Beautiful and above all strong rosaries

I keep my eye open for nice rosaries, probably because I have a penchant for giving them away.

Years ago I encouraged a member of the old COL Forum on Compuserve to start a rosary making business.  Her work was simply stunning.  They were not only beautiful, they were stong enough that you could pull a trailer with them.  She did, and eventually made a pretty good go of it.  It is great to see someone do well with something so important as making beautiful – and above all strong – rosaries.  Alas, she does not make rosaries these days and my source for wedding and ordination gifts is no longer available.

However, one of our frequent participants here at WDTPRS, Henry Edwards, clued me in to another makers of fine rosaries, made in a way similar to those I spoke of above.  I received one recently.  It comes from Immaculata Rosaries.

In a closer view, you see that at the connections the wire is wrapped around a couple times, which makes the whole thing far less likely to pull apart.

If you are interested in seeing more of these nice rosaries, check out Immaculata Rosaries.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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32 Responses to Beautiful and above all strong rosaries

  1. New Sister says:

    Father (and Mr. Edwards) I appreciate leads like this & will share w/ others; thank you!

  2. B.C.M. says:

    $350… I like a nice rosary as much as the next guy… But I also like to eat and pay utilities!

  3. Father G says:

    The rosariea are absolutely beautiful, but I must confess to being shocked when I saw the price for just one.

  4. VetusMores says:

    Compuserve? Good Heavens, Father, aren’t you an early adopter (I was on Prodigy).

    You mentioned Immaculata rosaries before (http://wdtprs.com/blog/2009/01/thanks-are-due-2/), and they are indeed gorgeous — and as expensive as they look!

  5. Konichiwa says:

    Shocking price, but perhaps I could rationalise that it can used as a deadly weapon against muggers at locations where fire arms and knives are not allowed.

  6. I have a relative who makes rosaries of this style. I was lucky enough to receive two of them over the years.

    When I asked her about the cost and effort in making them – in the hopes of doing so myself on occasion – I was amazed at the high value of what went into the process. The metal used can be basic metals or precious – but starts at about $20. The beads can be plastic, but most makers of this style prefer something more durable and beautiful. You can purchase glass fairly inexpensively, but nicer stone can will set you back at least $20/strand (typically a strand is between 60 & 80 beads). You have to purchase two strands at least in order to make a rosary. If you throw in bead caps, you’re looking at another $10 or $20 dollars, depending on style and material.

    Finally, there is the center piece and the crucifix. Again, cheap ones are out there, but a rosary of this effort is usually given finer pieces. Depending on the style – especially if its been antiqued or not – you can easily spend up to $100 on both… or each.

    So you’ve got $170-$280 rosary in parts. And then comes the wire wrapping! Its slow & detailed work. The ends of the wire easily scratch or cut and you can’t multi-task, as you could in other crafts. Assuming other work or responsibilities, its a multiple day job. Depending on how you value your labor – and if you’re trying to make a living from this work – you can easily justify a $300 rosary.

    That said, I wouldn’t be giving these away, save as special gifts or family heirlooms. But I hope folks understand how much money, time & effort goes into this particular style of rosary. I hear its fun to actually do, though I don’t have the patience or strong desire to try it out. The rosaries made this way are pretty great though.

    Peace,
    Fr. Maurer

  7. Father S. says:

    As a priest, I often hand out Rosaries. I rarely keep one for longer than a couple of weeks. Especially when I go the hospital, I find that people jump at the chance to receive a Rosary. This is particularly true when a person who prays the Rosary daily has to get to the hospital quickly and has left their beads at home. I always try to keep a good stock of the inexpensive plastic ones for this very reason.

    While I do think that the Rosaries at this link are nice, the price has priced me out.

    Grace and Peace,
    Fr. S.

  8. Paul C Md says:

    Gorgeous rosary – but I find I can’t keep the chain roasaries (I suppose I had the extremely inexpensive ones) from breaking even just in my pocket, chains and beads.

    I favor the strong string/knot rosaries – first introduced to them from the folks handing them out outside abortion mills in Detroit as we’d pray. Now my family buys them and bags them with instructions and sets them, with permission, in the back of our church. Talk about being able to “pull a trailer” – they get dirty over time, but my kids never return them to me in pieces nor do I hear the beads rolling under the pew!

