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Selling A Story
Posted by Erin to Articles
I’ve previously shared my struggles to see my own work as “art”. My reasoning is partially that I’m usually just putting pretty things together to make a wearable pretty thing. I’m not making social commentary or sharing a visual narrative. Most jewelry is not inherently figurative- any story it tells is told in the abstract or through symbol. Certainly there are jewelry artists using the medium to explore, comment, and share human experience in a way that we’re more conditioned to see as ‘art’. I am not one of them.

I’ve seen a couple of jewelry artists using the term “story” to describe their work. The interesting thing to me is that I don’t see a narrative - I see something beautiful, but the story remains the artisan’s secret. There is something incredibly rich in viewing a piece through that lens. It tells me the piece was constructed with care and thought. It implies that materials and placement are deliberate choices. To me, it implies that the maker takes their craft seriously. Because it is a ‘story’, I see it as loftier. Even though I could replicate the pieces, I would rather own this ‘story’ from the artist’s own hands than make my own. And, if we’re being honest, I’d probably pay a premium for it.


What’s the point in all this?

Maybe telling a story in beads is a marketing gimmick. Maybe it’s an angle you want to explore. Maybe it’s a chance to find a new creative lens.

With this week’s fossil feature, it seemed like the perfect time to dip my own toes. I’ve loved dinosaurs since I was a little kid. They’ve always captured my imagination and sparked a child-like level of giddiness. So why not try to use these beads to tell a story.

KAMBABA JASPER


I’ll lead with my personal favorite. I call it ‘Clever Girl’. It’s in homage to a line in ‘Jurassic Park’ where a character is speaking to a Velociraptor, who has, indeed, been quite clever. In addition to the dark, reptilian green of Kambaba Jasper, the pattern is reminiscent of the close-up of the Velociraptor eye in the movie. Since Kambaba Jasper contains the fossilized remains of incredibly old algae, there’s a certain non-carnivorous irony that I enjoy. Since Velociraptors have a particularly vicious and blood-thirsty reputation, adding Blood Quartz and Garnet were an obvious pick. A little bit of Smoky Quartz evokes the prey and also keeps the red and green palette from having a Christmas vibe.

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FOSSIL CORAL


With Fossil Coral, the actual creature did the heavy lifting for me conceptually. Who doesn’t want to think of crystalline blue waters surrounding coral reefs millions of years before anything with opposable thumbs hit the planet? The other strands in the story are meant to evoke water and colorful reefs. A smidgen of African Green Jasper brings a hint of mystery, a bit of a reptilian allusion. Although Fossil Coral, like Kambaba Jasper, is thought to substantially pre-date dinosaurs, I like the inclusion of a deep green as both a nod to the algae that came before, and the creatures to come later. The darker tone also adds some depth and visual complexity, bringing the story into a dimension beyond the sand and surf colors.


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TURRITELLA AGATE


My last selection included Turritella Agate paired with more strands that evoke its oceanic origins. Since you can actually see the fossilized snails, I wanted to incorporate shapes and stone types with more movement. The vibrant orbs of color in Ocean Jasper, the swirls of Shiva Eye (also a snail) and the tiny branches of coral all contribute to a lively scene.

A couple important facts about Turritella Agate:

1) Turritella Agate rough is scarce at this time- if it’s a stone that you like to keep available, buy it in quantity now.

2) The snails preserved in the stone are actually *not* Turritella. They’re a different species. The stone was named before detailed inquiry, and the name stuck.

3) Not all rough Turritella Agate can be cut into beads. The material has to have formed completely around the fossilized snail shell. Rough material that’s good enough for beads needs to be consistent in hardness and quality.

Without having completed designs, I feel like these are less stories than outlines with lots of potential. My favorite thing about this blog was seeing how our photographer used light and shadow to help set the scene. It’s a great reminder that lifestyle shots rely on more than just placement, and that working with a really great photographer can take your vision to the next step. 
- Erin, Dakota Stones

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Chrysocolla: Mining the Facts
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles


The Southwest United States has produced many minerals and gems since exploration began in its arid and rocky expanses. Prospectors searched for gold, silver and copper, and mining operations pull those elements from the ground, along with gemstones of every type.

In the caves, where stalagmites and stalactites formed, in the crusts of copper veins, an anhydrous copper silicate known as chrysocolla was found. It looked a lot like turquoise – another stone found in the dusty and gem-filled Southwest US – with blue-green colors and often featuring sparkles of quartz.

Other well-known stones like azurite and malachite are also found in and around copper deposits and is often combined with chrysocolla. This gives you some awesome color variation of deep blues and vibrant greens.
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Designers like using chrysocolla because it is a much cheaper alternative to turquoise. Though it does not replace the beauty of turquoise, you can pull off some really stunning pieces using chrysocolla without needing to charge an arm and a leg.
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Right now we have some beautiful chrysocolla in a varitey of shapes, including our new diamonds and the classic coins, ovals, squares, rounds and rectangles.

What’s great about all of these shapes is they have flat planes so you get to see all the variation of colors, which can sometimes get lost inside a round bead.



Mohs Hardness: 2 to 4
Metaphysical Attributes: Prosperity, Calming, Empowerment
Chakra: Throat


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Chrysocolla: for DESIGNS that ROCK
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles

Chrysocolla. Designers like it because it is a less expensive and equally gorgeous alternative to turquoise. We like it because we can offer cuts that brilliantly show off its deep blues and vibrant greens.

Find Chrysocolla HERE


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Trend Watch : NEW Coins
Posted by Erin to Articles

We’re excited to announce some new arrivals! We put 4 & 8mm coins into production about a year ago, sensing a design trend on the up-swing.



As you’re probably well aware, smaller coins haven’t been the easiest find. Shapes are harder to cut and require more skilled workers. Let’s remember that most production facilities produce what they *know* they can sell. There’s a high incentive to produce proven sellers with subtle variations.

Since other stone distributors just buy from the manufacturer’s existing offerings, they’re stuck with whatever they’re offered.

As a manufacturer in our own right, we have the power to create unique products on a larger scale. That gives us the power to bring you smaller coins in a big way.


Coins are becoming a popular alternative to traditional rounds, giving designs a more contemporary and on-trend look and feel.


Our 8” Line now includes 8mm Puff Coins. 8mm rounds are consistently popular, and we wanted to give the classic a fresh look. A Puff Coin was the clear new “must have”.

Depending on the design, the shape can modernize in place of a traditional round or inspire designers looking relying on clean lines or unconventional shapes. It’s now available in 20 of our most popular stone offerings.

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Don’t worry, we didn’t neglect our 16” Line. We discovered an amazing 4mm coin with diamond-cut facets.



While we can’t take credit for the design, we can recognize perfection when we see it. It offers maximum surface space for incredible sparkle. The checkerboard pattern can be cut by a machine, significantly lowering production costs and the final price of the strand.


This video shows off the sparkle and artistry of the unique checkerboard cut:



Since smaller stones often mean smaller holes and design problems, we wanted to create a hole large enough for most commonly used materials. We exceeded our own expectations, and ended up with holes that can fit 20 gauge wire. And yes, the first thing we did was make our own ear wires.



This product line will also be expanding into additional stone types, and we’ll keep you posted as the line grows.

P.S. We’re going to be announcing the return of a favorite stone type very soon. We wish we could tell you more. OK, fine, fine, twist our arm.

PURPLE TURQUOISE with BRONZE is being packed up for shipment and will be hitting our website in the next 6 weeks. You’re welcome.

- Erin, Dakota Stones

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Cold Mountain Thunder Egg Agate
Posted by Jeff S. to Articles

More than 585 acres of fresh lava has poured from the earth in Hawaii during the summer of 2018, not only damaging properties on the surface of the island, but altering the coast as well by filling in a bay on the island’s east edge. That’s a lot of raw material that could, given enough time, create some beautifully distinct gemstones.


Long ago – very long ago – rhyolitic lava flowed in other parts of the very active earth. In many, water formed gas pockets, leaving silica deposits. The resulting spherical rocks became known as thunder eggs. The variety of colors and compositions are due to the mixture of elements from the original magma and dissolved materials the magma absorbs. The colors and mineral combinations in each thunder egg’s interior covers the entire spectrum.



First – why “thunder egg”? Apparently, Native Americans in Oregon named the stones, believing that rival spirits caused thunder by throwing these stones at each other from their homes on Mount Jefferson and Mount Hood. Many of the North American thunder eggs can be found near the peaks, so maybe there’s some truth to that idea.

Our Cold Mountain Thunder Egg strands are made from such rock. Each of our 16-inch strands features the colors of wood, sand, ice and ash. Looking closely at a strand reveals even splashes of maroon and flashes of lime green, remnants of trace chemicals present when the stone formed. As mottled and crackled the colors are, the polished rounds shine and sparkle, making each stone a unique little treasure.

There are rockhounds out there who search specifically for thunder eggs. Both can be found in areas far off the marked trails, around depressions in the land where others haven’t thought to look. One expanse of volcanic ash-layered land in the Colorado Desert is known as the “potato patch” because of the large number of the round spheroids with the colorful centers. It has supplied rockhounds with finds for decades.

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CMTE Agate & Sunset Dumortierite design by Kayla Waletzke
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So now that the fresh lava has moved across the island of Hawaii – causing vast damage and destruction, as such a dynamic natural event can often do – the rock begins the long process of cooling and hardening. Thunder egg hunters will have a while to wait before they can harvest these shiny miracles to crack them open to see the colors and patterns each has formed within.

If you’re in more of a hurry, we have them in stock this week!

