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Do Our Eyes Deceive? Secrets of Apatite.
Posted by Erin on 4/23/2017 to Articles
Apatite comes in a rich variety of blues, greens, and yellows, in shades that often mimic other minerals, so it's easy to see why it's named from the Greek word for "to decieve" or
"be misleading." However, that little piece of trivia shouldn't be allowed to overshadow some of my favorite Apatite information.
It's a Mohs index mineral.
Many know that Apatite is a 5 on the Mohs scale, and that translates into it being less hard than, say, a steel blade. In my experience, a Mohs 5 means this stone is just hard enough for you to think it's OK to force too-big wire through too-small holes, and just soft enough for you to break about half the beads you try to force. Also from personal experience, don't dunk a finished piece of Apatite into any patinating agents. It doesn't end well.

It's got an incredible design range.
The range of colors, as well as the way the stone lends itself to different cuts and finishes makes this a stone-type of myriad possibility. I firmly believe that there is an Apatite bead style to appeal to just about any designer's aesthetic.

Green Apatite 6-10mm Faceted Nuggets
It's considered a "dual action" stone.
If the metaphysical properties are your jam, it's worth noting that all Apatite is said to clear out negative energy and confusion while drawing in energy that stimulates the mind to grow in knowledge and truth. Specific Apatite colors are associated with some additional properties as well. For example, Green Apatite is said to connect the wisdom of the mind to the energy of heart, and Blue Apatite is said to promote independence and ambition.

It's great fertilizer.
Most of the Apatite family exists within phosphate rocks better suited to fertilizer than jewelry because the Apatite crystal masses are too small to be seen without a microscope.

ds Blue Apatite
It's in moon rocks.
Yup. Moon rocks from the Apollo missions showed traces of Apatite. In 2010, further analysis revealed that the water trapped in these traces as hydroxyl was potentially enough to, at a minimum, convert into about three feet of water across the surface of the moon if the "trapped" water was hypothetically converted.

Erin, Dakota Stones
So, basically, Apatite might help us live on the moon. (At least, I'm hoping so, I haven't found a scientist who'll back me on that- also, while I love picturing tons of gemstone deposits throughout the moon, I'm pretty sure this is the fertilizer-grade stuff, not a call to start mining rough on the moon).  
Let's Talk Quartz
Posted by Erin on 4/16/2017 to Articles
If you do any serious digging into stone, you'll discover that there's some seriously complex scientific information out there. You'll see words that look like they belong in a chemistry class, and information that contradicts the working trade names of your favorite stones.

Crystal Quartz Sticks
If you, like me, only took the most basic science curriculum and spent most of your class time wishing it was over, then this gloss-over might be of interest to you. If you're a mineral expert well versed in nomenclature and classification, I salute you and your big brain, and apologize in advance for any oversimplification.

The term "quartz" in the bead industry, usually refers to stones with quartz in the name - Tibetan Quartz, Rose Quartz, Rhutilated Quartz, Phantom Quartz, Crystal Quartz, etc. If you're inclined to get your science on, Amethyst, Citrine, and Prasiolite are classified as quartz, along with Carnelian,
Brown Rhutilated Quartz
Aventurine, Agate, Jasper, Onyx. These are, indeed, technically Quartz, and if the distinction between "cryptocrystalline" and "monoclinic polymorph" interest you, you'll learn that multiple forms of quartz with different properties (like crystal structure and solubility) can combine to give us Quartz that looks nothing like the clear crystals we normally think of.

Mixed Rhutilated Quartz

Erin, Dakota Stones
Congratulations! You made it through Dakota Stones' most science-y blog to date. If you're interested in more blogs and info (or if you're an expert who'd like to contribute to more meaty content like this,) shoot an email to erin@dakotastones.com.
Making the Most of Microfacets: Tips and Tricks for Using Tiny Treasures
Posted by Erin on 4/9/2017 to Articles

Smaller beads in the 2-3mm range lend themselves to oodles of uses. They make cool spacers in strung designs, add visual interest in conjunction with other bead sizes, and hang beautifully when strung or knotted. And, my personal favorite, they can be wire wrapped into a chain of gemstone deliciousness.

I'm aware that I'm in the minority in my love of making my own wrapped gemstone chain. Most of my bead friends think I'm off my rocker. Their dislike of wire wrapping anything under 4mm seems to come from impatience or their perceived lack of ability.

I've spent the better part of the last five years honing my skills on tiny wraps, and I'm hoping my experience can save my fellow beaders time and  encourage any naysayers to try their hand.

