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Stringing Materials and Oils - An Overview
Posted by Erin to Articles

Today’s VIDEO centers on the use of stringing materials in aromatherapy-compatible designs. Truth is, even if your stones don’t hold scent, your stringing material can. In addition, applying oils to beads may also interact with other components in your design.


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Unlucky to Love... Opals?
Posted by Erin to Articles
During this week's official debut of Australian Green Opal and our showcase of all things Silicate, it seems the time is right to share some fun facts, fictions, and historical tidbits (mostly morbid) tied to the stone.


It's worth noting that most of this lore is associated with precious opals (you know, the ones with fire, and flash, and play of color, and fancy names for patterns?). That being said, we'd be doing our education a grave disservice if we didn't dip our toes into the topic.

An FYI - Precious vs. Common
There are two categories for Opal - Precious and Common. Precious Opals (think Black Opal, Ethiopian, Fire Opal) exhibit the characteristics most associate with Opal. Thee term "Common" Opal is a bit of a disservice, for example, high quality Blue Peruvian Opal can command quite a price in its own right, although it isn't a "Precious" Opal. All Opals have a Silicate mineral structure which makes them much less dense, and also much softer than most other stone types. Common or Precious, be gentle with your Opals.

Unlucky?
Perhaps the most widely known piece of Opal mythology has to do with Opals being bad luck. Let's break it down.

Bad Luck for Jewelers

This probably has more to do with the fragile nature of the stone. Whether a lapidarist or a jeweler, you'll need to handle an opal with considerably more care, than, say, a diamond. King Louis VI was not very sympathetic to a goldsmith who fractured a stone while setting it, and the unfortunate goldsmith lost his hands. (Warned you, morbid.) This is arguably the only myth with any facts to back it up.

Bad Luck for Venice
When the plague hit Venice in the 14th century, rumors abounded that an opal worn by a plague patient would flame as their illness raged and then lose all color at the time of death. It's worth noting that the desperate Venetians also blamed heretics and Jews for the illness as well.Science has since given us a little more information on bacteria and disease transmission, and it seems safe to say that Opals had as much causal link to plague as Jews and heretics, which is to say, none.
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  White African, Matte Australian Green, Faceted Wood Opalite, Blue Peruvian, Pink Opal Chips

Bad Luck for Royals
A single Opal ring was reputed to kill five members of the Spanish royal family by means of a mysterious illness. While the ring in question was a gift from the jilted lover of King Alfonzo to his bride, historians believe that the deaths had nothing to do with the ring being poisoned, cursed, or just generally bad luck. Cholera was running through the country at the time and some estimates have the death at 50% of the Spanish population. Scholar Isidore Kozminsky acknowledges that metal and stone can attract and retain energies that harmed those who received it from his hand.

Bad Luck Birthstone
The "bad luck birthstone" was born of a novel written by Sir Walter Scott - there was a reading comprehension issue and the mis-reading of the novel is a fun story in its own right, as well as a powerful testimony to the power of the pen, In a single year, the market price for Opals dropped by half, and the market suffered for decades.
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Bad, Bad, Bad

When incredible Opals were discovered in Australia in the 1890's, it's widely accepted that diamond traders perpetuated myths, rumors and falsehoods about the stone in order to protect their livelihood. Queen Victoria amassed and paraded a stunning personal collection of Opal Jewelry, and was likely the greatest contributing factor to the Opal's return to fashion and favor.

But it's not ALL Bad
In 1922, Isidore Kozminsky's book "The Magic and Science of Jewels and Stones", the author discussed powerful positive anecdotes related to the stone, and claims that the Opal has been among the most unfairly maligned in history.

WOW. So, this blog got long. We'll have to do a Part 2 on this sometime in the future. I'm planning to track down Kozminsky's text, so hopefully I can bring you some more gems in the future!  

- Erin, Dakota Stones

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Real Friends Share Beads
Posted by Erin to Articles
We're always boasting about how all of our staff (not just the sales reps) knows and loves stones. To prove it, I grabbed a few of our crew members to share some of their personal favorites.

Alex (Buyer, Receiver, and Protector of Shipments) Fun fact: Alex is ridiculously competent. He started at Dakota Stones about two years ago with zero rock experience and now boasts an encyclopedic knowledge of stone lore. He once described his relationship with beads as "I'm like Smaug. [the dragon from 'The Hobbit'] I don't do anything with the beads. I just protect my treasure." Alex declined the opportunity to be photographed sleeping on a pile of beads.






*If* we manage to convince Alex to take part in that photo opp, you'll likely see him on a mound of Lapis, Iron Zebra Jasper, and K2. He mentioned these as favorites because blue is his favorite color, he likes the unique pattern in each Iron Zebra Jasper bead, and that K2 looks 'cool' and has an interesting origin. Given that K2 comes from the second highest mountain in the world, and Alex's self-identification with a mountain-dwelling, treasure-hoarding dragon of great ferocity, I'm going to tread more carefully around him in the future. (Totally kidding, any of you who've met Alex at a show or in the showroom know he's wicked smart, but not at all wicked.)


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Ricky (Account Rep, Rising Social Media Star) is big on 12mm Matte Cuprite and 15-20mm Larimar Nuggets, as well as our Matte Ruby Rounds. Any of you who've seen Ricky know that he's not afraid to accessorize or use color. One of my favorite Ricky pieces is a leather macrame dream incorporating the matte Ruby with leather. Actually, you rarely see Ricky without some great piece of jewelry. The matte Cuprite is completely in keeping with his love of blues and greens and I've seen him hoarding a couple strands, although he refuses to divulge his plans. Ricky's been in the stone business a long time, and I'd be lying if I didn't call him out as a fellow-lover of the rare and expensive. Like the Cuprite, his favorite Larimar strand draws on subtle blues and pleasant heft. Again, he's refusing to disclose any plans. Admittedly, Ricky may have decided to become more guarded with his co-workers since we caught him off-guard at the end of last Tuesday's Facebook Live video.





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Jeff (Owner, Chief Dispenser of Pithy Wit) is all about the stuff that Dakota Stones has innovated or introduced to the market. Which is fair, since he's been the genius behind bringing matte finish to Carnelian and Red Garnet and tracking down our recent lot of vintage Hubei Turquoise. Jeff declined to elaborate further, saying something about having a business to run, and stones to source, and other important-sounding things.





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Kayla (Account Rep, Cool Kid, and Superhuman) Kayla's our trend watcher. Plus, she currently sports a variety of fantastic hair colors and seems to need zero sleep. She's not just a full time rep for Dakota Stones, she's throwing in some college courses, her own jewelry line, and teaches dance. You wanna talk Rock Star - that's Kayla. Also, she's the first person to point me to the must-see items in shipments. Kayla was the hardest pressed to narrow down her favorites. She pointed out our new AA-grade Pink Tourmaline (it's worth noting that Kayla's hair is currently a similar shade, Crystal Sticksalthough not as sparkly). She also does some seriously killer work with crystal points and top-drilled sticks of any kind. Kayla's also a fan of K2 (she made bracelets for all of us!), has made a magical piece with Mexican Laguna Lace Agate, and shares my belief that White African Opal is a bead stash staple.





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Erin (That's me! Social Media and Sparkle Junkie) I don't think it's any secret that I'm obsessed with our Multi-Color Sapphire strands, Faceted Garnet Rondelles, or Faceted Labradorite rondelles. Between the projects I've shared with you here and on Facebook it's abundantly clear that I can't get enough. Subtle's never really been my strong suit and I love working with stones that stand out. If we're being honest, when I'm having a bad day, I go to my work area and just look at these guys.


Multi Sapphire


Faceted Red Garnet


Labradorite Rondelles


Thanks for sticking with this blog to the end! Hope you had as much fun reading as I did writing, and that you feel like you know us a little bit better. If you'll be at Bead and Button, don't be shy! Stop by our booth and let us get to know you!
                                                                          Erin, Dakota Stones

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Materials Manifesto: High-End Stones
Posted by Erin to Articles

I was 14 when I saw my first strand of high-end beads. You know, the ones the bead store keeps in a locked case? That moment is seared into my memory. I remember thinking that one day *I* would buy fancy beads.

Fast forward two decades and change and my bead stash has stones I couldn’t have imagined. If I’m feeling bummed I go look at my beads and think of the 14-year-old who said to herself “one day”.

When jewelry design turned from a hobby to a business, I realized that designing with higher end stones presents some unique pros and cons.

Pro: Recognizable Gemstone Names Add Instant Value

If a potential buyer knows something is Sapphire, Ruby, Emerald, Diamond, Opal, Amethyst or Garnet, they’re more likely to understand the higher price.

Con: There Are Pricey Stone Types People Haven’t Heard Of

This is a blessing in disguise- customers like to feel like they’ve got something special. If you’re able to explain that Larimar comes exclusively from the Dominican Republic, the Sleeping Beauty Turquoise mine is closed, or that K2 comes from the second highest mountain in the world then you’re able to add major value.

Pro: They Look AMAZING!!!

They just do. Nicer stones can do some of the design work for you and take a design from good to great.

Con: Pricey!

Couple ways around this. You can start to design for a clientele that has deeper pockets. It may mean investing in some additional materials (precious metal or precious metal filled components, for example), but it gives you entry to a different type of boutique or show. The other option is to use them selectively. A pair of earrings with a few beads can be more accessibly priced than a multi-strand necklace.

