Pippa Small is many women's dream jeweler, both because of her vibrant yet calm designs and her insistence on ethical sourcing for stones and metals.
I too admire Small's minimalist pieces, though find the prices substantial. (I wouldn't say overpriced. Ethical practices can increase costs and her materials are tippy-top quality, but you are paying for a status jeweler's cachet.)
The piece shown uses two aquamarines and a small amethyst, framed in 18k gold, and four hand-cast gold spacer beads, hung on a gold-coloured braided string. Price, $1,998.
You can assemble a similar necklace for far less. The semi-precious gems will be framed in gold plate, the spacer beads are not hand-cast. (Also, we do not know the business practices of the vendors.)
Total cost for the Small-inspired elements above: about $275.
I've chosen a more durable 20-inch fine 14k chain; price, about $60, and 24k plated gold spacer beads from Nina Designs, about $30 for five beads.
The bezel-set gems shown (at left above) are framed in plated gold; I wanted the bezel settings to match, so chose an array of opals and amazonite from a single vendor, Etsy's finegemstone. The price per piece: $60.
Temptations beckon at Vancouver-based I Found Gallery, who sell on Etsy.
The stone cuts are not as unusual as Small's asymmetric surfaces; however, when I browsed their trove of vintage findings, chains and stones, I was enthralled.
Assembly requires only the materials and needle-nosed pliers, but if you prefer professional help, your bead store can make your piece for reasonable cost, with the photo as a guide. I once made a phenomenally ugly necklace, so I have real respect for pro help.
When choosing real jewelry, always think about two factors: the quality of the materials, and the workmanship. The touch of skilled hands shows in the simplest design, and excellent quality of stones will make a piece sing.
There are many pieces for which you "can't try this trick at home", but these chain (or cord) and bezel-set gem necklaces are not examples of expert bench skills; they involve simple assembly, accessible to anyone with a few hours and basic tools.
You could have a luminous, gemmy treasure, or make one as a gift, for less than the tax on certain designer versions.