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New Arrivals 2011


Notes on 2011 New Bead Arrivals

            This year was a repeat of 2010 re John’s annual buying trip to bead, rock and jewelry shows in Quartzite and Tucson, Arizona.  (There are also side trips to the largest used book sale in the country at Phoenix, pottery purchases at Gallup and Albuquerque and more bead and jewelry purchases in California.)  Just doing Tucson right is a mammoth undertaking where for three weeks 48 different shows comprise the largest rock, gem, mineral, fossil and bead extravaganza in the world.  Shipments have been coming in to Von’s since late December of 2010 when some exhibitors started calling John before the show.  As of March 2011 all of the major shipments had arrived including the last two pallets – one from California and one from Tucson.  Besides those big show orders Von’s continued to add other new things as they become available and restock the basics.

            New arrivals in all categories are being put out for sale every week.  Since the store is so crammed already (more stone beads than any other US retail location) it is easy for the new to get lost among all of the existing merchandise so we again decided to make a list of some of these new wonders.  We will keep updating this list as more things make their way onto the shelves. It is available both on line and in a printed version one may pick up at Von’s.  Note that when in the store, items added in the last three months have color coded “NEW” tags on each hank of new beads.  Some occasional mention of new stone jewelry and mineral specimens may also be added here.

Beads (Plus Selected Stones and Stone Jewelry)

2mm to 2 ½ mm Rounds – Tiny stone rounds are not always available.  It takes a lot of work to make 200 beads for a 16 inch strand of 2mm rounds.  We purchased a small quantity in multicolor agate, blue goldstone, howlite, new “jade” and multi-stone that are marked $6.50 per strand.  The unakite was a little larger - maybe 2 1/2mm.

Abalone – Abalone beads are usually sandwiches of two pieces glued together so you get the beautiful shell patterns on both sides of the flat beads.  We added a few ovals, squares and diamond shapes at Tucson this year.  Then in October we found another nice batch that included squares, rectangles, ovals in a couple sizes, and drop shapes both drilled vertically and through the top.

Agate, Black – Note that black onyx and black agate both describe a treated quartz mineral. When the stone is more transparent or you see brown in it as well as black it is called black agate.  It must be fully solid black for us to call it black onyx.   Some bead factories label beads one way and some the other.  Also note there are other unrelated black stones:  black “jade” is usually a dyed serpentine and black obsidian is a naturally black volcanic glass.  Black agate or black onyx is harder and more durable.  We continue to add new shapes whenever we see them.  New this year are strands of medium roughly regular shaped rectangular nuggets plus some large ovals.  There are also some large pear shaped beads that include an occasional bead with the white lines characteristic of black line agate described below.  In addition there are small ovals with some white and brown lines, again related to black line agate.


Agate, Black Line – The dramatic appearance of light against dark has made black line agate one of our most popular stones for the last two years.  It remains pricier than many stones but we continue to find amazingly beautiful strands that we can’t resist buying.  Notably this year we came across some giant 20mm rounds and some spectacularly marked 30x40mm ovals as well as a number of more usual shapes and sizes.  The medium drops have a phenomenal polish and will make great earrings or drop pieces from a necklace.  Jewelry made from it is always among our bestsellers on the pillar in front of the bead counter.  Long twist ovals were another new addition.  We also purchased cabochons, rings, earrings and pendants.  In addition there are some 14mm rounds that would be better termed “brown line agate” because of their coloration.

Agate, Blue Lace – The delicate patterns in light blue of this agate are always appealing.  We are constantly looking for new shapes and this year we found long rounded sticks drilled at the top so that they may dangle like briolettes or other drops.  See stick beads below for a more extensive description and a complete list of stones we added in this shape.  We also found free form flat more or less oval pieces that were drilled through the narrow direction rather than typical drilling along the longest axis.  These latter ones will be specially priced and hung with our precious beads near the front counter.

Agate, Botswana – The attractive lined patterns, usually in grays but sometimes in pinks or orange make Botswana agate a favorite.  We added over 300 strands including ovals, rectangles, squares, dimes and drops.  Some are plain and some are faceted.  There is also a new stick shape described below under stick beads.  Also look for strands of the gray material alternating with stone that is more orange in rectangles, dime and diamond shapes.  The orange material looks like carnelian and may have been made by heat treating the normal gray Botswana agate.

Agate, Brown Striped – We love the bands of light and dark in agate.  These new ovals could be compared to black line agate or Botswana agate except they are brown and white – not the black and white of black line agate or the greys of Botswana.  We only found ten strands and of course we took them all.  They are lovely.

Agate, Crazy Lace – We have always loved the patterns in this agate.  Last year we found some in an unusual yellow color from Australia.  This year we added ovals with predominately white to gray bands but also on the strands are beads with striking reddish coloring. 

Agate, Gray – Agates are among our favorite beads.  We are always looking for new shapes and even new varieties of agate beads.  One striking addition this year were large coin shaped beads in a rich dark agate with subtle banding in many of the beads.  We also added a large oval with the same coloration but these have much less of the lovely banding that drew us to the silver dollar sized disks.

Agate, Moss – Green mottling through a translucent opaque pale grayish base is characteristic of moss agate.  One unique new addition was strands of large faceted rounds

Agate, Moss, Brown – As mentioned above, one usually expects green and pale gray when the term moss agate is used.  However, in the past, we have seen interesting stone specimens from Australia with attractive brown and ivory patterns.  In some of the material there is also a hint of green and reddish brown.  This year only a single source was offering oval beads in a couple sizes in what we believe is the Australian stone.  Looking for something new?  Take a look it this one.

Agate, Striped - John is especially fond of agates and is always looking for more interesting varieties.  Besides the gray striped Botswana mentioned above, he also found some ovals in a browner material with much wider spacing between lines.

Agate, Toffee – This agate is mainly ivory and light to medium browns with some reddish browns.  There are more spotting patterns than the bands expected in most agates.  The earthy look is hard to describe and the only shape we found was unusual too.  The flat stone is in a more or less rounded triangular shape common of many freeform beads.  The stringing hole comes from the narrowest point to emerge from the middle of the opposite and shortest side of the triangle.

