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Color Crush: Palettes with Power
Posted by Erin to Articles
Purple isn't everyone's color. Pantone's Ultra Violet is a *strong* purple and it can be hard to see past the intensity to the possibility.

Our super amazing photographer/designer/videographer is taking over this week's blog with her Pantone-swatch-inspired stone pairings.

Mixing Matte Silver Crazy Lace Agate and Purple Crazy Lace Agate with Fancy and Polychrome Jasper offers the perfect balance between soft spring colors and summer brights.



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The dark, rich tones of Red/Black Moonstone and Pyrite counter the ultra-pale blue of Larimar. At the same time, a combo of both matte and regular-finish Purple Crazy Lace Agate creates a seamless transition from muted to bold.



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Want to mix and match your purples without creating clashy conflicts? Add some neutrals like Plated Hematite and White African Opal, and just one stone in a totally different color. Playing with unique shapes in a design does more than create visual interest - it also helps to differentiate each stone type. (Also pictured, Matte Amethyst Star Cut, Peruvian Opal Nuggets.)



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My personal favorite of these palettes is this one. I can't get over how the pink and purple make the Garnet the star of the show. I never realized how beautifully Red Garnet can simultaneously amplify and subdue. A little bit of Plated Hematite also helps create cohesion and gives it a bump of sophistication. (Also pictured, Pink & Purple Crazy Lace Agate.)



If you struggle with color or are stuck in a color rut, checking out swatch palettes on the internet can be a great tool. Since stone often incorporates so many natural color variations and visual qualities, you'll be amazed at the depth and richness that can spring from a few colored squares.


Erin, Dakota Stones
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Hubei Turquoise: Myth or Fact?
Posted by Erin to Articles


We recently acquired a lot of vintage Hubei Turquoise. This is one of the rare instances where we chose to deal in pre-cut product in lieu of manufacturing our own. We considered the availability of similar-quality rough and found there wasn’t anything currently available that would result in equally awesome strands.

Since Hubei Turquoise comes from China, I want to debunk some myths about Chinese Turquoise generally, and give some more details about the significance of the Hubei variety.



Myth #1: Chinese Turquoise is “Fake” Turquoise

No. No. No. Chinese Turquoise got a bad name because disreputable or ignorant re-sellers attempted to pass off synthetic or composite stimulants as authentic. True Chinese Turquoise comes out of a mine, just like North American varieties. Unlike North American Turquoise, the stone is not named for the specific mine and the overly vague (and loaded) term “Chinese Turquoise” is applied. The best Turquoise mines in China are located in the Hubei region. Since our special batch came exclusively from Hubei mines, we feel it’s important to make the distinction.

Myth #2: Only North American Turquoise is Rare and Valuable


There was a period of time where North American Turquoise was abundant and relatively inexpensive- but then mines started to close and prices skyrocketed. At least one major Hubei mine has closed in the last five years. At the same time, Turquoise jewelry has become fashionable in China and less available for export. Prices have already increased substantially, and some believe that, like its North American counterparts, Hubei Turquoise will increase dramatically in price over the next 5-10 years.

Side Note: In 2012, I bought a triple strand of Sleeping Beauty Turquoise. I was hesitant because it was expensive. At the time, I thought that the vendor was just trying to close the sale by telling me the price would only go up-up-up since the mine had closed. To get something similar today, I’d have to pay at least 8 times what I paid a few years ago.



Myth 3: North American Turquoise is Objectively “Prettier”

Yikes! NO! North American Turquoise has some cool things going for it, but there are distinct qualities in Hubei Turquoise that aren’t replicated in any North American varieties. For example, Hubei Turquoise is widely accepted to have the most striking “spider webbing” in its matrix, as well as the widest range of color hue and intensity. Hubei Turquoise may have the brilliant colors associated with North American Turquoise varieties and frequently resembles specimens from now-closed Nevada mines, but it can also range from blues and greens to tan and rust.

Hubei Turquoise also has the most dramatic combination of bold blues, greens, and dark matrices.

Takeaway: Hubei Turquoise is just as much Turquoise as Campitos, Sleeping Beauty, or any other variety. It’s currently less expensive, but probably won’t always be. And if you’re moved to design with it, it’s a question of personal aesthetic (and possible price-savvy) - nothing else.

Erin, Dakota Stones
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Inspiration: SPARKLE!
Posted by Erin to Articles


My suitcase full of beads included several strands of diamond-cut rounds and rondelles. Even though my vacation is winding down, I’m feeling my creativity crank up.

