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Grading Semi Precious Stones

Gemstone beads that I use in my jewelry are grade B or better. Here is a brief table of how gemstone beads are graded. Bear in mind that grading gemstones is more complicated than what this simple table indicates. Grading depends on the type of gemstone, its cut and several other factors. There are also subsets of grading. Some stones like nuggets or chips are frequently not graded at all. I try to use grade A or grade AA when I can find it at a reasonable price. This Necklace uses grade A gemstones.   Grade AAA        Flawless, even, bright coloration and perfectly drilled Grade AA     Â... » Read More

Sterling Silver Tarnishes

Sterling silver is an alloy of copper and silver. It is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. The copper is added to make the silver harder and allows it to be polished to a higher luster. Unfortunately, the sterling tarnishes to a dark color when exposed to the atmosphere over time. In general silver, is not very reactive and does not tarnish easily but when alloyed with other metals it becomes more reactive and tarnishes more easily. Fortunately, the tarnish can be wiped away and the sterling re polished.   On many of my necklaces, I use small 3-5mm round silver balls for spacers. I prefer to use base metal or silver plated balls inste... » Read More

Carat or Karat

One frequently hears the term carat or karat or when talking about jewelry. The meaning of the two words is sometimes confusing.   A “carat” is a unit of weight and is equal to 200 milligrams. There are about 142 carats in an ounce. The weight of gemstones is usually specified in carats. It is important to note that a carat is a unit of weight and not a unit of size. A one-carat diamond would be small compared to a one-carat opal. A diamond is nearly three times denser than an opal. The carat is abbreviated c or ct.   A “karat” is a unit of the purity of gold in a gold alloy. The alloy is d... » Read More

Getting to Know Chevron Beads

Chevron beads are some of the most beautiful beads made. They are frequently referred to as the aristocrats of glass beads. They begin as a long hollow tube of glass, usually white in color. Then a thin bead of molten colored glass is laid down along the length of the tube. The tube is rotated on its axis slightly and another bead of molten glass of the same color is laid down. That process is continued until the tube has been rotated all the way around. Next, another layer of glass is covered over the tube. In this manner the layering is continued until there are four to seven layers total. After the tube is cooled, beads are sliced off t... » Read More