Agate, Variscite – While this material is sometimes just called variscite, we believe it to be a treated agate that has the same beautiful blue-green to green colors as found in the softer phosphate mineral variscite.  We have only seen it in a few large shapes.  This year we added spectacular giant coins that are at least 40mm across.  We will be breaking up a strand or two to sell as loose beads for those of you just seeking a single focal bead.

Agate, White - Beaders can always use another shape in black or white.  As in both blue lace agate and Botswana agate above, we added a new stick shape.  See stick beads below for a more extensive description and a complete list of stones we added in this shape.

Amethyst – One of the first things we added this year was strands of tiny faceted amethyst beads.  These are hand cut in India and are not “perfect” but are extremely dark purple for a small (less than 4mm) bead.  They are hung with the precious beads near the front counter.  In the front counter you will find new trays of faceted amethyst briolettes. These are long strands with a many as 100 faceted drops mostly with a special price of $16 per strand.  There are $10/stand faceted oval beads.  We don’t expect either of these to last long and at this time we cannot get any more. Also new are pale 2mm rounds and dark faceted ovals that are hung on the wall with the majority of our other amethyst.  Once again we found some giant nuggets with some strands weighing over a pound and we couldn’t resist adding them to our collection.  Another new shape is rounded long sticks drilled at the top so they dangle like briolettes or other drops.  See stick beads below for a more extensive description and a complete list of stones we added in this shape.  Besides these “drop sticks” we also purchased large nuggets drilled through the top so they also hang as drops.

Amethyst, Green – Rock people hate the name Green Amethyst because amethyst is purple and prasiolite is green.  When amethyst is heated, it usually turns to golden citrine, but occasionally a green stone is produced.  Thus the stone is sometimes called “Greened” Amethyst.  It may be very pale to strikingly deep.  It may have many inclusions or be perfectly clear. Regardless of the proper name, the bead trade uses the term Green Amethyst.  And for the second year in a row, John found a wealth of new things in Green Amethyst.  Already out are new faceted ovals and tiny “dime” shapes and a faceted disk shape too in beads.  A huge variety of new earrings and pendants are also for sale.   Note, that the beads can be strung on green cord to heighten the green appearance.  A few strands of interestingly angular cut faceted drops are especially striking.

Ametrine – When amethyst is exposed to heat it may change from purple amethyst to golden citrine.  When the material includes both the purple and gold it is called ametrine.  We only rarely see beads made of ametrine that are large enough to show both colors in one bead.  This year we added faceted strands of small to large drop shapes that may be found in the front bead counter.  There are also strands of a faceted chicklet shape, but most of these beads look more like either amethyst or citrine rather than the blend.

Andalusite – We see very little andalusite and we only added a dozen new strands this year.  If you have a thing for browns or sometimes browns with a hint of green, ask at the front counter to see the new faceted rondelles or the gorgeous tiny new briolettes.

Apatite – This was a banner year for apatite beads.  We added 4, 6 and 8mm rounds in a deep opaque blue.  There were also rondelles in blue and blue-green and faceted stones in several shapes in clearer bluish green shapes.  We added more to our selection of small drops that may end up in the front counter with the new faceted rectangles and rondelles.  There are also double length strands of amazingly clear blue-green chips and a few extraordinarily green strands of small faceted stones.   John bought nice crystal specimens in a clear yellow-green too.

Aquamarine – Once again we added to our stock of over 1000 strands of aquamarine.  New additions include a large number of briolettes that are in the front counter.  These vary from very pale transparent stones to more opaque blue and blue-green ones.  There are some beautiful large blue ovals as well as a few smaller ones.  There are strands of faceted rondelles and a few strands of graduated faceted rondelles in giant sizes.  We also added more 4 and 5mm rounds plus some spectacular 14mm and 18 mm rounds.

Aventurine – Most aventurine is green (Peach, red and blue are also available.) but our favorite green has always been the deeper Indian stone with noticeable silvery or golden flecks reflecting the light.  We added a nice twist oval this year as well as restocking round standards.

Aztec Gold – The names Aztec gold and Apache gold are in common use for pyrite that contains a spattering of black within the golden pyrite.  The stone is a favorite of crystal mystics.  We added some very nice 6mm cubes.  They will be hung on the wall with pyrite rather than in the A’s for either Aztec or Apache Gold

Azurite, Chinese – Because it is inexpensive yet still quite attractive, this blue green material has been replacing chrysocolla when this color was needed.  We do not know whether the material actually contains the mineral azurite.  Normal azurite is a dark blue, while this material is colored turquoise and green and black.  Since it does not take a polish as well as harder stones, it is often coated to seal it, stabilize it and add to its gloss.  We have added a variety of new shapes.

Bloodstone, African – This stone is more translucent to grayish green than the Indian bloodstone which is predominately dark green.  We only added a couple very large shapes and some nice 6mm rounds this year.

Bronzite – Imagine metallic silvery glints or sheen but in brown, not silver or gold and you can come close to the look of what you see in good bronzite.  In nature, the material starts out as hypersthene (which exhibits a fantastic dark silvery sheen) but over time in the earth, hypersthene weathers and turns into bronzite.   We added more basic rounds this year and also new finished jewelry pendants mounted in sterling silver.

Carnelian - We always buy this red to reddish orange agate every year.  One new shape for us this year was a medium to small flat oval.

Chicklet Shape – Small rectangular beads drilled through the center of the longest axis are often referred to as chicklets (like the gum).  Sometimes they are plain, but occasionally they are faceted.  This year we found a  number of different stones in this shape that had been hand cut and faceted in India.  The size of the rectangles is irregular.  The stones added in this shape include green grossular garnet, kambaba jasper, silver leaf jasper, rainbow obsidian, snowflake obsidian, blue opal, sodalite and tiger eye. 

Chrome Diopside - We added only a couple strands of 6mm round beads in this attractive green stone.

