Glossary of Stones, Glass and Metals used in my Jewellery
A Work In Progress....This information is correct to the best of my knowledge.
Abalone (or Paua Shell); this is a natural by-product of Abalone which is harvested in New Zealand as a source of food - harvesting is strictly controlled by that government, and the shell is left over - this is then made into beads which show the most beautiful blues, greens, golds, silvers, black and creams in an infinite variety of shades.
Alexandite; appears to be different colours depending on whether it is viewed in natural or artificial light. Alexandrite appears to be red when seen in candle light and blue to green when seen in fluorescent light. Alexandrite was named in honour of the Russian Czar Alexander II; it is mined in Russia, Brazil, Ceylon, and Zimbabwe.
Amber; fossilised resin from prehistoric pine trees, (relatives of which still grow today which hopefully means there will be plenty of amber round for people in millions of years) produced enormous quanitites of resin which fell to the ground or filled larger cracks and holes in the trees where it eventually became fossilised; a simple test to see if amber is 'genuine' is to see if it will float in salt water - if it is real, it will float.. Amber was one of the first substances used by man for amulets, medicine and decoration. It was brought to the foothills of the Alps from the Baltic coast and the distances covered to obtain it, vast for those days, give an idea of its importance; small unfortunate creatures would sometimes become stuck in amber, which is why you might find a fly in it....on the other hand, these days, its common practice for unscrupulous manufacturers to insert their own flies into amber....frankly, I'm not that keen on flies.
Amazonite; Pretty pale green stone, there are a couple of different varieties - one known simply as Amazonite which is a pale delicate green, the other is known as Russian Amazonite which is a deeper green striped with white - depending on the chemical composition of each variety. Mined in Brazil, USA (Colorado), Madagascar and Russia.
Amethyst; ranges from lavender, lilac to mauve and purple in colour, it is the most valuable of the quartz group. The Romans believed the stone induced a sober mind, the name is derived from the Greek amteethystos, which means 'not intoxicated'.Amethyst is the birthstone for February, symbolising Sincerity. Like many semi precious stones, amethyst may have natural inclusions and variable colours, swirls of white or grey and ranging from light lilac to dark purple; this is often an indicator of the quality of the stone - the clearer and darker the stone, the more valuable, and as with most things, a wide variety is available; Amethyst is rarely dyed, but can sometimes be heat treated, an accepted and ancient practice in the gemstone trade; this does not affect the quality of the stone.
Ametrine - Type of quartz with a lovely combination of Citrine and Amethyst, often with a very visible colour change within one stone or bead - this occurred by different temperatures during their formation; primarily mined in Bolivia.
Antiquing of Silver Beads/The 'Antiquing Silver Process; Beads are often 'antiqued' with Liver of Sulphur which darkens the crevices of the beads and therefore highlights the raised parts after they have been polished. Although the beads used in my jewellery are .925 sterling silver, most are not hallmarked.
Apatite; colours range from deep blue to intense green - natural irradiation often intensifies these colours in apatite but heat treatment can be used to further enhance the depth of the blues and greens in this stone; the stone is also found as colourless, multi-coloured, yellow, or lilac. Apatite is relatively soft and is most often used in beads and used where it is least least likely to be damaged. To clean, do not use hot water, a steam cleaner or ultrasonic cleaner; gentle soap, cool water and a soft cloth are the best cleaning methods, as they won't scratch the surface or affect its shine
Aqua Aura Quartz - Clear crystal such as rock crystal is fumed in a vacuum with a precious metal such as gold or platinum at very high temperatures - the precious metal is deposited in a thin layer on the stone - this produces a beautiful blue-green effect with a metallic sheen.
Aquamarine; colours range from blue, blue/green, almost transparent to greenish hues, the seawater colour of this stone gave the gemstone its name; the more intense the colour, the more valuable the stone. It is said to enhance clarity of mind and aid creative self-expression. In medieval times the stone was thought to awaken the love of married couples and is known as the 'sailors gem' ensuring safe passage across stormy seas. When not wearing Aquamarine, keep it in a dark place, as if it is left out in the sun, the stone will become paler. Aquamarine is said to symbolise Courage. Birthstone for March. Part of the Beryf family of gemstones.
Aragonite; can be found in a variety of colours ranging from burnt orange to white. Deposits of this stone can be found in various places but the initial discovery was in the Rio Aragon region of Spain where it was discovered in 1788, hence the name, and it is said to be associated with the Capricorn astrological sign; Aragonite is related to Calcite, for which it can sometimes be mistaken.
