How did you start designing jewelry? My mother taught me jewelry design after she took up metal smithing in her retirement home at age 75! It's never too late to learn something new!
Where do you find inspiration for your designs? I want my jewelry to be simple and easy to wear, for day to day as well as for dress up. I am inspired by ease and comfort. How often are you working on your jewelry designs? When am I NOT either creating, thinking about designs or working on the nuts and bolts of a handcrafted business? It's a lot of my time.
How would you describe your design style or technique? My delicate designs are timeless and easy to wear, sterling silver pieces with classic gemstones. Some people say it's "quiet" jewelry. I think it's simple, yet beautiful jewelry that complements a woman's natural beauty.
Do you work in any other mediums beside jewelry design? I am also a potter! Working with messy porcelain clay on the wheel is similar yet completely different than making jewelry. Both involve making something beautifully usable from simple elements. I adore both art forms but the clay has taken a back seat for the moment. The pretty stones and shiny silver have taken over my attention.
What is your favorite stone to work with and why?Labradorite and rainbowmoonstone are my favorite gemstones. I love that they are neutrals that coordinate with everything but have the surprise flash of colors that make them far from ordinary. Aquamarine and lapis are high up on the list too. And apatite... I have a thing for blues...
What is your favorite shape/ size to work with and why? The smaller the better for me. I love 2 and 3 mm faceted beads because they are so versatile. And I have really great magnifiers to help me see the little guys.
If you could pick one person living or not to wear your jewelry who would it be and why? My 17 year old daughter has been wearing a pair of my post earrings for over two years now. The greatest compliment is when your teenage daughter likes, and actually wears your jewelry. Priceless!
What is one thing everyone should know about you? I am the youngest of 5 kids and have 4 of my own. I guess I like having people around!
Where can people find out more about you and your work? You can visit my website, emmystarrdesigns.com as well as follow me on IG and FB@emmystarrdesign. My designs are available in a number of shops in Fairfield County in Connecticut as well as at local artisan shows. Details on the website.
Dakota Stones brings our customers gemstones from all over the globe, but some of the most beautiful are mined on our own continent. Several of our featured stones this week are mined in Northern Mexico, an especially fertile spot on the globe for semi-precious gemstones. Mexican Laguna Lace Agate and Parral Dendritic Agate has been found near Chihuahua, in the north-central region of Mexico, and are among the many stones from Mexico that Dakota Stones offers on this site. Mexican Laguna Lace Agate features classic agate highlights -- bands of beautiful colors swirling and bisecting each stone -- making it one of the most prized agates in the world. Parral Dendritic Agate is much different, with creamy, muted colors permeated by black tendrils of manganese branching through the stone.
It is not surprising that so many stones come from the same region when you consider the many companies that mine in northern Mexico, mostly for the silver, gold, zinc and lead deposits there. The Naica Mine near Saucillo, Mexico, is mined for silver, lead and zinc, but also produces some of the largest selenite crystals ever found. Where you find deposits of one mineral often results in adjoining deposits of varied gemstones.
Blue Chalcedony is the oldest trade material from Anatolia of Turkey and has been used in jewelry for thousands of years. The name “chalcedony” is originally “Kalsedon,” which comes from the name of ancient Anatolian port named Kalkedon. The name is still used today for any related materials with the same chemical composition.
In ancient times, most of the stamps or seals in Europe and Middle East were made of chalcedony due to its hardness and durability. Today, they can easily be found in many museums in Europe and Middle East.
Chalcedony forms in colors ranging from grayish to purplish blues. It is said this stone is good for blood circulation, balance, memory and speech, and that it helps with learning languages and expression. It is also thought to be connected with the crown, throat and heart chakras. The Romans have called Chalcedony a “lawyer stone,” as those who hold it seem to have success in the court.
A traditional birthstone for May, dakotastones A-grade Turkish Blue Chalcedony is naturally occuring with no inclusions.
For this first round of cutting, we stayed with more classic birthstone colors such as amethyst, crystal & garnet. We work specifically with harder stone types to construct solid facets without much breakage. As a result, you will see that this cut reflects light that is quite different than the more common faceted rounds or rondelles:
This size and shape can be used in any number of designs and are a great alternative to more common faceted stones. If you like these, stay tuned! We are planning to move up to 5mm bicones in the near future!
We are excited to feature a number of new products that were hand selected by the founder of Dakota Stones, Jeff Elvin. One of the many great aspects of working with products made from stone is the adventure of finding unique, new stones to work with. That is only the beginning.
