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Gemstone Index: Table of Contents

Gemstone Index Table of Contents: Learn more information about Agate, Amazonite, Amethyst...

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Gemstone Index: Emerald

Emerald is well-known as the birthstone for May. Emerald is a variety of the mineral beryl, colored green by trace amounts of chromium. In the United States, emeralds colored by vanadium are recognized as true emeralds, but in Europe, vanadium emeralds (sometimes called "Columbian Emeralds") are simply called "green beryl"....

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Gemstone Index: Tourmaline

The official state gemstone of Maine, tourmaline is a complex crystalline silicate containing aluminum, boron and other elements. Its name derives from the Sinhalese (Sri Lankan) word tura mali, meaning "stone of mixed colors," and tourmaline is indeed found in blue (indicolite), yellow, pink to red (rubellite), black (schorl), green, dravite (brown) and clear (achroite) varieties. This semiprecious gemstone is piezoelectric (when it's heated, rubbed or pressurized the crystal gives it an electric charge). It is also pleochroic...

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Gemstone Index: Pearls

Pearls are June's most-popular birthstone, and are a favorite in bridal jewelry and couture. Cultured freshwater pearl beads come in several shapes and colors, making it easy to add elegance to a wide variety of jewelry designs. Pearls are organic gemstones, formed when a foreign object (like a tiny stone) makes its way into an oyster (or similar mollusk's) shell. Over time, the mollusk covers the intruding object with 1,000's of layers of nacre. "Cultured" pearls are pearls in which people, rather than nature, implant the foreign particle, and care for the mollusks at a pearl farm while the pearls develop. Nearly all pearls available today are...

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Gemstone Index: Quartz

Quartz gemstone beads and pendants from Rings & Things include multicolor rutilated quartz, clear rock crystal quartz, rose quartz, smoky quartz, tourmalated quartz, druzy quartz and more. Members of this semiprecious gemstone family share the same chemical composition (silicon dioxide) and similar physical properties. All semiprecious beads described here are types of macrocrystalline quartz (crystals recognizable with the naked eye), just like citrine and amethyst. Quartz is said to be the universal healing stone. Quartz crystals are believed to promote...

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Gemstone Index: Opal

Opal beads have the same basic chemical composition as quartz, but usually contain 6 - 10% water. Because of this, opal jewelry components should be protected from heat and strong light. Make sure to keep your opal beads away from detergents, ultrasonic cleaners, metal polish, acids and strong solvents. Common opal (sometimes called opalite) does not have the flashes of light found in precious opal, but both are hydrated amorphous Silicon Dioxide. Birthstones for October include Opal, Rose Zircon and Pink Tourmaline. Bello Opal...

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Gemstone Index: Jasper

Jasper is a semiprecious chalcedony (or microcrystalline quartz), and is usually red, brown or green. Its patterns are much less regular and defined than agate, the other chalcedony variety. Another difference between the two is that jaspers are generally opaque, while agates tend to be translucent (or at least contain translucent bands). This distinction stems from the stones' composition. Jasper contains microscopic "grains" of crystalline quartz and agate has microscopic "fibers" of crystalline quartz. Although the term jasper is often applied to unidentified stones, true jaspers...

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Gemstone Index: Rhyolite

Rhyolite gemstone beads can look very similar to jaspers, and the popular green variety of rhyolite is sometimes called rainforest jasper. Similarly, the type of rhyolite that displays red, yellow, brown, and pinkish spots is descriptively called leopardskin jasper. Rhyolites, igneous rock chemically identical to granite, have beautifully markings which...

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Tips for Securely Gluing Jewelry

Murphy says: Test a small sample and allow it to cure thoroughly before proceeding with a batch of 300 pieces for that awesome trade show coming up. Work in a well-ventilated, dry, and dust-free environment (mmmm... pet fur). After cleaning both items, allow to dry completely. Extreme temperatures might affect drying time. Store all adhesives in a cool place.

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How to use a Jewelers Saw

To install a blade in the saw frame: Loosen the wing nuts on the saw. Slip one end of the blade into the fixture. Make sure the blade's teeth are pointing out and down. (Sort of like a Christmas tree.) ...

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Gemstone Index: Amazonite

Amazonite is a rare blue-green variety of microcline (a feldspar mineral) used as a semiprecious stone. Its brilliant color was once thought to be caused by copper, but now is attributed to... Amazonite is an opaque stone, often found with white, yellow or gray inclusions and a silky luster or silvery sheen. Even when polished, amazonite beads...

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Gemstone Index: Amethyst

Amethyst is the most highly prized variety of quartz and if not for its widespread availability, would be very expensive. With its luscious color, it is the official birthstone for February and one of our best-selling gemstones. Amethyst is formed in silica-rich liquids deposited in gas cavities (geodes) in lava. It occurs in crystalline masses, but the crystals are generally not well developed, so they are generally found as clusters of crystal points. Though geodes are the best place to find amethysts, ...

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Directions

Our new Showroom & Warehouse are at 2nd & Arthur (in Spokane, WA), first parking lot on your right. If you're on 3rd (coming from downtown): take a left at Arthur (just before Office Depot), go North on Arthur 1 block, go into the 1st parking lot on your right. We are at the end of the parking lot. If you're on 2nd (heading west): take a right at Arthur, go into the 1st parking lot on your right. Wee are at the end of the parking lot.

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Spokane Showroom

Visit our Spokane, WA, Showroom for personalized service and expert advice that you can't get in the big box stores! Many of our staff members are jewelry makers, and they're ready to help you discover the best supplies and techniques for your personal creative journey.In addition to 1000's of special Showroom-only beads and jewelry supplies, you also have access to another 10,000+ items from our online store. If an item isn't on display, just ask and we'll pull it from the back for you to look at. Follow us on Facebook and/or subscribe to our "Spokane, WA Showroom" emails for information about Showroom parties, classes, sales, free demonstrations, and other fun events. Sign up now for Jewelry Making Classes in our s p a c i o u s NEW classes area! (we are limiting attendance, have safe spacing, and currently require a mask)

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Jump Ring Hint

When you open and close jump rings, twist ends instead of "ovaling" them. This keeps their round shape better, which makes them easier to close neatly and securely. Many people find it easier to grip jump rings with round-nose pliers, but smooth flat-nose and chain-nose pliers make it easier to grip your jump ring without leaving tiny dents. For best control, try using a pair of chain-nose pliers in one hand, and a pair of bent flat-nose pliers in the other hand.

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Resin 101

Epoxy jewelry resins are durable, usually clear or translucent, resins that come in two parts: the resin and the hardener. When the two parts are mixed together, a chemical reaction occurs that changes the epoxy from a liquid to a solid. When you mix the 2 parts together, you have the option of adding colorants and other inclusions such as sand, glitter, mica, and more.

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Polymer Clay 101

What is Polymer Clay?Brands & StylesTools & TipsWhere to Buy ItResources
What is Polymer Clay?
Polymer clay is a manmade, non-toxic polymer-based alternative to natural clay. Its only real similarity to natural clay is that it is shaped while soft and then heated for hardening. Owning a kiln is not necessary for polymer-clay work, since the temperatures needed to bake it are easily achieved in a home oven (265° to 275° Fahrenheit).

Each polymer-clay brand is made with its own "recipe," using various resins, plasticizers and other secret ingredients, each optimized for a different usage. You may end up choosing a softer brand for your sculptures or free-form jewelry, and a stiffer brand for millefiori cane work.

Although different brands don't guarantee they will mix together exactly the way you expect, many people have successfully mixed brands for desired colors, textures or consistencies.

Brands & Styles

Kato PolyClay™ is the polymer clay Rings & Things sells because it offers superior working properties! It's easy to condition, doesn't crumble and doesn't get sticky even after continuous handling. Plus, Kato offers Liquid Polyclay™, which works as a clay extender, softener, adhesive and finishing coat. Kato liquid clear medium allows you to do photo-transfers, create complex grouting effects and make colorful glazes that bake and bond to the clay.

Other major brands of polymer clay include Sculpey III® (a soft clay), Premo! Sculpey® (stiffer than Sculpey III, but softer than FIMO®), FIMO (a stiff clay), Cernit and Makins Air-Dry Clay.