Artist-made Lampwork Beads; when I refer to these beads within a piece of handmade jewellery, it denotes something that is limited edition or one of a kind (not mass produced) that has been handmade by an artist who specialises in working with glass to produce lampwork glass beads using a 'torch' or very hot flame and molten glass to make beads; once these have come off the mandrel or the rod that the beadmaker uses, these beads are then fired in a kiln to ensure that any internal cracking or stresses within the beads are eliminated - these beads are miniature works of art and no two are ever exactly the same; Venetian or Murano glass is made in the same way.
Azurite - a natural combination of blues and greens - a combination of Malachite and Lapis Lazuli, the colour composition is influenced by its copper content; has in the past been used extensively in the manufacture of paint. Mined in China, the United States and Namibia.
Beadalon Professional - my stringing medium of choice - these days there is a huge variety of stringing options available to the jewellery make, but I use Beadalon Professsional because I find its a wonderful, flexible and extremely strong material - it is made of 49 strands of stainless steel which is then sheathed in flexible clear plastic - this means that even if a bead is a little rough inside, it will withstand wear and tear for a long time; whilst its impossible to guarantee any stringing medium indefinitely, its the one I love to work with most of all because of its strength and versatility; I do use other forms of stringing such as leather or silk, but they are for very specific looks, Beadalon Pro is what I use as a benchmark of good quality jewellery making for the site.
Black Onyx - durable and hardwearing, this is a translucent Chalcedony, the stone was used by ancient Greeks and Romans who carved it to produce cameos and seals; even at that time the blackness of the colour was enhanced - Pliny described a technique that was used for darkening and enhancing the stone which is still in use today - the enhancement starts by the stone being soaked in a sugared water solution which sticks to the stone, and is then placed in acid - when this and the stone are boiled, the acid eats away the sugar and this leaves black carbon, though it is sometimes possible to see white banding within some black onyx which has not been treated in this way
Bohemian Glass - I often refer to Bohemian glass in my jewellery, very frequently referencing this in my antique/vintage bead jewellery - the origin refers to the Bohemian (Czech) bead industry which was a major industry up to the second world war and still produces some beautiful beads to this day. Whilst some of the work was individually crafted, many of the beads are pressed glass and are made in moulds.
Calcite - the name Calcite is derived from 'chalix' from the Greek for 'lime', is an abundant mineral which as a whole comprises approximately 4% of the weidht weight of the crust of the earth and it occurs in many forms - Aragonite (yello) and Mangano (pink) being just some of these.
Carnelian - Birthstone of Virgo (Aug. 22nd to Sept. 22nd); part of the chalcedony family, which includes Tigerseye, Agate, Bloodstone, Jasper, Chrysoprase and Sardonyx. This stone is a reddish-ginger colour, frequently banded with white, grey or black - in my opinion the banding really makes this stone interesting and special; available in a wide variety of patterns and colours, this stone has a beautiful glow to it which seems to radiate from the inside out - the stone was used by the Romans to make seals, and the Victorians carved cameos using it. Stones included in this family are agates, jaspers, bloodstone, onyx, carnelian and chrysoprase..
Chalcedony - Chalcedony is part of the quartz family of minerals that shows a beautiful milky appearance - ranges from grey to blues to pinks naturally; the more outlandish shades are often dyed. The Chalcedony stone family includes agates, carnelian, chalcedony, chrysoprase, onyx, bloodstone, sard, and jasper. The different colours are created by naturally occuring metallic impurities and inclusions such as iron, nickel, copper, and titanium present during formation of the stone.
Chrome Diopside - mined in Siberia in Russia for only half the year (the other half being too cold for mining) this stone is given its colour and its name with the amount of Chromium included in its composition, which explains the range of greens in which the stone occurs; its a rare and special mineral which is difficult to work with as it has two 'planes' against which the faceter must work
Chrysocolla - This stone grows in rock crystal deposits in copper mines the USA, Russia, Chile, and the Congo; it is the copper content that creates the beautiful opaque blue-green colouring which is often confused with Turquoise.
Chrysoprase - part of the chalcedony family, which includes Tigerseye, Agate, Bloodstone, Jasper, Carnelian, and Sardonyx. Apple-green Chrysoprase is the most valuable of this family, though it does occur in other colours including lemon - which is often more of a soft lime green. Mined primarily in Australia.
Citrine is a quartz, colours range from yellow/gold to gold/brown to amber and can have white to grey inclusions - some citrine is very light and some is dark, its name derives from its colour, 'citron' being French for lemon. Green Citrine is the result of heat treatment, an accepted practice in gemmology.
Cloisonne Beads - Cloisonne is an old French word meaning 'partition'; this techique dates back thousands of years, and in terms of the beads I use in my jewellery, a base bead is soldered with overlaid twisted wires which separate the various areas of the bead; these areas are then filled with enamel which is then fired, giving a jewel-like polished effect.