Wire Gauge is Critical.
You need to consider both the hole size in the bead AND the proportion. For example, our 3mm rondelles fit up to 24 gauge wire easily, but once it's wrapped, you might be feeling like something's a bit "off". That's likely because you're seeing more wire than bead, making the metal visually outweigh the bead you were expecting to accentuate. Your technique isn't the problem, it's the wire gauge. For a 3mm bead, I prefer 26 gauge. 28 gauge also fits, and the results are more delicate. For a 2mm bead, you may find you have fewer options. Generally, I prefer to step down to a 28 gauge, but I've also used 26 gauge wire and liked the results.

Tools Matter.
We all know that some tools have better hand feel and durability, but just because a tool is great for one task does NOT make it the perfect tool for all. Tools designed for precise work will make your life easier. Lots easier. Consider, for example, that most "economy" round nose pliers have about a 1.5 diameter at the tip, mid-range generall gets you close to the 1mm mark, and higher-end brands will measure at .75mm. If you're going to wire wrap with 26 gauge or under wire, do yourself a favor and get a round nose, chain nose and cutter designed for fine work. (If you've been debating an upgrade, seriously, treat yourself. The best investment I've made is good tools.)

Patience is Key.
Most entry-level beading classes teach wire wrapping on 22 gauge wire. Why? Because it generally produces the best results for beginners and it's relatively easy to see. When you downsize your wire, it's a bit harder to see, the feel is different, and you'll need to adapt before you're as proficient as you normally are. Give yourself some grace and some time to get the feel of it. I recommend stepping down a gauge level at a time, for example, if you've never worked with 24 gauge wire before, get the feel of that down before moving on to 26 and then 28.

Got a design with itty-bitty beads you'd like to show off? We'd love to showcase your work on social media.

Shoot images my way:
Erin, Dakota Stones
Diamonds Are A Bead's Best Friend | Sharing the Sparkle
Posted by Erin on 4/2/2017 to Articles
When we think of diamonds, we commonly think of the gem-quality beauties we see in jewelry. What we often forget is that there are oodles of industrial-grade diamonds used in manufacturing applications.

The bead industry is seeing faceted stone beads that are cut using industrial-grade diamonds, and  the difference is amazing. Because diamonds cut basically everything better, the facets are cleaner, sharper, and more consistent. Diamond-cut stones sparkle, even in stone types where you don't typically see it, like Jasper varieties. The difference is also highly visible in Agate, Quartz, and other varieties.

Subjectively speaking, I find diamond cut stone beads offer more sparkle than fire polished glass, but less than crystal. The result is an increase in design versatility. The pattern of stone often lends itself to more casual designs, however, the increase in sparkle can be used to create pieces that transition easily between casual, business, and formal wear.

Erin, Dakota Stones
Since the significant visual interest is hard to capture in a still image, I recommend checking out our Facebook page to see recent video posts of diamond-cut facets across a variety of stone types.

  Sparkle on, friends!
dsSchool of Rocks: White African Opal
Posted by Erin on 3/5/2017 to Articles
White African Opal is my new favorite thing. I frequently use pearls in designs that need an opaque and cream-colored note, but there are times I've wanted an additional option.

I wanted something that could pair well with everything from glass and crystal to rough matte stones.

Enter White African Opal to the rescue!

I'm loving it paired with bright Swarovski fancy stones. This combo is going to have a bead woven cluster of bright fancy stones, with White African Opal on the sides. The bulk of my design clients want pieces that can go with an LBD, flowing blouse, or crisp button down. The pattern in White African Opal adds both visual interest and a more earthy balance to the crystal.

I'm also planning to rework this piece that includes 10+ years of leftover Agate, chalcedony, pearl, and Quartz. This piece is in my personal collection. It fell out of my necklace rotation when I threw most of my business casual ensembles out the window. I wanted to cut back the number of pearls without sacrificing length. I was afraid I was going to be gutting the entire piece, but I'm confident 20 minutes and a couple well-placed swaps will have me loving this necklace again.

I recently did a commission project for a client that featured tons of DS Premier Garnet, Green Apatite, Citrine and Chinese Turquoise. I've got about 2 inches left of each strand. I wanted to create a design that would make the colors "pop". Metal beads and chain made it look dull. Ditto leather. White African Opal, you may have guessed, has now saved the day.

My most recent Friday night project was my first attempt at a beaded tassel. I'm really loving all the new 2mm rounds! (I had a terrible time trying to shoot this - I'm planning to post a journey of awful outtakes on Facebook, so give Dakota Stones a follow. After you see my attempts, you're sure to feel like a better product photographer by comparison!)

I cannot wait to do more with this multi-tasking neutral, and I'm looking forward to seeing any designs you may want to share with me and our social media followers. Email erin@dakotastones.com with questions, comments, concerns, pictures of your creations, or requests for future blog topics.

If you want to learn a little more about this stone type, you can also check out our most recent YouTube video (below!)

- Erin, Dakota Stones 

dsSchool of Rocks: Fire Opal
Posted by Erin on 2/26/2017 to Articles
New Multi Color Sapphires!
We've just gotten some gorgeous new 16" Multi Color Sapphire strands. The colors are absolutely captivating and these beads are perfect as focals, accents, or re-strung as-is. We're featuring a limited number online through Thursday. These strands are currently a Limited Edition and we can't guarantee future availability at this time.

dsSchool of Rocks: Fire Opal  
In honor of the debut of 8" Fire Opal strands, we've made a new video for the blog. You can learn more about Fire Opal here.

Video: Master the Guru bead with Jess
We introduced new sizes and stone types to our Guru bead line. The 8mm and 10mm sizes are perfect for stackable bracelet designs. (Plus, they're available in quartz and amethyst for all our chakra jewelry lovers!) Using a guru bead in your design is easier than you might think. Check out Jess's tutorial for stringing Guru beads on silk here.

Erin, Dakota Stones
PS - The same technique works with elastic, too. Just use a Big Eye needle and .7mm stretch material!

Dzi = "Zee". Crash Course for Stone Lovers.
Posted by Erin on 2/20/2017 to Articles

ds Dzi rounds in various patterns
Dzi-style beads
are a new arrival at Dakota Stones and we've gotten tons of questions from customers in Tucson and in our showroom. Since we'll be continuing to stock them, we wanted to give our customers some need-to-know info.

How do you say the name?
Dzi = Zee. That simple. (dZi and gzi are common alternate spellings.)
What's with the patterns?
The lines, designs and circles (eyes) on Dzi beads are related to different powers that the Dzi is said to magnify within the wearer. Different patterns are associated with unique gifts and protective qualities, and said to be more or less beneficial to an individual based on their birth year and/or the current calendar year.

Why do you say 'Dzi-style'?
Glad you asked. We use the term "Dzi-style" to distinguish these replica beads from their antique counterparts. Antique Dzi beads are hundreds or thousands of years old. Depending on the size, pattern, and material, they can command as much as $2,000,000. (No, that's not a typo.) Dzi beads made as recently as the 1990s even sell for hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Where do they come from?
The etched agate Dzi beads that are highly prized by collectors come from Tibet, Buthan, Ladakh, and Nepal. They are surrounded by myth and legend. One legend holds that the stones themselves are insects that turned to stone after coming into contact with a human. Dzi beads were frequently used as protective amulets, and some traditions held that a Dzi bead chose its owner and would even leave an unlucky owner. Due to the protective attributes of the stone, powder was often ground from the ends for medicinal use. Antique Dzi that have been used in medicine will show small dig marks where the stone was carved.

Got any great Dzi resources to share? Pass them on! Since these beads are so popular and have such rich history, we're hoping to share more useful information soon!

Erin, Dakota Stones 
We'd love to see what you do with our Dzi-style beads. If you're willing to share your finished designs using Dakota Stones Dzi-style beads with our followers on social media, please email erin@dakotastones.com.
Ethiopian Opal Madness | New Colors and Sizes!
Posted by Erin on 2/12/2017 to Articles
AA Grade Ethiopian Opal 3-8mm Graduated Rondelle Cream
We've pretty much DOUBLED our online variety of Ethiopian Opals.
We're now offering additional colors, and incorporated a subjective, in-house grading system to help distinguish between strands.
Our A through AAA system is based on the transparency and fire of the stones. The higher the grade, the more transparent and fiery.
IMPORTANT - Ethiopian Opals have been very popular,
so we cannot guarantee their future availability or pricing.

Trend Watch Tucson 2017 | What's Hot in the Desert
Posted by Erin on 2/5/2017 to Articles
Trend Watch: Tucson 2017
Right now it seems like everybody's either been down to the show or is there already. Instagram and Facebook are full of friends posing with gigantic geodes or showing off their favorite finds.

If the show wasn't in the cards for you this year, we've compiled a list of some of the most popular items at the Dakota Stones booth so far this year.
Lapis everything.
As designers eye the S/S color and style trends, Lapis is an obvious pick. After all, how many times does Pantone's swatch name just give you the name of the coordinating stone type? Plus, the rich blue works great in boho OR classic designs. 

