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Siberian Stones!

All of our gemstones at Dakota Stones are sourced from ethical suppliers, especially those sourced internationally. While we do support American stone suppliers and bead manufacturers within our own borders, we keep an eye out for the unique and exclusive stones coming in from around the world. This week we want to celebrate some of the rarest stones coming out of Siberia, Russia. 

We must remember that Russia is the world’s largest country, and thus it contains an extremely diverse set of geology. Russia boasts four climate zones: arctic, subarctic, temperate and tropical. Taking this into account, it's no wonder some minerals are native to only Russia as its mixture of climates provides space for unique mineral formations. We are mainly looking at the stones sourced from Siberia, one of the oldest, largest, and northernmost provinces of Russia. 

Charoite is possibly the rarest of this week’s selection, as it is sourced from a single mountain in Russia. It was named for a nearby River, the Chara. Because this mineral is so rare, it is highly sought after. Part of the Russian government’s debt was paid off in slabs of this material-- now these slabs are stored in a basement under the capital city of Hungary. This stone is a member of the chlorite group, and has a unique chatoyancy because of the reflective purple mineral. It was discovered in the 1940’s, but its rarity and value was not recognized until the 1970’s. You will find the beads to have similar chatoyancy to tiger eye, but the silver and dark lavender coloring will leave you speechless. 

Seraphinite is also known for its chatoyancy, and is a member of the chlorite group as well. The way the layers of silvery mineral emerge in the stone is said to resemble angel’s wings, which is where the name comes from. The silvery effect is typically surrounded by dark grey or black stone, which creates an incredible contrast. These stones are incredibly rare, and we make sure to source the high-quality stone that makes the wait worth it. 

Moonstone is part of the feldspar group, and is more closely related to labradorite. It does have a particular schiller effect coming from one angle in the stones, which is why one must take particular care when shaping the stone into beads. Russian moonstone is grey in color, often called “new moonstone.” This stone has been mined and worn by humans for centuries, and named because the Romans thought the stone resembled the solid rays from the moonlight. 

Shungite is a modern material, the first instance of the name being coined only dating back to 1879. Then, the material could refer to any mineral with shungite inclusions-- and at the time, this meant just about any stone with carbon inclusions. Over time, we’ve been able to identify what makes shungite special-- which comes from the biological material it comes from. The name is derived from where it was discovered, like many other minerals -- Shunga, Russia, has the largest deposits of shungite. Shungite is also almost exclusively sourced from Russia, and the mineral has been illusive in most other places in the world.

Because of importation laws and generally limited quantity of these stones in the world, we do not know when, or if, these will ever come back in stock at Dakota Stones again. Our supply is limited as well, as the demand for these stones internationally is high, so get them while they last!
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Quality Assurance & Dalmatian Jasper

Dakota Stones had many requests to restock our line of dalmatian jasper since we discontinued several months ago, and we’re pleased to announce that we have found rough that matches our standards. It is common for us at Dakota to discontinue stone types that are either lower quality or not up to the ‘Dakota Stones Standard’, as we want to make absolutely sure that we’re selecting the best quality stones for our customers. Such was the case with our previous selection of dalmatian jasper

So what can go wrong? While it is natural for the jasper to have some yellow, as there does tend to be some brown inclusions within the stone, which are caused by the iron oxide in the material. However, the ratio of bright white to yellow was deemed unacceptable. Obviously the stone is most notable for it’s black spots, but these need to be offset with patches of white, and this batch of the stone was sourced from poor-quality material. We made the decision to remove the stock from our inventory, but we did not expect to receive so many requests for Dalmatian Jasper. This is another circumstance where we value our customers’ opinions and feedback, so we began the process of seeking out higher grade material.

Dalmatian jasper is a popular gemstone in the beading and rock tumbling community. It’s a great beginning stone for new tumblers to test out their tools. The stone takes a new shape relatively easily, and it is a popular stone to dye! This is because dalmatian “jasper” is not actually a jasper-- it’s an igneous rock, and is formed from quartz and feldspar. It is much harder than stones like lava beads, which are sourced from relatively new lava beds. Dalmatian Jasper has had several thousands of years to harden over time, and it is mined like any other kind of material.  Igneous stones are formed from lava or magma, and thus are very porous. This is also why it’s common that some jasper is discolored, as it tends to soak up any minerals or material it may have come into contact with when it was forming. 

