GRADE A - Gemstone are graded by color and clarity,
most which has been set by the Gemological
Institute of America. GRADES or
TYPES are used to describe the quality of
the stone. Most beads used in handmade
jewelry are commercial "GRADE C" beads.
This means they do
not have a perfect shape, they have
"inclusions" (means "imperfections")
that can be seen with the naked eye, and
they may have irregular pitting on the
This list will tell
you which stones you will find in most
handmade jewelry, and what you can expect.
The GIA breaks down colored
gemstones into three classes depending upon
the likelihood of a particular gem material
being "included". For example:
Type I colored stones include
Aquamarine, Quartz Crystal, Morganite, smoky
quartz, topaz (blue, yellow, orange, pink,
red), zircon (blue). In the marketplace
these gemstones are often virtually
inclusion-free and "eye clear" .
include corundum (all colors), garnets (all
species), iolite, Peridot, quartz (amethyst,
citrine, Ametrine), spinel (all colors),
tourmaline (blue, orange, yellow), and
zircon (green, orange, red, yellow). In the
marketplace these gemstones are usually
Type III colored stones include
emerald, tanzanite, and tourmaline (red,
pink, watermelon). In the marketplace these
gemstones are almost always included.
When I say I am
using GRADE A for a particular piece, it
has been graded by an experienced
independent gemstone dealer prior to
my purchase, and is of EXCELLENT
quality, of good color, free of obvious
inclusions, and uniform in shape.
GEM QUALITY (
GRADE AAA) is a bead of exceptional
quality, rated above and beyond anything
you would expect in costume jewelry.
Due to new
sources in Hong Kong and India, you will
be seeing more and more GEM QUALITY
beads here at Gemstonegifts.com.
Heishi - The
literal meaning of heishi is "shell" and
specifically refers to pieces of shell which
have been drilled and ground into beads and then
strung into necklaces. More and more frequently,
however, heishi (hee-shee) has come to
refer to hand-made tiny beads made of any
Turquoise - The
Process Turquoise is synonymous with
the Southwest. In streets, plazas and in the
middle of the desert; over plain dresses, velvet
blouses, satin skirts, cowboy shirts and
ceremonial costumes, Anglos as well as Pueblo
and Navajo Indians wear turquoise necklaces,
turquoise pendant, turquoise bracelets, belts
and pins and as much as they can at one time.
Elsewhere, turquoise may come and go with
fashion. IN the Southwest, turquoise is
more precious than gold, an enduring expression
of Native American culture. It is the birthstone
of December and signifies success.
Sterling Silver: Sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver and 7.5%
copper. The copper is necessary for
durability and strength since 100% pure silver
is too soft to hold up on it's own. Silver
is a wonderful neutral color trend these days.
Silver Plate: Silver coating on a base metal, usually
electroplated or dipped. It's also a
cheaper, yet just as pretty, alternative to
Also known as rolled gold, gold-fill products
are made by bonding gold with a core of brass.
Gold is essentially rolled around the brass
core, which explains the term "rolled gold".
In the U.S., gold filled items must contain 20%
gold by weight. This product has 100 times
more gold than a gold plated product, and will
last a lifetime if cared for properly. *See Jewelry Care.
Base metal that has been gilded with an overlay
(Austrian) Crystals: Made in Austria,
Swarovski products are considered to be one of
the finest products of their kind in the world.
Unlike Czech glass, these are machine polished
and are higher in cost than Czech Glass.
Glass Beads: Imported from the
Czech Republic, these beads are machine faceted,
then polished by glazing inside a red-hot oven.
This gives them beautiful, glistening colors
with a "softer" look and a smoother feel.
These are less expensive than Swarovski
Bali Beads are hand-crafted in Bali, Indonesia.
Each bead is made one by one, they are not cast.
They are 92.5% sterling silver, and since each
bead is hand-crafted weight may vary slightly.
Pressed Glass: Century-old method of pressing glass into steel
molds, resulting in uniform bead shapes.
Vaporized metallic salts are shot through an
electronic beam gun onto special glass. It
is then heated in a vacuum chamber creating
glass with a mystical glowing radiance.
Its look is similar to the reflective rainbow
sheen that's found in the gas used in vehicles.
Turquoise: "Stabilized" turquoise
has been impregnated with a clear resin that
improves its color and hardness and protects it
against fading (color changing) from mild
"Sleeping Beauty" turquoise is the most highly
prized turquoise in the world, found in the
Sleeping Beauty Mine in Arizona. This
bright, vivid blue turquoise, often referred to
as "Persian color" is bright, vivid blue and
most pieces are perfectly clear of any
inclusions (dark markings or veins).
Cat's Eye Beads:
Top "A" grade fiber optic glass beads should be
expertly shaped with a well-defined "eye" line
and uniform "eye" within the bead strand.
This kind of bead has graduated colors in it
starting with a lighter colored "eye" centered
around the middle of the bead, much like the
Tiger Eye stone.
Finish: A rainbow finish added to
the outside of glass beads after polishing.
It's long lasting and doesn't fade or chip with