Photo by Benjamin Margalit/Margalit Studio

Beads, beads, beads


Published: 10/12/2016

by Patricia Nugent

As Madonna so famously belted out in the 1980s, we might be living in a material world, but “experience has made me rich.”


And in that same sentiment, the art form of beaded jewelry is enjoying its heyday in pop culture. Beading turns the tables on the herd mentality of status symbol fashion. Women today are cutting away from the herd and expressing themselves—telling their own stories through beads.


Whether you have been creating your own jewelry for years or count yourself as bead-curious, one of the largest retailers in the Midwest is here in Mentor. Great Lakes Boutique offers a bevy of more than 15,000 beads from the most popular to the chic/unique lines, including Trollbeads, Elfbeads, Ohm Beads, True Beadz and redbalifrog beads.


Enduring Beauty Meets Edgy Sarcasm

“Trollbeads were the original bead makers that pioneered the trend and their new fall collection of classics shows they are making a comeback,” says Rick Hoefle, who runs the boutique with Casey McKeon.


They mention Ohm Beads as offering a whimsical and sarcastic bent for girls who just want to have fun. (Don’t miss the “Love Stinks” bead, which depicts a skunk sniffing a heart.)


“Our newest line is a bit edgier,” says Casey. “Made in Australia from sterling silver, redbalifrog beads showcase skulls, peace symbols and even an alien or two.”


Bringing the art of commemoration to an otherworldly height, the Moonglow line of handcrafted pendants and bracelets depicts an image of the phase of the moon from a date of significance, such as a birthday, anniversary or engagement.


The boutique is one of two places in Cleveland to introduce the Uno de 50 line of jewelry “for rebellious women” that features ultra cool charms, chunky chains, bibs and layered pieces of pearls, leather and silver.


Those looking for higher-end pieces will find them here, too, from estate jewelry to fine watches and diamond jewelry. Soon-to-be brides from all over the area visit the boutique to find the newest and most stylish selections available. Both Rick and Casey have spent decades in the jewelry business. Rick is certified by both the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) and DCA (Diamond Council of America) as a diamontologist. Casey is a goldsmith and DCA-certified diamontologist.


“The gentlemen report that heading into fall, fancy colored diamonds are all the rage. We’re creating pieces with striking canary yellow and deep sea blue, as well as orange and green diamonds, which make incredibly unique jewelry pieces,” says Rick.


Their design skills also come into play in creating one-of-a-kind wedding rings. And, rest assured, all repairs remain in house, onsite...always.


For the Person Who Has Everything

The boutique offers a host of gift-worthy items, including Lampe Berger of Paris air cleaners that resemble fine perfume decanters.


Another ideal gift would be the Gurgle Pot, a pitcher in the shape of a wide-mouth fish that makes adorable gurgling noises when you pour liquid from it.


The only thing that would make this shopping experience more fun would be—you guessed it—cocktails. To that end, Great Lakes Boutique has become the new face of Thursday ladies nights, whether it’s a group of 10-30 gal pals, an organization or charity.


Great Lakes Boutique is located at 8920 Mentor Avenue, next to Malley’s Chocolate, in Mentor. Hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 440-266-8900, or visit for more information.