I used a combo of faceted gemstone, metal and glass. (I usually don’t mix nicer stones with glass or non-precious metal, it’s a rut I’ve been in for years.) I tried to let random patterns come together organically instead of laying out a formal or even rough template in advance.



It ended up being really rewarding and fuel for further inspiration. Incorporating the playful spirit and bright colors also helped me find a use for some Ethiopian Opal chips that have been in my stash for years.



Playing with informal patterns also helped me discover a color combination and pattern to incorporate into a more deliberate design, too.

Takeaway? Step out of your comfort zone!

Erin, Dakota Stones

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Beads By The Beach
Posted by Erin to Articles
Here’s a quick peek at what I’ve been up to with my suitcase full of beads over the last few days.



I’ve been dying to take both Fancy Jasper and Blood Quartz into color-graduated, long, knotted pieces, and I finally got the chance to do it.





I’m planning to try the same thing with Golden Blood Quartz when I get home.

I brought down tons of wood beads, and I paired White Wood with Matte Star Cut Aquamarine, Peach Moonstone and Rose Gold Plated Hematite. I loved combining the heavier stones with lightweight wood.




More beads by the beach pictures will follow on Facebook and Instagram over the next 10 days. If you need a vicarious break, our social media might be just what you need.

Erin, Dakota Stones


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All Eyes On... Iolite
Posted by Erin to Articles


If you've been watching our emails or social media at all this week, you've probably gathered that we've added Iolite to our 8" Strand Collection. This one took forever to source and get cut just right. I took the liberty of grabbing a strand of the 8mm Faceted Rondelles, 6mm Ruby Apatite, and some Rose Gold-Plated Hematite to whip up a quick little something.

One of the things that I love about the strands are the variations in color from blue-gray to dusky violet to indigo. I didn't want that to get lost, so I did a quick sort. I ended up with 7 color sets. (Arguably, it could have been narrowed to three or four, but where's the fun in that?) Since the focus of the piece is the Iolite, that went in the middle. Then the real fun began. I took the Ruby Apatite and pulled the pinkiest, purplest, bluest beads I could find and used them up the sides. You may notice that I did play with the color there, too.

One of my all-time favorite design hacks is selectively using stones or sorting them by color to create a more streamlined design. If your designer's eye isn't seeing possibilities in stones like Black-Gold Amazonite, Fancy, Red Creek, or Polychrome Jasper, take a strand and do a quick color sort. Even just putting them into a "warm" and "cool" pile will help you see them differently.

This necklace was a quick project and super fun. When working with a time limit, it's always helpful to have the beauty of the stone do the heavy lifting for me.





A few fun details about Iolite:
• Thin slices were used as the first polarizing filter. As in, use it to look at the sun so you can determine its exact position and navigate. The Vikings literally used this stuff to navigate at sea.

• May also be referred to as Water Sapphire or Dichroite. But no, it's *not* a Sapphire variety.

• Iolite is said to enhance the growth of hair and nails. I feel like this is the kind of thing that requires ingestion, so if any of you care to try it (at your own risk) on your own, please let us know. I'm guessing most readers of this blog put the beauty of their nails on the line every day.

• If you're into chakras, you probably already know that it's primarily associated with the Third Eye chakra.

• On the energy front, it's associated with promoting a calm, clear mind, and it's one of the stones said to enhance meditation.

- Erin, Dakota Stones
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Learn More: Care and Keeping of Crazy Lace
Posted by Erin to Articles


Dyed stones can present some interesting challenges. Not only is it important that the manufacturer uses the correct dye and a thorough process, they have to be aware that the stone finish can radically change the color-fastness of the dye.

Since we basically invented a matte finish on dyed Crazy Lace Agate, we’ve had some learning to do and improved the manufacturing process to make the color stick to the stones and NOT your customers.
We do as much as we can on our end to make the highest quality color-enhanced stone, and then do a little extra post-production.



I’ve personally done a little experimenting with regular finish and matte finish, because what good is working around beads if you can’t do a little experimentation. You can check out my first color-fast blog HERE. I thought the results were pretty impressive. I don’t have any pictures of my most recent experiments with sealants, but I did spray a couple strands with matte Krylon sealant. It didn’t change the appearance of the finish, but I want to give it a few more days before I tout this as a good option. Since I’m not sure if the chemicals in the sealant might react adversely to the dye long-term, this is definitely a “don’t try this at home”.

