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Druzy Agate: What are they? How are they made?
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles

The term 'druzy' refers to natural, glittery crystals found on the surface of a host rock. This geological process occurs as water collects and evaporates on a stone's surface over a period of millions of years, leaving behind mineral build up that form tiny crystals. You will find druzy mainly near riverbeds and shorelines.

Druzy is most commonly found as quartz crystals on the surface of agate, but can be found on a variety of other host rocks as well.

Natural crystals other than quartz can also form druzy, either atop their own surface or upon other host rocks. These include (but are not limited to): garnets, calcite, dolomite, malachite, chrysocolla, hematite, cobaltocalcite, pyrite, carnelain and uvarovite.

Druzy colors often vary from white to yellow, red, orange and brown. The attributes of druzy depend mainly on the type of stone that is underneath.


Metaphysically, druzy is thought to strengthen the body's healing potential, energize the spirit and help the wearer shine his/her light. It can also provide balance to offset feelings of fear and anxiety.

There are essentially three major druzy manufacturing practices used today:


Natural - Druzy is formed naturally and cut to required needs and then sold without much or any brightening or coloring. Sometimes it may be washed in acid to get rid of rust deposits or any other coatings left on the druzy.

Electroforming - A thin, metallic bezel is formed around the druzy to make the beads and pendants.

Metallic Vapor Deposition - The stone is placed in a vacuum chamber where a metal, or metallic salt, is heated until it vaporizes. The thin vapor deposits on the surface of the gemstone giving it a new color (or dichroic effect) depending on the material vaporized. Although this coating is considered to be permanent, thin-film surface coatings of any kind are susceptible to scratching, particularly along facet edges and junctions. Care should be taken to not allow any hard or abrasive objects to come in contact with coated gems.

*A very special Thank You to Ken Rogers for sharing his druzy expertise with us!



Druzy Earring Designs by Katie Hacker! Learn How!

Groovy Druzy Earring Designs & Instructions
by Katie Hacker


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Quartz Varieties
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles

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. 

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.

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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.

Cheat Sheet

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.

Knowledge Upgrade

Quartz Points:
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.

Clear crystals naturally colored by a few atoms of different elements embedded in the crystal’s molecules: Amethyst, Citrine, Rose Quartz, Smokey Quartz, etc.

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 or green needles.


Blood Quartz or Golden Blood Quartz with red platelets of iron within the crystal.

Phantom Quartz is just Quartz that formed over other minerals. Depending on the size and type of mineral inclusion the "phantoms" may be clearly visible or simply alter the shade of the Quartz.

Champagne Quartz, Beer Quartz, Strawberry Quartz, Cherry Quartz, and Lemon Quartz can occur naturally but buy with care if absolutely natural is important.




It's Had A Helping Hand:
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.



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From the Ground Up: Stone Classification & Grading
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles

Do you ever wonder about the stones you find out in the world? Whether from an heirloom piece of jewelry or something you find in your backyard, here is a nice rundown on how stones are generally classified.

Gemstone: Any stone that’s used to make jewelry and other adornments. You can plunk a random landscaping rock into wire to form a ring and BOOM it’s now *technically* a gemstone. I don’t recommend selling random garden rocks as gemstones. It falls into a murky area of exploiting already misunderstood terms. As a working, ethical, definition, we’ll say that gemstones are any minerals or other stones commonly used in the making of jewelry. The $5 strand of Fossil Coral is gemstone and the $3000 strand of diamonds is gemstone.

Precious Gemstone: This has historically referred to Diamond, Sapphire, Ruby and Emerald. The classification is starting to fall out of favor. It’s considered inaccurate as it doesn’t account for all factors that contribute to the cost of a natural stone. For example, diamonds are quite abundant, but tightly controlled by cartels like DeBeers to keep the prices high. In addition, industrial-grade diamonds are inexpensive enough to be used on common tools. Lower quality Sapphire, Ruby, or Emerald can also carry a lower price tag than fine specimens of semi-precious stones like Garnet or Amethyst.

Semi-Precious Gemstone: This is literally everything else. Agate. Amazonite. Amethyst. Aventurine. And on down the alphabet. All semi-precious. Garnet. Lapis. Morganite. Still all semi-precious. Fossil Coral? Kambaba Jasper? Red Creek Jasper? All semi-precious.




Synthetic Gemstone: This is a really important thing to understand. Some commonly accepted “stones” are synthetic. Goldstone and Cherry Quartz are both synthetic. They do NOT occur in nature. It’s pretty common knowledge that other types of naturally occurring stones can also be artificially created in labs. For example, all Cubic Zirconia is lab-created. (Note: Don’t confuse Cubic Zirconia with Zircon. Zircon actually comes out of the ground.)



Composite Gemstone: These stones have pieces of gemstone in them, but are not entirely made of stone. Generally, these are made from a combination of stone fragments and resin. The stone fragments and/or the resin may also be dyed. Any type of Impression Jasper or Serpentine with Bronzite are good examples of composite gemstones.

An important note on grading: There isn’t a universal system for grading gemstones. The GIA has a commonly accepted method for grading diamonds. Only a gemologist certified by the GIA for grading diamonds is qualified to assign a GIA grade. In all other stone types, terms like “A-Grade”, “AAA-Grade”, or “B/C Grade”, are SUBJECTIVE terms used by the seller. One vendor’s AAA-grade Amethyst may look like another’s B-Grade. Other vendors may have no grading system at all, and the price tag will tell the story. I like to take a “what do I like?” approach. Sometimes that saves me money because I honestly prefer some inclusions. Other times, it means that I pay an embarrassing amount for “practically perfect.”

                                                          - Erin G.


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North American Turquoise: Q & A with Jeff Elvin, Owner
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles


At Dakota Stones, we're aware how much our customers love turquoise. Even when it's not featured in a sale, our various styles of turquoise are in steady demand, particularly the North American turquoise.

To get a better perspective, we talked with Dakota Stones Owner Jeff Elvin:

So, why is North American turquoise in such short supply?
The number of active mines is fairly limited and shrinking. Converting the Sleeping Beauty mine back to the copper industry was a huge loss. Also, the amount of material the mines are yielding has reduced and the size of the pieces the mines are producing are smaller in size.

What do people love about it?
It's got to be the color. It is such a unique color to come out of the ground, as well as the long history of turquoise in finished jewelry design. It seems to be as American as apple pie.






What is it that you like about turquoise?
I like how a lot of turquoise has a very distinct look and how you can identify it by the mine originated from. There are only a select few gemstones that you can do this with.

How does it differ from the Chinese varieties, or African varieties, or others?
"African Turquoise" is not an actual turquoise, but rather an industry name given to a green-and-turquoise-colored Jasper.

The North American versions we carry have the names of the mines associated with them?
"Sleeping Beauty, Kingman, Campitos, Caballo Campitos -- these are all names of turquoise mines, either in the U.S. or Mexico."


What are the histories of the turquoise mines?
"The Sleeping Beauty Mine produced copper and turquoise for 40 years, before ending turquoise mining in 2012 in order to focus on copper. The Kingman Mine, which began mining in the 1880s, 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 1980s. There are a few other mines -- some still producing, some closed -- scattered across Arizona, Nevada and into Mexico."

When the turquoise from these mines is gone, where will customers get North American turquoise?
Once the 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.

Are we going to continue carrying N.A. turquoise?
We will do our best to keep some version of a top-quality line of American-mined turquoise available. It is often out of our control as to whether we can continue to get a specific stone type or shape.



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The Artistry of Hand-Cut Stones
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles


Creating quality hand-cut stone cabochons and pendants demands exceptional skill, artistry and 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.

A talented and experienced stone artisan considers the type of material and existing patterns 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.



Each cabochon, for example, is cut and shaped by hand to precise dimensions that coincide with commercially available pre-fabricated bezels and settings. The consistency is also meant to help designers create continuity within pieces that need to be sold at a large volume.





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 & cabs may lead buyers to believe that they have been machine-made. In reality, most Dakota Stones cabs & focals have been cut by hand. The exceptional quality is a testimony to the artisans’ level of skill and attention.

Dakota Stones hand-cut collection includes cabochons, donuts, individual pendants, pendant sets, guru beads, collars, and intricately carved pendants.

 

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Why Stone Types Become Unavailable
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles

This week we are focusing on stone types we’ve recently restocked. Some of them are stones we see all the time, like the many jaspers available on the market, while others we are surprised to find again. That’s because each stone type has a product cycle, and there are many reasons why a stone type may disappear from the market.

Here are a few of the most common reasons stone types become unavailable:

1. The material grade drops below Dakota Stones quality standards. We constantly monitor our production quality to make sure it meets our strict standards.

2. The factory runs out of material. In these first two situations, we would need to acquire new material from different locations around the globe.






3. There is a lack of material available on the market. Often a mine digs enough material at one time to sell for years and may not be able to dig more in the near future. Many factors prevent a company from mining more materials, such as the expense to operate machinery, the weather is not conducive to mining, or the government has restrictions on mining (for example, China currently has government restrictions on mining turquoise.)