Copyright - refers to a design, picture, device or text that belongs to the author and may not be copied or distributed without the owner's, designers or author's permission - the website, contents, photographs, text and jewellery designs within the context of SLC Designs, TiaraOnline and Beadaddict belong to myself, and I would urge would be designers to find their own style of methods of designing and describing their jewellery and websites rather than making copies of other designers work; my copyright extends from the design, wording, photography, appearance, colour, ethos, logo, and concept of the business and the websites to the jewellery pieces themselves, and even when sold the copyright is retained by the artist.
Coral is the empty home of a marine animal and grows in branchlike formations. It is most frequently red, but also can be found in pink, white, black and blue. The black variety is protected as it is endangered and should not be purchased. American Indians regarded coral as a symbol of vitality. It is hard to source natural coral these days and most contemporary coral is dyed which is an accepted gemstone practice - there is some interesting stuff around including sponge coral and varying colours.
Copper - Over the passage of time, this metal has had significant social, medical, and spiritual use - it is often a constituent of gemstones themselves; it is often claimed that copper can help with arthrits but speaking as a person with arthritis I am doubtful about this, and I cannot make any claims in this regard - if you like the metal and the colour that is fine, but it is in my opinion doubtful in the extreme that it will assist with arthritic pains; I am absolutely sure it won't actually do any harm, but it will not make any difference whether you wear copper or not in regard to any arthritic condition and I confess to some exasperation with jewellery retailers who claim that copper jewellery will cure arthritic pain.
Crimp Beads - crushable beads that allow the jewellery maker to make firm closures at the ends of bracelets, necklaces to join to the clasp and findings.
Cubic Zirconia - Cubic zirconia is created to simulate diamond; the effect is so similar it can sometimes fool gemologists. The stone has less brilliance than diamonds, but more inner 'fire' or colour flashes. Other than the obvious difference of price, the other difference is weight; diamond is about 75% lighter than cubic zirconia. Man-made Cubic Zirconia is clear and flawless, whereas naturally occuring diamonds usually contain inclusions and flaws; cubic zirconia is found in a large range of colours including clear (flawless), black, orange, copper, reds, yellows, lavenders, greens and purples.
Dalmatian Jasper - part of the family of Jaspers, and spotted like a Dalmatian. Sorry about the obvious description. Dalmatian Jasper looks particularly good when paired with a bright colour - for instance, red coral or perhaps lapis lazuli or even blue or green turquoise - or even combinations of bright colours.
Dichroic Glass - originally developed for and by NASA for the space industry, this glass is special stuff, dependent on the angle at which the glass is viewed, you will see different colours, this is one of those things you have to see to fully appreciate. The colours change constantly and photographs just can't capture them in all their glory; this glass is worked into pendants and beads by glass artists, and my dichroic glass is sourced from American artists.
Druzy Quartz is a thin layer of quartz crystals covering the surface of a stone. An example of this stone is the amethyst crystals you see inside an 'amethyst church' or geode. The druzy aspect of the stone is the roughened, coloured side of the stone - on the other side the stone is plain - occurs in a variety of colours including purple, black, white, pink, peach - and those are the ones I know about!
Fine Silver - 99.9% silver, a higher purity than sterling silver which is 92.5% silver, the rest of the content being other metals such as copper or zinc - the other metals are added to make the metal malleable and to increase strength.
Fire Agate - Part of the quartz/chalcedony family of minerals, the colour and markings/effects are influenced by the iron content within the stone; beautiful oranges, browns and reds in some wild patterns.
Fluorite - occurring in varying grades from clear/translucent to opaque in a range of colours including purple, lilac, clear, a range of greens and yellow more rarely - the stones usually have banding/striping and may feature more than one or two colours within the same stone/bead; they may also have inclusions of white to black within them, inner flaws which are part and parcel of the stone being a natural occurence giving the stone its interest - all lovely in their own way; main deposits are found in China.
Freshwater Pearls - form when a tiny particle of matter like a grain of sand finds its way (or is inserted) into the shell of a mollusc and becomes coated inside the shell over time with nacre, a number of layered coatings which gives the pearl its pearly sheen, and ultimately forms a pearl. Pearls range in natural colours, and of course many are dyed. Once viewed by Arabians as tears of the Gods, the pearl is is one of the birthstones for June, symbolising health and longevity.
