads feel like the water-worn pebbles one might find in a stream; it is slightly abrasive, like a fine sandpaper. If the rosary is kept in a pocket the constant rubbing will wear against the metal parts of the rosary and remove metal. This can darken the beads, and the metal might also be transferred to (and darken) the fingers.
||Polymer clay is smooth and non-porous. It doesn't appear to have any abrasive action on metal components.
||Kiln fired ceramic clay can last thousands of years.
||The longevity of polymer clay isn't certain. But it is a PVC-like plastic material, impervious to water, and should last hundreds of years. The color, however, may fade if exposed to excessive sun or other UV light sources. Solvents, cleaners or other chemicals may have unanticipated effects.
||Both materials are very strong. The ceramic clay beads are rigid like small stones, where the polymer beads have a degree of flexibility and resiliance. Both can be broken if purposefully attempted -- with a hammer, for example -- but common actions like an accidental drop or placing something heavy on top them is not going to cause any damage to the beads. Nor will an accidental trip through the washing machine -- something that would destroy organic beads. In normal use, it is unlikely that an individual bead will ever experience more than about 5 pounds of force. In our testing, 200 pounds of direct pressure had no visible effect upon the ceramic bead. The same 200 pounds caused the polymer bead to deform and begin to crack (at lower pressures it was fine).
||It takes just about the same length of time regardless of the clay used. They both require similar working, mixing, rolling, pinning and firing. Though the firing process is longer for ceramic clay, it does not significantly-affect the overall rosary-making process.
||Rose beads do not naturally have any fragrance. Regardless of the bead-making method used, the rose-odor must be added to the beads after the firing process (even with almost all organic processes, too). We do this using rose oil, and usually omit this unless it is specifically requested so as to avoid allergy problems or situations where people don't care for the particular perfume or oil used. If you ever wish to add more "smell" to the beads, rose-fragrance oil is available at many craft shops; keeping the beads with a sachet will have a similar effect.
||The cost to make the clay beads, themselves, is the same whether they are ceramic or polymer, about $50 for a typical rosary. Add the labor to then assemble the rosary, plus the cost of the other parts, and most rosaries made with real roses start around $75. We offer discounts of 10% or more for large orders in which we can make the clay in a single, large batch.
|Which is better?
||It is purely a matter of personal taste. However, if the rosary is likely to be kept in a pocket or purse, if you want to be able to see the flower particles in the clay, or if you would like a stronger, non-pastel color, then we recommend polymer clay instead of ceramic for reasons mentioned above. We usually use polymer clay unless you specifically request otherwise.
Close-up Image of Sample Beads
Polymer clay beads are available in almost any color, even mixed/swirled colors. They are smoother and the rose petal particles are visible in the clay.
Ceramic clay beads are available in pastel colors, white and terra cotta. They generally have a rough exterior.
How to Order
- Try our fancy new rosary design system, or
- You can order the clay beads alone, or as part of a custom rosary kit or assembled rosary (or a rosary bracelet). Like our other rosaries, we can engrave most rose petal rosary crucifixes. This is our older design page.
- If you use the older page, please specify the clay material and the color in a separate note to us. You can custom select colors on this special page, and there is a convenient place to communicate the color ID and clay material on the final checkout page -- a "notes to us" section.
If ordering the beads alone or a small chaplet like a bracelet, there is a minimum charge of $25 for making the beads. If the online ordering system seems too complicated or confusing, please feel free to simply mail your roses to us along with a note describing your order. See the questions, below, for a list of the information we need.
Once you place your order, please send your dried rose petals to us in a padded paper envelope (the petals are easily dried on a tray in an oven set to low heat). Our address is at the bottom of every web page. We will need at least the petals from one entire flower for each set of rosary beads. If you wish to send more, that is fine, but one will be enough (even a single petal is sufficient if that is all you have, as the bulk of the bead is clay). Please do not send them in a sealed plastic bag -- any residual moisture can lead to mold.
If you have any last-minute, special requests about the rosary, it is usually best just to include them in writing with the flowers.
Please allow 2 weeks from the time we receive your rose petals for us to make the beads -- up to 4 weeks if we are also making a rosary with them. Do not be alarmed if we do not use all of the roses that you send. It is important that we do not weaken the clay by adding too many rosepetals.