Chrysocolla – While Chinese azurite has been replacing chrysocolla when beaders are looking for striking blue-greens at affordable prices we have been determined to find quality and affordable real chrysocolla.  We were successful this year in finding nice material in a number of shapes - rectangles, ovals, coins.  The color and quality is much better than what we have seen in previous years. The occasional red inclusions are cuprite.  We also picked up a few shapes such as 8mm rounds, small coin and oval shapes in a lesser quality yet still attractive at a lower price.  The budget stone beads have quite a bit of gray in them.  (Note that even the “budget” beads remain more costly than stones which are more common.

Chrysoprase – This beautiful green chalcedony variety of quartz usually comes from the nickel belt in Australia.  We have added some new rondelles which are hanging alphabetically on the wall.  Some people will not like them because of the occasional brown “imperfections” but others will see them as interesting inclusions that make each stone unique rather than perfect like a glass.  Also look for some new tiny yet thick disk shaped beads

Citrine – Tiny 2mm beads are not common, but John brought back a few strands of citrine.  Note that these are strung on orange cord which is predominately responsible for the color you see when buying a strand.  Pale golden citrine is not going to be very deeply colored when you are looking through a tiny 2mm bead.  (We also added 2mm black onyx which is opaque and a solid black.)  Another major addition in citrine was a group of gorgeous large faceted rondelles.  These strands were typically about 100 carats each.  These will either be hanging by the counter with other precious stones or in the trays in the front counter.  Yet another addition was a group of beautifully colored faceted transparent drops.  For those who just love gorgeous stones, these are worth an admiring look.

Dumortierite – This attractive royal blue to blue black stone looks a little like sodalite.  In Dumortierite one is more likely to see black areas while in sodalite we often see white matrix areas.  We added some very large rectangles and some gorgeous medium and large ovals.  A few of the stones show a rare purple coloring.  If you haven’t seen it before you would think that these purple ones are some new mineral.


Emerald – Emerald is the green form of beryl. (Aquamarine and morganite are also beryl but colored differently be different impurities.)  This year the big additions in emerald are in numerous strands hung by the counter with other precious stones.  Almost all of these bead strands were cut in India, but the source of the material varied.  We added only one strand of very fine natural Columbian emerald.  Other emerald additions include numerous rings set with emerald cabochons.  Occasionally, corundum, the mineral of which ruby and sapphire are formed, is colored green and also marketed as “emerald” or “oriental emerald”.  This is particularly true in affordably priced rings and pendants and we can not always be sure whether these reasonably priced rings are beryl (emerald, aquamarine) or corundum (ruby, sapphire).  Another bead addition was four strands of large Brazilian emerald nuggets.

Falcon’s Eye – The blue variant of tiger eye.  See blue and green tiger eye below.

Garnet – Always looking for something new, John found some beautiful tiny faceted hexagon shapes in a lovely red color.  There is enough hint of purple in this shape that we wonder whether it is rhodolite garnet rather than the more typical almandine which tends to be red to brownish red rather than violet-red like the rhodolite variety.  These are hung with the precious near the front counter and are priced as specials at $10 per strand.  Also added were about 100 strands of variously shaped faceted drops that are displayed in the front counter. 

Garnet, Green – We added hundreds of strands of green garnet in a variety of colors and shades from green to greenish brown.  Mostly these were round, so it was nice finding a new Indian cut faceted rectangle to add to our collection this year.  (For other new stone additions in this shape, look alphabetically in this list for “Chicklet Shape”.)  And, in the front counter we have some new faceted drops.

Garnet, Hessonite – John has a weakness for the various garnets that are not the standard red we are all used to.  Hessonite can be very clear and be pale to deep gold to brown. He added some small faceted beads that are strung in light to dark bands.  These are hung with the precious beads near the front counter.

Garnet, Spessartine – This garnet variety was formerly known as spessartite.  The color is more orange or red orange than other garnet varieties.  We added only a single strand of faceted orange rondelles that are hung at the front of the store with other precious and semi-precious stones.  Sri Lanka and Brazil are major sources for the stone but it is also found in Myanamar and in India where most bead garnets originate.

Glass, Handcut Chinese Crystal – Although this list is primarily to help you find the new stone bead arrivals, we are also always adding new glass items as well.  We have been adding the faceted hand cut crystal coming from the better Chinese factories.  In the last year we have seen excellent quality at lower prices.  More and more of our customers have been switching to this material rather than the Austrian Swarovski crystal at much higher prices.  New additions have been coming for months including over 50 colors of 4mm faceted rondelles.   

Glass, Czech - Also look for lots of new Czech glass varieties added to the glass walls at the back of both the first bead room and at the back of the pearl/mother of pearl/coral room.  Especially look for cathedral beads by color principally with silver caps but also some with gold or verdigris on the ends.  Notably to go with current fashion trends, there are also quite a few new chartreuse colored beads.  By October we also completed a new tracking system for all of our basic standards in Czech glass.   Now all of our classics are in stock and we know when they have sold out so they are automatically reordered.  Of course, we are always adding new.  The last new additions for 2011 Czech glass were nearly 30 colors of trumpet and three petal flower beads.  (These are often used by beaders to create the lower portion of an “angel” in their bead work designs.)

Goldstone, Purple – This glittery material is manmade but has long been treated like natural stone beads.  Originally only a golden brown variety was available but for several years now a dark blue or dark purpleas well as a dark green variety have been showing up.  Sometimes we have seen the blue and purple grouped together and both called Blue Goldstone.  Von’s has added a few strands of a glittery 10x13 oval that is distinctly purple.

Hawk’s Eye – The green variant of tiger eye.  See blue and green tiger eye below.

Hematite – Natural silvery hematite beads are rather rare since the manmade hematite look-alikes are just as nice and cheaper to produce.  Sometimes you can see the stone imperfections if the source has used natural rough hematite to make the beads.  In the rock room you can see a variety of new natural mineral specimens, especially of botyroidal hematite plus a couple of polished slabs.  There are probably more shapes of hematite beads than anything else but glass.  Still, every year we find a few things that we don’t already have and add them to the wall.  New magnetic strands were notably added this year.

