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Extinction
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles

These stones highlight some of the oldest specimens found on earth! They represent the mysterious past of our planet and the organisms that predated even our earliest genetic ancestors. The oldest materials that can be found on earth don’t actually come from our planet-- they fall from the heavens in the form of meteorites, and the cores can actually be up to  seven billion years old. This matter, now located on our earth, is even older than our sun! 

This does make the supply from meteorites extremely rare. The largest specimens tend to live in museums, or in private collections-- and they’ve been there for decades. Interest in meteorites is not a new concept to human history, either. Iron beads from meteorites have been found in the tombs of the Ancient Egyptians, making some of the oldest ironwork in history being used with metal from space. 

The meteorite we source our beads from is the famous Muonionalusta meteorite, which was found in Sweden at the beginning of the 20th century. This meteorite is estimated to be over one million years old, making it some of the oldest material you can ever hold! We’ve restocked our meteorite bead pairs, as well as added a brand-new set of silver-plated meteorite beads. These new beads do not require the same kind of upkeep that unplated beads do, as they will not oxidize the same way as raw iron will. You can read more about the Muonionalusta meteorite here, as well as the care of meteorite beads here if you prefer the untreated kinds. 


Meteorites rarely actually impact the earth, thanks to the gravitational pull from our moon and our atmosphere. Impact events only happen around twice a century, with the most recent meteorite flying through the Russian skyline in 2013 (which you likely recall, because international media coverage was abundant). The effects of an impact can be devastating, because even meteorites considered relatively “small” (only a yard or two across) can create massive craters on the surface of the earth. You can travel to one particularly well-preserved impact site located in Arizona, off of Route 66. It is thought that such large-scale impact sites like the one in Arizona were a leading cause of planet-wide extinction at the end of the Mesozoic era.  

Fossils and petrified wood have helped us better understand the earth and its inhabitants before the end of the Mesozoic era. Over time, the organic material is replaced with other minerals, but the shape (sometimes even the very cell structure) remains as evidence of life. Jet, and some samples of petrified wood, come from organic material that was put under massive amounts of pressure over millions of years. Jet is a precursor to coal, and the high carbon content gives it its lustrous black tone.


Amber is the fossilized form of tree resin, which is mined heavily and still very useful. It has been used in jewelry sine Neolithic times! It is valued for its preservation qualities in paleontology, because creatures and plant matter trapped in sap can provide very clear clues to ancient life. However inclusions can diminish the value of the amber in the gem market. Like Jet, it is an exceedingly light material, perfect for designs like earrings and rings that won’t get too weighty on the wearer. 


The dinosaur bone sold through Dakota Stones is minimally beneficial for scientific study, which is how it has been made available to the gem market. As the majority of organic material has been replaced by agate and other silica based compounds, crystal-like inclusions can be observed between intricate patterns on the surface of the beads. The cell structure of the bones is still evident as well! Like any creature, each one is incredibly unique, and we offer them in multiple tones.  

Of all these samples, remember the best materials tend to be donated towards research to better understand our solar system. You are not robbing a significant scientific opportunity by purchasing these beads. The samples that make it to be shaped into beads often come from specimens that have been studied thoroughly and now have no use in science today.

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The Difference of Diamond Cut
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles

People have been cutting and shaping stone manually since the fourteenth century. While we have nearly perfected any and all methods we can manage by hand, technology has since grown beyond our capabilities. 

Today, most of our faceted stones are machine cut with industrial-grade diamondsWith the use of new technology, geometry and an understanding of light, which is extremely important for precious stones with strong dispersion, we can now make the facets on each stone cleaner, sharper, and more consistent with minimal or no need for polishing. This means we can manufacture mathematically precise cuts on extremely small surfaces while getting the same luster and shine as we would see on large surfaces. 

What this also means for the stone cutting industry is that, not only can we source precise diamond-cut stones at reasonable cost, we have more time and opportunity to focus on the best cuts from minerals that might require hand-cutting. And, as we know, we cannot program a machine to have taste or skill when making unique or difficult cuts. Most of our pendants and cabochons are still beautifully hand-cut by skilled lapidary artists. 

In the past few years Dakota Stones has been one of the first to offer gemstones in diamond-cut biconescoinsroundsrondelles and cubes. We are also pleased to be the first to showcase our newest double-hearted star cut stones. As diamond-cutting becomes more and more advanced, we are privileged with the ability to source these unique cuts of stones, with almost undetectable facets at first glance. Our double-hearted strands are a twin to our star-cut line, with an extra triangular facet for additional light refraction. 


