Using gemstone beads for jewelry making allows you to use beautiful stones to create beautiful, wearable works of art. If you are going to pay for and use gemstones in your work, however, you want to make sure those stones are authentic and high quality.
In a perfect world, you could trust the dealer selling the beads. However, in the real world, you need to be able to examine the beads for yourself to confirm their quality. How can you tell that you are looking at a quality gemstone? Here are a few tricks for determining the quality of the semi-precious beads you hope to purchase.
Know your grading terms.
Precious gems, like diamonds and rubies, are subject to strict grading guidelines. When you purchase one of these gemstones, you know what you are getting, thanks to the grade each is assigned. The grade of the gem takes into account the quality of its color, clarity, and cut.
In order to determine the quality of semi precious beads, know your grading terms. Here are the primary grades you may encounter when it comes to semi precious stones:
- A–Richest hues, highest quality cut, most transparency, few inclusions and blemishes that are visible with scope, not naked eye
- B–Slightly less quality of hue and cut, slightly opaque, a couple of inclusions visible to naked eye
- C–Hues are uneven; cut displays some cracks or chips, opaque, more inclusions and blemishes
- D–Low saturation, deeply opaque, irregular cutting, lots of inclusions and blemishes
Grading is available for semi precious gemstones. However, these grades are more subjective and can vary from dealer to dealer. As a result, you can use these grades as a guide to the quality of the beads, but you cannot use them as the final say in the quality of the beads you purchase.
Examine the beads in person.
Online images will always display beads in the best possible light. However, a carefully posed image does not always accurately portray the quality of the bead. Even with access to multiple images, it can be difficult to accurately determine the quality of the stone’s cut, color, and clarity.
As a result, you will need to examine the beads in person in order to determine their quality. Instead of purchasing stones sight unseen, try to get to the store to look at them yourself. Being able to handle the beads, look at every angle, and evaluate the cut, clarity, and color for yourself can help you determine the quality of the gemstones beads for jewelry making that you are thinking about purchasing.
Use a jeweler’s loupe to inspect the beads’ quality.
You cannot always determine the quality of semi precious beads by examining them with your naked eye alone. In particular, determining the existence of inclusions and blemishes requires the use of a specialized tool called a jeweler’s loupe. This eyepiece allows you to identify inclusions and blemishes that may not be otherwise visible.
Ideally, the semi precious gemstones you purchase for your beading project should not have any blemishes you can see with your naked eye. When viewed under a loupe, some inclusions and blemishes are acceptable (and to be expected). However, avoid gemstones that have many inclusions, particularly if those inclusions affect the overall brilliance of the stones.
Look for rich color and brilliance.
The highest quality gemstone beads for jewelry making boast a rich, even color and a striking brilliance. The lowest quality products possess a dull and lifeless look. When determining the quality of the beads you are purchasing, look for stones that possess a rich color that spreads evenly over the stone. This color should be neither extremely dark or extremely light. Also look for a brilliance that allows the stone to reflect the light beautifully. Much of this analysis is subjective, but if you compare different beads, you should be able to see which ones have the more brilliant and appealing color and which ones lack the appropriate coloring.
Know how to spot fakes.
Sometimes, you have to worry about more than simply the quality of the beads you purchase. Every so often, you will encounter beads that are actually glass but are sold as real gemstones. These beads often look very realistic. However, determining whether they are fake or not is a matter of paying careful attention to the bead itself. Here are a few tricks for spotting fake gemstone beads for jewelry making:
- The stones lack inclusions and blemishes.
- The stones feel smooth instead of gritty.
- The color is too perfectly saturated.
- The stone is heavier than you would expect.
- The price is significantly lower than you would expect.
Consult a qualified jeweler.
If you have any doubts about the quality of the beads you hope to purchase, reach out to a qualified jeweler for their assistance in determining their quality. A reputable jeweler can examine and run tests on the beads. Their expert opinion will help you to purchase the right beads with confidence.
Of course, if you want to confidently purchase gemstone beads for jewelry making, you should always go through a reputable dealer. The right dealer will always tell you the truth about the gemstones and their quality. Being able to trust their word can save you time and worry when purchasing your beads and free you up to enjoy the process of making your jewelry.
Here at Austin Bead Gallery, we offer you a wide range of bead making products, including semi-precious beads. You can always trust the quality of our beads. We also offer classes, a gallery, and other services to help you create the beading project of your dreams.