4. The material is mined out. This does not happen often, but stone types can go extinct. This is more common in rare or unusual stone types that have formed in small regions. This was the case with Gaspeite an eye catching chartreuse green stone discovered while mining copper in Widgiemooltha, Australia. There is still small amounts of rough on the market for those willing to pay, but for the most part it would be considered "mined out" or extinct.

The above scenarios can occur to any stone type during the production cycle and we do our best to meet the challenges and keep your favorite stone types in stock. Occasionally there are factors beyond our control that prevent us from getting stone types again. In those cases, know that we are working hard to bring them back!

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A Simple Guide to Stone Cuts
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles

Do you ever wonder how stone beads get their unique shapes? Below is a simple guide to some of our most recent and popular stone cuts!





ROUGH & SIMPLE CUTS


Rough Cut and Simple Cut stones are individually shaped and cut by skilled artisans. Each stone type needs to be treated differently in the cutting process as the hardness of the stone and its formation dictate the way the stone is handled and its suitability for different cuts.







Diamond cut stones are faceted with diamond drill bits for sharper and more precise facets for more sparkle than a conventionally faceted stone.











"Checkerboard" Cut
Tons of industry innovation has led to a way to mass-produce this diamond cut “checkerboard” pattern. At first glance, it appears to be a 4mm microfacet. Take a closer look - the puffed edge leads to a checkerboard faceted face. That’s a lot of surface to catch and move light in a multitude of directions. Dakota Stones did not assist in the creation of the cut, however, we noticed its unique beauty and design attribute and quickly added it to our diamond-cut microfacet line.






Each cabochon is cut and shaped by hand to precise dimensions that coincide with commercially available pre-fabricated bezels and settings. The consistency is also meant to help designers create continuity within pieces that need to be sold at a large volume.








Star cut stones combine the traditional round and faceted round with fewer facets to create a more modern cut. The 24 facet cut eliminates excess weight without sacrificing visual impact. May also be called “Rose Cut”.








Stones in the dsPremier collection are exclusively designed, cut, and produced by Dakota Stones. They are cut from unique and premium rough materials to exacting specifications to create one of a kind. Please note that many strands in the DS premiere collection are unique and may only be available in limited quantities.







Our 8-inch Continuity collection is composed entirely of stone types and cuts that we can continue to source. This line is perfect for designers to replicate designs in quantity. We also specialize in unique shapes cut for consistency. All holes are laser-drilled for smooth edges.


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Keys to Working with Microfacets
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles

Tiny beads in the 2-3mm range lend themselves to a variety of uses. They make great spacers in strung designs, add visual interest in conjunction with other bead sizes, and hang beautifully when strung or knotted. They can be wire wrapped into a chain of stunning gemstones.

Here are some tips when working with stone beads
under the 4mm mark:

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, it might be better to use a 26 gauge. 28 gauge also fits, and the results are more delicate. For a 2mm bead, you may find you have fewer options. Generally, you can step down to a 28 gauge, but 26 gauge wire will give good results.





Dakota Stones manufactures a variety of diamond cut microfacets in many stone types!

SHOP MICROFACETS



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 generally 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 in jewelry making is finding the right 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. Try stepping down a gauge level at a time. For example, if you've never worked with 24 gauge wire before work with it a while to get the feel for it before moving on to 26 and then 28.


Jess used faceted larimar rondelles, faceted pyrite rondelles, 2mm faceted turquoise rounds & drops from her own stash to start her design.




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 Druzy Agate: What are they? How are they made?
 Quartz Varieties
 From the Ground Up: Stone Classification & Grading
 North American Turquoise: Q & A with Jeff Elvin, Owner
 The Artistry of Hand-Cut Stones
 Why Stone Types Become Unavailable
 A Simple Guide to Stone Cuts
 Chakra Stones and Metaphysical Attributes
 Keys to Working with Microfacets
 NEW! 6mm Diamond Cut Disco Rounds
 Featured Designer | Emmy Starr
 Mined in Northern Mexico | New Agates
 Mining the Facts: Turkish Blue Chalcedony
 New Tech = New Cut | ds 3mm Bicones
 Hand Selection, New Technology & Design | dsChina Trip 2018
 Spring(Vernal) Equinox and its connection to stones.
 New dZi style beads! What are they exactly?
 The Story of Our North American Turquoise
 Purple Turquoise is back! But it wasn't easy...
 Gobi Desert Beads
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