Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mystery beads

We got these beads some time ago from a customer who got them as a "take what you want" when she cleared out a shed that was going to be demolished.

Other than some partial tags on some of the strands which say "Made in Ecuador" and a note on one bag that says "'70's Ecuador" on it, I have no clue about them. I have searched the internet and have seen some similar from Africa, especially some of the bell shaped ones that are apparently spindle whorls, but nothing from Ecuador except some pre-Columbian artifacts.

I didn't get a chance to get to the Bead Museum here before it closed, so that avenue of research is also closed to me.

I'd appreciate any information anyone might have about their origin and value. I have a customer who is interested in purchasing them, but I don't want to give them away.

THANKS to anyone for any help!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Merry Christmas!

We did our first Christmas Market today from 10 am - 2pm. We had 6 of our customers/designers/artists who displayed and sold their work out in front of the store.

There was everything from abstract art to Christmas ornaments and a wide variety of jewelry for sale. We had Patricia Klimmek, with her elegant jewelry. Who would have thought that memory wire could look so classy? Trish can usually be found at the MACfest in Mesa.

Our abstract artist is Leonard Cota, Jr.. We are lucky to have one of Len's paintings gracing our kitchen/break room.

Polly and Kelly Hayes (Desert Wren) had a wonderful variety of jewelry, including metal fabrication and lots of semi-precious stone. Polly teaches a number of classes here at AZ Bead Depot. She's one of the best instructors in the area!

Laura and Tammy had a nice variety of jewelry, including rosaries, earrings, necklaces and bracelets at very affordable prices!

Jill's Christmas ornaments were a big hit. She also had a number of pieces showcasing many beadweaving techniques, including Philippine weave (4 needles). Jill teaches a number of classes on Fridays or by appointment.

Last, but not least is Cindy Koontz, with her unique and eye-catching jewelry. Cindy's jewelry incorporates a number of elements, including stone, shell, pearls and glass.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Let there be LIGHT!!!

From the day we moved into the new store, the biggest complaint that my customers (and I) have had is the lighting. The building started as a bank and, let's face it, bank customers don't really care what color their money is, or want it to match the color of their shoes or a particular dress, do they?

We resolved some of the lighting issues by installing new light fixtures with parabolic reflectors at the front of the store, and added "daylight" (like giant Ott Lights) in the classroom and workbench areas. But, those darned things are expensive and the idea of upgrading all of the lighting went on the back burner until we win the lottery or have a long lost relative will us a couple of million dollars!

Today, we had a gentleman come in and tell us about a program that the utility companies have to help commercial businesses modernize their lighting to improve visibility and to help reduce their electricity bills. You can bet that got our attention! Mike is all for saving energy - we replaced our A/C unit, the light bulbs and added insulation at home, long before the government started giving rebates for it. Boy, did we lose out on a lot of money by being that far ahead of the curve.

IF we qualify for this program, it looks like we'll be able to get all of the lighting in the store upgraded to more energy efficient fixtures and better lighting for color matching. The Swarovski crystals will really show their fire and you'll be able to tell if that stone is bluish-green or greenish-blue or maybe not even blue at all!

From what the man said, the changeover should only take about 1 day, so we will have minimal interruption of business.

I'll post updates as we know them - especially if we have to change the store's hours for the changeover process.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

August birthstone - Peridot, an Arizona Treasure

Peridot (prounounced PAIR-eh-dough or PAIR-eh-dot) is a light green gemstone variety of olivine. Peridot is one of the few gemstones which is only found in one color. The green color comes from the traces of iron in it's chemical makeup. Traces of peridot and olivine have been found in meteorites, making peridot the only gemstone which has come from outer space.

Peridot has been confused with emerald and in fact, archaeologists have discovered many gemstones in royal jewelry and adornments which were called "emerald" are actually peridot. During the Ottoman empire, sultans amassed a large quantity of peridot in their treasure stores - as loose stones and in jewelry and other decorations. Peridots were introduced to Europe via the Crusades. Peridot has been called the "evening emerald" because it still appears green in dim light. Other stones confused with peridot are green garnets and moldavites and green tourmaline,

Peridot has its origins in fire, created under high pressure and extremely high temperatures deep in the Earth's center. It is sometimes extruded in basaltic lavas. Natives of Hawaii long ago discovered peridot nuggets in the black lava sands on the beaches and declared them to be tears shed by Madame Pele, the volcano goddess.

Peridot mining dates back to somewhere around 4,000 years ago. 80 to 95% of the world's peridot comes from the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona, near a little town which bears the same name - Peridot. Other locations in the US where peridot may be found are New Mexico, Colorado and Hawaii. Recently, China and Pakistan are becoming rivals in peridot production. It is also found in Myanmar, Australia, Brazil and Norway. There are records showing that peridot has been mined on St. John's island off the coast of Egypt since 79 AD.

Peridot is sometimes treated with resins, wax or oil to fill voids and improve the appearance. One may safely presume that any inexpensive peridot is treated. Peridot beads are usually cut in India and may be irregular in shape or size. Because peridot is relatively soft, it does require special handling. Avoid contact with acids, quick temperature changes and scratches. A sharp blow could also damage a peridot gemstone. When cleaning peridot jewelry, do not use an ultrasonic cleaner or a harsh chemical dip. Warm water and a soft cloth are best and most gentle cleaners for peridot.

