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Don't Make Me Blush...
Posted by Erin on 6/19/2017 to Articles
While Pantone may have decreed a vibrant green the "Color of the Year," our rounds of Pinterest fashionista searching, and shopping are telling us that blushing shades of pink are the real heavy hitter.

Soft blush or peachy-pink shades are often referred to as "Millenial Pink", and the color is being used increasingly in the packaging and marketing of products towards the 20-30-something crowds.

This color is everywhere in fashion, and subsequently a great pick for designs with a youthful vibe, and because the color is so muted, it's well suited for sophisticated styles, too.

Peach Moonstone
Peach Moonstone Faceted
Pink Coral
 
Looking to get more of this on-trend color into your palette?
Look to Pink Opal, Peach Moonstone, or Pink Coral to give your designs a sweet kiss of color. Want to get a metallic gleam in there? Check out Rose Gold Plated Hematite.


Erin, Dakota Stones
We love how the natural color of stones work so beautifully with this trend. Can't wait to see what you create!
What Was Big at Bead & Button
Posted by Erin on 6/12/2017 to Articles
For those of us who couldn't make it to last week's Bead & Button show in Milwaukee, here's a quick recap of some of the hot products from Dakota Stones.

Please note: Not all of these are currently available on our site, we're working hard to get them up ASAP - and some are hand-cut limited editions from our DS Premier exclusive high-end line, which means that they're better suited for in-person purchasing, and only available at our showroom or at trade shows.

Matte Porcelain Jasper
These little lovelies just went live online this week, and we weren't surprised that they were a hit. Matte finish on Jasper is always a great way to soften the intensity of the color and pattern, making it a great partner for solid colors, or bolder patterned stones.
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Star Cut (Coming Soon) 
Red Creek Jasper, Carnelian


We've decreed this the cut of 2017 and beyond.
The simpler faceting adds dimension to the sparkle AND results in a lighter weight stone. This means the visual punch of larger beads without the physical weight. This style is also sooo amazing for multiple design aesthetics. Whether you're looking to capture clean lines, free-flowing boho vibes, or timeless look with a twist.

Mixed Stones, Smoky Quartz, Ruby Zoisite
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Ruby (Showroom/Tradeshow Only)  
 
We've been working for over a year on production of these babies. We had access to some really fun rough and have been modifying and tweaking to make these exclusive little gems.
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Matte Labradorite (Coming Soon)

High grade labradorite
with lovely flash and and a softer finish is absolutely magical. This was another product that's been in the works for a while as we wanted the flash and the finish to be juuuuust right. The crowd at Bead and Button seemed to agree that our efforts were worth it!
Erin, Dakota Stones

Know Your Rocks: Labradorite
Posted by Erin on 5/21/2017 to Articles
When you start digging deep into why stones look the way they do, you can find an entirely new world of words.

In case you didn't catch this video when we first shared it, here's a little video we made to celebrate the special words of Labradorite.

                                                                  - Erin, Dakota Stones 

Birthstones, Baby.
Posted by Erin on 5/14/2017 to Articles
Are you wracked with post- Mother's Day guilt because you didn't acknowledge the maternal figure in your life? Or maybe you didn't take advantage of the pre-Mother's Day jewelry market? Fret not. Birthstone jewelry is a great offering year-round.

Erin, Dakota Stones
Designs featuring birthstones work for multiple demographics and offer customers personal significance and relevance. Gear up for the year by shopping our updated Birthstones section, with freshly added products for pretty much every month!

What's New? K2! Meet the New Stone on the Block
Posted by Erin on 5/8/2017 to Articles
We've done a little digging over here to uncover some additional information about the "it" stone of 2017: K2.


K2 is named for the mountain from which it originates, which just happens to be the second highest mountain in the world. The stone has an interesting origin, and it has an equally interesting appearance. The gray, mottled portions of the stone are granite, with blue to blue green inclusions that usually appear as dots, spots, or faint flecks of color. Since K2 is a relative newcomer, the source of this color is up for debate, some say Malachite, others say Azurite, others say Afghanite.

From a design perspective, K2 is perfect for the "something different" piece. Its unconventional appearance and unique sourcing are great conversation. We're also loving that this is a stone type that has some appeal to everyone- whether it's the rugged appeal of the granite or the playful pop of blue, K2 lends itself to unisex designs.

Metaphysically, K2 packs a one-two punch of properties. The stone is specifically attributed with helping one to reach higher awareness, or reach one's highest self, opening the third eye chakra. The granite within the stone is said to ground these higher energies and help bring awareness into action within the world.

We feel like we've just scratched the surface with K2 cuts, and can't wait to produce more unique beads and focals from this fascinating rough.

If you've got some ideas that you'd like to share, email
erin@dakotastones.com
and you might just see your vision become reality.

Erin, Dakota Stones 
What's the Matte(r)?
Posted by Erin on 4/30/2017 to Articles
Matte beads are a pretty common find in the bead world right now, and with good reason. They look great with basically any material and add a special little something to any design style. They've also totally transformed the way we see options for designing men's jewelry. Instead of sticking to only the drabbest of colors, guys are loving the subtler pop of color that comes in a matte finish.  
 
Matte Hessonite Garnets
When I first saw matte beads a few years back, my immediate assumption is that they went through LESS treatment than their shiny counterparts. While this is true of rough nuggets and other beads that retain the shape and texture of the rough from which they're cut, the opposite is true of, say a matte round bead. The process to matte finish a bead is counter intuitive. It requires more steps than the traditional polished stone. The bead starts its life as a polished bead- its cut, drilled polished. Then, it goes back into the tumbler with a fine grit powder, water, additional tiny stones and tumbled to matte perfection. Each stone type requires a different amount of time in the tumbler, depending on the material's hardness and characteristics. Harder materials take longer (as long as two hours), and may require multiple tumbles with different compounds to get the finish "just right." 

Sooo, if you were wondering how matte beads come to be, or why the finish varies in look and feel across different stone types, now you know.

Matte
Tiger Eye

Matte Black-Gold Amazonite
Matte White African Opal
Matte
Apatite

Matte Red Creek Jasper

We're loving matte to the moon and back and have been trying to incorporate it in our eight-inch line whenever possible. Some of my current favorites for a matte finish are White African Opal, Black-Gold Amazonite, Red Creek Jasper, and Rose Quartz. We've got some awesome Limited Edition 16" strands that have come home with me too. My personal design stash is heavy on matte Blood Quartz, Tiger Eye, Brazilian Amazonite, and Apatite.

Erin, Dakota Stones
Rumor has it that new matte stone types and shapes will be coming our way all year in both 16" and 8" strands. To that, I say, "Yes, please!"

Rock on, friends!
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
Amethyst

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@dakotastones.com
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!

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 Don't Make Me Blush...
 What Was Big at Bead & Button
 Know Your Rocks: Labradorite
 Birthstones, Baby.
 What's New? K2! Meet the New Stone on the Block
 What's the Matte(r)?
 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
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