Hypersthene – This black stone has a very striking silvery metallic sheen.  In nature it can weather to the more common and less expensive brownish bronzite which also exhibits a metallic sheen.  We’ve added several new shapes including a striking 20x30mm oval and a smaller faceted oval with an amazing sheen.

Impression Stone - This is an attractive light blue green material with a tan background.  Some stones also show reddish browns.  We are still not 100% sure that this is not just another name for African Blue Opal. The names Aqua Terra Jasper and Sea Sediment Jasper are also used for stones of the same appearance.  To add one more question mark, the stone also looks like one called Australian Blue Snakeskin Opal.  (It can’t be both African and Australian.)  One dealer had all of his labeled Imperial Jasper.  In any event it is an attractive addition to the beader’s palette and we added several new hanks including nice tiny and small ovals as well as large 30x40mm ones.

Iolite – We have added a number of striking tiny faceted strands of blue-gray iolite.  There are also larger faceted ovals of great color and clarity at a bargain price plus faceted rondelles and one strand of faceted rectangles.  All of this faceted material is at the front counter.  (As an interesting side note, iolite is also known in mineralogic circles as cordierite, but not in the bead trade.  When looking one direction through a single crystal of this peculiar material it appears to be grayish blue, but when looking through the crystal from another side it looks yellow brown.)  In addition to the faceted stones, we have also added some nice ovals that are hanging alphabetically on the wall with our other iolite.  Another hank of small ovals shows a lot of the yellow brown coloration as well as the blue gray.  Also look for a lot of new finished jewelry pieces featuring iolite as well.

“Jade”, African or Buddstone – Any attractive green stone is likely to be called “jade” by someone.  Remember that there are only two true jades – nephrite and jadeite.  Both of these are tougher and more rare than the numerous other stones such as  African “Jade”, New “Jade”, Olive “Jade”, Russian “Jade”,…  We always add quote marks around the word jade when the stone is not one of the two true jades.  Nonetheless, some of these which are jade in name only are lovely stones.  African “Jade” is also known as Buddstone and is a rich green – more emerald than most.  It may also contain patches or veins of white or other colors.  This year we found numerous large shapes.  Some of the stone used is irregular enough in its constituency that the beads do not always have a perfectly even polish but rather have a more primitive look that is sought by some of our bead buyers.  The different shapes vary from perfect to primitive.  Just take a look at the beads and decide what is right for your creations. 

“Jade”, Burnt – This dark brown serpentine has been growing in popularity.  (It is not one of the two true jades – nephrite and jadeite.   As a reminder, we again mention that when we use quotes around a word it indicates that the substance may be called by that name but it is name only and not correct in a mineralogical sense.  The terms “jade” and “quartz” are used too freely in the bead trade.)  This year we added several new shapes including a large twisted oval, a few twisted diamonds (drilled from corner to corner), and medium twist ovals that are closer to black than the typical brown.

Jasper, Apple – This red jasper also goes by other names.  See the write up below under Poppy Jasper.  New this year is a beautiful large coin shape.

Jasper, Brecciated, Green – Most of the time when you see the term brecciated jasper in beads you are talking about red beads.  Various other names are used such as poppy jasper, apple jasper, sunset jasper, rainbow jasper,…  For these, read below under poppy jasper.  This year one of our sources had a fascinating dark sage to olive green jasper made up of stone that had been broken up by nature into small pieces and was then re-cemented back together in the earth to give wonderfully patterned beads.  The color variation is subtle rather than dramatically contrasting but it is very visible, especially in two large rectangular shapes.  There is some orangish coloration as well as the green and brown.

Jasper, Bull’s Eye – This stone is new to our selection.  It is a flat black with often circular pale gray (almost white) patterns.  It looks like the material containing orthoceras fossils that comes from Morocco and that’s what we might have guessed it to be.  Sometimes these light fossil inclusions look more like crinoids or even fossil coral like Petoskey stone.  In any event we now have one more new addition to the beader’s palette. The source of the bead material probably chose the name and we will use it for now.  Among the added shapes are two very large ones that show the pattern very clearly.  We hope some of our customers who are better with fossils will help us with the identification.

Jasper, Dragonblood – This Australian stone may never become very abundant because we are unsure that there is much of the rough material.  We first saw a few pieces of it set in silver to make finished jewelry pendants.  We also saw the Australian mineral dealer selling small slabs as mineral specimens.  Then two year’s ago we found two sizes of round beads that had been cut by an Indian factory.  We were elated to find both last year and again this year a single Chinese factory that had purchased a large amount of the rough stone and formed it into numerous standard bead shapes.  We bought all 11 shapes they had last year and just bought everything we liked again this year.  Both the penny sized coin shape and the very tiny coin shapes look particularly usable for lots of jewelry projects.  There is a pear shape that begs to be made into earrings.  A small barrel shape is also new.  Like traditional bloodstone, the material has small patches of red in a green background.  Unlike the usual Indian bloodstone’s very dark green, the Australian stone is a lighter more emerald green.  We suspect that most people would strongly prefer the Dragonblood Jasper.  As oddities, we also added just a few strands of ovals that were predominately the reddish material.

Jasper, Dragonblood, Olive – This stone came from the same Chinese factory that did such a wonderful job with the Australian material described immediately above.  However this year they also offered a rich olive green stone with red inclusions.  Lacking a better name, they also called this one Dragonblood Jasper.  We believe the stone for these beads came from Africa.  If you are looking for new and unique stones for your designs, take a look at this one.  We purchased it in a variety of shapes and sizes from giant 30x40mm ovals and rectangles to tiny dime shapes and small rondelles perfect for bracelets.  There are also a few pear shapes and drops.

Jasper, Fancy – Fancy jasper is really an agate not a jasper.  (Occasionally it is sold as Indian Agate rather than Fancy Jasper.)  The colorful greens, grays, reds, browns and occasional mauve have made this a favorite beading material for many years.  Last year we found a nice twist oval. We bought more of it this year because the color was just too nice to pass by.  We also found a much longer version of the twist oval and added it as well.

Jasper, Snakeskin, Green – Another of our bigger new finds last year was this green and dark brown patterned jasper which we believe comes from China.  The exceptional quality of the material and the extremely high polish led us to buy this stone in 18 different shapes and sizes last year.  We bought the material again this year in a number of small to medium shapes.  This is definitely another stone you should look at even if you think the color is more suited for fall.  Don’t just look at the small sizes.  Take a look at some of the larger beads that can really show off the pattern.

Jasper, Kambaba – This green Madagascar stone with black patterns has been on the market for several years now.  New shapes still show up and this year we added a primitively faceted rectangle that was cut in India.  For more stones in this shape, see Chicklet Shape above.

Jasper, Mookaite – Mookaite Jasper from Western Australia has long been a favorite with its variation from ivory through gold, mauve and red.  There was continued indication this year that the material may be running out.  Many sources have increased costs by 20-30%.  The outlook is for higher prices next year.  We did add a few 4x13 tubes, some shorter tubes, more 6mm rounds, a medium pear shape, some beautiful quarter-sized coins and other shapes at the old prices.  The new rectangles have a lot more of the mauve colored beads than we usually see as do some of the strands of coin shaped beads and the new rondelles.

Jasper, New Silverleaf - Silverleaf Jasper has always been a stone that you need to see when buying because it varies in color.  While typically tan brown and gray, it occasionally had a reddish tint.  Both last year and this year a variety has shown up that is slightly greenish and is being called New Silverleaf Jasper but may also be just Silverleaf Jasper.  We have added an Indian cut faceted rectangle to our collection.

Jasper, Ocean - We have spoken to the mine owners from Madagascar and it continues to be more and more difficult to find good Ocean Jasper (also known as Orbicular Jasper and Fish Eye Jasper).  Whenever we find existing hoards of the more colorfully patterned material we grab them all.  Expect prices to continue to go up next year unless there is another find.  Among our favorites this year are some large ovals that show off the color and patterns of this stone.

Jasper, Picture – The traditional American Picture Jasper is in tans with darker brown bands.  This year we added a giant diamond twist shape.  The bead is over an inch and a half across – over two inches drilled through from corner to corner.  Another new shape was a large twist oval, but it was not as large as the diamond.

Jasper, Poppy – One of the long time favorite red jaspers is the patterned red poppy jasper. Sometimes when there are more parallel bands the stone is called Sunset Jasper.  When the pattern is more of pieces that have been broken up and cemented back into a whole by nature, the stone is called Brecciated Jasper.  If there is much variation in color of the reds it is sometimes called Rainbow Jasper.  Apple Jasper is yet another name for a variety that is mainly red but there may also be browns.  Note that all of these are not the more orange brick red of plain Red Jasper.  New this year are a lot of large shapes from giant rectangles and ovals to a smaller twist oval shape.  There is also a medium pear shape and a couple strands of double drilled pieces often used for bracelets


Jasper, Porcelain – This stone was found a couple years ago near Sonora, Mexico.  It does have a porcelain “look” with subtle pastels showing ivory and gray with an interesting lavender tinted pink plus maroon and light and dark matrix lines.  Again, this year we added several different shapes including striking 30x40mm ovals as well as very nice smaller ovals, 6x6mm cubes and medium rectangles.

Jasper, Rain Forest – To the mineralogist this material might be better known as rhyolite but bead compaies more commonly call it rain forest jasper.  It is olive green with both contrasting green and orange to orange-brown patterns.  A new quarter sized coin and a giant oval shape are among this year’s additions to our stock.

Jasper, Red – This brick red stone has long been a staple in the bead trade.  Usually you see only rounds and common shapes – once and a while there will be faceted rounds.  This was the first time we have ever run into faceted drops and although there may not be much occasion to use them, we couldn’t resist buying a couple strands.  They are in the front bead counter.  Also new are both a penny sized coin shape and a large flat pear shap with a few quartz veins running through the red jasper.  There is a very limited quantity of assorted shapes in which the red is mixed with ivory as well as clear quartz.

Jasper, Red Creek – Last year was the first time we saw this stone which was also called Rainbow Jasper by some.  It is hard to describe, but we can say this much.  There are reds like other red jaspers.  There are also ivories, tans, grays, greenish grays and goldish and other browns.  For us, the best part of the stone is that there are lined patterns in it too.  This description cannot do justice to the stone.  Quality does vary, so John only picked up the most colorful and patterned ones.  New small, medium and large ovals are among our favorites.  The patterns show wonderfully in the large coins too.

Jasper, Silverleaf –We again found more to the dice shape (diagonally drilled cubes) that we had added last year to our selection.  In addition we added a couple shapes in the more greenish variety known as New Silverleaf Jasper described immediately below.

Jasper, Silverleaf, New - Silverleaf Jasper has always been a stone that you need to see when buying because it varies in color.  While typically tan brown and gray, it occasionally had a reddish tint.  Last year and this year a variety has been introduced that is slightly greenish and is being called New Silverleaf Jasper.  A faceted chicklet shape was among the new additions this year.  (For more info and more stones in this shape look alphabetically in this list for “Chicklet Shape”.)

Jasper, Sunset –  When the patterns in red jasper are predominately banded ones with other colors like gold or brown the stone usually gets called Sunset Jasper.  (For more on the red japers, see Poppy Jasper above.)  We added strands of elongated medium ovals that also have some clearer quartz bands.

Jasper, Zebra, Classic – The first zebra jasper on the market years ago was dark greenish alternating with silvery light bands.  The material seemed to disappear from the market as the rough material had run out.  Last year it appeared again although the bands were more widely spaced – probably characteristic of a new deposit of the material.  We added some strands of large ovals and rectangles last year and found smaller more affordable ovals and rectangles this year plus a long thin oval.  One company was calling it green opal jasper this year.

Jet - Jet is a semiprecious gem that is sometimes called “black amber”.  It is actually the fossilized remains of an araucarian wood that is related to the monkey puzzle tree.  Millions of years ago great coniferous forests were destroyed by flooding.  The sunken trees were trapped in layers of mud on the sea bottom and were subjected to centuries of heat and pressure.  The mud became shale and the trees became black or brown jet.  One might also consider jet a tough form of coal.  Queen Victoria popularized it as the only suitable gem for jewelry while in mourning.  Since the word jet is used as a color description, black glass beads are often referred to as “jet beads”.  We added over 200 strands of real jet beads, not glass, in various sizes of round beads.  Often we cannot find real jet, so when we saw this lot we bought every strand the dealer had.

Kyanite – Kyanite continues to be more affordable than it was just two or three years ago.  Typically this happens when a major new deposit of the mineral is discovered.  It happened for ametrine about ten years ago when there was a major Bolivian find.  In any event, it has been good for beaders.  Among things that Von’s has added in blue kyanite are tiny squares, a number of nice new ovals in different sizes and a disc shape drilled through the center so the beads are like giant heishi.  There are beautiful new small blue drops and some strands of specially priced heishei .  Another new addition is green kyanite in a drum shape. 

Kunzite - Up front with our precious and semi-precious stones you will find some kunzite rounds.  They tend to be either a very pale peridot green or more commonly a pale pink – sometimes with a hint of lilac.  This year John found some amazing giant lilac to lavender nuggets.  There are also a couple new chip strands and an amazing 8mm round strand that is less clear than earlier acquisitions but more purple.

Labradorite – This was the second year in a row for great quality labradorite.  Not only was the stone showing better “fire” in the mineral specimens, but the beads had much more life.  In the past one always found strands which had a few beads which would show the vibrant characteristic reflective labradorescence as light reflected back from the spaced layers within the mineral.  Usually most of the beads were drab and plain with little iridescence or no life. Again this year the number of excellent beads was vastly greater.  We especially were struck by the beauty of some faceted stones including rondelles, ovals, drops and more.  Look for a wonderful new selection in the front counter hanging by the front counter as well as checking out the strands hung on the wall.  There are lots of additions in all three places.

Lapis Lazuli – The beautiful dark blue of lapis or lapis lazuli is always a rich looking favorite.  The golden flecks within the material are pyrite.  We don’t know what John was thinking when he purchased gorgeous blue round lapis beads in the biggest sizes we have ever seen.  He brought back one strand each of 20 and 22mm round beads.  They were just too unique to leave behind.  Also there were 60 assorted strands of medium to large drops,  ovals, coin shapes and rectangles.  These latter beads are also natural – not dyed like most of what we see.  The quality is very reasonable, but can not equal the superior quality of the giant rounds.

Marble, Green – This year we only added a 12mm round in this subtle pale green stone.

Moonstone and Rainbow Moonstone – With several thousand strands of moonstone already in stock, it is hard to find things we don’t already have.  Moonstone is a staple from India that is both attractive and affordable.  It may be white or gray.  The peachy tan to orangish versions are sometimes called Chinese Sunstone.  When white moonstone shows either a bluish or rainbow reflection from its surface, the stone is called Rainbow Moonstone.  Notably, we added a lot of primitively faceted rondelles and drops, including some very large ones.  One of rondelles is the largest we have ever seen - weighing about six ounces or 170 grams.  These stones are all hand cut and show the irregularities of beads made one at a time.  There are also very nice 6mm rounds, small coin shapes, small irregular flat shapes, and heishi.

Morganite – Beryl is the mineral that is known as Emerald when it is colored by chromium and aquamarine when colored with iron.  Morganite is the pink variety colored with manganese and named after the gem collector and banker, J. P. Morgan.  When opaque, the stone looks much like rose quartz but is harder and more dense.  The weight difference is quite obvious between rose quartz and pink morganite.  Last year we found only a few strands, but this year we found one dealer in California with several hundred strands of nice pink small nuggets.  We took every good strand he had since we never know when we might find such a haul again.  We also found a couple nice 8mm round strands from another dealer in Tucson that will be hung with the other precious beads by the front counter.

Morganite and Aquamarine – As mentioned above, morganite, aquamarine and emerald are all beryl.  One dealer had roughly oval nugget strands with alternating morganite and aquamarine beads drilled either through the long length or the short length.  We bought a few of each.

Multistone – Indian bead sources like to make assorted strands of clear stones.  We added a few primitively faceted rondelles that included amethyst, garnet, citrine and what may be either blue topaz or blue dyed quartz.  Many ot the other hundreds of strands also include peridot.

Obsidian, Snowflake - Normal snowflake obsidian has white flake-like crystal growths of cristobalite within the black volcanic glass.  This classic bead has been a staple at Von’s for about 20 years, but new shapes do show up.  This year we added a faceted rectangle described further under “Chicklet Shape”. 

Obsidian, Rainbow  Obsidian is a volcanic glass that is usually black but sometimes shows a golden sheen or even a bit of a rainbow reflection.  John found some new graduated strands of a faceted chicklet shapes that was called rainbow obsidian, but would be better referred to simply as obsidian since there is little or no sheen on most of the beads.  To see spectacular rainbow obsidian look in the front counters where we have new polished mineral specimens that are beyond written description.

Onyx, Black – Some new strands of tiny 2mm rounds have been added to our stock.  (Note that Black Onyx and Black Agate are equivalent stones – see above under Agate, Black.)  The most spectacular addition is a strand of faceted graduated rounds that has a central bead that is 35mm across.  The beads are knotted between and the whole piece is clasped so it is ready to wear if someone doesn’t want to tear it apart and create their own piece.  In the front counter are some new large faceted rondelles.

Opal – Never before have we seen opal chips in such quality that they were immediately recognizable as opal – not just some other whitish stone.  Opal’s characteristic iridescent sheen is evident on many of the beads.

Opal, Peruvian Blue – Much if not most of the material fashioned into beads in India is color enhanced.  Nonetheless the lovely light aqua blue of Peruvian opal makes beautiful spring jewelry.  We added about 200 more strands, primarily rounds and chicklet shapes, to our already extensive collection.

