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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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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 diamonds. With the use of this 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 bicones, coins, rounds, rondelles and now our new 4.5mm cubes. As diamond-cut stones become increasingly popular we hope to continue innovating new shapes and growing with this incredible technology.



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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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The Mystery of DZI
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles

Knowledge of dzi beads is derived from oral traditions. Few other beads have provoked more controversy concerning their source, and how they were created. This all gives rise to one of the most interesting and unique beads on earth.

Tibetans have never allowed Archaeological digs in Tibet, so no accurate field dates have been established. According to "The History Of Beads" by Lois Sherr Dubin, dZi is placed in the 700's AD alongside the introduction of Buddhism in Tibet. Her assumption is that dZi is connected with Tibetan Buddhism, so the beads are linked to the same date that Buddhism started.


There is a lot of speculation about how the original dZi was etched because the modern technology of heating beads in a vacuum chamber was not available at the time. One theory is the stones were heated at an extremely high altitude where the air is much thinner than lower altitudes resulting in less expansion. Tibet is the highest altitude country on the planet so this theory seems plausible.


Since dZi are typically made of agate and agate is porous, it contains air and moisture within the stone which, when heated, expands and causes the stone to crack. In a vacuum the air has been removed which greatly reduces the chance of cracking. This technology was not available 100 years ago in remote Tibet. It certainly was not around thousands of years ago, hence the mystery of how they were made.


The process of marking dZi stones is also interesting . After the bead was shaped, it was baked with sodium carbonate which gives the stone a white ashy look. Sodium carbonate is currently used in the manufacture of glass, paper, rayon, soaps, and detergents. The pattern of the eyes and lines were marked out in wax and when the wax hardened, the beads were soaked in a sugar or chemical solution until the solution had seeped into the porous surface of the stone where it had not been covered in wax. The stone was then baked again, burning the sugar within the stone and turning it a brown color.. This method was somewhat hit and miss as the density of agate varied greatly, allowing different amounts of the solution to penetrate. This gave rise to variations in the depth of color of the markings, a problem still happening today with the modern 'dZi' style beads.

The modern method of making 'dZi' style beads is known as quench cracking. The agate is first heated and then subjected to quenching in a cold, liquid solution like water. The sudden contraction causes the material to develop a series of cracks that radiate throughout the stone. Because these are surface-reaching fractures, the agate can then be subjected to additional coloring, giving the 'dZi' style beads a unique look and texture inspired by the ancient dZi beads.

Large wood replica of ancient dzi bead


- Dakota Stones



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dsPANTONE 2019 | Fall/Winter Color Story
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles

Below is our Dakota Stones Pantone color story featuring the most market-relevant colors for the 2019 Fall/Winter Season!




Each season the Pantone Color Institute provides an accessible guide highlighting important color trends in all areas of design. These colors are pulled directly from fashion designers upcoming collections as key indicators for color stories we can expect to see in the coming year.






“Colors for Autumn/Winter 2019-2020 range from easy and sophisticated to strikingly different and unique...[t]his palette of versatile hues builds a sense of empowerment and confidence, enabling the wearer to choose the colors that best reflect his or her mood and persona.” - Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute (pantone.com)

SHOP ALL dsFALL/WINTER 2019 PANTONE PICKS!






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Jasper or Agate: What’s in a (Trade) Name?
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles


The names the bead industry uses for materials aren’t always scientifically correct or precise. The best example in recent years is the widespread use of “Cacoxenite” to describe a stone that’s a blend of Quartz and other minerals, including Cacoxenite. More generally, this issue appears when “Agate” and “Jasper” seem to be used by different vendors to describe the same material.

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHICH IS ACCURATE?

The easiest test it visual. Put light behind the material. If you can see light through it, it’s Agate. If you can’t, it’s Jasper.






It’s an easy test, but the underlying science is more complex. Let’s start with Quartz basics. Quartz is one of the most abundant materials on the planet with two major varieties; macrocrystalline and cryptocrystalline. Macrocrystalline Quartz includes the varieties forming in visible points and clusters. Amethyst, Smoky Quartz, and Citrine all fall into this category. Cryptocrystalline Quartz crystals are only visible under magnification.

