Let’s get started by clarifying that the term “Quartz” goes deeper than the stones commonly called Quartz. Understanding how the mineral term is used can be useful information, especially if you’re trying to cut your own material or make educated guesses about a stone in your stash whose name you’ve forgotten. We’ll be doing a special DS School of Rocks episode soon to talk more about this.
Natural Quartz comes in three varieties, but today’s blog is all about the Crystalline variety, which is what we know and love as “Quartz” as a stone type.
Crystalline Quartz is a natural stone, but the gem and mineral markets are full of gemstones that have been enhanced, treated, and even created.
Enhancements can include:
• Dying and coating the stones to strengthen or change their colors or add a colorful surface • Heating a gemstone to enhance clarity or change the color • Irradiation to restore colors that have been lost or faded
Created gemstones may be either lab-grown crystals or glass.
Why does this matter? • Price. Why is one strand more expensive than another? • Durability. If the gemstone has been enhanced, is the color stable & permanent? Or will the color fade or scratch off? • Knowledge. Is the gemstone real, or “man-made”? • Reputation. With the interest and popularity of metaphysical healing and therapy there’s a demand for natural stones. People with these interests rely on the authenticity of their stones.
• Distinction. Establishing yourself as a knowledgeable, honest resource distinguishes you from designers or bead stores dealing in lower priced or mass-produced items of unknown origin.
If all you or your client cares about is the outward appearance, then many of the following points may not be of interest. However, if you deal in gemstones, you’re likely to be asked at some point about whether a stone is natural.
Buy from a knowledgeable and trusted vendor. If the vendor buys rough material directly and then has the factory cut the beads, the vendor has the most knowledge of any treatments. If your vendor is buying existing factory stock, they’re relying on the factory to disclose the origin and treatments of the material. There’s a higher likelihood of mistakes if you aren’t buying from a vendor with a close relationship with their suppliers. Your vendor should be able to tell you if a product has been created or enhanced. If they don’t know, they should disclose that.
Let's get this clear, quartz can naturally have a single or double termination. Tibetan Quartz and Herkimer Diamond naturally grow within a host rock. They come out of the ground resembling a cut gem. They may get a helping hand from polishing and drilling, but otherwise, they're 100% natural. Since most natural Quartz crystals grow out from a host mineral they must be separated from their host and have only one termination. When looking at a natural Quartz point, one end will showcase the natural termination point, and the other will be a bit irregular and flat. This is where the point was cut away from the host material. Natural points may also be tumbled to smooth their edges and create a high shine. Tumbled natural points will have a rounded, but still defined, point on one end, and a flatter, possibly more jagged end.
Sometimes, if a Quartz crystal is not perfect (or broken); a skilled gem cutter will enhance and polish the crystal’s shape. This is especially true for stones like Amethyst and Quartz which have naturally occurring termination and immense popularity. These components can be incredibly beautiful, but it's good to know that this may not be the stone's natural shape. People drawn to stone jewelry for its energetic or metaphysical gemstone properties often consider the shape of the stone and a natural termination is preferable.
Colorful Quartz crystals:
There are two types of natural colorful Quartz crystals.
Other natural, colorful Quartz crystals get their color from inclusions of other crystals and materials.
Rutilated Quartz with golden to reddish-brown needles. Because the natural colors of Rutilated Quartz are so vibrant, it's not commonly enhanced- even if the needle-like inclusions of the Rutile aren't highly defined.
Tourmalineated Quartz with black and green needles.
Champagne Quartz - It might be natural if it's hanging out at a higher price point. If it's beautifully cut and pricey, it's most likely natural. Since it's a rarer stone, it's far more likely to have a showy, high-quality cut.
Mystic / Aura Quartz - It's been treated in a vacuum chamber with platinum and magnesium to create a new layer (not a plating). It's considered an electrostatic metal coating, which, for practical purposes, means it's more durable than a plating, but should still be treated with care. Some, but not all, see the addition of these elements as a value-add since different metals are also said to have energetic properties.
Aqua Quartz - Much like Opalite, this is a euphemism, for glass. Like Opalite, it's often also found hanging out with stones.
