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Tips for Sorting and Identifying Beads

Help! They’re all Black!

by Darlynn Lydick.

I have been the recipient of many bags of mixed beads in the last couple of years. Most of the time, with decent lighting, identifying beads had never been an overwhelmingly difficult task. That all changed when an incredibly large and diverse bead collection crossed paths with two novice bead hounds.

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At least a hundred thousand beads of all types were mixed and loose in sagging cardboard boxes. Many strands were not labeled. All the beads were at least 30 to 35 years old and had been in storage for years. Box by box, strand by strand, bead by bead, we began sorting and identifying our beads.

One particular bag I remember was filled with hundreds of black beads. At first glance through the wrinkled, dusty plastic bag, they appeared to be quite similar, despite their varied sizes. At a second glance, I knew I needed to get my glasses and a better lamp.

I hope you find this compilation of tips useful in sorting the assorted and identifying the unlabeled. Each tip plays an important role in bead identification, in no particular order.

You’ve Got to See

Get a good lamp. A bright desk lamp or magnifying light will make it easier to identify patterns, textures, and other identifiable markings on any bead. A jeweler’s loupe or magnifying glass will help you see specific details close up.

Sort by Color, Shape or Size

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Simple sorting is probably the best place to begin, especially if you have a variety of beads mixed together. Start by making piles of like-colors, shapes or sizes using a towel on a tabletop (this keeps them from rolling around) or use the floor if you have solid-colored carpet.

Simplifying your surroundings lets you focus more on the bead color itself. Sitting on an ornately-patterned Oriental rug is not going to make sorting easier, especially if you spill some!

Check the Temperature

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One of my favorite ways to get a clue about what type of substance a bead may be is to take its temperature. Give all your beads a few minutes without handling them. Then, pick them up and feel how warm or cold they are. Closing your eyes for a minute may even help to increase your tactile skills.

Cold beads are usually stone, glass, metal or shell. Materials that feel closer to room temperature (or warm quickly in your hand) include amber, wood, plastic, bakelite, nut, bone and ivory.

Compare Sounds and Weights

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While you are handling the beads for temperature, use the opportunity to hold a few of the same kind of beads. Do they feel heavy or light? Black buffalo horn beads will feel much lighter than black onyx beads of the same size.

What sound do they make when jiggled in your hand? If you listen closely, you may be able to hear the difference between a handful of lapis and a handful of lapis-colored glass. You can also use some confirmed beads to compare for weight and sound.

Finish and Uniformity

I found in the identifying process that my bag of black beads had beads of several different materials, each kind with its own finish. I had preliminarily sorted by size, color, and shape; then by temperature, sound, and weight. Examining the finishes brought me even closer to completing my task.

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The beads with the highest gloss turned out to be onyx, while several also-shiny beads turned out to be vintage glass. They had just a bit of a luster to them, but in the end, it was the uniformity of the shape that gave them away. There was a small crest on each bead near the holes. Once I started identifying the glass beads and pulling them from the pile, it was easier and easier to separate them. They were identical.

Drilling and Carving

The way beads are carved or drilled also gives clues to what material it might be. For instance, ivory beads will always be more finely carved than bone. You may see nicely-carved bone beads, but you will rarely see ivory that is rough and rustic in its carved details.

Look for clues around the holes: stones may show wear or in the case of the onyx, it had small chips around the holes. Glass beads also have a light, powdery look to the inside of the hole if they ve been drilled. If the glass is transparent, you can usually see the faint frostiness of the drill-hole from the side of the bead that is not drilled.

Tests and Sacrifices

Sometimes you get to the end of the identifying process and you still have some beads that stump you. There are a few household tests you can perform. A cotton swab with fingernail polish remover can separate natural coloring from color-enhanced or dyed beads (but can also change the finish on some natural beads, so be careful).

Hands-On Fun: Sacrifice Beads

Running a bakelite bead under hot tap water for a couple minutes will produce a carbonic acid smell, while plastic does not. You will know what carbonic acid smells like if the bead is truly bakelite, I promise!

Bravest of all, would be to get some heavy-duty pliers and really sacrifice a bead by breaking it (do this with a heavy paper towel over the sacrifice, so fragments don t fly). The inside of the bead offers yet more clues: Is the inside the same color as the outside? Does it crumble or break off in flakes? Does it look natural or man-made?

