We carry a wide range of semi-precious stones of various types and in multiple forms. Some of the stone shapes we feature are single beads, both smooth and faceted, bead strands, cabochons (undrilled stones), pendants and earring pairs. We carefully handpick our our stones in person from select vendors who sell quality stones, in order to bring our customers an excellent selection at an affordable price.
“Precious” stone is an obsolete term which has been used to refer to diamonds, emeralds, sapphires and rubies. The term “Semi-precious” therefore, refers to gemstones which are not diamond, emerald, sapphire or ruby. These terms are misleading as many “semi-precious” gemstones are extremely valuable, and some “precious” gemstones are of such poor quality that their value is very low. Because semi-precious stones are natural occurring materials (except for synthetic stone, see definitions below), there is wide variation in appearance of stones which only adds to their desirability and unique appearance in jewelry making.
The origin of beads made from semi-precious stones falls into one of 3 categories:
- Natural Minerals – inorganic material with a fixed chemical composition and physical properties, usually crystalline in form: onyx, carnelian, jade
- Organic – derived from plants and animal: pearls, amber, coral
- Synthetic – man-made; developed in a lab
An additional type of semi-precious bead on the market today is the imitation stone, where lesser stones or man-made materials are treated to imitate another. For example, white howlite is often dyed to imitate turquoise.
Some of the terms used to describe the properties of stones:
- Adularescence – the bluish-white opalescence of moonstone
- Aventurescence – the effect caused by small inclusions of minerals like mica, hematite or pyrite which cause a gemstone to exhibit a glistening or sparkling effect when rotated or moved
- Brecciated – broken fragments of a mineral recemented into a random pattern
- Cabochon – a stone cut and polished with a domed surface
- Chatoyancy – wavy luminescent band; cat’s eye effect when light reflects off parallel fibers, channels or rutile needles; changeable silky luster as light is reflected within the thin parallel fibrous bands
- Dichroic – meaning two colors; when viewed from different angles, numerous colors appear
- Drusy – tiny quartz crystals that form within or on the surface of other stones
- Enhancement – Many gemstones are altered to enhance their appearance. Heat, radiation, oils and stabilization are methods used to produce colors not usually found in nature, to improve color (aquamarine, sapphire, ruby, tourmaline), alter color (sapphire, amethyst, topaz, zircon), improve clarity (sapphire, ruby) reduce porosity or to enhance durability (turquoise). Since natural heating also occurs (e.g., in volcanic areas), the artificial effects are sometimes indistinguishable from natural effects. In most cases, the results of heat treatment are permanent. Depending on the stone and the treatment, such alteration may be easy or impossible to detect. It is unethical and unlawful to sell any artificially enhanced gems without full disclosure of information about the treatment. However, full disclosure is difficult to obtain.
- Facets – flat surfaces cut into a stone to absorb and reflect light
- Geode – solid round rock with an open center cavity, often crystal lined
- Inclusions – an internal flaw or a crystal, bubble, cloud, graining or fracture within a gemstone. Inclusions are different from blemishes, which are imperfections at the surface of the gemstone.
- Iridescence – light is diffracted at various wavelengths thus creating multiple colors
- Schiller – lustrous reflection similar to iridescence, caused by inclusions