These semi-precious stones pair well with solid-colored stones to offset the spots in the stone. Try black spinel, carnelian, or lepidolite. Or, you could have fun mixing patterns with other stones like K2 or impression jasper.
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Mining the Facts: Dumortierite

Dumortierite is an aluminum borosilicate material, a family of minerals that produce stones with long, fibrous crystals. Stones like tourmaline and howlite are in the same family. These stones are recognized as much for their inclusions as their unique patterns. 

Dumortierite has been used all throughout history, most notably in China as a substitution for lapis lazuli, but it has also been confused for sodalite. It has been used in making high grade porcelain for some time. Dumortierite went relatively unrecognized in jewelry throughout history, instead, it was considered to be a good ornament stone for carving and decoration. This is because only the highest grade of Dumortierite is facetable, and such is the case with our beads.

It was not ever recorded as a mineral until the early 1880’s in the French Alps, and it was named for French paleontologist Eugene Dumortier. It is most often sourced from Brazil or Sri Lanka when considered for jewelry making, and is sold most commonly as an inclusion found in quartz

This stone is favored for its unique blue color, which is its most common hue, however rare forms of the material can come in brown (such is the case with sunset dumortierite), green, and rarest of all, purple or pink. In its most common blue form it is very useful as a throat chakra stone, as metaphysically it helps to calm the wearer and organize thoughts. 

Dumortierite is a very neutral stone, and its speckled appearance goes well with earth tones. Try pairing these stones with parral dendritic agatepicture jasper,  or rocky butte jasper to celebrate these stones with fascinating inclusions.
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Shining a Light on Sunstone

Sunstone is a feldspar material, most often comes in a toasty orange color, and is a relatively new material to the jewelry market. This is perhaps simply for lack of interest, because it has been known to mankind for some time. It has gained popularity for its glittery properties, and the interesting shiller that can be observed in thicker cuts of sunstone. 

The inclusions that give the stone its copper tone are… sometimes actually copper! The inclusions can be hematite or goethite as well. These different inclusions can vary the color of the sunstone, typically red, yellow, green, blue or a copper shiller, though any colors other than oranges and yellows are difficult to come by. Shiller is referred to as aventurescence, because the stone shares properties with aventurine, and is sometimes simply called “aventurescent feldspar.” Sunstone is also one of those rare materials where inclusions actually enhance the gemstone’s worth, as this improves the aventurescence. The Sunstones with copper inclusions tend to be the highest quality, because the metallic specks in the stone refract light. We carry multiple qualities of Sunstone, from A grade Golden Sunstone, to more affordable strands in multiple shapes. 

Sunstone has been known by Oregon Native Americans for some time, and was collected, and traded within certain tribes. This history can be credited for the growing interest in sunstone, as they were some of the first to use it as a precious material. The stone is simple to carve, as it is not too hard, and it provides a unique appearance to works of art. 

Because of the increased popularity surrounding the stone, there has been several attempts to make synthetic alternatives and pass them off as genuine rare coloring of Sunstone. These dupes came in reds and greens, which at the time had not yet been discovered in the area, and was incredibly rare everywhere else. They were quickly debunked as false, but not long after, actually red sunstone was discovered in Tibet and confirmed by gemologists. 

Perhaps the best mines for Sunstone are in the United States, which is where we source our stones. These mines are very well known for producing some very high-quality sunstone, and have a high quantity of sunstone with copper inclusions. Some areas of these mines are open to the public, such as a mine in Lake County and Harney County, Oregon, as the sunstone can sometimes sit on the ground within arms’ reach. There you can search for and collect your very own sunstone. If you are considering this opportunity, we recommend you research the proper safety necessary, and familiarize yourself to the look of the natural stone.
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Looking into Micas: Lepidolite

Lepidolite is a pastel-colored mineral from the mica group. It grows in a stacked hexagonal formation, which led the stone to be nicknamed “stone scales” for the way the shapes stack on top of each other. It also grows in sheets, and when cleaved, they have a naturally glittery appearance. Lepidolite varies in coloring, but typically it comes in a pink or purple shade. Because lepidolite is colored with manganese, the typical coloring for lepidolite is similar to rhodonite-- another gemstone colored with manganese. Most lepidolite is a reddish-pink color, however, some rare forms of lepidolite can be soft pinks, and even rarer still, lavender and deep purple.The rarest forms of lepidolite are purple-grey, and colorless. 

