By Jenna Ciccotelli, news staff

When Pamela Stocker was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, her husband Bill, a stone artisan, turned to his work to express his anger and concern. His feelings changed to a message of hope and strength as he crafted the “Sunapee Rays of Hope,” a nine-ton stone with vertical and horizontal rays that now stands in the Sunapee Graniteworks yard in New Hampshire.

The granite sculpture paved the way for the formation of the Stockers’ jewelry company American Bead Collection.

“We are a family business,” Pamela Stocker said. “It’s really a family story.”

This is just one of many stories behind the local businesses participating in Boston’s Holiday Shopping Market this December. The market, which showcases over 40 vendors from across New England, sells gifts and food as part of Boston Winter at City Hall Plaza. The month-long festival, which opens Friday, also features a Christmas tree with pedal-powered lights, a menorah, appearances by Santa Claus and chocolate.

“We really enjoy when we can be out in the public […] and have those one-on-one experiences,” Pamela Stocker said. “When they get to see the collection, hear the story, meet our family [and] make those connections of purchasing a bead from the state where they grew up or where they went to school or where their grandchildren are, it’s a wonderful experience.”

American Bead Collection’s “Sunapee Rays of Hope” led to the production of granite ornaments named “Circles of Hope.” The Stocker family uses the ornaments’ cutout centers to create granite beads, which were sent out to store shelves in 2012 and are still cut from the ornaments today.

“Granite is a symbol of strength and protection,” Pamela Stocker said. “All of our granite pieces speak of home to us and many people throughout New England.”

The American Bead Company currently produces a line of beads representing 26 states – including all of New England – each made from a stone found in the state. These are available as standalone beads and in bracelets, necklaces, earrings and ornaments.

“It has become our goal to release at least one bead from all 50 states,” Pamela Stocker said.

The company produces bead collections that represent groups of American people, including veterans, survivors and a “Heavenly Souls” collection for anyone who has lost a loved one, along with the state beads.

“[The bead collections] are a celebration of America and her people,” Pamela Stocker said.

Other local businesses which will be featured at the holiday shopping market include the Etsy Boston Group, B&B Glass Studio, Rusty and Ingrid Creative Company and Mackenzie Couture Accessories.     

Besides the market, Boston Winter will showcase New England’s first ever custom-designed skating path. The 11,000 square foot rink will host learn-to-skate classes, live DJs as well and free skate hours. An Urban Lodge will sell alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and food.

The Holiday Market will close its doors on New Year’s Eve, but the skate path will be open through February.

Photo by Alex Melagrano