Sunday, April 24, 2011

What Are Your Favorite Jewelry Supply Shops?

I thought today I would share my top favorite sites for purchasing jewelry supplies.  These sites are listed in alphabetical order - not in order of preference.  I find that I move back and forth between these sites depending on what items I am buying, how many items and when.  I also try to take advantage of sales and specials when available.

Note:  This post has been updated June 2014.  My vendor list below is in alphabetical order.
  • Good selection of beads and findings.
  • Prices fairly reasonable - better with sales and coupons - which are frequent.  Quantity discount given for multiple units per item purchased.  Be sure to sign up for email newsletter to receive coupons and sales announcements.  
  • Good instructional videos and tutorials about jewelry making are also available on their site. 
  • Free shipping on all orders over $10.
  • Absolutely the bottom line pricing I have found for fashion chain!  They do not offer sterling silver, solid gold, etc. but have an outstanding selection of high quality electroplated base metal chain.  I love their antiqued silver, antiqued gold and antiqued brass chains!
  • Wholesale account required - you must create a wholesale account and provide your retail license number to be able to view prices and make purchases.
  • I have not ordered anything other than chain from them, but they do offer a somewhat limited selection of beads and findings.
  • Shipping is based on weight of the order and can be somewhat high when ordering heavy items such as chain.
  • Extensive inventory of beads and findings.  They also carry gemstones - but somewhat limited selection.  
  • Their "All Assortable Pricing" strategy makes them the bottom line pricing for staples that I use over and over such as earring findings, headpins, jump rings, etc.  Pricing is listed for 1-14 units, 15-49 units, 50-199 units and 200 or more units.  The best part is that unlike many sites where quantity discounts are given based on the number of each item you purchase, at FireMountainGems you can combine all units.  In other words, you don't have to buy 200 pairs or earring wires to receive the 200 unit discount.  For example, you could buy 50 units of earring wires, 50 units of headpins, 25 units of Czech red beads, 25 units of blue beads, 30 units of Swarovski crystals, and 20 units of sterling silver beads.
  • Good tutorial and instructional source.
  • Shipping is $5.00 per order if you choose FedEx - no matter how large your order!  There is also a $2.65 handling charge - total shipping and handling is $7.65.
  • Good selection of beads and findings.  
  • Prices are fairly good but not the best.  Sign up for their newsletter to take advantage of sales for best pricing.  Quantity discount available based on number units per item purchased.
  • Very good Tutorial site!  Find easy to follow instructions on techniques here.
  • Free shipping on all U.S. orders.

  • Offers nice selection of vintage style components, rhinestones, and beads.
  • Minimum order required of $20.
  • Discount of 10% given on orders over $100.
  • Shipping cost based on weight of order.  Standard shipping is USPS First Class Mail up to 13 oz.  Orders over 13 oz. are shipped by Priority Mail at $5.95.  Shipping upgrades are available for Express shipping.
  • Website is somewhat difficult and cumbersome to navigate, but the inventory selection is quite good.
  • Decent selection of beads and supplies. 
  • Prices are reasonable.  Quantity discount given based on number of units per item you purchase.
  • Shipping is reasonable, but not free.  They do ship fast - I always receive my order quickly!

  • Incredible selection of high quality gemstones.
  • No minimum order required but quantity discounts given for orders over $75.
  • Shipping is free for orders over $39.
  • Free tutorials are included on their website.

  • Decent selection of beads and components.
  • Prices reasonable and quantity discounts given.
  • Minimum order of $25 to order on their website.  If you want to order less, you can call and place an order and pay a handling fee of $4.00.
  • Shipping rates are based on weight of order.
  • Absolutely my favorite site for vintage style jewelry supplies.  Although not actual vintage pieces, many of their stampings and designs are from the original dies of the Victorian era.
  • Prices are very reasonable.  Although no quantity discount is available, I find the prices are quite fair and have never been disappointed with the quality of their products.
  • No wholesale account required.
  • Excellent links for tips, tutorials and inspiration ideas!
  • Reasonable shipping rates - $3.00 per order.  I have found their shipping to be prompt and accurate - usually receiving my order within 3-5 days of placing it.

  • Great site for every type of wire used for wire-wrapping and making findings.
  • Prices are quite good and they offer frequent sales and promotions - be sure to join their email list to take advantage of these.
  • Excellent tutorials and tips are found on their blog.  
  • Shipping rates are reasonable at $4.95 per order when you spend up to $150 and free if you spend over $150.
These are some of my favorite sites for larger volume orders and staples I use a lot of.  I also have several Etsy sites I have used for specialty items and smaller orders.  Here are a few of my "faves" that have excellent products as well as great customer service:

Adidit:  Beautiful digital collage sheets - mostly with vintage style themes.
YadanaBeads:  Large selection of beads and jewelry components.
YummyTreasures:  Specializes in vintage beads and supplies.