Garnet - this stone occurs in many colours or forms, though most people initially think of the deep purply-red variety - the stone can also be found in orange to mandarin, a variety of greens through olives to brown, light red through to deep - forms are Almandine, Grossular, Hessonite, Spessartite, Andradite, Rhodolite, Tsavorite and Demantoid; the stones often consist of a combination of these minerals which gives the stone a wide-range of forms. A durable and hard-wearing gemstone, Garnets historically were believed to protect the wearer from nightmares; birthstone for January.
Glass Pearls - the Glass Pearls I use in my Jewellery are made by Swarovski crystal - a layer of crystal underneath with Swarovski's special coating - these pearls give the feel, weight and appearance of real pearls and are of course perfect in shape - purchasing natural pearls in perfect shapes would be hugely expensive, and these crystal pearls are long lasting and of excellent quality, which one would expect from Swarovski.
Gold Aventurine (Aventurina); - Venetian glass - beautiful glass with a spangly-coppery like look, I have seen beads made entirely of this and this glass is also used to decorate other beads, for instance - the gold-aventurine trailing on 'Wedding Cake' style beads. The glass was named 'aventurina' which resembles the meaning 'by chance' in Italian as the traditional Venetian story of how this glass was invented goes along the lines that a Murano workman accidentally dropped copper filings in hot glass, creating a sparkling new glass effect with lots of possible uses; see also Goldstone.
Gold-Filled Wire and Components - 'Gold-filled' is a tarnish resistant layer of gold over a base metal core (either brass or copper) which has been in regular use for some time by jewellery designers in the United States as an affordable option with the look of gold without the price tags - it is pressure bonded to the base metal layer and extremely hard wearing, with a much much thicker layer of gold than ordinary plated metals - I have had pieces of gold-filled jewellery for a long time and it holds up very well without the wearing away that you often experience with plated - for this reason, I prefer not to use plated metals (unless of exceptionally high quality such as Swarovski's plated components) if at all possible - it IS an excellent alternative to gold and I have been impressed with its durability. Gold-Filled would probably be recognised in the UK as 'rolled gold' - not something you see references to much these days, mostly occurring in older, better quality costume-type jewellery. Jewellery made with Gold-Filled components has a thick layer of 14 karat gold and is considered jewellery that would last at least as long as sterling silver pieces. Clean your gold-filled jewellery using a gold cloth, never immerse it in dips - do not subject it to harsh chemicals or salt, as doing any of these things would shorten the length of the life of any jewellery.
Goldstone Originally classified as a 'stone' in the Victorian era, this material is in fact man-made but is given the status of a semi precious stone - it is sparkling coppery crystals in glass which is formed into a beads or cabochons and not only is seen in the brown-coppery colour but also a very attractive deep-blue-sparkly form; see also Gold Aventurine.
Hematite/Hematine is an iron ore, and is a slinky polished dark grey/black' the stone is often used with pearls or mother of pearl - it can occur in magnetic varieties - Hematine is the man-made version of the natural stone, but it is virtually indistinguishable from the 'natural' variety though I understand the two have slightly different chemical compositions. I have used some magnetic Hematine in my jewellery recently which has been fumed with gold to give it lots of jewel-like colours; please see my entry with regard to magnetic jewellery below for further information.
'Illusion' Thread - this is a clear, almost see through stringing medium which is also known as 'monofilament' - I use it for jewellery where I want the beads to look as if they are floating on nothing.
Iolite - The name iolite comes from the Greek ios, which means violet. Iolite is usually a purplish blue, with a softness to the colour. Some people call iolite "water sapphire".
Jade - there are two mineral forms of jade; Jadeite or Imperial Jade, and Nephrite (both are recognised as 'real' Jade)- they look similar but are different in their mineral composition - Jadite is usually pale green and Nephrite can be found in a varety of colours - dark green, grey blue, white, green, yellow, lilac amongst others.. Jadeite is the rarer and slightly harder of the two forms, and is considered to be more valuable than Nephrite. Jade is believed to be a soft, gentle stone and to promote a long and prosperous life and is the stone of friendship.
Jasper is a quartz in the chalcedony family, which includes Tigerseye, Agate, Bloodstone and Carnelian, Chrysoprase and Sardonyx; Jasper is usually striped, spotted or multi-coloured and is rarely one colour.
Karen Tribe Silver from the Karen Hill Tribe of northern Thailand - all pieces are made by one tribe and is 99.5 to 99.9% silver (a higher content of silver than sterling silver), the tiny bit which is not silver being perhaps the solder which bonds pieces together. This is beautiful silver, every piece being handmade and individual. Karen silver is different from sterling silver, has a weight, colour and feel all of its own - this silver is white and shining (unless antiqued!) and satiny, the hand-hammered and chased details are wonderful and it is possible to see differences in each piece; for the most part these pieces are not hallmarked.