    Praise the folks that make these! Especially the ones with the knots that don’t slip and the smooth beads that just slide through the fingers nicely.

  9. New Sister says:

    Gentlemen – a lot of women out there will drop 400 bucks on a pair of shoes without blinking (mea culpa, too…but they were *gorgeous* boots!), yet we reel back at spending the same on a fine sacramental such as this. I think these Rosaries are exactly what we should be spending money on — and I would encourage men especially, to get such gifts for the women in their lives. Daughters, wives, sisters, mothers… we *cherish* getting such things from the men we love, and I think spending money on sacred items makes a lot more sense than on cars or (excuse me Father Z…) electronics.

    Anyway, even if you personally find these prices high, I say pass on the website anyway and encourage husbands out there to get these for their wives… I just advised the guy next to me at work to buy his wife a triptych for Mother’s Day! :-)

    I often compare the churches, vestments, vessels, etc. that our ancestors bought, in their poverty, during the Depression to the hideous things we buy for God today, in our wealth… we would be far happier in beautiful churches with less wealth than we are now, parking a shiny volvo outside a spaceship-looking chruch…

    Sorry to digress… I just see our aversion to paying for quality sacred art as disordered & to our own detriment.

    LAUS DEO!

  10. Henry Edwards says:

    The Immaculata Rosaries web site discloses that the non-profit Knoxville Latin Mass Community (to which I devote much time and effort) benefits from the sale of these rosaries. So it may not be amiss for me to add a remark or two.

    With the wire-wrapping technique, each bead is individually double-wrapped using heavy gauge wire, so each rosary requires at least 7 or 8 hours of exacting hand work. But it produces a rosary that will never become unhooked. Most other types of rosaries risk eventual breakage, but I personally have never heard of any wire-wrapped rosary failing in any way. (I have one of my own, which I expect one of my grandchildren will use someday, but hopefully not too soon.)

    These are admittedly intended to be among the finest and most beautiful rosaries an ordinary person might consider. The sterling silver and antique/heirloom quality gemstone components for such a rosary (in the medium range of those posted) typically cost between $200 and $250 (narrowing Fr. Maurer’s estimate a bit). So, considering the time and labor involved, it should be obvious that this is a pretty low-margin operation.

  11. Ralph says:

    Beautiful. WAY out of my price range, but beautiful none the less.

  12. I’d love one of these rosaries, though they are too dear for me at the minute. While one may initially be shocked at the price, it is easy to understand why they are expensive. It also makes sense to use more precious beads for rosaries that require this amount of labour, so that is bound to push the price up, but seems, on the whole, to be a sensible thing to do.

    Of course, I’d probably leave it behind somewhere….

    I’d absolutely love to learn how to make rosaries like these. There would obviously be a relatively small market due to the cost, but it would be a nice skill to have and to be able to produce some for gifts and the odd sale. It seems like one could very well combine this sort of thing with listening to Catholic tapes or religious music and/or doing some lectio divina (after having done most of the learning off by heart, of course) or other meditative prayer. That would seem to add even more spiritual value to the rosary thus made as well, and probably bless the user.

  13. New Sister says:

    Thanks, Mr. Edwards — of course the first one I clicked on was $400… typical! <:-\

  14. I can never have too many of those! One each for all six of the children and a handful in my bag means that there’s always one to give away. I wonder if they do bulk deals!
    Thanks for the tip!

    Oh, wait… is that $4.00 0r $400?
    Crud.
    Back to the drawing board.

  15. JohnW says:

    Very nice but much to expensive for a working guy with children in Catholic university.

  16. New Sister says:

    God bless you guys – I truly *truly* do not want to offend anyone by saying “men should get these”… but there are so many people out there (I work with them) who could afford quality gifts like this and don’t…it seems to be out of the realm of consideration, whereas a $20-40K car is not.

  17. Elly says:

    My inexpensive rosary has remained intact for 18 years and I always assumed it would last my whole life. But maybe that’s because I haven’t been using it enough. My bible though is literally in about 20 pieces. Maybe I need to spend more time praying and less time reading (or get a better quality bible).