Lemon Quartz - Can occur naturally, but only very, very rarely. It's most likely that Lemon Quartz beads have been irradiated and heat-treated. (Don't worry, there's no residual radiation, it's safe according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission). It's virtually impossible to visually identify between natural and treated Lemon Quartz, lab testing is the only way to be certain.
Cherry Quartz - can occur naturally, but is most often a synthetic.
Strawberry Quartz - can also occur naturally, but may be treated- if it's especially vibrant and relatively low cost, proceed with caution.
At the end of the day, what matters the most is that you create with materials that speak to you. Information about natural vs. synthetic vs. treated stones can be useful information. In working with stone, at some point, you're likely to get a customer asking if a stone is natural. If you're not sure about any of our products, contact us. Since we're the manufacturer, we know everything that's happened to our beads from mine to design.
Erin, Dakota Stones
Specials thanks to California-based stone expert Ken Rogers. Ken has been an uncredited resource for Dakota Stones for years and we're privileged to work with him.
You know the expression “Always the bridesmaid, never the bride”? In my case, it’s been “Always the designer, never the bridesmaid.” When my friends realized that I could design the jewelry for their weddings, I became the designated designer. I love that I can create their jewelry as a gift for their special day, and it removes all the hassles of dealing with a registry!
For those of you that don’t know, my own wedding is coming up! I’ll be getting married in Arizona, and I’ve decided I don’t want a typical color scheme, which means my wedding can choose what they wear. The only thing I feel strongly about is having a desert wedding with accents of sunflowers and crystals.
I know I’m exceptionally laid back on my own wedding, but experience in designing for friends and customers has taught me that many brides feel very strongly about the minutest details.
Crystal and pearls seem to be the perennial go-tos for bridal and bridal party jewelry. As brides are increasingly looking for ways to stand out from the crowd in their look and their wedding, stone can be a fantastic way to incorporate a higher end and more personalized look. _________________________________
I’ve compiled a “cheat sheet” to give both our stores and designers an overview of tips, tricks, and must-haves for wedding designs.
My most recent Navy Blue design (above) presented a challenge. The bride had chosen a lighter shade with a more gray cast. In this case, I looked to Star Cut Dumortierite. It pulled in the “just right” color, as well as subtly lighter and darker tones. And, of course, the subtle sparkle from the Star Cut combined with the unique cut gave the finished design a truly custom look.
Burgundy - This is another perennial favorite that can have huge variations. Depending on the shade, I’ve been able to use either Red or Purple Garnet. I’m really excited that we brought both hues in to our line of 4mm Faceted Coins. Since it’s a fresh new cut and shape, it’s a great way to refresh or upgrade designs that use a crystal bicone or round. We’re currently carrying Red Garnet Diamond-Cut Rondelles in both 3mm and 6mm.
Sharkskin… Mink… Silver… Any Shade of Grey - Labradorite is my top pick for this accent color. With the natural AB flash (AKA Labradorescence) it easily picks up other colors and tones . Labradorite is incredibly popular and we currently have a great selection of exclusives shapes in our dsPremier line, as well as traditional rounds and faceted rondelles in multiple sizes.
Aqua - Amazonite is another ever-popular stone that works really well for this shade. Depending on whether the shade skews more towards vibrant teal or softer seafoam, you’ll find an Amazonite variety that works. For vibrant shades, Peruvian Amazonite is the ticket. Our current dsPremier collection has custom-cut exclusive shapes, and we also have a variety of other traditional cuts. If the shade needs to hit a softer note, try Matte Amazonite!
In doubt? Crystal or Moonstone. These have the neutrality of classic pearls without the conventional look. Both crystal and moonstone can pair with a variety of accent stones to give extra shimmer or sparkle.
Sssssshhhh!!!! I’m working on an oh-so spectacular “goddess piece” with crystal points for my own special day.