Keishi Pearls - when a freshwater pearl is created inside a mussel, it originates with a tiny irritant -- in the wild, this might be a grain of sand, around which nacre is formed, which is what gives the pearl its beautiful iridescent sheen - it basically IS the iridescent sheen --- when pearls are farmed, the irritant is introduced by human intervention, and is often a tiny bead over which nacre forms over time. Keishi pearls are different in that they are not formed from any sort of irritant or nucleus - they just somehow do form, and therefore they are made completely from nacre -- and this gives them both a fabulous sheen and iridescence which would only normally be found in the very highest end pearls, and also makes them wonderfully irregular in shape and form.
Kiln Hole in Bead - sometimes I see beads with what I call 'kiln holes' in vintage or antique beads - air was trapped when the bead was made which comes out eventually, leaving a small hole in the surface - its all part of their story and the beads are perfectly sound, it would be historically worse to leave out a bead for such a defect than to leave it as part of the piece.
Laboradite has background colour of dark grey ans displays a beautiful iridescence giving off rainbow-coloured reflections known as labradorescence when light hits it in certain directions - this is beautiful and it is one of those stones that initially can appear a uninteresting until it is moved; then the colours can be fabulous. It is thought by some to symbolise the moon and the sun and in fact has been found to be an ingredient of moon rock. It is said to assist the wearer to handle changes, promoting strength and perseverance.
Lapis Lazuli - With a wonderful ultramarine blue colour (the deeper the better) with almost flecks of gold (actually Pyrite) through it, it often comes from Afghanistan. For centuries powdered lapis was used as an ingredient in paint to create a very special blue, but the pigment now used in paint is man made as Lapis is too expensive for such use today. Its name derives from medieval Latin and means 'blue stone'. It is one of the birthstones for December (along with Turquoise) and symbolises Prosperity.
Lariat - A lariat is a versatile long open-ended 'rope' or strand necklace without a clasp which offers a range of of options in wearing - it can be knotted in the middle, wrapped around the neck from front to back to front again like a scarf or wrapped round a number of times, amongst other options.
Magatama Beads were historically comma shaped (or, today, with an off centre hole); these beads first appeared in Japan and Korea from the end of Neolithic period and continuing into the Bronze Age and so go back in history a long way; the first ones were precious gemstones carved into a comma shape (for instance, in Jade). These beads are often found in ancient mounded graves as offerings to gods, and they therefore had important significance. It is claimed this type of bead represents water drops, sprouting seeds, flames, or the embryo (and possibly many other symbolic meanings), in addition to their ancient religious meanings (in terms of the beads being carved in stone as mentioned previously). Eventually, in religious terms, over time, the beads were later replaced by Buddhist prayer beads. In contemporary Japan, the magatama beads' shape is an accepted representation of the human spirit and the ancient representation (of a comma shaped bead) is suggested to be one of the the origins of the Yin-Yang Symbol.
Magnetic Clasp and Jewellery - please don't give a piece of jewellery with a magnetic clasp or magnetic elements in it to your Auntie Dorris who has a heart pacemakerů..its not at all good for her. Items with magnets in them should not be worn by people with a pacemaker, and nor should you put anything with a magnet in it near your hard drive, floppy drive, CD's, DVD's or your credit cards.
Memory Wire - this is a stainless steel wire that is manufactured in a coil - it is cut into workable pieces, strung with beads etc and the wearer wraps it round her wrist - it just pings into shape for ever after - its incredibly strong, great for wear by people who have difficulties with clasps.
Millefiore - these beads, often produced on or in Venice/Murano were given the name Millefiore which means 'thousand flowers' - they are made by overlaying a base of a solid colour glass (the inner or core bead) with slices of millefiore cane which has been made by hand by the beadmaker - these canes take a great deal of time and effort to construct and make and eventually when made create a picture, either based on flowers or colours - then this cane is heated and stretched out until it makes a long length rather like a stick of rock which is sliced up and applied to the core bead, creating an all-over design of repeating cane slices - of course, each cane will be different, and although they may last for a time, once all the slices have been used, then the beadmaker will move on to using a different cane - and therefore, in effect, millefiore beads are one of the first forms of limited edition glass bead jewellery. I have also seen Millefiore beads manufactured by the Bohemian (Czech) beadmaking industry and Japanese Millefiore - each form - Venetian, Bohemian and Japanese are very distinctive and different and once you know what you are looking at, its relatively easy to identify origins.
Mookite - a type of jasper, a stone found in a great range of colours including cream, yellow, butterscotch, pink, red, burgundy and chocolate (amongst others) - which gives this stone a great deal of versatility - deposits are from Australia and China.