When we find an interesting piece of material to work with we then need to partner with a skilled lapidary source. A lapidary is an artist or artisan who forms stone, minerals, or gemstones into decorative items such as cabochons, engraved gems, and faceted designs. A lapidarist uses the lapidary techniques of cutting, grinding, and polishing to make finished designs.
On Jeff’s most recent trip to Asia, he set out on an adventure to find a new skilled lapidary source. We currently work with a true lapidary artist that cuts most of the limited batch cuts in our dsPremier line. Jeff was on a mission to add more.
A big part of our process, when adding to the Dakota Stones product line, is vetting a supplier.
- Do they meet the Dakota Stones standards?
- Will they notice a valued partner in Dakota Stones?
- Do they adhere to our ethical standards of manufacturing?
We take pride in making sure Dakota Stones branded products come from a source whose factory we have visited so we can understand their processes and inspect conditions.
This is brought into sharp focus when considering that the demand for factory workers and cutters in this industry has never been higher. This increased demand has led to some of the highest increases in wages for any industrial work. We take pride in knowing that the artisans who manufacture our products are paid well and are experiencing the growth of this industry first hand.
There was no shortage of adventure on this last trip. Traveling to and through China is not for the faint of heart. You have to navigate over 50 hours of air travel, 50 hours or more of time spent aboard trains and in cabs plus at least 25,00 daily steps, often with a pack filled with rocks on your back. Days begin early and end late. These trips are a race to get as much accomplished in 15 days and are far from a vacation. However, they are always rewarding and create a bond you will share with your travel companions for life.
On this most recent trip Jeff took Alex, our sourcing manager. Mother nature added an unexpected curve ball in the form of the strongest Typhoon to hit Hong Kong and Southern China in over 50 years. Typhoons and Hurricanes are the same weather phenomenon, the difference is where the storm originates. Thankfully Southern China weathered the typhoon with only property damage, unlike the people of the Philippines where Typhoon Mangkhut claimed a number of lives.
The strength of sustained 160 mph winds gave this old vessel its final voyage.
Jeff and Alex were truly amazed at the technical aspect of the new suppliers cutting as well as the creativity of their designs. This supplier cuts for some of the most well known names in the world of fashion jewelry. They cut beads with the craftsmanship of a seasoned diamond lapidary and deliver unique pieces of art. These pieces are seldom, if ever, seen on the market.
We are very excited to be rolling out new designs in the coming year. Some styles will be available throughout the year and others will be offered in small, numbered batch cuts.
The Spring or Vernal Equinox represents many things: rebirth, vitality, awakening and growth. A season of warmth and energy that blooms and connects us with a feeling of new beginnings. There are many stones that have a metaphysical connection with this changing of the season and what this change represents. Here a few of our favorites at Dakota Stones.
Peridot was believed to be a stone of springtime by ancients who considered it a gift from Mother Nature. It’s use as a gemstone dates back over four thousand years. It was considered sacred by Egyptians, early Christians and even Napoleon. It was considered by ancients as a gift from heaven and a sign of an abundant Spring. SHOP Peridot
Ruby Zoisite is a stone of fertility and rebirth. It is connected with physical and spiritual growth. Ruby Zoisite occurs naturally when small Ruby crystals become embedded within Zoisite. The Ruby inclusions in this stone are pink to reddish purple to dark purple, while the Zoisite is light to medium green. Shop Ruby Zoisite
Green Aventurine is connected to Persephone, the Greek Goddess of Spring. It has a strong connection to the earth and is a wonderful stone for gardening. It is known as the “Stone of Opportunity,” and thought to be the luckiest of all crystals. SHOP Green Aventurine
We are proud to bring you these unique North American Turquoise stones. These stones were all mined and hand cut in North America. North American Turquoise is one of the few stones that never leaves North America from mine to finished bead. North American Turquoise carries the names of the mines from which they are produced. Sleeping Beauty, Kingman, Nevada 8, Campitos and Caballo Campitos are all names of turquoise mines, either in the U.S. or Mexico.
The Sleeping Beauty Mine is one of the most beloved mines in the Southwest. Located in Globe, Arizona. Sleeping Beauty was first mined for copper and gold. The city of Globe was founded in 1875 as a mining camp and today, mining and tourism are the driving force behind the town’s economy. The Sleeping Beauty mine supplied copper and turquoise for 40 years. However, turquoise production was closed in August 2012, when the owners decided to focus solely on copper mining. This mine gets its unique name from its shape. It appears to resemble a sleeping woman with her arms crossed or Princess Aurora “asleep” in her bed.
The Kingman Mine, which began mining in the 1880's, is still exploring and could continue to find new veins. The Campitos turquoise comes from a mine in Sonora, Mexico, that has been in production since the 1980's. There are a few other mines, some still producing, scattered across Arizona, Nevada and into Mexico.