As diamond-cut stones become increasingly popular we hope to continue innovating new shapes and growing with this incredible technology. 



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What is Labradorite?
Posted by Dakota Stones

For many jewelry designers and mineral enthusiasts, there is a realm mineralogy that can cross into our personal interest that is difficult to understand. This can be a barrier preventing newer designers from understanding the products they are purchasing or selling. Much of that information is shrouded in scientific language that requires a good deal of research to fully understand.

This is the case with stones like Labradorite. It is grey-toned stone that can shimmer with subtle shades of blue to sunset orange depending on the light. Labradorescence is an exclusive optical phenomenon that has solely shown by the feldspar gem Labradorite in this earth. Like many stones with iridescent properties, at first glance, it appears to be synthetic. With the major boom polychromatic finishes being applied to the outside of stones to make them flash with color-shifting properties, it’s easy to lump in some stones that have a naturally nacreous appearance. 


The name is nearly a misnomer as well -labradorite. It actually comes from the region in Canada from which it was discovered, Labrador. Labradorite mines are typically only located within that region, but the mineral has been found in northern Scandinavia as well as parts of Africa. Over the past three years the majority of Labradorite being cut into beads, cabs and pendants has been coming out of Madagascar. The quality and flash coming from these mines really stands out when compared to beads cut from other areas. It is not as well known as Opal or Moonstone, which are highly valued for similar iridescent qualities. 

What gives labradorite its Labradorescence? It has to do with the way that light refracts off the polychromatic, three-dimensional cell structure inside the stone. The pigmented minerals are typically orientated in one direction, which is why you don’t often get the iridescent effect at multiple angles, like fire opals can have. For this reason, mining and cutting labradorite is a task that requires a practiced hand, and patience. We pick our stones with care, which assures that each stone glimmers uniquely. Labradorite is the kind of bead that can stand alone as a beautiful statement piece, or be paired with other iridescent stones like moonstone or opal for a whimsical effect.

 

Because these stones are completely natural, you do not have to worry about Labradorite losing its shimmery quality over time. It is a hardy stone that is perhaps sometimes overlooked. We sell this stone type in dark and light tones, and is among some of the oldest lines we carry to this day. 

             - Dakota Stones
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Synthetic Stones - Has Science Gone Too Far?
Posted by Dakota Stones

The interest in man-made gemstones can be stemmed all the way back to alchemy, which originates in Greco-Roman Egypt. The object of pursuit for hundreds of years was searching for a way to transmute other chemicals into gold, or even the Philosopher’s Stone. Modern science has found many ways to manufacture stones for nearly the last two hundred years, with perhaps the most notable creation of the first lab-grown diamond in 1879. Since then, lab-grown diamonds have steadily entered the market for consumers to purchase, and the same can be said for many other synthetic stones. Though lab-grown diamonds can be distinguished from natural diamonds with a practiced eye, they are still considered very valuable, and are often used in industrial-grade power tools. 

Each synthetic stone has its advantages and disadvantages. With synthetic stones, you can rest assured that the materials are fairly and ethically sourced. Some stone vendors chose not to disclose the origin of the stones they sell, or they may not even know themselves. This could mean that the stones were mined under poor working conditions, or worse. If you are unsure or curious about your vendor, calling or emailing them may help you to clear that up. Dakota Stones always discloses the country of origin, and only provide stones and beads that are fair-trade to our customers. 

Another advantage with synthetic stones is the longevity of their creation. Synthetic stones provide us a unique way to shrink our carbon footprint, which is why they might appeal to an environmentally conscious consumer. All of the Earth’s resources are finite to a degree, and some are rarer than others. This is the case with opal, an exceedingly rare and very pricey gem stone, which has been the object of much synthetic exploration these past few decades. The first attempts at synthetic opals were made with plastics, and many are now made with colored glass. Glass is a delicate and pretty alternative to crystal beads, such as the case with Cherry Quartz. The “quartz” has come to be a nickname for any synthetic bead with clear glass included in the design, so don’t be fooled!  A common opal-mimic is Opalite, which has risen in popularity for its iridescent properties and low price. Colored glass beads are usually created with the same basic process: clear glass is melted in a large furnace heated to thousands of degrees, then pigments are added and mixed into the molten glass. 