Lepidolite is a form of mica. These fine minerals are often milled to make eyeshadows, and have been used as binders in beauty products to prevent oily skin.When applied, these minerals can provide a shimmery effect on the eyelids that our ancestors desired. We don’t recommend you take our stones to grind into powder, as we would prefer you and others to leave makeup safety in the hands of professionals. Some modern advancements have occurred for a reason, and the powders we use today are more finely milled than most humans can achieve. 

What is not lost is the faint glimmer in these stones despite their strong finishing. The effect is subtle, but if you get close, you can see the tiny facets inside these flaky stones! Their color has not been altered, and they are some of your best bets in gemstone quality for purple stones besides amethyst. 

These stones go well together with other lustrous materials, such as iolite or labradorite. Their pale pink and purple color stands out brilliantly next to stones such as moonstone and rhodonite.
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Featured Designer - Candida Gonzales

This week we had the privilege of interviewing a local designer, who is the skilled artist behind the Las Ranas Jewelry. Candida is a queer and nonbinary Borticua based in the Twin Cities area, whose jewelry designs can be noted for their bold colors, new ideas, and large size. Their jewelry is marketed with and for people from all walks of life, as their style is modern, lively, while still being highly versatile. They are a busy person in this modern world, juggling being a parent with a job and a jewelry designing business. 

Candida describes their breakthrough with their jewelry designs having come from a practical source. They are a rock lover like the vast majority of us, and grew up collecting, studying the metaphysical energies of stones, and carrying them around for years. After losing a few stones, they turned to making jewelry to better keep track of their stones and wearing them to take advantage of their metaphysical properties. Their favorite stone types are black tourmaline, for its protective powers, rose quartz for its heart-healing properties, and other stones like carnelian and amethyst. One of their favorite stone combinations to use in their designs is citrine and pyrite, which work in tandem to help the wearer manifest their intentions into action. Their designs take the metaphysical properties of stones in mind, so you can be sure that each piece is made with care and intentionality. 

Astrology and the stars are also at the heart of their designs.If you are in tune with astrology and are searching for a design to match your horoscope, look no further! Candida’s newest designs will feature stones for the Aries season, and has plans to go forward with more astrology-based jewelry. 

For beginners, they recommend familiarizing yourself with the tools you wish to use. Getting to know how to prep wire, how to cut it, what tools to use for what, and setting up a strong foundational knowledge before going into the meat of the design. They stress that it’s important to familiarize yourself with your tools, but always take a step back to listen to your inner voice.
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Mysterious Lodalite Quartz

Lodalite quartz is valued for its inclusions, which are particles of sand and other minerals that became trapped in the crystal while the stone was forming. It is one of the few stone types that is valued for its inclusions, others being rutilated quartz or sunstone

Not much is known about lodalite quartz, as it is a rather elusive material to researchers. The reason for this is because the inclusions tend to be a smattering of many different minerals, so it is difficult to define the parameters for a specific type of minerals to create this stone type. However, we do know that the most common inclusions tend to be forms of feldspar, hematite and chlorite. Because quartz is the most abundant mineral in the earth’s crust, it is natural for there to be so many kinds of inclusions found in the mineral. In order for a quartz to be considered lodalite, the inclusions must resemble “grassy” tufts, but are not considered dendritic. The inclusions in lodalite are more like picture jasper, or ocean opal, which are valued for the way they seem to depict landscapes or ocean views. 

Lodalite is also special because of how clear the inclusions can be within the stones. The most common types of lodalite are found within crystal quartz, but more rare and unique forms of lodalite can grow in differently colored quartz. This is also why lodalite quartz goes by many different names: garden quartz, inclusion quartz, or landscape quartz. The picturesque forms in the clear quartz tend to form swirling patterns, sometimes flowery or leafy tendrils as well. 

The stone is valued for its metaphysical properties in aiding meditation. All quartz types are considered helpful for their cleansing properties, especially crystal quartz. This stone is said to help clear the mind and promotes a sense of calmness in the wearer.
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Exploring Mookaite

Mookaite is a form of Jasper, sometimes called just australian jasper. All jaspers are a form of quartz or chalcedony aggregate, meaning that the quartz or chalcedony formed with a smattering of mineral types that gives it a unique color. This can explain why there are so many different types of jaspers in our inventory, as well as hundreds of different documentations of color variations. The name mookaite refers to the area in Australia where it was discovered, near Mooka Creek in the Kennedy Ranges. 