In less than a week, I leave for a sunny vacation. I’m planning to make a couple bracelets with a variety of color-enhanced and plated stones. Guess what I plan to do? Wear them 24/7 in sand, sea, pool, and sun to see what happens. You’ll be able to monitor the status of my “(Try) To Trash The Beads” experiment on Facebook and Instagram. You’ll also get a full report on the blog in a couple weeks.

Got any stone types or materials you’d like me to abuse? I’m planning to include a mix of natural, color-enhanced, plated, soft and hard stones, along with wood, glass, metal and a couple types of crystal.

You can comment or email erin@dakotastones.com with your requests.

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Inspiration | White African Opal Necklace by Jess Prill
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles


When I first looked at these Matte White African Opal beads I thought they looked ancient. I wanted to capture the feeling of something that may have been found on an archeological dig.



I have an inspiration cabinet full of trinkets and goodies that I use to meditate on design ideas. For this necklace design I focused on some old roman glass bottles, brass rings and ancient coins.



I ended up pairing the Dakota Stones 8mm Matte White African Opal Rounds with old African glass and brass beads from my personal stash.




Finished!




Jess Prill is a jewelry designer and shop owner located in Faribault, MN


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Art or Craft? What Do You Call Your Work?
Posted by Erin to Articles
Am I the only one in this quandary? I look back at most of my pieces and I don't see art. No matter the time spent, the reworking, the morphing vision, the feedback from others... I think of art as something that other people do. "Art" seems like a *really* lofty label. It's appropriate for someone with more insight/inspiration/skill/passion/innovation.

At the same time, the term "craft" makes me feel like I should be using more toothpicks, glue, felt cutouts, and safety scissors. All this in spite of the fact that the terms "craft" and "craftsmanship" are becoming mainstream and "handmade" and "handcrafted" are watchwords for many consumers.




I did some thinking and chatting around the concept of art vs. craft. My *very* limited pool came to the following conclusion: "Craft" implies an object that can be held, used, or consumed. Things that are crafted can also be art, but aren't necessarily. Art, on the other hand, exists beyond its function. It is the creator's exploration of theme, space, material, self. Art goes beyond the decorative or functional.

Based on that definition, I can own that a limited number of my pieces are art. Even after some pretty deep soul-searching, I still feel like "craft" isn't the right word for me either. While I was deep in procrastinating, I opened up Instagram and saw a friend sharing her first large-scale commercial venture. She's always identified herself as a "maker". This term I like for me. I create jewelry because my hands want to move, because I like seeing order come from chaos, because creating things that weren't there before gives me joy.

Maybe, sometimes, I'm an Artist. And sometimes, wrapping 28 gauge wire in perfect loops, I'm a Craftsman, drawing on years of skill. Most often, and always, I'm a Maker. That's my constant, consistent, most honest impulse: to make.




To keep this blog from being just me pontificating, I've shared a few pictures. These projects were concocted with the the express intent of keeping my mind free and my hands busy. I wasn't invested in a fantastic outcome or mind-blowing design. I just wanted to idly fiddle with some wood beads (available from RoundBeads.com) and some Dakota Stones Plated Hematite that had been sitting untouched for too long.

   - Erin, Dakota Stones
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Get the look: Wrap bracelet with ds hematite.



white silver hex chips
matte green cubes
white silver flat square
copper nuggets

hematite squares
dk gold cut cubes
copper hex chips
lt gold hex chips

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Beauty on The Blog: Part 2
Posted by Erin to Articles


As you may remember from last week's blog, I didn't get to go to Tucson. You may also recall that I kept a stiff upper lip about being stuck in the frigid Minnesota tundra. Also, that I consoled myself by personally "researching" (AKA buying) a bunch of the new strands.

This week, we're continuing that theme, as I share what and why I bought.


Aquamarine. So much Aquamarine. The Matte Star Cut Aquamarine was an obvious must-have. The combination of the muted hue and matte finish made this too versatile to pass up. I'm thinking of mixing them in with some other Aquamarine in my stash to make earrings, and I've also got them pegged for some ombre, and as accent beads in necklaces, and as a primary component in stackable bracelet sets. Strands Bought: (4) 6mm, (2) 8mm.