Some synthetic stones are not intended to mimic at all, like Goldstone and Hematite. Both bead types are extremely unique, and this is because they were made with a specific design choices in mind. Goldstone is a highly reflective, densely glittering stone that catches the light from any angle. Hematite is a lightweight alternative to metal beads that can have hundreds of colors and finishes to them. The base of the stone is natural, but some strands are coated with synthetic finishes that gives them an iridescent shine and unnatural colors. This process is similar to dyes and heat treatments to enhance a natural stone, though we sell synthetic coated beads and their natural coatings as well. 

A major disadvantage to synthetic stones is their appearance. It is nearly impossible to obtain a synthetic stone that looks identical to its natural counterpart, and some of the best consumers can spot the difference at a glance. For lab-grown, clear diamonds, one major hallmark is their cold, blue tone-- while naturally mined diamonds tend to have a warmer, almost yellow tint. There are also normal imperfections that can be found in even some of the best stones-- the absence of those can be another hallmark of a synthetic stone. Plastic-based synthetic stones have to be formed in their final desired shapes, as attempting to sand down plastics with heavy machinery can cause potentially carcinogenic material to fly into the air. Not every designer or customer can be swayed by the lower price point, either. 


There is also a lack of interest in some areas of synthetic stones. The existence of natural stones does not necessarily guarantee you can find a synthetic alternative. Like anything, there is also an abundance of low-quality synthetic stones that will not stand the test of time like a natural stone could. 

At the end of the day, the majority of synthetic stones do not even see the beading market. The demand for industrial grade gemstones, especially rubies and diamonds, have always been higher than the interest from the jewelry market. If you prefer to avoid synthetic stones, they will always have a purpose for technicians. If you are curious about our high-quality synthetic stones, check them out on our website!

                                                    - Dakota Stones
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Know Your Dye
Posted by Dakota Stones

With modern advancements in stone cutting and treatment technology, color enhancements and dyes have arrived at the forefront of the beading and natural stone market. Sometimes, a dye is selected for a stone to enhance the color, or to change it all together. These dyes can be synthetic or natural pigments, and are usually applied to a stone after the tumbling process and before any other finishes may be applied. 

Dyed stones may appeal to designers with bright and bold taste, as the pigments achieved with dye are unrivaled. They can be useful for designers who want to appeal to consumers with smaller budgets, or for starting-out beaders who want to practice techniques without worrying about possibly damaging costly materials. The most commonly dyed stones are stones with pre-existing transparency, like Crystal and some Agates. A rough, natural look is also favorable, with stones like Jasper and White Howlite that provide different rings of material to add depth to additional color. 

Sometimes, a dye is sold to mimic the appearance of more expensive gemstones, and can be so convincing that it flies under the radar of even some of the most knowledgeable consumers in the industry. The problem is not the existence of dyed stones, but rather the dishonesty when a retailer wants to misguide customers. Such is infamously the case with turquoise, which is one of the most heavily copied gems on the market. When dyed stones were a more novel product in the early 20th century, it was easy for scam artists to bank on their consumers lack of knowledge to deceive them. For these reasons, dyed stones gathered an unsavory reputation for being cheap, dishonest alternatives to natural, untreated stones.
  

As a reaction to this, the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) created the “Enhancement Code” for consumers to refer to when researching materials. “Enhancement” does not just refer to dyeing stones either. This system is used to describe any alterations to a stone that can affect the color, quality, and properties of certain minerals. While some people may argue what makes a stone “synthetic,” the AGTA made sure to reference any alteration in a stone’s chemical of physical makeup.

Fortunately for the process of dying stones, new relevance has spurred up as new techniques have been developed. Heat treatments and finishes have been improved, which has allowed dyed stones a second chance. Today, dyed stones can stand on their own on the market as unique, instead of solely as imitations of other stones. Dyes are also occasionally used to enhance a color to create a more uniform color appearance. Different dyes have also made it possible to make powdery, subdued color stones for designers and customers with more understated taste. 


It is important to note that at Dakota Stones, we do not condone any dishonesty regarding the alteration of stones. All of our dyed stones, and any chemical treatments or enhancements are marked accordingly. The process of treating stones with dye has improved leaps and bounds since its infancy, and buyers can rest assured that dyes will not rub off of the stones with excessive wear, or when introduced to natural oils from human skin. For more information on how to care for your dyed beads or stones, take a look at our Tough Enough? article by Erin. 

