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Mining the Facts: Blue Chalcedony


Blue Chalcedony is a stone for creators. As a naturally occurring soft blue translucent stone, it is revered for its smooth ‘effortless’ quality that reflects and moves with light, much like water. This elusive and airy quality is what makes the stone so compelling...and difficult to capture in a photograph. So we made a video:







Known in antiquity as the Speaker’s Stone, Chalcedony is believed to have been worn by Cicero, the great Roman orator. This ancient connection solidifies Chalcedony as a stone that promotes expression, truth and a sense of optimism. It is a member of the Quartz family, a form of silica with a cryptocrystalline structure that incorporates Moganite along with the Quartz. Chalcedony can sometimes be further dyed or treated to create vivid colors but we find it best in it’s simple, natural state.


Blue Chalcedony pairs well with:






We know that these more expensive strands can be a little intimidating to buy online, and we want you to love your strands as much as we do. If they don't meet with your approval, or they won't work for your project, or you spent the kids college fund on beads, feel free to send them back.


                                                                                          - Dakota Stones

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Rare Find: Purple Fluorite & Green Fluorite Quartz


Purple fluorite is a natural and unusual opaque material and is new to Dakota Stones. We have not seen this specific material or the beads before and were only able to acquire a small batch of rough to cut into a select few rounds.

Mined in Russia, it differs from the more common transparent purple tones you normally find within banded fluorite. The colors range from a deep purple to a softer opaque pastel tone.



Green fluorite and quartz combine to create an interesting effect where the green color looks almost phosphorescent and the quartz remains transparent. Our lapidary artists cut many of the beads to have both distinctly quartz and distinctly fluorite parts. Dakota Stones only acquired a small batch of this material to cut into rounds, so the supply is limited.



More common fluorite is mined in China, Germany or the United States and is a colorful mineral that lends itself to ornamental and lapidary uses. Industrially, fluorite is used as a flux for smelting, and in the production of certain glasses and enamels. The purest grades of fluorite are a source of fluoride for hydrofluoric acid manufacture, which is the intermediate source of most fluorine-containing fine chemicals. Optically clear transparent fluorite lenses have low dispersion, so lenses made from it exhibit less chromatic aberration, making them valuable in microscopes and telescopes. Fluorite optics are also usable in the far-ultraviolet range where conventional glasses are too absorbent for use.

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From Diamond to Rough: A Guide to Stone Cuts


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!


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 call “Rose Cut”.





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.



Cabochons
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.





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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Mining the Facts: Stones from Madagascar




A wide variety of gemstones containing a spectrum-spanning range of colors originate in Madagascar, an island southeast of the African continent that has recently become one of the leading sources of gemstones in the world. Our featured stones this week – Kabamby Ocean Jasper and other Ocean Jaspers – are some of the latest unique types of stones Madagascar produces, and they only come from two locations in northwestern Madagascar.



In 2006, while searching for Ocean Jasper, geologists discovered another unique gemstone: Polychrome Jasper. As its name suggests, the stone contains multiple colors, often highlighted by the banding in the stone. This is a gemstone that looks exceptionally great in its polished form.



Labradorite, originally discovered in Labrador, Canada, has been found and mined in other parts of the world including Madagascar.




One of the most-interesting items we sell at Dakota Stones also has a Madagascar origin: the Bivalve Majunga Drilled Pendants. These once served as homes for simple aquatic clams near the Mahajanga (aka “Majunga”) Basin, but 144-206 million years have fossilized these shells and made them perfect beads or pendants that will definitely attract attention. And now if someone asks where they’re from, you can tell them – Madagascar!

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Manufacturing Large Hole Beads


Large hole stone beads present unique challenges for manufacturers. The larger the hole, the more commonly breakage occurs in drilling. This means that manufacturers spend more time inspecting and sourcing raw materials, along with inevitable loss from breakage. As a result, you'll notice that large hole beads usually cost more.

There are multiple ways to drill stone. The best method (and the one we use for large hole beads at Dakota Stones) uses ultrasonic technology, a drilling device that uses vibrations in order to hammer its bit through materials, as opposed to traditional drilling methods. If you're interested in the science, it's fascinating (CLICK HERE.





The results are even more exciting. Ultrasonic drilling gives the cleanest possible hole edges, minimizing potential abrasion and damage to stringing material. It also gives a consistent hole through the entire bead, eliminating the frustrating, and often impassable, narrowing in the middle of the bead that can result from poorly executed traditional drilling methods.
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Large Hole & Leather Bracelet


Large Hole & Leather BraceletLarge Hole & Leather Bracelet

Materials


1. Cut your 2mm leather in half. Using one of the cords, thread your button or bead to the center of your cord. Hold your button or bead and one end of the other 2mm cord together and tie an overhand knot. Secure the bead or button to the clipboad.

2. Using a flat nose pliers, bend one of the ends of each of the pieces of wire into a hook.

3. Thread a large hole bead onto each of the leather cords. Start to braid the cords pushing the beads up to a cluster. You can braid as tight or as loose as you want.

4. Once you have braided the cord about a half an inch, use one of the pieces of wire to gather the three cords together. You can use your pliers to hold the wire in place as you wrap the wire around the cording. You can wrap the wire tightly into a coil 3-4 times and cut excess with your wire cutter or you can use all of the wire and overlap the wire making a messy wrap. Either way, make sure to use your chain nose pliers to tuck in the end of the wire to prevent sharpness on your wrist.

5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 at least three times or more, depending on the desired length or wrist size. The final braid extends to an inch. Fold the braid over and hold it at the last wire wrap to make sure that the button or bead will fit in between the braided loop.