Once a mine is closed, you will only be able to find "old stock" collections of rough, cabs or slabs. Luckily, mine owners, miners and collectors have always kept a nice stash of turquoise from various mines and will usually part with it down the road for the right price.
We have located great sources of natural North American Turquoise. They know the ins and outs of the mining process and the stabilization of each stone. They stand behind their work as 100% genuine and untreated beyond their proprietary stabilization process. They do nothing to alter the color or appearance of the stone. Stabilization is standard in Turquoise beads today. The stones with both good natural hardness and color are very rare and are incredibly expensive. The Turquoise in mines today may not be hard enough and would break if drilled or shaped without stabilization.
Every stone has a unique story about where its from. The history of our Turquoise is a uniquely North American story. We are proud to offer these rare, limited stones and we are excited to explore how we can bring more beautiful stones with truly unique stories to you.
Back after a four-year absence! We've had many requests to bring back Purple Turquoise, but had difficulties trying to source the Kingman metal matrix turquoise material needed to cut beads. Finally, we were able to acquire the material at the end of 2017. Unfortunately, our cutters had issues polishing the material, and we received far fewer strands than we hoped.
We work directly with stone cutters to ensure that our beads meet strict standards. That means good color and pattern, perfectly round rounds, consistent size in each bead, and laser-drilled holes. It also means that we know that all our beads are produced by fairly paid workers in safe conditions.
The look of the end product in this batch of Purple Turquoise was not the same quality we have seen in past batches. The strands are still beautiful, but the polish on the stone is more matte in appearance, and the metal matrix is not as bright as we would have liked.
We are a company of artisans, adventurers, and stone lovers, and we want to be proud of every bead we make. Dakota Stones believes every bead should be usable- no discards from half-drilled holes, surface cracks, or dimples. At the end of the day, we manufacture products that meet the quality standards of our in-house design and production teams, and the highest ethical standards in the industry.
Although we are a little disappointed with the final product, we still wanted to offer these strands of Purple Turquoise to you. There are limited quantities available of each style and, as always, we stand behind our products. If it doesn’t meet with your approval, send it back to us. We want you to love your Dakota Stones.
Much consideration goes into choosing the shapes and finishes that are cut from rough materials, usually to highlight the best natural aspects of the rough stone from which the beads are cut. Nearly all rough material is beautiful in its own way, but few are as beautiful as the finished beads, cabochons and pendants produced by expert human hands.
But not all bead creation relies on human hands.
The beads that are gathered from the Gobi Desert have been produced by natural forces -- winds that blow the stones across the dunes, and the sands that carve and shape them over the course of centuries. The stones -- forms of agate and chalcedony -- are selected when they become bead-like and assembled into strands. These agates have a range of colors, but the stones that appear to be purple or blue are the rarest form of chalcedony.
It has been very difficult over the years to buy Gobi Desert Beads, for several reasons. They are rare, highly valued, and the market is always strong in Mongolia, so few make it beyond the outskirts of the desert. When Dakota Stones can get them, as we did on our recent visit to China, we snap them up and bring them back.
The Gobi Desert Beads we're now offering are available at two price points -- some have been tumbled into familiar, oval shapes, and some are still fairly rough, perhaps needing a few more decades in the blowing sands to become perfectly round. We offer them in the finished strands, just as we purchased them. All are very rare, however, and available only as long as they last.
A relatively rare silicate mineral found in igneous and metamorphic rocks around the world,Beryl is generally clear, while its variations in color are better known by other names: Emerald (green, due to traces of chromium or vanadium), Heliodor (yellow, due to traces of iron), Aquamarine (blue, due to traces of iron), Morganite (pink, due to traces of manganese), Golden Beryl and Red Beryl. Our Beryl strands include a number of examples of the varieties, including Aquamarine and Morganite.
Used exclusively as a gemstone until the 1920s, some common beryl is processed to recover beryllium, a rare element used in a number of industries. Cheaper sources have been discovered, but beryl mining byproduct is still sometimes used.
Beryl remains a relatively rare mineral because beryllium rarely occurs in large enough quantities to produce minerals.
Berylonce had another significant use: When the first eyeglasses were constructed in 13th century Italy, the lenses were made of beryl, as glass could not be made clear enough. And while rare, Beryl can be found in massive amounts -- one crystal found in Albany, Maine measured nearly 18 by 4 feet, and weighed approximately 40,000 pounds, but even that one pales in comparison to the crystal found in Madagascar in 1999, which measured 59 by 11 feet and weighed 840,000 pounds.