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More Aquamarine, because, why not! The Aquamarine Triangle Tubes have lip-smacking color, and Aquamarine is known for opening the throat chakra. Given that I'm paid to write and speak, I needed to buy them. To help me, um, speak more freely. Because, as you've noticed, I really struggle to find things to say.
That's a lie. I bought them because the colors made me happy. Also, I knew if I didn't end up with a strand I'd regret it. I have yet to have buyer's remorse for any beads, but I lament several strands that have gotten away. Buying these is an investment in my future tranquility. Strands Bought: One... but I may need another, just in case.


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Faceted Larimar Rondelles. I have three regular customers that will buy anything with Larimar. These were a no-brainer for that reason alone. That being said, I probably would have grabbed a strand anyway because the facets on the rondelles are nice and clean and the color is particularly pleasing. Combined with the 8mm size, it's tranquil without being boring. I'm wagering this Larimar can be used as a focal element without risk of being washed out by brights, jewel tones, or neutrals. Basically, this strand is an 8mm faceted Caribbean beach getaway. Strands Bought: One

This is week two of the three week series where I boldly share my purchases with the world. If you think my Spring design stash is missing anything, shoot me an email (erin@dakotastones.com) and give me your suggestions. If you've personally got some great projects in the works, I'd love to see and share. Take a great picture or two and shoot them my way!                                    - Erin, Dakota Stones

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Beauty on the Blog: Swoon-Worthy Strands
Posted by Erin to Articles


If you’ve checked our website in the last few days, you probably noticed that our online Tucson event is going on. This three-week event gives us a chance to share many of the new strands we took to Tucson for you to shop at home.

The good thing about staying home? No crowds, no TSA, planes, or packing or time away from work.

The bad thing about staying home? You don’t get to see the strands in person. You don’t get to feel the jolt of, “I don’t care what these cost, I will have them!” as you browse tables packed with everything from Aquamarine to Zoisite.

Well, guess what? I didn’t get to go to Tucson either. 

So, I did the next best thing, and went back to the warehouse to meticulously raid... I mean *research* the new strands. Since I’m not going to be at the show, I also shopped the strands for myself and I’ve included what I ended up buying.

The Banded Moonstone stopped me dead. I’ve seen Banded or Multi Moonstone strands before. They usually don’t do much for me. I’m used to seeing three colors and “meh” chatoyancy. These babies have the traditional gray, peach, and white, but they also have the most scrumptious translucent warm gray. And their chatoyancy is mesmerizing. Number of strands bought: (3) 8mm Rounds, (2) 6mm Rounds



I was really pumped to see that the faceted rounds had the same awesome color and chatoyancy and really clean faceting. I’ve seen faceted Moonstone, that’s not new. However, I’ve noticed that consistent sizing and facets usually come with a three digit price tag. Number of strands bought: (1) 8mm, (2) 6mm



Botswana Agate Rondelles were another welcome find. Again, I was looking for consistent size and cut. I didn’t really *need* them for anything, but I’m vaguely planning something with Matte White African Opal, and I really like Botswana Agate, and the color and banding was choice, and Botswana Agate is relatively inexpensive sooo... Number of strands bought: (2) 8mm, (1) 6mm



Pink Tourmaline with Pink Lepidolite. I’d never seen this stone before, so I grabbed a bunch and scurried around to find someone to tell me what they were. Pictures do not do these justice. It’s like beads cut out of sunrise colors, and there’s a disturbingly rich, almost edible quality. The color varies just enough to promise some ombré design possibilities, but not enough to be jarring. I’ve just flat out never seen this color in a stone before and I love it. I have no idea where I’ll use it, but the color is too rare a find not to put in the stash. Strands Purchased: (1) 4mm, (3) 6mm, (1) 8mm





I hope you have as much fun shopping our Tucson Sunrise Collection as I did. If you’ll be stopping by our booth at the show, we’d love to feature your picks (and why you loved them) on social media.

Email erin@dakotastones.com - we can share your picks anonymously or give you full attribution for your good taste!




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 Color Crush: Palettes with Power
 Hubei Turquoise: Myth or Fact?
 Inspiration: SPARKLE!
 Beads By The Beach
 All Eyes On... Iolite
 Learn More: Care and Keeping of Crazy Lace
 Inspiration | White African Opal Necklace by Jess Prill
 Art or Craft? What Do You Call Your Work?
 Beauty on The Blog: Part 2
 Beauty on the Blog: Swoon-Worthy Strands
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