The Story of Gemstone Beads

Semiprecious natural stones is what most bead jewelry artisans use today. Precious gemstones are more costly and less abundant than semiprecious stones. Common semiprecious stones are Agate, jade, quartz, jasper, and turquoise. You can find varieties of more expensive semiprecious stones in emeralds, rubies, amethyst, and citrine.

Did you ever wonder how semiprecious stones are shaped? It is all done by hand. The quality and cost of semiprecious stones are determined mainly by where they are made. India produces some of the most affordable Opal gemstones. Gemstone beads from India are very colorful as well as beautiful, but their shapes and sizes are less consistent than more expensive gemstones made in China.

Gemstones that are treated with oil, dye, heat or injected with wax improve the look of a lower quality gemstone. Treated stones are less valuable than untreated stones. A synthetic stone is still yet different from a treated gemstone.

You will find many synthetic stones manufactured in jewelry in mass numbers and sold in common retail chains. Synthetic gemstone beads are not really stones. I have seen bags of synthetic gemstone beads sold at places like Hobby Lobby and Wal-mart. Many of our name brand retailers carry jewelry made of synthetic gemstone beads.

It is rare that a bead jewelry artisan will use synthetic beads. We use mainly semiprecious and precious gemstones for jewelry projects. Synthetic gemstones are typically considered inferior to semiprecious untreated natural stones.

Common shapes of beads in general are:

  • round
  • tube
  • cube
  • oval
  • drop
  • barrel
  • bicone
  • coin
  • potato
  • rice
  • melon
  • wafer or disc
  • Keishi
  • chip
  • chicklet
  • donut
  • heishi
  • button
  • lentil
  • rondelle

Gemstone beads come in a variety of shapes and styles including:

  • Quartz
  • Agate
  • Obsidian
  • Carnelian
  • Citrine
  • Labradorite
  • Fluorite
  • Amethyst
  • Amazonite
  • Lapis
  • Malachite
  • Aquamarine
  • Sodalite
  • Onyx
  • Sardonyx
  • Azurite
  • Jasper
  • Goldstone
  • Rhodonite
  • Aventurine
  • Unakite
  • Garnet
  • Turquoise
  • Howlite
  • Bronzite
  • many, many more

You can find them in sizes from 4mm to 12mm and beyond. There are also chips and puff coins in the semiprecious gemstone family.

With such a variety as is available for bead jewelry artisans today, creativity soars, and the market for bead jewelry made from semiprecious stones soars as well.

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