Murano Glass, also known as Venetian Glass, is some of the most beautiful in the world and hard to beat. It is handmade on the little island of Murano in Italy where beadmakers moved in the 14th Century to protect their art (and where the city of Venice told them to go because they were afraid they would burn the city down because of their large furnaces and chimneys which constantly threw out sparks....)...Venice and its beads are special to me because I have a close connection in trade with the glass makers there --- I have had the privilege of being invited to view the glass beadmaking by the makers, and it is remarkable how little the process must really have changed over the centuries - it is perhaps the connection between history and contemporary beadmaking that is one of the great fascinations of the glass itself - these days there are many copies of this type of glass on the market - the Indian bead industry, the Chinese bead industry, and I have seen a lot of bead-makers claim they are producing Murano glass when they are thousands of miles away from the island. It is a tiny industry which is worth preserving for the quality and history of the beads and the community themselves, and it is something I use constantly in my own jewellery because of its handmade connection between myself and the beadmakers and the beads.
Obsidian - Volcanic Glass - formed when molten lava comes into contact with water and then cools rapidly - for instance, the sea or a lake. Obsidian which has been used by ancient people for cutting tools has been found in archeological excavations. Obsidian occurs in many colours - the colour is influenced by the various minerals in the ground when coming into contact with the magma - for instance, iron and magnesium make Obsidian green or black - small white crystal inclusions in the black glass produce the black and white variety, Snowflake Obsidian; more rarely, the stone is also found in yellow, orange, red, grey and brown.
Onyx - durable and hardwearing, this is a translucent Chalcedony, the stone was used by ancient Greeks and Romans who carved it to produce cameos and seals; even at that time the blackness of the colour was enhanced - Pliny described a technique that was used for darkening and enhancing the stone which is still in use today - the enhancement starts by the stone being soaked in a sugared water solution which sticks to the stone, and is then placed in acid - when this and the stone are boiled, the acid eats away the sugar and this leaves black carbon, though it is sometimes possible to see white banding within some black onyx which has not been treated in this way. Red-brown onyx is known as Sardonyx.
Opal - The name Opal evolved from the Greek "Opallus" which means to see a change in colour. Wonderful stone, often mined in Australia, opals are one of the softest gemstones used in jewellery and are usually set in a protective setting - the iridescence comes from the high water content of the stone, and therefore it is important to not subject the stone to sudden changes in temperature - the stone does not mind cold, and it does not mind heat, but it will not tolerate going from heat to extreme cold or the other way round; if you wear your opal next to your skin (as jewellery is supposed to be!) then it will be happy. Clean very very gently with a soft cloth and store in a protective bag or in tissue paper when not being used - the stone scratches easily because it is so soft, but if cared for properly, you will have years of happy wear from your opal.
Peridot - ranging in a range of shades from olive green, bottle green to yellowish green, peridot is the name given to gem quality specimens of the mineral Olivine. In the Middle Ages, peridot was believed to both keep darkness away and guard against terrors of the night. Peridot is one of the birthstones for August.
Polymer Clay - a clay-like material used by artists to produce beads, pendants etc - it is not an actual clay but is polyvinyl chloride (PVC) suspended in a plasticiser - but it is used much like clay; colours and effects can be combined to make beautiful, lightweight artist-made pieces which are fired in an oven using low temperatures before being used in a piece of jewellery - the pieces/beads usually go through various stages of sanding and varnishing to produce a professional effect before being incorporated into jewellery creations.
Rocailles Beads/Seed Beads - Small glass beads - can be clear, silver or gold lined, colour lined, various effects including a variety of cuts and faceting can be incorporated into these small beads; primarily produced in Japan who make beautiful regular examples, Czech rocailles are less regular but give an interesting effect, and Venice used to be a major producer, still make these beads on a smaller scale these days.
Raku is a form of Japanese pottery in which the glaze is fired to the point of melting and then the object is immersed in some sort of flamable material (straw, leaves, paper, etc.)and is allowed to cool down whilst devoid of oxygen, produding metallic and surprising effects . Raku shows colourings of blues to browns to bronze, the colouring and appearance of every piece is different.
Rhodocrosite (meaning rose-coloured) is a most attractive mineral; the name is derived from the Greek word "rhodon" (pink) and "chros" (colour). It was referred to as the Inca Rose by the Incas who believed the blood of their rulers turned into this stone; this is a pinky-peach colour banded with white or light grey.
Rhodonite - named after the Greek word for rose or pink, 'rhodon'. Its colour is distinct from rhodochrosite in that it is rose banded with grey or black, and it is a distinct mineral in its own right.