History and Resources

Remember to use all your resources. Although many of our beads were not marked, a good number of them were still marked with the identifying tags from the original wholesaler. We were able to identify many of our black beads as black jade (nearly impossible to find these days) because we also found boxes of strands with the original tags still on them.

We also consulted with the original designer from time to …

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Pearl Beads – Gems through time


For centuries, pearls have been considered objects of beauty and value, adorning the rich, famous and powerful over time. Marie Antoinette was a famous fan of jewels and pearls and was depicted in a portrait with a string of pearls around her unhappy neck in the 1780s, such as Mary Queen of the Scots in 1559 and Empress Maria Fiodoravna of Russia in the 1880s: Pearls have been a symbol of beauty and wealth for centuries, and still are today, though they are more available today.

Types and qualities of pearls

Since pearls are made naturally, each one is unique, that is, there are different types, shapes and gradients. The pearls are characterized by their quality, the purest ones are free from impurities and perfectly round (or very dense). These pearls are classified as Triple A and are extremely rare, but it is very easy to buy pearls with an A or B rating that may have minor flaws, eg. As lines, bumps and small holes. The following types are available:

• freshwater pearls
• salt water
• bubble counts
• Baroque pearls.
• Coin pearls
• embroidered beads

Stunning pearl jewelry

The many kinds of pearls that are made all over the world (natural or agricultural) are used to make a selection of jewelry that is as popular with glitter and glamor fans as it is with Marie Antoinette. And the damn French aristocracy. A Grain of Sand Pearl beads is used today to make beautiful earrings. There are many fans of the classic pearl necklace and they are also used to make eye-catching pendants, bracelets and even headgear for those with extravagant tastes. Pearls, either as a necklace or as earrings, are a beautiful gift and really show how you feel or just be pampered. Also, Mother of pearl jewelry is beautiful, noble and at the same time simple. It is the type of jewelry that will make a gift for friends or family as well as a gift for you. Wearing a pearl necklace around the neck or around the wrist is a timeless accessory suitable for both adults and young people. show

In the shell of certain shell species, natural pearls are formed when a foreign body penetrates into the shell of the animals and the creature begins to irritate. Although people often assume that a grain of sand is in the middle of a pearl, it is likely that it is also a living parasite that has irritated the shells. The shellfish form a “bag full of pearls” around the foreign body and then separate successive layers of conchiolin and calcium carbonate. Since crustaceans are living creatures and the process is part of the natural world, unarmed beads are often very strange shapes. It is very rare to find round pearls naturally.

Pearl farmers have discovered that it is possible to create more round pearls by artificially introducing a special type of pearl into the shell. Because the cord is perfectly spherical, the deposits around the oyster are fairly even and the cord is round.

Although freshwater pearls may look just as bright to the untrained eye, it is actually possible for experts to differentiate between cultured pearls and natural pearls. However, even experts often have to resort to things like X-rays to judge this. In many cases, only you know the difference!

If you are looking for pearls for the jewelry set of your home, finding pearls in pearl shops across the country is very easy. You can also get them from manufacturers that specialize in pearls or jewelry on the Internet. Freshwater pearls are readily available but it is unlikely that you will find natural pearls as they are rare. If you can not find any freshwater pearls, you can always replace them with fake pearls. If you get good fake pearls, they will look almost as good as real ones!

Pearl beads are sometimes available without perforations, as there are some projects that require pearls in this condition. However, if you’re an amateur jewelry maker looking to make your own bracelet or necklace, buying a pre-punched account is a much better idea, because if you try to make holes without the right tool, this is very likely. Beads or damaged irreparably. Buying pre-perforated beads will save you a lot of time and effort. Therefore, it is advisable, unless you carry out a project in which these beads need to be drilled without holes.…

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Welcome to Mamouth Jewelry

Manufacturing ( bone carving ) unique products from mammoth tusk – souvenirs, vip ( exclusive ) gifts, jewelry and other works of art. Appointment of the object, its size, the combination of different materials ( mammoth tusk, gold, precious stones, etc.) and technologies , style and level of difficulty depends on the willingness of the customer.Bone carving is the oldest kind of arts and crafts . Even at the dawn of its history did people from the bones of animals, not only needles, arrowheads, combs, scrapers and other necessities, but also jewelry, sacred objects . Over time, interest in the products and the bones are not only not disappeared, but even increased, finally moving from the area of ​​need in the art of wealth and luxury. The museums of the world a lot of items of ivory and mammoth ivory, belonging to different civilizations and culture …