Please feel free to share your experiences about these or other sites for jewelry supply shopping!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Turquoise Beaded Necklace

As promised, here is my finished turquoise design following up on my previous post about turquoise!

Necklace with Matching Earrings

You can find this necklace and more Victorian and vintage style jewelry in my Etsy shop:

Monday, April 11, 2011

About Tuquoise

This weekend I started working on a turquoise beaded necklace.  Still working out the exact design but thought I might write a post about this beautiful stone.

Color:  Turquoise colors range from sky blue to blue-green to apple green.  The most valuable is pure blue, and it is also the most rare.  Most stones will have a matrix of other minerals throughout them that appear in the form of brown, gray or black veins.

History:  The  use of turquoise dates back at least to the time of ancient Egyptians when Pharaohs often adorned themselves with turquoise jewels.  The ancient Chinese also favored the use of turquoise using it almost as much as jade.  Turquoise was also very popular during the European Victorian era.  And Native Americans in North America began mining and cutting their own turquoise to create beautiful jewelry several centuries before the arrival of Europeans.

There are several forms of turquoise found in the jewelry market:

Natural turquoise is the most valuable and most expensive.  Representing less than 3% of the world market, it is usually a vivid blue with a fine delicate pattern of veins.  It is cut and polished without any further treatment or compounds being applied.

Stabilized turquoise is the most common form of turquoise used today.  It is less expensive than natural turquoise, but it is still very beautiful and more valuable than dyed turquoise (as described below.)  Stabilization is achieved by infusing the stone with a clear epoxy resin which hardens the surface and enhances (as opposed to dying) the color.  Whereas natural turquoise will deepen in color over time, the color intensity of stabilized turquoise will not change because of the hardened surface.

Treated and dyed turquoise pieces are very common in the jewelry market, are less expensive but also less valuable.  These stones are first stabilized and then dyed resulting in a less natural and somewhat artificial appearance.

Reconstituted turquoise is often referred to as chalk turquoise.  It is the lowest grade turquoise and hence the least valuable and least expensive.   The process is applied to lower grade stones and involves first grinding the stone into powder, then applying a resin and dye to form a thick paste.  It is then pressed into forms and molds and allowed to harden.  It is then cut and carved into various shapes and sizes.  Reconstituted turquoise is usually easy to identify because it has none of the characteristic veins or matrix found in natural and stabilized turquoise.

Turquoise jewelry is highly popular in today's market.  Before buying turquoise, ask about the quality and treatment of the stone as a reputable jeweler should disclose this information.

As for the necklace I am working on, I will post when pictures and description when completed!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

About Czech Glass Beads

Czech Glass Beaded Earrings
By DJAjewels on Etsy

I use a lot of Czech glass beads in my jewelry designs - like the one pictured here.  So I decided to learn a bit more about these beautiful beads.

Czech glass beads are, of course, made in the Czech Republic.  Sometimes we hear these beads referred to as Bohemian glass since this area used to be called Bohemia.  During the 1800's, the Bohemian and Venice glass makers competed intensely against each other for the glass market.  Industrialization, however, during the 19th century brought about major changes in the way Bohemian glass makers produced their glass.  During this time, Venice continued to produce handmade glass beads, while the Czechs perfected the art of mass producing them using machines.  These machines pressed molten glass into heated molds producing many glass beads at once instead of one at a time.

World Wars I and II nearly caused a collapse in the Czech bead industry but it survived and was even thriving again by the 20th century.  Today the Czech Republic dominates the mass production of glass bead making, and they are known for their highly consistent quality and wide array of finishes.  Some of these finishes include:

Aurora borealis (AB):  An iridescent somewhat metallic finish with a highly reflective quality.  The beautiful shimmer of these beads is obtained by applying the finish to only some areas of the bead.

Fire-polished:  Faceted beads polished by tumbling them in a heated container.  This process adds sparkle to the facets.

Crackle:  These beads have a crackle appearance obtained by heating the glass until it cracks and then re-heating it enough to create a smooth finish on the surface.  The crackles are then visible beneath the surface.

Matte:  Non-shiny appearing beads.  These beads have a softer look than the shimmering AB beads.  Other names include Satin and Frosted finishes.

Vitrial:  Reflective glass beads with a silver colored coating applied to a portion of the bead's surface.

The many colors, finishes and shapes of Czech glass beads available today allows jewelry designers to create unique, interesting and even one of a kind designs!