In order for the Jasper to be considered mookaite, there must be rusty red, mauve, buttery yellows and maroon purple found in the stone, red being the most abundant. It is also a location-specific name, and can only be found in that specific location in Australia. Sometimes dendritic patterns can be found in mookaite when it is cut, which greatly increases the value. Red in jasper is achieved through a reaction with the quartz and iron minerals, and is the most common color found in all jasper types.

Jaspers really have no limitations for their uses. The quartz is strong, making them suitable for carving, and they polish extremely well, making them desirable in jewelry. In ancient cultures, jasper was perfect for making seals, polished vases and was even used in the neolithic area for arrowheads. 

Because mookaite can only be sourced from one area, restocks are typically few and far between. We recommend pairing this stone type with other earthy-toned stones, like golden yellow jasper, agate or rhodonite.
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Thulite and How Gemstone Beads are Made

We’ve talked about thulite before on our blog—it’s a naturally pink stone of the zoisite family, named for the mythical island of Thule by ancient Romans. 
Thulite is often mistaken for any pink zoisite, however, what makes thulite special is the manganese content in the stone. Manganese is an element, somewhat unstable, but when purified with no inclusions is a metallic, silvery material. 

Most thulite comes in a rosy-red color, but the thulite we source from is a unique, rare light pink because of the manganese has been heavily oxidized. While it does calcium to oxidize manganese in this way, you will find out beads to have very few inclusions when compared to other sources. This way you can enjoy the exceptional gentle pink color without a large quantity of cloudy white inclusions.  

Gemstones must go through a long process before they are made into finely polished rounds like the ones we sell. Zoisite, and other brittle materials can be difficult to work with. The stones grow in long columnar structures, but when carved to make beads, the stone tends to break apart unpredictably. However, because they are columnar in form, the first two steps of the process are easier than others. First a large slap of rock is mined, which then gets cut into slabs. The slabs are graded appropriately for the size of bead is desired. The slabs are then run through a cutting machine, which slices them into manageable rectangular shapes. They are then run through another slicing machine, which cuts them into cubes. 

At this stage in the process, if cubes are the desired shape, a hole is drilled through the bead, which is then polished, and quality inspected. If the bead is attractive with an appropriate amount of inclusions for the stone type, the beads are strung together and ready to sell. 
If faceted rounds, or any type of rounds are desired, the cubes are put into a large vibrating machine that rounds off the cube’s hard edges. Then they are rolled out onto a grooved sanding surface to make the rounds take their final shape. During all steps of this process, a large amount of water is used, both to speed up the eroding process, and to keep large amounts of dust out of the area that can be harmful to workers. Once the sanding portion of the process is completed, the stones are taken to a tumbler, where they are polished to create a fine luster. 

Finally the beading holes are drilled through the beads, and are strung then prepared for selling! With gemstones like thulite, extra care is taken when supplying these minerals, in order to make sure the dusty rose color is maintained in all our beads. This time we’ve sourced new shapes in our line of thulite. Rest assured that no matter to cut of the bead, our quality is guaranteed, and the color of our thulite is as well!  
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What is Opalite?

There are two kinds of opalite found on earth-- a gemstone, which forms naturally, and a synthetic glass, which is entirely man-made. We will be focusing on the manufactured type, which has risen in popularity as new technology in stone making has improved. 

Opalite was first created to be a dupe for natural opal, which is favored for its extremely fiery appearance. The stone can be considered a failure in that sense, because its iridescence does not have the same impact as fire in opal. However, its appearance is more similar to moonstone, as it has a copper-colored shifting iridescence when viewed over light-colored surfaces. Over dark colored surfaces, opalite takes on a light blue color. Some opalite is completely translucent, while others can be fairly milky. 

The process of making opalite is similar to the making of glass in general, which is created by melting minerals like silica, limestone and soda ash. Iridescent glass has been a subject of study and invention since the middle of the 1800’s-- when the sheen could be achieved with arsenic. Today, these stones are not created with harmful materials, and the glass is incredibly safe for wear. 

Because the minerals are formed to make a specific shape, there is no room for crystallization to occur. Iridescent glass , like opalite, is made by adding metallic pigments into the mixture of molten material. The glass is then allowed to cool, on which the metallic pigments would be fully mixed into the glass and allowed to spread evenly throughout. 

We recommend these beads to anyone who loves iridescence in their designs. When paired with moonstone, sunstone, or labradorite, your designs will undoubtedly catch the light and dazzle your customers. Opalite can also work well with synthetic coated beads, like rainbow-colored hematite or druzy agate.
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