How do I preserve the flowers? It is best for us if they arrive already dried. They do not need to be on the stem. We remove the petals from the stem anyway and use only the petals in the clay. It is easy to dry petals by removing them from the stem, laying them on a cookie sheet and warming them on low heat in an oven, or by setting them in the sun for a few days.
Does the age of the flower matter? No. As long as there is some "flower" left, we can do it.
Is it okay if my flowers have been frozen? Yes. But please thaw and dry them before shipping.
Can you mix flowers from different events? Yes. For example, we have mixed flowers from two different funerals -- one for each spouse -- into a single batch of clay to make rosaries for the children, other relatives and friends. Some people have asked us to mix flowers from different special places that they visited, too.
How many flowers are needed? To assure the strength of the clay, we generally use no more than the petals from one average-size rose per complete rosary. Less is fine, even as little as one fragment of a petal, but we cannot use more without weakening the clay. Please do not send us all of your roses. It is rare, but sometimes they are lost in the mail, so save some back "just in case."
How do I know you used my flowers? (Yes, we've really been asked this). Well, you can come and watch us to make sure. But reasonably-speaking, we simply hold the order paperwork on file until the flowers arrive and individually match the roses with particular orders. We make the clay beads for only one order at a time, so there is simply no measurable chance of flowers getting mixed up between orders.
Will they last? In over a decade of making these we've never had a report of any of the beads breaking or dissolving.
The ordering system is too complicated! Okay, just mail us the flowers along with a note describing what you would like (in as much detail as possible). Be sure to specify at least the following:
- The kind of rosary or chaplet to make -- 5-Decade Dominican is the most common
- The color for the beads
- The kind of clay to use -- polymer or ceramic/earth (strong colors require polymer clay)
- The total number of rosaries we are to make
- Your mailing address
- Payment information (we can accept VISA, MasterCard and Discover Card). If you wish to pay by check, that is fine, too. We will call or e-mail you with the total.
- Budget limitations, if any -- remember, costs start at around $80 per rosary and go up depending upon your material selections
- Material to use for the metal parts; silver plate (or nickel), gold plate, sterling, gold filled or 14k white or yellow gold
- Part numbers you'd like us to use for the center and crucifix (we can select components to meet your budget, if you wish)
- Pouch or box item number
When we receive your package we will hand-enter the order and contact you with the amount due and any other questions.
Can you use other flowers and organic materials? Yes. We have made rosary beads using many different kinds of flowers, even grass from Notre Dame! If we can grind it up and mix it with clay, we can probably use it.
Can I use other beads, too? Yes. We often make rosaries with different Our Father beads. For example, someone might want pearls for the Our Father beads, but the rosepetal beads for the Hail Mary beads.
Why don't you make the beads from the roses only? Why add the clay? Long-lasting beads cannot be made from roses alone. In particular, organic-only beads will turn to mush if they get wet (and rosaries have a nasty habit of being left in pockets... in a washing machine). By using clay, we can provide a stronger bead that will last decades (or centuries), is impervious to damage from water, you can choose almost any color, and it will still contain the roses.
Can beadcaps be used on the beads? Yes. Select the ones for 8mm beads.
Can I order just a few beads, or multiple colors? Yes. But there is a $25 minimum charge per color due to the time and labor necessary to mix the clay, cleanup, etc. for each color.
How do your rosepetal rosaries differ from those made by others? Like any other skilled craft, there are many fine people who can do it well; we certainly aren't the only ones. Rosary beads have been made from roses and other organic materials for centuries. We are, to our knowledge, the first company to publicly establish a process by which the roses are mixed with ceramic or polymer clay for use on a rosary. I think we were the first ones to offer the service over the Internet, too. Like so much that we do, it all started because people were looking for a more durable remembrance rosary and so asked us to come up with a solution. However, there are now several rosary makers doing this with polymer clay; the polymer clay does not require a special kiln like the ceramic clay. We are confident in our own handiwork, and so guarantee it for life, but we are sure that most rosary makers do much the same. The single biggest difference will be the ability for you to custom design the entire rosary, choosing from hundreds of different centers and crucifixes, making it that much more unique. In addition, a brief survey of other heirloom rosary makers reveals that our lead time is usually shorter; we take about 4 weeks, where others are taking up to three months or longer.
If you would like to make the beads yourself (using organic methods that can be performed on a stove-top, but which might not last as long as kiln-fired beads), here are some links to recipes: