Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful comments. I loved hearing how you approach design and what choices you would make, and I really appreciate your taking the time to think about my question and give me your input. So, here's where my ideas took me--- After much consideration, it came down to the wonderful sterling forged connectors with a sprinkling of the yummy coral discs. It gives a lightness and space between each stunning bead so they are appreciated on their own merits, while still tying them together as a whole statement.
My pictures really don't do these lovely beads justice, each being a work of art, connected by color and form. Why did we (Eileen and I) decide on the coral? First off, these irregularly shaped coral discs captured the 'feel' of these unique lampwork focals. Second, red is one of the colors that speaks to the lovely lady I was designing this neck piece for. Third, they didn't overbear the beads with detail of their own, but where they were placed they added a pop to frame the finished design.
So now you have the end of my story...there wasn't a 'right' or 'wrong' choice, just the choice I made this time. I LOVE having choices, don't you???