Thursday, December 30, 2010

How to choose gemstone beads

Beads are available in many materials. However gemstone beads have a charm and beauty that is all their own. So when you set out to design or make (or both) your own jewellery what are the things you should keep in mind while buying raw materials? Gemstone beads can be procured in a variety of colours, sizes, shapes and price-points. Real gemstone beads add a grace and authenticity to your jewellery and depending on the stone used a touch of tradition or class.

Beads can be used to create or embellish almost any piece of jewellery. Be it necklaces or earrings, bracelets or chokers- beads can be used in a plethora of permutations and combinations to achieve the desired effect.

When selecting the most appropriate beads for your project, consider what you plan to use them for as well as your budget.

Which gem?
Every imaginable colour and shade exists abundantly in the gem world. If you are working with a colour palette you can refer to the table of colours below.

Yellows: Yellow Topaz, Citrine, Diamond
Reds: Ruby, Garnet, Spinel, Coral
Pinks: Pink Sapphire, Pink Tourmaline, 
Greens: Emerald, Jade, Green Sapphire, Peridot, 
Blues to violets: Blue Topaz, Sapphire, Lapis Lazuli, Turquoise, Chalcedony, Iolite, Tanzanite, Amethyst, Aquamarine, 
Browns/Grays: Diamond, Smoky Quartz 
White: Opal, Diamond, Quartz, 
Black: Diamond, Onyx

All these different gems are available at different price points. However it is important to note their gemmological properties before using them in jewellery. For instance chalcedony is a comparatively softer stone than sapphire and hence not suitable for jangling bracelets where the beads may chip easily by being in constant contact with objects. Sapphire or blue topazes on the other hand are extremely durable and hence appropriate for the same piece.    Some stones break more easily than others, and some require special care (turquoise- keep away from chemicals and cosmetics). Softer stones might not be available in certain cuts.

Cuts and Contours
Gemstone beads range from 2mm diameter up to an average of 26mm. It is possible to order larger beads if so desired. Beads are sold by the strand or by number (if they are larger). Strands are 15 to 20 inches in length. They are fashioned in several cuts and shapes. Round beads, pipes, drum shaped, faceted or smooth ovals, chips and slices are also available. Other common shapes are square, heart and diamond although other shapes are available depending on the supplier. Reputed gemstone suppliers offer all these and more.

The gemstone bead may be smooth or faceted, tumbled or polished. Tear drop or pear shaped beads are known as briolettes these may be drilled through or half-way through since they are often suspended at the end of earrings as danglers or form the fringe of intricate necklaces. Carvings are another type of gemstone bead that is sure to make your jewellery stand apart. Intricate designs of flora, fauna, deities and abstract art are etched into the gemstone. Not all gemstones are hard enough to be carved, but there are many varieties available. If it is a more natural look you desire cabochon beads are a good option. Cabochons are nothing but the natural shape of the stone polished to a smooth and glossy finish.  

There are several reputed gemstone dealers on the net that offer a wide variety of beads/stones at wholesale prices for mass and personal consumption. It is possible for you to order one or several strings of beads from the comfort of your home. You can do this by placing an order through their website, by email or calling them. There is no minimum order required and the merchandise will be shipped across to you at a cost. Forward looking dealers have used technology to their advantage and it is possible to view the gems you are choosing in real-time via Skype.
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