Opal, Peruvian Pink – Since the selection grew so much last year, there were only a few new additions so far for 2011.  Notable among them are a few strands of some faceted drops of graduated sizes in natural pink opal.  Black inclusions are present in the light pink material.

Opalite, Pink – Opalite is a usually clear to white material that reflects light in a somewhat opalescent manner.  It is now also available in a pink color too.  With 50 or more shapes and sizes of the clear to white variety, John went looking for more pink and found a few more shapes including your basic 4mm, 6mm and 8mm round, large rondelles,  plus three sizes of faceted rounds and rondelles and just a couple strands of 13x18mm ovals.  We’ll keep looking for more.  Remember that opalite is a manmade creation like goldstone.  Both of these have long histories of being used with stone beads although they are glasses. 

Pearl – Although we literally have one full room of pearls and mother of pearl, we are always adding to fill in gaps in our selection.  Notably this year are strands of black pearls.  (No, they are not the $500 per strand natural South Seas ones, but wouldn’t you rather pay only about $7 per strand for these?)  Another group of new pearls were multicolor strands of rounds, coin shapes, and giant oval nuggets.  (We have also broken up strands of the giant nuggets for those only needing a bead or two.)

Peridot – Among the new peridot strands added this year were heavily included nuggets that looked more green and less yellow green than the usual peridot.  Also added were some of the largest rondelles we have ever seen in peridot.  They are specially priced at $20 and hung up front by the counter with other precious and semi-precious stones.  Since we often see only tiny peridot beads, we were also glad to add some more 6mm rounds.  There are also some extraordinarily clear small faceted beads in a tiny coin shape.

Prehnite – This usually clear light green stone is gaining in popularity and is becoming available in more and more shapes and forms.  Prehnite can also be yellow-green to yellow.  It can be cloudy and it also often contains needles of black tourmaline passing through it.  Again this year, Von’s has added new shapes to our collection.  In the front counter we have a number of interesting beads including faceted drops and faceted diamond shape drop.

Pyrite – The problem most year’s with pyrite is quality.  Often the gold is marred by too much dirty black and the beads often leave dark marks behind.  One would never wear them over a white blouse.  We thought that last year was amazing for bright golden good quality beads, but this year’s offerings were even better.  We have added numerous shapes including rounds, faceted rounds, dimes, ovals, squares, rectangles and faceted rondelles.  If you are used to seeing poor pyrite in the past, you should take a look at the spectacular shiny gold of these new beads.

Quartz Crystal – One can never have enough clear beads.  Although we have several thousand strands of clear quartz in chips, nuggets, rounds, plus plain and faceted other shapes we always add more.  Notable among this year’s additions are giant nuggets that Wilma Flintstone would have loved.

Quartz, Lemon – We’re glad that the name “Beer Quartz” did not stick for the yellow heat treated quartz.  There are not enough natural stones that are a nice yellow, so we are always glad to add yellows when we see them.  Our jewelry selection of pendants continues to increase, but we also added drops that are a mix of smoky and lemon quartz so you get both yellows and browns in a variety of shades from pale to quite dark.

Quartz, Pink – We only added two strands of light transparent faceted rondelles.

Quartz, Rose – Since we already carry thousands of strands of rose quartz, it is hard to find something new.  Notable this year were some large faceted clear rondelles that are hung at the front of the store with our precious and semi-precious beads.

Quartz, Rutilated – When tiny needles of red or gold rutile grow through clear crystal quartz, the resultant material is known as rutilated quartz.  We already had over a thousand strands of rutilated quartz on the wall but we managed to find something new.  We now have a few strands of gigantic nuggets that weigh about ten ounces (!) per strand.  Also we added a few strands of rounded (not faceted) drops that probably will not last long at a special price of $15 per strand.

Quartz, Seaweed – This was a favorite new material from about two or three years ago.  Clear quartz with gently curving lines of green throughout made an attractive new addition to the beader’s palette.  Some people refer to it as a type of moss agate.  We have added only a single large twist oval to our extensive collection.  It is more opaque than most of our previous buys yet still quite attractive in its own right.

Quartz, Smoky – Once again we have expanded our selection of this stone.  Among the striking new additions are briolettes found in the front counter.  There are a few strands of a faceted twist shape that we have found to be very popular in hand-cut Chinese crystal.  Some other smoky quartz strands include lemon quartz as well.  Also look in the front counter for some $12 specially priced strands of faceted oval beads in smoky quartz.  Most of the regular beads are out alphabetically on the wall including a new stick shape.  (See Stick Beads below for a longer description and a list of more than 30 stones we added in this shape.)

Quartz, Tourmalinated – When tiny needles of black tourmaline grow through clear quartz, the resultant stone is known as tourmalinated quartz.  While we already carry hundreds and hundreds of strands of rounds and some of the other basic hand cut India shapes, we made a large new addition to our stock this year with the addition of faceted drops in a variety of shapes and sizes.  There are also a few strands of faceted beads.  These will be found specially priced in the front counters.

Rhyolite – See Rain Forest Jasper.

Rhyolite, Blue – “Blue” is somewhat of an exaggeration.  Compared to the regular rhyolite (also called Rainforest Jasper) which is quite green, this stone is bluish in part, but the blue is more a pale gray blue most closely resembling some chalcedony.  We added some nice medium to small ovals this year.  We will continue to build our selection as we find more of this stone.

Ruby Apatite - We have ruby beads and ruby zoisite and ruby fuchsite.  The latter two have red ruby spots in the background greenish to brownish zoisite or fuchsite minerals.  Last year was the first time we had ever found beads made from the blue Brazilian apatite with red ruby included.  No one has made beads before because this variety of apatite does not take a good polish.  One enterprising Chinese company purchased a container of the material, polished it as far as possible and then varnished it to give a glossier surface as is done with Chinese Azurite.  The result was a gorgeous new addition to the beader’s palette with red ruby in blue apatite.  If you are looking for something unique that no one has ever seen before, check out this material.  Last year we purchased it in every shape and size we could get – a total of 12, mostly oval but also coin, drop, tube and rectangle.  We only found a couple oval shapes this year from the same source, but we still have many of those available from before.