Jewelry Design Tips:
1) Try different stone types, even things you aren’t sure of! The natural pattern, color variation, and inclusions in stone can result in pieces that honor the color theme of the bridal party without being a perfect match. Keeping the palette more diverse in shade can take a look from cookie cutter matchy-matchy to memorable. Remember we have a great return policy. If you order something that doesn’t work, you can always return for a full refund.
2)Always get more than you need! Brides may realize at the last minute that they want to include the flower girl, mother of the bride/groom, personal attendants, or other friends involved in the ceremony. When you’re consulting with the client, you can also ask them at that time. I’ve also had brides that loved the designs for the bridal party so much, they wanted one for themselves, too.
3)Use the sturdiest possible construction. Wrap wires, use oval jump rings or the heaviest possible jump rings, heaviest stringing material, etc. If you don’t already religiously use soldered rings or split rings with your clasps, this is the time to start. Be aware of any sharp edges from components that might catch on delicate fabrics. When consulting with a client or guiding a customer, remind them that you’re trying to create pieces that can withstand a day of dancing, hugging, celebrating, and rambunctious children.
Need some suggestions? Email me (email@example.com) a picture of what you are trying to match. I can offer you some choices and talk you through considerations.
Stay tuned to Facebook to see pictures of designs and, most importantly, updated pictures of my wedding jewelry as my big day gets closer!
Creating quality stone beads demands attention to detail on every level. It begins literally from the ground up- the mining, grading, selecting, designing, cutting, drilling, polishing all require specialized knowledge and skill. Cutting focals demands an additional level of skill and artistry.
A talented and experienced stone artisan considers the type of material and pattern before the cutting begins. Creating a template helps the artisan to maximize the utility and beauty in each piece of rough material.
When planning shapes and cuts, artisans also need to understand how different stone types are composed on a microscopic or even submicroscopic level. The composition of the stone, underlying crystal formations, cleavage, and hardness/softness of the stone dictate how a stone can (or can’t) be shaped.
The stakes are especially high in the finishing process. After the initial cut, it must be perfectly finished, shaped, and polished. Any mistake in these areas can result in an unusable, and therefore worthless, piece. The machine-like precision of lines and curves in many focals may lead buyers to believe that they have been machine-made. In reality, most Dakota Stones focals have been cut by hand. The exceptional quality is a testimony to the artisans’ level of skill and attention.
Dakota Stones Focals collection includes donuts, individual pendants, pendant sets, guru beads, collars, and intricately carved pendants.
Apatite is actually a group of minerals that are difficult to tell apart. The first, Hydroxlapatite, is surprisingly a major component of bone and tooth enamel. The next, Fluorapatite, contains fluoride, which is added to most water supplies to strengthen our teeth. Last, Chlorapatite contains. . . (pause for suspense). . .chlorine. Each is a phosphate, making the whole apatite family sought after as a great source of fertilizer.
Some Apatites are chosen for their translucence and cut into gemstones, like the ones we carry. When brought to a polished gleam, its stones range from a cool blue to a light purple to a pale green. It is because of this color variation that Apatite is easily confused with other minerals, thus being appropriately named from the Greek word 'apate,' meaning 'to deceive'. Apatite ranks fairly low on the Mohs hardness scale and are relatively easy to scratch. Some are brittle, in fact, which makes these little beauties even more miraculous.
We find it in unexpected places.
The Earth's gem Apatites come from Brazil, Burma, Mexico, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, India, Madagascar, Mozambique, Norway, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the United States. You know, the usual places. But we’re not done yet. Most incredibly, traces of apatite have been found on THE MOON. This may explain the sense of otherworldly connection that some attribute to the stone.
Let’s get back to the color.
In the mineral industry, one rule of thumb is that if a stone looks too good to be true, it usually is. Many stones have been dyed or treated to enhance color (check out our blog about dyed stones HERE.) This is not the case with Apatite. With its chameleon like quality, Apatite exists as a rare combination of both vivid and all-natural colors. We feature the blue variety (along with a few green varieties) and a look at the intense, brilliant hues will tell you why.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
now we have some beautiful chrysocolla in a varitey of shapes,
including our new diamonds and the classic coins, ovals, squares, rounds and
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.