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What is Hydrogrossular Garnet?


Hydrogrossular garnet is an especially rare gemstone, and our newest stone type at Dakota Stones. Because this stone is shrouded in mystery, we wanted to shed some light on what makes them so rare and special. 

These stones are sourced from New Zealand, and Africa, however its likely that hydrogrossular garnet can be found in most places garnets are sourced from. It's defined by a bright green color, and most commonly found with black inclusions. These inclusions are chromite, and the green color is caused by a reaction in the stone when the chrome is introduced to water.


The green coloring has likened the stone of jadeite in the past, and because its hardness has made the stone perfect for beads and cabochons, it has often been used as a substitute. Since the stone is so hard, it is perfect for sorting beads, as nearly all material cut from the raw form can be used. This is why many of our beads, especially our teardrops, appear so uniform.


Garnets can come in any color, and the same can be said of hydrogrossular garnet, though these stones are never fully translucent, so red and blue samples appear pink and powdery blue. The green variety can sometimes be called kiwi garnet, because of the black speckled inclusions scattered throughout the stone. 


Designers shouldn’t be afraid to make pieces with these stones that may need to withstand some wear and tear. These strands would pair well with black spinel, onyx or green aventurine.
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Featured Designer - Teresa Middleton


Teresa Middleton is the owner of Middle Moon Malas, an Indiana-based mala company that specializes in thoughtful and personalized designs. 

Malas are simply a strand of 108 beads, with the 109th being the guru bead, which are used as touchstones in meditation. This kind of meditation is a form of self-actualization, which is paired with chants, or mantras, that are repeated throughout your practice. Each bead represents one chant, and you move along the length of the mala until it is complete.


Teresa taught English for 30 years in Indiana. She's always been interested in meditation and learned about malas in her early days of meditation practice. Her business began from a desire for a personalized design that she could not find on the market: an orange-beaded, knotted mala. Before this, Teresa had not beaded before and was excited to learn new techniques from a variety of resources. All creatives will agree that the best projects and ideas begin naturally, and before long, Teresa was making malas for customers at her own business. 


There are a number of ways to go about incorporating a mantra with a mala. Reciting a mantra with a mala is called a japa, and one can recite, sing, whisper, or think the mantra silently. Teresa describes her process as being influenced by Buddhism and her own teachers that she’s encountered. You begin your mantra with the guru bead, holding it between your right thumb and middle finger (never the index finger, which signifies the ego). You then infuse the bead with your mantra, which could be a single word, prayer, affirmation, or phrase. Then, you continue to make your way around the circuit of the mala, continuing to infuse each of the 108 beads until you find your way back to the guru bead. You can finish your mantra practice at this point, or you can continue to chant for another round-- but never cross over the guru bead! Instead, flip the mala around, and continue in reverse. 

 

Teresa enjoys making malas to help people improve their lives and their meditative process. She finds inspiration from all kinds of sources-- from live recordings of opera performances, to unique outfits worn by strangers on the street. There is a mala available for a wealth of concerns in mindfulness practice, and Teresa is very knowledgeable of the metaphysical properties of stones.If you would like to learn more about malas, be sure to visit her webpage. 
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Larimar: A Caribbean Blue Stone


Larimar is a cool blue stone, often with white inclusions that resemble ocean foam. It is a deep, summery stone, and extremely versatile in designs, which is why Dakota Stones offers a wide range of shapes to inspire designers. One might compare the blue with turquoise, as some specimens are known to have greenish undertones, and it is widely considered best when set in silver. 


Larimar was first mentioned in the early 20th century, when a monk in the Dominican Republic issued a request to their Ministry of Mining to explore the unique blue stone. Though this initial request was rejected, it was only a matter of time before the stone became widely sought after. Larimar has only been found in the Dominican Republic, and there it has become a distinct cultural marker. Mythology from the local indigenous tribes tell a story that the stone came from the ocean, and it really is no wonder. 


Faceted and shaped beads are rare, but at Dakota Stones we do offer slices and drops in our high end dsPremier line. Larimar is often found cut into cabochons, since it can be difficult to shape and cutters can ask a premium. Luckily, we work with master lapidary artists in diamond faceting and carving, who appreciate a challenge. Their color goes perfectly with a light pair of blue jeans, but can be dressed up with blue shades to match or bright colors to draw the eye in. 


If you ever want to close your eyes and imagine you are sitting on a beach with the clearest, bluest waters the earth has to offer, consider finding inspiration in a design featuring larimar. The metaphysical properties of this stone are said to be calming and stress relieving, like the sound of the ocean waves on a quiet day.
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Mining the Facts: Hypersthene


Hypersthene is a pearly, lustry gemstone, that is a midpoint between enstatite or ferrosilite. It ranges in deep, dark colors with green or dark purple undertones, and the inclusions provide a unique appearance. We invite you to gaze into the deep, dark surface of these beads and admire its mysteries. 

 It’s existence in the gemstone world is a hotly debated topic, because it is a metamorphic rock, at the exact midpoint between two other minerals. The term comes from ancient Greece, and it means “over strength,” referring to the significant hardness of the material. This stone is particularly tough because it doesn’t often form individual crystals, and the lack of definition between minerals makes it more difficult to mine.The beads we source at Dakota Stone have a promising weight to them that makes them feel even fancier, like meteorite beads


Hypersthene is rich in magnesium and iron. The stones we sell at Dakota Stones are A-grade, which means every stone produces a silver shine, and the surrounding stone is a deep, rich black with a purple tone. Most lower grades of hypersthene have green tones, or are even brown.