Rose Quartz - A delicate soft pink in colour, can range from almost colourless to off-white pink to warm rose-pink, it is primarily produced in Southern Africa. The early Chinese used rose quartz for carvings of the goddess of Peace as the colour was thought to reflect her gentleness and wisdom.
Sapphire - traditional birthstone for September is available in a wide range of colours apart from red; to be a sapphire, the stone must contain aluminum oxide. Red stones with the same composition are rubies. Australia is and Thailand are probably the world's largest producer the stone. Different mineral elements create the greens, yellows, oranges, pinks and purples found in fancy sapphires. The hardness of Sapphire makes it durable, and the colour blue is associated with loyalty and friendship. It is also known as a 45th Anniversary gift.
Satin Glass - was a speciality of the Bohemian beadmaking industry based in Czechoslovakia up until the outbreak of the Second Word War, mainly in a small town called Jablonec - Satin glass has a particular satiny look to it which is instantly recognisable by its literally satiiny sheen - my understanding is that it was produced by a secret and complex method of combining opaque and translucent glass in a process - the Czech glassmaking industry was largely dismantled by the Nazis during the war and many of the skills and secrets of glass production in the area were lost - I understand that mixing two glasses as in the form of satin glass was particularly difficult - this glass has seen a revival in recent years though modern satin glass is as distinctive as vintage or antique - my hunch is that although the methods may be similar, they are not in fact the same; I have seen recent satin glass production out of Murano (Venice) and this is perhaps why the two forms (antique and contemporary), alongside changes in production methods may be why the glass looks so different..
Signature Jewellery - What are 'Signature' Pieces? Whilst most of my jewellery is one of a kind, there are some pieces that are either requested again and again or I have enough materials to make a number of the same item - in this case, you can expect to find these on the site until I have either run out of the materials or until the interest in them appears to have ended - bear in mind that each piece of jewellery, even if it is a 'copy' of the piece shown will be slightly different from the last - this is the nature and hopefully the beauty of handmade jewellery.
Signed Jewellery - This is jewellery that is signed by the maker - ie, they have put a stamp or a tag on the jewellery with their makers mark on it - a lot of costume jewellery is marked in this way; this usually adds value to a piece and is helpful in dating it. Where possible, I 'sign' my own jewellery with my makers mark tag.
Silk Thread - a twisted thread made of natural silk, dyed either to match or contrast with the pearls; silk has been used for centuries as a traditional material with which to string pearls - it is ideal as it has the perfect 'drape' for pearls - a knot is made with the silk and is placed in-between each pearl - the reason for this being if the silk were to break, the wearer would potentially only lose one pearl rather than the entire strand; silk takes on the natural oils of the wearer, and can stretch over time, which makes it likely that jewellery strung on silk will need to be restrung every few years, depending on how much wear an item of jewellery is subjected to; it is important to always put any creams, lotions, potions or perfume on (and allow to dry) before putting on your silk and pearl jewellery; the stringing and the lustre of the pearls will last much longer that way.
Smoky Quartz is formed by natural irradiation and often has a large constituent of Sodium; the stone is sometimes enhanced by heat treatment - generally speaking when the stone is very dark it is usually safe to assume it has been heat treated to make a deeper colour - heat treatment is an accepted practice in gemology. Sources include Brazil, Switzerland, the Himalayas, and Mexico. Quartz is one of the most frequently found minerals on the earth and comes in many varieties including Amethyst, Rutilated Quartz, Rose Quartz and Citrine to name a few - the Smoky variety has a lovely range of smoke colours which range from pale to dark.
Sommerso Bead - a type of handmade Venetian glass bead where flecks of colour and gold aventurine are swirled through a clear glass casing; another form of glass bead which stretches a long way back into Venetian bead history.
Spinel - beautiful natural gemstone which occurs in a huge variety of colours from reds and deep rich browns right through most pastel colours and over to clear, this relatively rare and uncommon stone is hard and durable; mined in Burma (Myanmar) and Sri-Lanka.
Sterling Silver - sterling silver which is 92.5% silver, the rest of the content being other metals such as copper or zinc - the other metals are added to make the metal malleable and to increase strength; silver will tarnish/darken over time due to oxidisation caused by exposure to air, pollution, skin, chemicals, you name it; cleaning is easy, just use a silver cloth - unless an item of jewellery is constructed entirely of silver with no other beads, do not use silver dip - just clean with a soft cloth and the bright shine will return.
Sugilite; Discovered in the 1940's and named for Japanese geologist Ken-ichi Sugi who discovered the first examples, it was not mined commercially until 1979 when a large deposit was found in South Africa - very little has been found since; there are also small deposits in Japan, Canada and India. With a very attractive opaque purple-reddish colour with either black or white/grey through it, the darker shades are most beautiful (we think) though the dark purple can also vary to grey-lavender too; the darker stone with little veining through it is considered the most valuable.