Within the realm of cryptocrystalline quartz we start to see where and why the confusion occurs. When viewed under a microscope, Quartz crystals will either appear parallel to each other or they will appear randomly. When the crystals are parallel, it’s considered a “fibrous” cryptocrystalline. If the crystals are not, it’s considered “grainy” cryptocrystalline.

On a microscopic level, you can see the difference between Jasper and Agate based on their crystal structure. Agate is a fibrous cryptocrystalline, which is visible to the naked eye in its areas of translucence. Jasper is grainy cryptocrystalline, and this manifests to the naked eye in its opacity.



Within the bead industry, confusion arises when long-accepted trade names conflict with science. Language can also play a part in the misidentification of a stone. Most stones are not mined and cut in the same country, and not every member of the gemstone mining and manufacturing community is a stone, mineral, or geology expert fluent in multiple languages.


At Dakota Stones, we choose to use trade names for materials in most cases. We make every effort to identify both other common names for a stone, as well as to fully disclose the composition of a stone within each product description.

Note: Not all opaque material is Jasper, nor is all translucent material Agate. This article is meant to help readers understand why similar materials may bear different names or have characteristics at odds with them.




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Waste Not, Want Not: Composite Stones
Posted by Dakota Stones to Articles
purple impression jasper
ds Blue/Purple Impression Jasper Rounds

Ever noticed that some bead cuts are more expensive than others? The price isn't only due to differing labor costs, it also reflects the amount of the stone that is "lost" in the cutting process. In the 1980's, these stone remnants started to find new life as composite stone. Mixed Impression Jasper is very a popular composite stone.

Composite stones go by several other names: reconstituted stones, assembled stones, reconstructed stones. These terms refer to any stone created using stone remnants from the cutting process mixed with resin to create "new" stone that is cut into blocks and then turned into beads or cabochons.

Merits

Possibility. The options available in composite stones are only limited by imagination. You can find everything from wild, funky parties of color to stones with striking metallic inclusions. Bold, contrasting color pairings or beads in solid, subtle tones.

Value. Even though these stones are created by adding steps to the cutting process, they offer a great savings over traditional stone. Mixed Impression Jasper gives stone cutters additional revenue where they previously had a loss, so they can offer composite stones at a great price..

Warm fuzzies. There's something beautiful in decreasing our environmental footprint and increasing our creative thinking.
Composite stone slabs
Some Favorite Uses
Since composite stone is the embodiment of re-purposing, up-cycling, and responsible environmental citizenship, we love seeing these stones used with other up-cycled, vintage, and re-purposed components. These designs combine the creative energy in a one-of-a-kind piece with implicit messages about the beauty that's just waiting to be discovered in things we may normally overlook, throw away, or simply regard as object, not ornament.

Since many composite stones may be dyed or color-enhanced to create wonderfully saturated colors, and there are lots of stones available in knock-your-socks-off combinations, we see some great statement pieces. These are designs that show us that sometimes more is more. Add some crystals, add lots of crystals, add in some other stones in uncommon shapes, throw in layers of chain. Mixed Impression Jasper can make a statement design both more cohesive and more striking.

Black impression jasper
Black Impression Jasper Rounds
Because the price point of Mixed Impression Jasper is more accessible, I've personally found value in creating two versions of a design. I'll do a version in natural stone, and another with composite. Some of my customers want only natural stone and they're willing to pay the premium to get it. Other customers are just looking for something pretty, and they're making their decisions based on price. The up-cycled element may add value for them, other times, they're just thrilled with their frugality... which I think helps sell multiple items where I may have only sold one.
Closing FYI
The best practices for the care and cleaning of Mixed Impression Jasper will vary based on the materials. It's important to remember that all composite stone uses resin, and some may use dyes. For that reason, let your customers know that ultrasonic and steam cleaning may destroy the integrity of the stone.

- Erin, Dakota Stones
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 The Real Rolling Stones | Gobi Desert Agate
 The Difference of Diamond Cut
 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
 The Artistry of Hand-Cut Stones
 Why Stone Types Become Unavailable
 A Simple Guide to Stone Cuts
 Chakra Stones and Metaphysical Attributes
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