 For a very long time hypersthene was almost completely unavailable, and higher grade samples were almost impossible to find. Recently, we’ve managed to get our hands on some high-grade samples to make into the rounds we’re selling now.  


Hypersthene has an interesting history, too. It was first named in the early 1800’s before it was identified as a metamorphic stone, which is what led to the confusion surrounding its name and type. The chatoyancy in hypersenthe has earned it the nickname “velvet labradorite,” in recent years, and it is even mined in the same area in Labrador, Canada. It can also be found in the Adirondack Mountains in the United States! That being said, this stone is not closely related to labradorite at all. Labradorite is a feldspar mineral, and the chatoyancy found in those stones tend to shift between fiery orange and blue-greens. Hypersthene can be found near igneous rocks, too. Because it is formed partially from iron, some meteorites have been collected with hypersthene found throughout. 


Since hypersthene has metallic silver inclusions throughout, including silver in your designs would bring out the schiller. Since these stones are a neutral color, you should feel comfortable designing pieces for anyone.
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Mining the Facts: Multi-Tourmaline


Tourmaline is a crystalline boron silicate material, and was first discovered in southern India. “Tourmaline” actually refers to the name of this kind of boron silicate, which includes a wide range of color variations. At Dakota Stones, we are lucky to have lots of different tourmaline  in our inventory and by buying multi-tourmaline strands, you can be sure to get a number of different combinations. 


The most common colors today are pink or green. The pink and red in tourmaline is caused by manganese, which is also responsible for the color of thulite. Blue and green are caused by copper, which is also found in turquoise and shattuckite. Some of these colors can also display a rare and unique chatoyancy, which can be found in some of our multi-tourmaline beads. Since the pinks and greens are often found together, a pink and green tourmaline specimen is nicknamed “watermelon.”


There is a lot of mystery and history regarding this stone. Some ancient cultures held the belief that this stone fell from the heavens, passing through a rainbow before it hit the ground and spreading its abundance of color with the earth. Clear samples of tourmaline had been worn by members of royalty all throughout history, but the most notable case surrounds the burial of China’s Dowager Empress Cixi. Though the tomb was heavily looted, it was said her body was laid to rest with copious amounts of tourmaline, which was her favorite gemstone. This gemstone has been recorded by name as far back as the 16th century, and the original specimen identified was actually green! In the 17th century tourmaline and other gemstones were shipped to the west from India to satisfy a curiosity for gemstones and riches from far away lands for their European customers. 


Today, Brazil is the leading supplier of tourmaline, but some can also come out of Maine or California too! In the early 1900’s, California was the leading supplier of tourmaline, and the Himalaya mine there is still considered to have some of the biggest deposits of tourmaline. Mining has slowed in that area, but you can actually visit the site and dig there yourself! 

There is no limit to potential when designing with tourmaline because it comes in such a wide variety of colors. The pinks, greens and even blue all compliment each other, so consider keeping a shade range found within our multi-tourmaline strands. Pairing these designs with faceted crystal quartz or hematite will draw eyes to the natural beauty in the stones. However, for limited color schemes such as the pink tourmaline beads, try pairing with kunzite or iolite for a soft, feminine look. Greens, blues and blacks can be paired with shungite or even red garnet for something bold.


Metaphysically, this stone is said to aid the conscious and unconscious mind to communicate with one another. Because of the intermingling of colors, this is a stone that promotes connections-- with the inner self, or with fraught relationships.
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Mining the Facts: Pietersite


Pietersite is recognizable for it’s unique chatoyancy, which can sometimes be two-toned. The blue coloring is caused by inclusions of crocidolite, and the gold color is caused by reactions in the silica host. The highest grade pietersite is usually cut into cabochons or shaped into pendants, as the chatoyancy is very desirable for rings and focals in necklaces. Some pietersite does make it to be shaped into beads, like those we sell at Dakota Stones, but because the stone is so unique stock never lasts long.


The stone was discovered in Namibia, Africa, in the 1960’s, making it a fairly new material to stone buyers and beaders. It was named by Sid Pieters, who named it in his father’s honor. This stone has come in and out of availability, and has only just re-entered the market from a dry period where it was incredibly rare for about five years. Because this stone is considerably rare, buyers should always make sure to have an eye out for counterfeits. Because tiger’s eye takes dye very well, it’s commonly used as a substitute. The chatoyancy in natural pietersite can sometimes have silver and gold streaks. Natural pietersite gemstones typically have reddish-brown inclusions as well, and imperfections found in the stone can differentiate between a glass dupe. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. 


Metaphysically, pietersite is a stone of storms, and thus is nicknamed the “tempest stone.”  It is said to clear negative energies, especially during meditation. 


Wearers should be cautious when cleaning these stones. Excessively hot water may cause discoloration, as well as harsh household cleaners. Like most of the stones offered on our site, we recommend cleaning with a warm, damp cloth, and drying off moisture afterwards. Because these stones are very durable, they will stand up to the test of time, and should not need any substantial cleaning often.
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Siberian Stones!


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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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