Swarovski Crystal - Swarovski is synonymous with crystal, jewellery, ornaments and of course beads. Based in Austria, the company began manufacture in 1892 when founder Daniel Swarovski invented a new machine which faceted and cut crystal perfectly; Swarovski is 32% lead oxide which is one of the ingredients that give it its quality and sparkle - as for the rest of the recipe - a trade secret I would imagine. Today there are many copies of Swarovski crystal - notably the Czech bead industry and China but the quality is nothing like that of Swarovski - the faceting or colours of those beads are often inferior (in my opinion) and being able to guarantee something is made from Swarovski crystal is meaningful to purchasers, I find Swarovski's quality balances with the effort I put into making jewellery, and yes, buying and using inferior crystal would be cheaper, but it just would not look the same. Interestingly, I recently read that because Swarovski crystal is lead crystal, state law in California in the USA is asking jewellery makers to bring to the attention of purchasers that the crystal may contain lead...my opinion is that this is the nanny state gone mad, yes, its lead crystal, but unless you are going to eat tons of it, its not going to do any harm....maybe they could have started by putting the world right by addressing global warming first....
Tourmaline; A beautiful stone with a wide range of colours including pink (rubellite), blue (indicolite), colourless (achroite) and green chrome - the most valuable and rare are rubellite, indicolite and the chrome varieties; the stone is currently used by cosmetics manufacturers as it acquires a polarised electrical charge when it is heated or compressed - is being used in moisturising creams as the manufacturers claim the stone helps pull pollutants from skin. Legend says tourmaline inspires artistic expression and enhances intuition; it is one of the birthstones for October, signifying hope. Mined in Brazil, Kenya, Tanzania, Sri-Lanka, Madagascar, Nigeria and the USA,
Turquoise; Used in ancient Egyptian Red Indian and Aztec jewellery, this stone certainly has a long history of being valued. The colour of this beautiful stone varies vastly from a range of blues to almost greens, the colour being influenced by its iron and copper content which depends on its geographical orign - in fact, a few years ago I was travelling through Arizona and Nevada and decided to visit some of the famous turquoise mines in that state - only to be disappointed to find that in the majority, the mines had closed a long time ago because they were 'spent' - but even in these two states, the difference in colours available due to the geographical and soil influences were fascinating; a lot of Turquoise has what is called a 'matrix' through it is which is basically black veining - it is part of the beauty of the stone. Turquoise is naturally very soft and often chalky, which means that for the most part, it is necessary to add some sort of stabilising compound so that it can be useable - a lot of various treatments can be applied to Turquoise, but I try to use the natural variety wherever possible - I do not use Turquoise that is dyed (dyed Turquoise is often a stone called 'Howlite' which starts off white') and I do not use reconstituted Turquoise either. Natural Turquoise will over time darken as it absorbs the wearer's natural body oils. Yellow Turquoise is not real turquoise, is is most likely a dyed form of limestone or calcite although it is given the name.
Unakite; A combination of (muted) pink and green, this stone is a form of feldspar, named for the Unaka Mountains in the Southeastern U.S.A., where it was first discovered. . This gemstone is found mainly in the U.S.A., but also in South Africa, Brazil and China.
Vermeil; Vermeil is 22 or 24 carat gold over sterling silver; the gold coating is durable but will not last for ever - over time and subject to a lot of wear, the gold will eventually flatten down to sterling silver, though I have had Vermeil jewellery for a long time and this has never yet happened to any of mine - its important not to spray Vermeil (or any handmade jewellery) with perfumes or chemicals or to mistreat it, that way your jewellery will last so much longer!
'Wedding Cake' Bead - Handmade Venetian glass bead; examples of these can be found thoughout Venetian glass production and I have seen 600 year old examples in the Glass Museum in Murano. Over the core glass bead, trailings of gold aventurine are laid to resemble ribbons, the bead is then dotted with glass in other colours to resemble roses, flowers and petals - the bead is said to have been named because of its festive 'wedding cake' type appearance.
Zircon; A natural gem which should not be confused with the synthetic Cubic Zirconia. In it's pure form the stone is colourless, but impurities change the colour to brown. These stones are heat treated to acheive the various colours seen below; perhaps the most surprising thing about Zircon is its weight - picking up a bead, its unexpectedly heavy for its size - a lovely, clean stone with no inclusions, and lots and lots of sparkle.
All Content, Design, Text and Photographs Copyright Stephanie Lewis-Cooper, SLC Designs, 1999-Present