Peridot as a healing stone has many properties. It has been used by natural healers to heal the heart and lungs, though healers say it should not be used during chakra work. Peridot is purported to slow the aging process - no wonder it is reported to have been a favorite of Cleopatra! It is purported to aid in the birthing process, as well as to help find lost or misplaced things. It is a "speaker's stone" - helping to improve eloquence and confidence in speech.

At AZ Bead Depot, we have peridot available in several shapes and qualities - from relatively inexpensive chips to AAA grade beads. If you are in love with the peridot color, but not with the price of the genuine stone, we have peridot colored Swarovski crystal, Czech fire polished crystal and even seed beads in that lustrous yellow green color which so entranced the Ottoman sultans. You won't even have to pay a king's ransom to take them home.

Next month - Sapphire - September's birthstone.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


If you haven't been to the new store, you won't notice it.

If you haven't been in since June, you definitely will notice that some things have changed. I've been doing some re-arranging while we're slow, so you might not find your favorites where they used to be.

One of the reasons I've had to re-arrange things is because we've more than doubled the amount of the vintage beads we have and I didn't have room to hang them all out for sale!

The history behind these beads is that they came from a trading post in western AZ. The owner had passed away and his family was left to deal with all the stock from the trading post. They had an auction and through a friend, we wound up purchasing literally close to 1 ton (that's 2000 lbs) of beads. We had somewhere around 30-35 5 gallon buckets. Each of them weighed between 60 and 75 lbs. The beads were all in little ziplock baggies and until we started stringing the beads, we had no idea what treasures were hidden in them. Once the beads were strung and washed, the gorgeous jewel like colors and designs were revealed.

We don't know exactly where these beads came from. Some have guessed Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic. Others have guessed India or Japan. Regardless of their point of origin, these handmade glass beads will add a one-of-a-kind touch to your jewelry designs.

"Extinction Station" - the last stop at AZ Bead Depot - has been moved to a new location with more "last of their kind" beads added on an almost daily basis.

We've highlighted "the good stuff" on an endcap that's immediately to the right as you enter the store. These beads are high quality gemstone beads. This is where you will find the some of the best garnet, citrine, amethyst, rhodochrosite, onyx, malachite, lapis lazuli, labradorite, tourmaline and more. If you're ready to kick up the quality of you designs, be sure to spend a little time checking these beauties out.

For now, in the center display case near the findings room, you'll see the best of the best. We have ruby in zoisite, faceted citrine, amber, hessionite garnet and more. These gemstones will dazzle your eye and add flash to your designs. (This will temporarily change when we do our "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" contest/fundraiser!)

We've added several larger sizes in Czech seed beads - 33/0 (this is a big bead with a fairly large hole), 1/0 (aka pony beads) and 6/0. If we don't have a particular color, be sure to ask Mike to put it on the next order for you.

Last, but not least, I'm researching some interesting beads. The packaging (some of it) says Ecuador, but there's no other description. I've been playing "Internet detective" to see if I can discover what these beads are. They are definitely one-of-a-kind - each one has been handmade. I haven't been very successful so far.

Come on in and say hi - we're having birthday cake on July 30th- 31st because it's Mike's birthday. Mike's birthday is Friday, but I'm sure we'll have cake leftover on Saturday! I might even make him blow out candles, but I'll have to get permission from the fire department first!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Summertime! CONTEST!!

It's summertime and we're ready for fun! We have 3 - count 'em THREE - air conditioning units that are up and running! The temperature averages 80 degrees or cooler, though there are a couple of warm spots where we still have to use fans. The classroom area is really COOL! Perfect for working on a project or getting a problem solved!

We've been doing Girl Scout wire wrap classes and stretchy bracelets for make & takes. The young ladies love to dig through my stash of beads to find a perfect combination for their jewelry! Birthday parties or a "Girls Night Out" are no problem!

Don't forget our 2nd Annual "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" contest!

The rules are simple - for a $10 entry fee, you are allowed to enter up to 5 items you made during the summer (or even since last summer). The kind of item doesn't matter, as long as it includes beads somewhere. Beaded bugs, beaded pegs for a cribbage board, beaded sneakers or dog collars - anything goes! (Just keep it clean - no obscenities, etc.) It does NOT have to be your own design, though we would like to have you credit the original designer, whenever possible.

The entry fee goes entirely to Jody Eagler to help her raise funds for her participation in the Breast Cancer 3-Day on November 12-14, 2010! Last year we raised over $250 for her!

Entries must be in the store by no later than November 1st. They will be judged by AZ Bead Depot customers, who will be voting for 1 week. After the winners are announced, their entries will remain in the store through Novermber 15th, so that we can show our support of the Breast Cancer 3-Day walk that weekend.

Visit the store's website at for details!

Look at the photos of the winners from last year's contest further down in this blog. You can see why I have customers vote, instead of trying to judge the contest myself!

We will be running our silversmith, wire wrap and Philippine weave classes through the summer. Other beading classes - except basic stringing - are "on hold" until fall. If you have a specific class you would like to take, let us know.