6. Using your final piece of wire, wrap the loop over the other wire wrap to secure the six cords together.

7. Lastly, thread a bead onto each of the cord ends and tie each off into an overhand knot. Secure with glue and cut the excess cord.







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Spooky Gemstone Week!

Today we venture to the creepier side of the gemstone industry to find out how these strange, beautiful stones got their names.


Bloodstone is also referred to as Heliotrope in Greek, which simply means "sun turning." Many believed that the sun turns red when this stone is immersed in water.




Cat's Eye displays a narrow band of concentrated light -- also known as chatoyancy -- due to inclusions of fine, parallel fibers in the stone.





Dragon Blood Jasper. Local legend in Western Australia, where Dragon Blood Jasper is mined, has it that the stone is the remains of ancient dragons.





Dog Teeth Amethyst is a combination of amethyst and white quartz, and is named after a flower, the Dog Tooth Violet, which has a similar color.





Moonstones owe their name to the quality of adularescence -- the diffraction of light as it hits thin layers within the gem.






Phantom quartz is a variety of quartz, or "rock crystal", that forms over pre-existing crystals. The included crystal is visible due to some variation in composition making the boundary of the included crystal visible. Such crystals display the outlines of numerous smaller crystals, known as "phantoms."


Dumortierite is a minor blue gemstone that usually forms as inclusions in Quartz. Its most common color is blue or grayish-blue, though pink and purple colors are also known. "Sunset" may just be a descriptive addition that denote a dark blue color.



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Mining the Facts: North American Turquoise Q & A



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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Curating Color: Bringing A Collection Together


I am *not* an organized or thoughtful designer. Most available space in my home eventually accumulates a pile of works in progress, findings and potential projects. I grab beads and design as the fancy strikes me. That might mean icy-blue Apatite in the middle of summer or beachy designs in January. I’m not what you might call “collection minded”. I do one-of-a-kinds and small batches. Does that limit my business? Yeah, probably. It’s far harder to market and sell unique pieces. It means more photography, more online listings, more pricing and merchandising to consider, and leaner margins because I tend to buy 5-10 strands of a stone instead of 50-100. If you want to be a scalable business, minding margins and curating collections can help you reach your goals more quickly. Even though I choose not to follow the rules, that doesn’t mean I don’t know them. I just mindfully rebel.

For the sake of fun and my love of Pantone, this blog is going to cover the elements I’d hypothetically use to build a collection around some of this season’s “it” colors:


An easy way to create a cohesive collection? Focus on neutrals. Boring? Nope. We’re working with stone, after all, and the variation of pattern, cut and size that comes with it. Check out how keeping some consistent neutral elements while varying shape, size, and stone types makes different pairings look like they belong together. Of course, that’s all good in theory, but what happens when it comes to design? This bracelet stack is proof positive that quiet colors don’t mean forgettable designs.

If you want to add a pop of unexpected color, this approach also helps that color look like it fits right in. Keep the pop from being visually jarring by pairing it with colors that pick up subtle undertones in the stone. We don’t think of Purple Crazy Lace Agate as a stone with golden tones, but check out what happens in this photo. Cool, huh?



Not feeling the warm neutral vibe above? No worries. Check out what happens when you focus on shades of gray! Here, we’re using the gray base color with more pops of color. The grays tie it together, the color pops make it fun.


Still not cool enough for you? Bring in some blue! The natural blue flash of Matte Labradorite makes blue pairing a cinch. Even if you keep the Labradorite solo with some simple silver spacers it still looks great next to a combination of bright and muted blues. It helps that the teal flash in the Labradorite echoes the Blue Crazy Lace Agate, and the matte finish alludes to the gray undertones in the Dumortierite.


Of course, you can always have your color cake and eat it, too. Even though these two stones seem like they shouldn’t go together, they *do* because they share just enough similar base coloring, and the sneaky golden tones in the Black Silver Leaf Jasper pick up the brightness in the Honey Opal.




Got any tips, tricks, or questions to share? Comment below or email [email protected]





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Pome-GARNET: Mining the Facts



Garnets owe their name to their red variation's similarity to a popular fruit: the word comes from a Middle English word meaning "dark red" and is derived from a Latin word meaning "grain" or "seed." This is believed to be a reference to the seed covers of the pomegranate. They range in color from dark red -- the color the stone is best known for -- to nearly clear, including many colors along the spectrum.

Garnet is a relatively well-known gemstone, but the term actually describes a group of similar minerals that share physical properties and crystal forms, while differing in chemical composition. The types include pyrope, almandine, spessartine, grossular, uvarovite and andradite. Usually found embedded in metamorphic, igneous and sedimentary rocks, garnets are pretty common because they are easy to mine.






One thing all garnets share is relative hardness, a factor that explains why some of the hardest garnets have been used as abrasives. When crushed, it breaks into angular shapes whose sharp edges are useful for industrial use. Surprisingly, most of the use of crushed garnet is in waterjet cutting of metal, ceramic or stone. Another industrial use is as a filter media in filtration systems.

Because some garnets are created in volcanic eruptions deep below the Earth's mantle -- as are diamonds -- garnets are sometimes considered "indicator minerals" that lead geologists and mining companies to diamond finds. It's rare that the same gemstone can be plentiful, useful and beautiful, but garnets are an example of just that. We sell the beautiful ones!





Extra Facts

- Garnet is a birthstone for January, and is traditionally given as a gift for a second anniversary.

- Another variety that has become well-known as a gemstone is Rhodolite, a light rose or purplish garnet.

- Thought to bestow upon the wearer eternal happiness, health and wealth.

- Red Almandine is the red garnet most often found in jewelry.

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