Customers are feeling the bright colors and clean lines in these sets. Several buyers have mentioned that the "upcycled" nature of composite is a big draw. In addition to packing lots of visual punch for a low cost, it's also relatively light weight. Customers have also mentioned that these can be kept together in one design, or broken up and used in several.

K2 Slices Tucson is a great place to see new or uncommon stones. K2 is granite with copper-bearing mineral inclusions (there's disagreement on specifics, most sources claim Apatite or Azurite). It's mined at the based of the second-highest mountain in the world, Pakistan's K2. The unconventional color and pattern of the stone combined with its unique source, has made this stone popular with novel-stone seekers.

Phantom Quartz
14-36mm Crystal Points
12-32mm Crystal Points
Quartz Points From large Phantom Quartz points to delicate Crystal Quartz matchsticks, these strands are flying to buyers. We brought down more than we thought we'd need, and they're going at an unprecedented rate. In addition to earrings and pendants, customers are using points to up the wow-factor in statement pieces. As jewelry trends continue owards pieces that can be dressed up or down, quartz is subtle enough to wear with distressed denim and sparkly enough for a night on the town. Designers are loving quartz points to incorporate more angular elements in designs, too.

10mm Faceted Rounds
 6mm Matte
12mm Rounds
8mm Matte
Blood Quartz
People are loving the rusty red and pink tones. This stone has been one of our biggest "Oooh - what is this?!" items of the show. It's also gotten lots of love in our showroom and online since its debut a couple weeks ago.

If you're at the show, we're at the G&LW Gem Mall
 in the Fiesta Tent, Booth #2209.

Erin, Dakota Stones
If you Tucson's not in your cards, or if you've already left and need another stone rush, we'll be continuing to release new product online (and some online exclusives!) for the length of the show. 
Tucson, Here We Come!!!
Posted by Erin on 1/22/2017 to Articles
Survive (and Thrive) in Tucson 2017
Some of you have been going to Tucson for decades, and others may be excitedly packing up for their first trip, while others are planning to go some day. Regardless of which camp you fall in, we've assembled some hints to help you make the most out of your show experience. 

Fiesta Blue Tent
Booth #2209

Click on the .pdf (right) for a detailed map of our location.

4475 S. Country Club Rd.  Tucson, AZ
January 28th-February 8th
Show Hours: 10-6pm, final day 10-3pm

Before You Go: 
Pre-Register Lines are always long, but pre-registration will lessen your line time. Remember to bring multiple copies of your Tax ID.

- Consider checking an extra bag, using the suitcase in a suitcase method, or bringing some boxes and scoping put the Tucson Post Office- you want to have lots of room to bring back rocks!

- Speaking of packing, plan to do lots of walking since most of the shows are within walking distance of each other, so bring good shoes! Even though it's Arizona, the temperature can range from warm to cool, so make sure you've got the basics for both types of weather. The tents can get pretty warm, so make sure you've got layers!

At the Show: 
-  Dakota Stones will be at the G&LW Gem Mall, Fiesta Tent, Booth #2209. We recommend that you get a show book to help you navigate.

- If you see something you love, buy it immediately. You don't know if it will be there later.

- Hydrate! You're in the desert. It's exciting! You're excited! Make sure you take time to get water and food and bathroom breaks so you can feel good and have fun.

- Get to know your vendors. A good relationship with your vendors is a great way to find the best things at a show. If they know your preferences, they'll be able to steer you towards the right products at the show and will keep you in mind when new product that you might like comes along throughout the year.

Heading Home: 
- Regardless of how you're bringing your beads home, pack them carefully.

- It's easy to forget how quickly a suitcase can be overweight when beads are involved. Portable luggage scales are relatively cheap and will help you avoid any nasty surprises at the airport.

- Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to ship your clothes and toiletries home and just bring back a suitcase full of beads.

Safe Travels!
See you in the Fiesta Tent at the G&LW Bead Mall, Booth #2209

 New Designs
 Featured Bead Stores
 Featured Designers
 News & Events

 Do Our Eyes Deceive? Secrets of Apatite.
 Let's Talk Quartz
 Making the Most of Microfacets: Tips and Tricks for Using Tiny Treasures
 Diamonds Are A Bead's Best Friend | Sharing the Sparkle
 dsSchool of Rocks: White African Opal
 dsSchool of Rocks: Fire Opal
 Dzi = "Zee". Crash Course for Stone Lovers.
 Ethiopian Opal Madness | New Colors and Sizes!
 Trend Watch Tucson 2017 | What's Hot in the Desert
 Tucson, Here We Come!!!
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