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The Real Rolling Stones | Gobi Desert Agate
Posted by Dakota Stones

Increasingly rare and distinctive, Gobi Agate beads were traditionally gathered from the Gobi Desert by the nomadic peoples of southern Mongolia and northern China. In recent years, Gobi Desert Agate has entered the bead and gemstone market for use in jewelry, being valued for their unique shapes, smooth texture, diverse color range and rarity.

These stones are formed from agate and chalcedony deposits near the ground and are shaped gradually by the nearly continual harsh desert winds that can get up to 90 miles per hour in the peak seasons. This process, which takes hundreds of years, gives Gobi Agates their unique shapes and smooth texture.


The Gobi Desert is a diverse biome and not your typical desert. The Gobi has a varied landscape including steppes, flatlands and mountains within it’s ever expanding boundaries and sustains a diverse cast of vegetation and animal life. Not only is the Gobi Desert filled with agate from which these beads are formed but is also the site for many fossil finds from the Cretaceous period.


The native people who still make their way of life in the desert live in a harsh and unpredictable climate with long unforgiving winters and short moderate summers. These people still live off the land, tending to livestock in addition to gathering Agate in order to make their living. In the past, these people were crucial to merchants traveling along the Silk Road. The legendary roads still exist and are traveled by Mongolian Nomads and tourists to this day. Because our stones are always fairly sourced, we can confirm that these beads are helping to support the foreign economies from which they came.




The weathered appearance of Gobi Agates showcases the power and beauty of nature. Some stones we offer have been tumbled into familiar oval shapes to suit beading, but others display the botryoidal shapes they form from. We offer strands of Gobi Desert Agate in several natural, earthy color palettes as well as exclusively purple Agate strands (the rarest of all the Gobi Agates) all of which look great with the rustic threading they are purchased with, or by being incorporated into any project featuring the wide array of colors they represent.

                                             - Dakota Stones

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Thulite: A Naturally Pink Stone
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles

Thulite is a naturally occurring pink variety of the Zoisite mineral group, sometimes referred to as Roseline, or simply Pink Zoisite. Its colors can range from pale pink to deep rose, depending on the concentration of manganese or proximity to fracture lines.

The stone was first discovered in Norway in the 1830’s. Deposits have been found in Austria and in the US (Oregon, Washington, North Carolina). It was named from the term Latin “Thule” - which has roots in Greco-Roman maps and literature, wherein it referred to ambiguous northernmost regions of their maps that are currently recognized to be Scandinavian countries. Because of the associations with the far-off and unknown stemming from ancient times, this stone could be said to metaphorically represent high goals or exploration. Thulite’s metaphysical properties are similar to Rose Quartz, promoting self-love and a sense of security. It is said to be a great stone for artists and craftspeople seeking support in bringing forth truly authentic and vulnerable work. It was most common within the metaphysical community in the form of tumbled stones.


Dakota Stones strives to select Thulite beads with few inclusions and calcite formations to provide a rare and exceptional hue of saturated and vibrant colors. Black, white and gray inclusions are commonly found in raw Thulite, as fractures of Calcite and other minerals are commonly found within the mineral. The vibrant color of the Dakota Stones beads occurs because of the high concentration of Manganese. Most commercially available stones have significant Calcite inclusions, mottled appearance, rusty or brownish tones, or are extremely pale. The cut of Dakota Stone’s Thulite rounds is also exceptional, as they are typically found in cabochon form, and not in significant beaded strands.


Only recently has the inclusion of tumbled Thulite beads entered the mass market for contemporary designers. Thulite provides a vibrant alternative to Rose Quartz when looking for stones symbolic of self-love and acceptance. Its hardness is appropriate for most jewelry applications. Not just a unique material, but also truly beautiful and versatile. The Dakota Stones hue and saturation is a designer’s dream, as it will work with both pastels and jewel tones. Consider pairing with Carnelian, Turquoise, or White African Opal.

                                                      - Dakota Stones
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Auralite23: Among the Oldest Crystals on Earth
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles

Auralite 23 is a naturally occurring combination of 23 minerals, including Amethyst, Gold, Platinum, and Silver, as well as many minerals rarely found in the form of beads or gemstones like Ajoite or Covellite, or material that commands premium prices in gem-grade material like Sphalerite. Auralite 23 is only known to exist in a mine located in Canada. The unique concentration of metals is believed to be the result of meteoric impact, with the metal from the meteorite eventually becoming part of the crystals as they formed. Auralite 23 is thought to be among the oldest crystals on earth, forming 1.5 billion years ago. Auralite 23 is highly prized and respected in metaphysical circles. It is believed to aid in all types of energy work and is reputed to be so powerful that it should not be handled by an inexperienced practitioner.