                                                                   - Jeff S.
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Cacoxenite: Mining the Facts
Posted by Erin to Articles

Let's get one thing straight. "Cacoxenite" is a trade name for this stone. There's a gorgeous golden mineral by the same name, and some of that same mineral is included (along with several others) in these beads. The reason for the misleading misnomer? The stone was found, named, marketed, and became known as Cacoxenite before science entered the equation. By the time the stone was properly analyzed, "Cacoxenite" had become an accepted name.

The stone is also known as Cacoxenite Amethyst, Goethite (in) Amethyst, Melody Stone and Super Seven / Sacred Seven.

Why Super Seven, you ask? This stone gets its amazing coloring and variations from seven different materials: Amethyst, Clear Quartz, Smoky Quartz, Rutile, Goethite, Lepidocrocite, and... Cacoxenite. If crystal healing, energy work, or metaphysical properties are your thing, you don't need me to tell you that this is one super-duper power-packed stone. (Side note, the Mohs hardness is also a 7 for this stone - not the 3 - 3.5 of the pure mineral.)

The idea is that a bunch of really powerful crystals are packed together and amplify their respective strengths in a holistic healing crystal. It's reputed to help release negative energy and relationships while simultaneously encouraging nurturing relationships and self-acceptance. Because the stone has these benefits, it's also thought to strengthen community bonds. After all, who doesn't want to be around a bunch of people who've let go of negative energy and actively seek the highest good?

So we've established that what we know as Cacoxenite is an amazing part of the Amethyst family, does that mean you should leave classic Amethyst and Amethyst varieties out in the cold?

Short Answer: NO.

Strictly from a color and design perspective, all Amethyst has an important place. Think about it. You can't beat the pastel perfection of Lavender Amethyst, the bold patterns of Dog Teeth Amethyst, or the luxurious royal purple of the unadulterated stone itself.

Setting aesthetics and design aside, different stone varieties bring their own rich geological, sociological, and anthropological stories.


A few quick facts:

Christian churches loooved Amethyst back in the day. The rich color was said to symbolize Christ. Saint Valentine is said to have worn an Amethyst ring carved with an image of Cupid, and the Bible mentions Amethyst in numerous places. In fact, before large quantities of Amethyst were found in South America, Amethyst was valued as highly as Diamond, Ruby or Sapphire. In certain civilizations, it was even more valuable. In addition to Christianity, Ancient Egyptians and Greeks, also have links to the stone, as do the ruling classes of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. And, of course, Amethyst is a powerful stone in its own right. It is metaphysically said to be a powerfully cleansing stone that promotes wisdom, stability, and harmony.

We'd love to see (and share) your designs and the stories behind them. If you'd like to be considered for feature on social media, please email erin@dakotastones.com.
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Cacoxenite
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles
This purple beauty’s most accurate name would be “Cacoxenite Amethyst” or, even more accurately, “Geothite in Amethyst”. The stone was named before science clarified the exact composition - and the trade name Cacoxenite stuck! (It may also be known as “Ghost Amethyst”.)


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Learn a Little. Learn A Lot. New Rocks.
Posted by Erin to Articles

Rocky Butte Jasper is mined in Oregon and may have either dendritic or landscape qualities. It may also be called Rocky Butte Picture Jasper. The combination of color and pattern variation are reminiscent of Red Creek Jasper, although the colors are much more muted. Rocky Butte Jasper strands are predominantly shades of gray, brown and tan with some beads or inclusions of rust and rose.

American Jade is a nephritic Jade that may be found in various parts of the United States West Coast, with large deposits in Washington and California. A diver in California actually found an underwater sea cave lined in a variety of pale green jade. Specimens he retrieved ranged in size from pebbles to boulders, using air bags to bring larger specimens to the surface. Most of the United States is “alluvial float” which has been washed down waterways from its original deposit site. Beachcombers may be able to find American Jade pebbles on beaches, most commonly in certain areas of California. American Jade can vary significantly in color from shades of pale green to pale blue to deeper green and black.

Kashgar Garnet is a “Garnet material”, meaning that the stone includes both Garnet and other rock. This stone is found in northern China. Higher quality Kashgar Garnet will have more visible red, fuchsia and pink tones, and greater translucency. Less valuable stones will exhibit minimal translucence or complete opacity, and fewer Garnet inclusions, resulting in a predominantly green or muddy looking stone.


I had a great time researching and compiling. If you’ve got tidbits to share, comment or email erin@dakotastones.com.

Erin, Dakota Stones

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 Selling A Story
 Chrysocolla: Mining the Facts
 Chrysocolla: for DESIGNS that ROCK
 Trend Watch : NEW Coins
 Share the Sparkle! 4mm Faceted "Checkerboard" Coins
 Cold Mountain Thunder Egg Agate
 Cacoxenite: Mining the Facts
 Cacoxenite
 Learn a Little. Learn A Lot. New Rocks.
 Dumortierite | for DESIGNS that ROCK
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