High end stones can also make great accent beads.

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I’ve shared a few of my favorite recent designs. Playing with color and shape has been a blast!
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On a closing note, stones in the DS Premier collection are exclusives. They start as concept sketches and then we work on them for about a year to take them from rough material to finished beads.

Ruby

We don’t always know if we can get them again. Sometimes, we know we’ll never get more. If you want to create designs that have something extra special, keep on eye on our show booth and website.

Erin, Dakota Stones
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Studio Time: Setting Cabs
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles

Never set a stone before? 
This quick video gives you an idea of what the process looks like. It’s easy to learn and fun to master. There are opportunities to refine your craftsmanship and innovation all over the place- don’t be afraid to try a new skill! 



For those of you who set stones in your sleep, you may just enjoy watching someone else working. ;)

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Chakra and Energy Work: Fact or Fiction
Posted by Erin to Articles


In honor of our newly streamlined Chakra section, here’s a quick rundown of fact and fiction. This is super general. Many of you work in this area extensively, so you’re unlikely to learn anything new here. If you’re curious and looking to learn a bit more, this is a simple way to feel it out.
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Chakras are New Age and weird.

Fiction.
The concept of energetic centers in the body spans millennia and continents. Different cultures have different terms and approaches, but the basic concepts are very similar. The viewpoint may not be your thing, but it isn’t something arbitrarily conjured in a commune in the 20th century.

No, the concept of Chakras isn’t very Western. So it might not be your thing. Think of it as going to a restaurant with non-Western cuisine. It might be something you immediately love, loathe, or need to try a couple times.



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If There’s A Problem Chakra, Treat It With The Chakra’s Designated Stone/Color.

FICTION.
No. No. No. Chakras are energy centers. This means you can have either too much or too little energy. If the problem is coming from too much energy, directing more energy there is not going to help. For example, you have so much loving energy (Heart Chakra/Green) that you put everyone else ahead of yourself. You volunteer, you do more than your share of household stuff, you loan money even when you don’t have enough, you offer to take on every extra project at work. Eventually, you’re exhausted and resentful. You know you need to say ‘No’, but you feel like you can’t. Throwing a bunch of Jade into your jewelry won’t fix this. Instead you want to bring energy to places that don’t have enough. In this example, you might want to consider bringing some energy to the Navel / Solar Plexus Chakra where it’s said that we carry our personal power and the Throat Chakra so that you feel like you can speak your truth.

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They Published A Book- Therefore They’re a Reliable Source of Information

Fiction.
Beware of Prophets for Profit. Look at resources that are researched, annotated, and reasonable. If they’ve trademarked a stone name, you’d do well to be wary.

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Energy Work Is An Alternative To Professional Treatment

Fiction.
There are plenty of anecdotes about alternative therapies succeeding where others have failed. There are also people who have died from treatable medical conditions because they chose to treat them solely through some form of energetic healing. Energy work of any kind is most safely considered a complementary therapy. It may even become a key piece of healing, but do not rely on it to fix your physical, emotional or interpersonal issues.

We’d love if you share your expertise, experience and favorite resources. Feel free to contradict or correct me- I’m one voice with one perspective and I am always open to learning more!

(If you’re curious about my background, most of exposure and training in Chakras comes through about a decade of yoga, specifically the Himalayan Institute / Para Yoga school. I’m also 3 weeks from RYT 200 hour certification.)  

Erin, Dakota Stones


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Bringing It Together : Guru Beads
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles

Jess teaches you tips and tricks for using (sometimes tricky) Guru Beads so you can take your malas and mala-inspired designs to a new level.


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Denim Daze: Hot Colors + Wardrobe Staples
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles

Jewelry is the single fastest way to take a wardrobe from "meh" to "cool".
Whether your customers favor simple lines and classic colors or bold prints and trendy cuts, we've put together bead palettes to suit.

















Don't forget the perennial selling tip - wear your work! If you want to use Jewelry-As-Wardrobe-Update as a selling point, model it! If you favor bold color combinations and super-trendy design elements, your modeling can help more conservative potential customers take a leap on a piece they might otherwise pass by.



























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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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 Stringing Materials and Oils - An Overview
 Unlucky to Love... Opals?
 Real Friends Share Beads
 Materials Manifesto: High-End Stones
 Studio Time: Setting Cabs
 Chakra and Energy Work: Fact or Fiction
 Bringing It Together : Guru Beads
 Denim Daze: Hot Colors + Wardrobe Staples
 Color Crush: Palettes with Power
 Hubei Turquoise: Myth or Fact?
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