Considered a ”Master Healing” crystal Auralite 23 is said to aid in all energy work, including, but not limited to: personal power, energy balance, clearing and opening all chakras.


Incredibly popular in metaphysical communities. Ideal as an accent stone. Be aware that some “serious” metaphysical practitioners believe that Auralite-23 should not be used for merely decorative or ornamental purposes, and should only be handled by those with a deep understanding and respect for energy work and the attributes of the stone.

Auralite 23 may erroneously be called Cacoxenite, Cacoxenite Amethyst, Melody Stone, etc. Auralite 23 contains 23 different minerals, the material that can be correctly identified as Melody Stone or Cacoxenite within the trade has only 7 minerals. Auralite 23 can be visibly differentiated by a greater variety of colors present within stone. True Cacoxenite Amethyst will present primarily with deep purple, rust, and gold tones. Auralite 23 may show shades of green, pink, gray, rose, tan, lilac, and more. Due to the popularity of Auralite 23, communication barriers, and the frequent gap in understanding of mineralogy within the bead community, misidentification is currently widespread. Some vendors are selling Amethyst and Chevron Amethyst inaccurately as Auralite. While Auralite 23 is an Amethyst based material, it is incorrect to call Amethyst “Auralite” without the presence of additional minerals. “Auralite” should not be confused with the popular “Aura” coating which is a CVD (chemical vapor deposit) enhancement used on many gemstones, especially Quartz. Auralite 23 is a naturally occurring substance and the variations in color are due to natural variations in mineral composition.

                                                                                - Dakota Stones



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Vibrant Color | A Forecast of Optimism
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles
fire agate & star cut sardonyx


An upcoming design trend for AUTUMN/WINTER 2020-2021 is embellished with kitsch, optimism, and an unapologetic use of color.

This striking design trend is made up of bold, saturated colors presented in almost manic patterns. It is filled with art and adventure and embodies a sort of futuristic impressionism, what the PANTONE Color Institute calls a “rabble rousing design direction [that] brings together like minds in optimistic rebellion.”







With a few exceptions it is rare that one would find such energetic color and pattern in natural stone, but we are definitely seeing this trend come out in dyed stones like our new fire agate, dyed wood jasper, star cut sardonyx, multi-color impression jasper & lava beads.


So if you’re feeling this vividly optimistic ‘MORE IS MORE’ vibe, you should definitely give yourself the freedom to multi-layer, mismatch, pile-on and play outside the lines of convention for the 2020/21 season!

Love, Dakota Stones








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Whiskey Quartz
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles

Whiskey Quartz is a variety of Smoky Quartz given its name for the unique color found in this stone.This stone goes by other names like Whiskey Citrine, Champagne Quartz or Bourbon Quartz. The metaphysical properties of this stone are a combination of the benefits of smokey quartz and citrine. Citrine is said to have the properties of prosperity or the “merchant's stone” while quartz varieties like smokey quartz are said to transmute negative energy to positive. This stone possesses a unique combination of metaphysical properties while also displaying a hard to find level of craftsmanship.

The lapidary that cut these rounds cuts for some of the most well known names in the world of fashion jewelry such as Cartier. 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.

At Dakota Stones, 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 craftsmanship in these rounds is clear. The differences may be subtle but those subtle differences are what make these stones stand out. Small details like the precision and polish of the holes drilled in a clear bead like this make it unique and very distinct.

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. We take pride in making sure Dakota Stones branded products come from a source we trust.


             - Dakota Stones



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 Extinction
 The Difference of Diamond Cut
 What is Labradorite?
 Synthetic Stones - Has Science Gone Too Far?
 Know Your Dye
 The Real Rolling Stones | Gobi Desert Agate
 Thulite: A Naturally Pink Stone
 Auralite23: Among the Oldest Crystals on Earth
 Vibrant Color | A Forecast of Optimism
 Whiskey Quartz
 The Mystery of DZI
 dsPANTONE 2019 | Fall/Winter Color Story
 Jasper or Agate: What’s in a (Trade) Name?
 Waste Not, Want Not: Composite Stones
 Care and Keeping of Meteorite Beads
 They're BACK! Muonionalusta Meteorites
 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
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