  18. Theodorus says:

    While these rosaries are truly beautiful, they are simply luxuries to many people. If I can pray with a $20 good rosary, why should I spend $400? Will Blessed Mother answer the prayers said with the $400 rosary more quickly and readily than those said with the cheaper ones? Quite frankly, if I spend that money to buy such a luxury rosary for myself to pray, I would feel very guilty.

  19. Vincenzo says:

    Z:“Alas, she does not make rosaries these days and my source for wedding and ordination gifts is no longer available.”

    I wanted one of those but I was too late. :( It was only $240 versus $400-$450.

  20. MaryAgnesLamb says:

    I make this same style of Rosary myself, and I have to tell you, that it is a fair amount of work, but a great joy to do. A great deal of the difference in price has to do with, not only the cost of materials, but the need to carry an inventory, and the fact that gemstone bead strands, for example, get less pricey the more strands you buy. I can’t afford to buy 200+ strands at a whack ( this would keep future generations of my family in beads–this is NOT a volume enterprise, I assure you) so I pay more per strand, and the same is true for centers and Crucifixes.

    But I find the greatest joy is in creating something truly unique and beautiful in honor of Our Lord and Our Blessed Mother. And something that will last and last.

    In order to provide these devotional works of art–which I often find are for a special gift or keepsake, I also sell less expensive, strung rosaries. But even these are more than the mass market styles. However, they are more individual, and I find that I can create for someone an idea they have, with a center reflecting their devotion to a particular saint for example. I once tried marketing lower end Rosaries at a local Christian bookstore, but unless the materials I use are so cheap as to be well, just poor quality, I cannot sell them to a third party for any profit at all. Little inexpensive rosaries churned out in Chinese factories cannot be competed with at that level. I think there is something to be said for supporting our own artisans (though i am admittedly partisan) and choosing a sacramental crafted with love rather than not.

    I have been less active lately, because of the demands of my work–so I am maybe a little out of touch with current pricing; but I am assuming that for $400 or so we are talking about at least Sterling Silver? Bronze is not nearly so dear–and makes a lovely rosary for a great deal less. But even sterling is much dearer than a couple of years ago. And as soon as you start talking gold-filled, let alone 10-14 kt gold, prices are through the roof.

    Fr. Z, when I have some free time, I will make up a Rosary for you, for your enjoyment or to give as a gift. It would be an honor. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before.

    Mea culpa.

    Btw, Theodorus–I have sometimes felt guilty for selling them for any profit–but then I could not do it at all if I did not. So I understand your point quite well.

  21. Henry Edwards says:

    Vincenzo: Back when Father Z first recommended “her”, I bought “one of those” (like the one you picture) from her who “does not make rosaries these days”. As I recall, it cost me $225 then but, alas, in the intervening years the cost of components has risen so much that this wonderful rosary would likely be in the $500+ category now.

  22. catholicmidwest says:

    Expensive! I suppose because they are handmade. They are beautiful though.

  23. catholicmidwest says:

    New Sister,

    I’ve never owned a pair of $100 shoes let alone a $400 pair! I’m in the midwest and most of us don’t do that here. I don’t really know why someone might do that.

    $400 is a ton of money for a rosary, when you can get a perfectly serviceable and good-looking one for less than $50, if not less than $25. It’s for praying, after all, not showing off.

    Yes, rosaries end up breaking; things used eventually get worn out. But they also get lost and I’d hate to lose something like that. I wonder if people with $400 rosaries actually carry them around in their pockets everywhere, and kind of feel the beads as they walk. I bet not.

    Now, if you’re looking for a work of art to adorn your prayer corner, wall or jewelry box, that’s a different matter entirely. IT could be that if you are inclined to expensive but very beautiful works of art.

  24. TKS says:

    catholicmidwest: Funny you should say that. I have a beautiful swarovski crystal rosary given to me as a present and it’s in a shadow box. It’s so beautiful and expensive, and it weighs a ton :) It works well as a conversation piece and a good segue into some interesting conversations.

  25. Faustina says:

    Those are really nice. My husband found one for me as a surprise at http://www.fiftyninebeads.com which was not quite as expensive as these. I have since bought another from them as a confirmation present for a new convert friend and have been very pleased with the quality.

  26. Hieronymus Illinensis says:

    They were not only beautiful, they were stong enough that you could pull a trailer with them. She did, and…

    When I first read that, I thought what she did was pull a trailer with them. (When I nod my head, you hit it with the hammer.)