Generally speaking, softer polymer clays are good for projects that don't involve extensive manipulations. They start out easy to work with, but if you make complex canes, your colors and shapes can start to blend together more than you might want.

Stiffer polymer clays may start out crumbly when cold, but they manipulate well in the long run. You can put a few colors in your pocket for a while to warm them before opening the packages. To warm polymer clay in cold weather, you can point a desk lamp at your clay, or place your clay on a heating pad that's set on its lowest setting. No matter what method you use, be careful not to overheat the clay, or it will start to bake.

If you live in a cold climate, you may also want to heat your work surface before you start working. Some people have said a blow dryer works well. However, use caution when using a blow dryer (or anything else) for a use other than the manufacturer intended.

If you work with polymer clays as a hobby, you can use your regular home oven. Toaster ovens are not recommended, because they don't heat as consistently. If you seriously delve into polymer clays, you will probably want to invest in a second oven, for convenience if not for potential long-term health reasons. All of these polymer clays are non-toxic and well-tested, but it somehow seems foolish to be cooking food in the same oven in which you are daily cooking non-food items...

Tools & How-To Tips

Polymer-clay tools: Choose from several useful and fun polymer-clay tools to expand your design possibilities. We offer everything from basics like blades, rollers and modeling tools, to texture plates, extruders (Klay guns), pattern cutters and molding compound to create your own molds!
For general information about what types of polymer clay work best for what type of designs, see "Brands & Styles" above.

Tips and how-to hints for working with polymer clay:
  • Work on paper to minimize handling and fingerprints.
  • Buy ceramic tile from your local building supply to bake pieces on.
  • To tint clay, use non-toxic blushes and eye shadows.
  • Adding gold should make colors warmer; silver adds a cool tone.
  • Try conditioning your clay in a pasta machine. This works especially well for FIMO, which can become exhausting to hand condition.
  • Sand before you glaze, or buff with 400 grit and then 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper under running water.

Polymer-Clay Resources

Polymer Clay Info Links — Updated 2010
  • PC Polyzine offers some great "how-to" articles.
  • Glass Attic provides an "encyclopedia" of information about polymer clay with approximately 90 categories of information (in over 1700 pages) relating to common polymer-clay techniques, including how to avoid problems (or fix them), what kinds of tools might be helpful, etc.
Polymer Clay Guilds The International Polymer Clay Association (IPCA), formerly the National Polymer clay Guild (NPCG), is a great international source for the latest information on various forms of polyform clay (FIMO, Premo, SculpeyFlex, Cernit, etc.). As of 2008, yearly dues were $30, and included a subscription to their fact filled newsletter, the POLYinforMER. Dues and publication formats have probably changed a little since then, but we just checked their new website, and as of 2019 they are thriving and have some very cool artwork on their website!

For regional polymer clay guilds, see our Bead Societies and Art Guilds page.

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Metal Stamping 101

Make your own custom charms, pendants, connectors, tags and more! Metal stamping is not only the latest craze — it's also a lot of fun and gives you design freedom. Plus, handcrafted metal components give your designs a personal touch, both in look and meaning. They can also add to the value of your finished jewelry. It's true that metal stamping requires a bit of hardware. But, once you've acquired the necessary tools, they'll work hard for years! Here are the basics you'll want to get started.

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Metal Etching 101

Etching is a method of using chemicals to cut a design or pattern into a metal surface. Etching your own designs into metal is easier than it may sound, and it can be a fun and rewarding way to make your own jewelry! Learn the basics of how to choose your metals, choose your etchants, create or transfer your images with resists, and complete the etching process. Discover how to make a float boat for suspending your designs in etchant...

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Crimping 101

For all crimping, apply pressure similar to a firm handshake, but don't squeeze so hard that you work-harden the crimp and make it brittle or break your tool. Using crimp beads to finish a necklace or bracelet: 1. String a crimp bead onto the beading cord or cable, then string the clasp. 2. Bend the cable back through the crimp bead. 3. Tighten the loop (but not too tight!). Use crimping pliers to crimp the bead into a small round crimp, or use...

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