J-A asked for Russian leaf earrings for her birthday, using the same pattern as a pair I had made for myself a long time ago (Paisley Drops by Jane Lock, from an old copy of Beadwork magazine). What she didn't know is that I've never been that happy with my pair — they were a stash-busting exercise which turned out a wearable pair of earrings, but looked nothing like what was in the pattern photos.
The main part of the earrings is made with Japanese Delica beads, which are very straight-sided and uniform in size. The contrasting inner ring and "tails" on the outside of the earrings are made with Czech seed beads, which are rounder and more substantial, but less consistent in size and shape. The centre motif and dangles are crystals, which are much more consistent no matter what the origin (the ones I used are Chinese).
I actually like Czech beads better for most things, just because of the roundedness, but in this case if you don't use Delicas for the main part, the leaf shape gets very distorted. I used cylinder beads for my earrings (straight sides but not consistent sizes), and it was difficult to get two matching sides of the leaf for one earring, never mind two matching earrings.
To save frustration this time, I bought Delicas (everything else I had in stash). J-A had said she wanted a black and silver pair so they would go with lots of outfits but be sparkly. The way the different components of the earrings balance out, I wasn't sure whether to go black and silver, or silver and black. Since it takes over half an hour to set up all my beading stuff, I didn't see the harm in making two pairs while I had all my gear and beads out.
The first pair are on the left in the photo, using stainless steel beads for the main leaf component, and metal-lined grey contrast beads and crystals. They get very sparkly under the right light — making them under my halogen work lights actually got kind of intense — but they're not very heavy on black. I didn't want to use black for the lining oval or the tails just because I thought they would "disappear" when worn, especially in low lighting.
The second pair were sort of negative images of the first one. Lots of jet black, but with sparkly bits to outline and highlight them.
J-A says she likes both. I think I do as well, but especially the silver and grey pair, just because they amp up the sparkliness are are a less expected colour combination.