  27. Vincenzo says:

    “When I first read that, I thought what she did was pull a trailer with them. (When I nod my head, you hit it with the hammer.)”

    I almost just photoshopped that scene but I think that would be wrong…

  28. Henry Edwards says:

    I wonder if people with $400 rosaries actually carry them around in their pockets everywhere, and kind of feel the beads as they walk. I bet not.

    Not everyone needs to appreciate fine rosaries, just as not everyone feels a need for beautiful Mass vestments and statues in church.

    I appreciate both, but admittedly the rosary that goes with me in pocket wherever I go–except on foot when I count the Hail Marys on my fingers (that being why there are ten in a decade?)–is a very modest one that I use for the odd decade and to say a Chaplet of Divine Mercy before Mass when I have time.

    I do like to use a fine rosary whenever I pray a complete Rosary in Eucharistic Adoration and in each decade contemplate explicitly His Real Presence.

    So why not different strokes for different folks and occasions (either Mass or Rosary)? Like maybe a simple daily Mass without music, a beautiful Missa Cantata on Sunday, a glorious pontifical Mass on magnificent occasions like last Saturday. Viva la difference?

  29. AnAmericanMother says:

    I don’t believe I’ve ever SEEN a pair of shoes worth $400 . . . not to recognize them, anyway.

    However, the best professional multiple (three dog) electronic training collar will set you back a little more than $400. And I would have coughed that up, except that I won it at a silent auction at the Grand and paid a little less than half price . . . .

    So it’s very tempting, although I generally keep St. Anthony quite busy what with leaving things here and there, and it would probably stay locked up at home. My daughter has a sterling silver rosary that belonged to her Great-Aunt Tessie, and she’s afraid to take it anywhere.

    As far as weight-pulling, hitch the Belgians up and let’s give it a try.

  30. jasoncpetty says:

    The decent Rosary I received at my confirmation broke after always being carried in its pouch in my pocket (the strand I could repair, but the Crucifix somehow bent in half and snapped). After that I started carrying a small Rosary ring with just the one decade on it. (Plus, my Lutheran grandmother bought it for me, which I know must have been a big deal for her, so it’s especially dear.)

    It’s quite preferable for someone like me. I don’t feel so bad about breaking it out to pray a decade at a time or knocking out a couple on the way into the office, whereas with a full, beaded Rosary I might not start it at all if I know I can’t finish it. An illogical scruple, perhaps, but it is what it is. . .

  31. hkgck says:

    I confess that I don’t have 300USD for a rosary.
    To be frank, the one I’m using is brought from a local salesian retailer.
    It costs…….only 7USD.
    I think what makes a rosary precious is not what it is made of or how much it costs, it is rather how often the owner uses it and how our lady accepts the prayer from the one using it.

  32. MaryAgnesLamb, thanks for your post. How much cheaper would using bronze instead of silver make a pair of rosary beads? Is there anywhere one may read about how to make these rosaries and what one needs/where to get the parts?

    It would seem that it would be great to be able to make such beads at a price that more people could afford, though I do not think it is wrong to make pricey ones with silver to give away as a gift or to make a nice family heirloom. Who’s to say that not more than one person could pool their resources for a nice gift for a baptism or something like that? I would certainly prefer it to a necklace or jewelry. Whether or not it would be wrong to spend that amount of money on a sacramental would really depend on a lot of things, so I do not agree that it is too luxurious per se. Too luxurious for many people and many occasions, for sure, but not in and of itself. I could absolutely not afford it at the moment, but it would seem to me a better or equally good choice than a lot of other things people would not criticise others for spending the same amount of money on. And I don’t think people should assume that if somebody decided to spend money on this for themselves or for a gift that it would be to show off!!! I’m sure it occurs that some people would buy a pair of beads like these for the wrong (and even sinful) reason, but many others would not have superficial or wrongful motivations for such a purchase. Having a beautiful and durable rosary that lasts for decades, and perhaps generations, retaining in a sense the imprint of the prayers said with it, is surely a great reason if a person has the opportunity and willingness to prioritise so that they may purchase one without defaulting either on the duties of their state of life or the demands of charity.