Sapphire – We have added a surprisingly large number of sapphire beads this year.  None are “cheap”, but there is a wide variety of bargains in a huge variety of quality and size.   Most of the additions are typical blues, but we have also added a number of other colored varieties.  Most of the sapphire is hung at the front of the store with other precious stones.

Seraphinite – This beautiful rare feathery greenish-gray material usually comes from Siberia.  Its jewelry name comes from the angel wings appearance while mineralogists know it as clinoclore.  We’ve added some 15x20mm ovals this year to our collection.  We still have some amazing polished slabs from last year’s purchases if you care to see some beautiful specimens.

Sodalite – New this year in sodalite is an Indian cut faceted rectangle.  (More on this shape and other new stones purchased in it may be found alphabetically in this list under “Chicklet Shape”.)


Stick Beads – In the past we found a few stones like rose quartz that had been cut into long “sticks” that might be up to an inch long but only about 3/16ths of an inch thick.  They were drilled through the top of one end and looked great dangling from a necklace like briolettes. This year we found over 30 different stones in this shape and we bought them all.  The sizes vary a bit with the stone so, for example, the citrine sticks may be shorter than most of the others.  Stones added include blue lace agate, Botswana agate, white agate, amazonite, amethyst, green aventurine, bronzite, carnelian, citrine, fluorite, goldstone, blue goldstone, hematite, howlite, African “jade”, olive “jade”, fancy jasper, mookaite jasper, ocean jasper, picture jasper,  labradorite, multi-stone, obsidian or black glass, snowflake obsidian, prehnite, quartz crystal, rose quartz, smoky quartz, yellow quartz, snowflake obsidian, sodalite, tiger eye, blue tiger eye, yellow “turquoise”, and unakite.

– We don’t sell a lot of sunstone because it is usually not cheap and the gold to orangish glittery color does not appeal to everyone, but we keep adding more strands every year.  Once again John found some striking excellent quality ovals that he couldn’t resist.  Most comes from India, although sunstone is also the state stone of Oregon.

Tiger Eye – Originally, tiger eye was thought to have been created like petrified wood where one substance is gradually replaced by quartz.  In 2003 it was discovered that the quartz and crocidolite fibers grew together, probably in a crack where numerous layers were formed over time. The golden color comes from the inclusion of  iron oxides.  Light reflecting from the fibrous inclusions causes the characteristic “cat’s eye”.  The most spectacular new additions are golden brown strands of graduated faceted rounds that vary in size from 8mm up to a central giant 20mm bead.  There are also some new faceted chicklet shapes from India.  We added a few strands of beads that are cut into the Zuni bear shape and a few new wonderful tiny ovals.  There are some small diagonally drilled cubes or “dice” that have just a hint of red.  (Red tiger eye is a permanent change caused by exposure of the golden form to heat.)

Tiger Eye, Blue and Green – The blue form of tiger eye contains more of the fine silky fibers of the mineral crocidolite than does the more common golden yellow to brown variety.  Sometimes the blue variety is called hawk’s eye.  An intermediate with blue and gold bands blending to give a visual green appearance is known both as green tiger eye and as falcon’s eye.  Sometimes when 100% blue, the color is so dark and intense that beads look almost black.  When there is more gold mixed in, the beads become lighter and brighter.  Since we are always on the look out for nice beads, we bought the entire lot of 200 strands of 6mm rounds that could be called either blue or green tiger eye.  Look at them for your self.

Topaz, Mystic – We have carried mystic topaz and mystic quartz as jewelry for a number of years, but this was the first time we have added faceted drop beads.  The “mystic” finish is less “rainbow” than in most of the rings and pendants.  The beads are an attractive deep dark gold.  The rainbow finish typical of the stone is added to the topaz when a thin layer of titanium is deposited on the surface.  Sometimes precious metals like gold and platinum are added to the surface, but we are not sure just what was added to get this beautiful appearance.

Tourmaline – John has always had a weakness for tourmaline.  Every year he buys more than we sell so the selection just keeps getting larger.  Notable this year is a variety called petro tourmaline – possibly because of an appearance like gasoline on water.  It is predominately browns with some yellow brown and green brown too.  There are some giant rondelles specially priced at $20 per strand that are hung by the front counter with other precious stones.  You will also find some very clear roughly rondelle shaped chips with graduated coloring for those who enjoy a more primitive look.  These are out on the walls alphabetically with budget priced tourmaline.  Other additions at the front of the store with precious stones are some large heishi and some gorgeous large (for tourmaline) briolettes.

Unakite – This stone, made up of green epidote and pinkish orange feldspar, has been around as bead material for many many years.  .  The color combination may not be for everybody since guys seem to respond to it more than gals.   In any event, we continue to add new shapes when we see them.  We added the stick drop shape described above under “Stick Beads”.   We added more 8mm rounds not because we needed them but just because we liked the larger than usual amount of pink-orange in the bead.

Vessonite (Vesuvianite or Idocrase, Vansonite, Vansuanite, Green Garnet) – About ten years ago a green bead handcut in India showed up in the market labeled either Vansonite or Vansuanite.  It looked much like peridot but was less yellow and was available in larger crystals.  At that time the story was that someone named Vanson had found a pocket of the material and it was named for him.  The pocket was reportedly exhausted and we did not see beads of the material for a couple years.  More recently green beads from several sources have surfaced with the name vessonite.  This year we found rings and pendants that were made with “vessonite” cabochons.  The available beads were more opaque but could be clear and the cabochons were all relatively clear.  The stone is heavy like garnet, not like the quartz or feldspar based minerals, and some are referring to it as “green garnet”, but it does not seem to be the typical green grossular garnet.  The bead trade is notorious for inaccuracies, guesses and randomly made up names.  (Even the long established “fancy jasper” is really Indian agate.)  All garnets are complex calcium or aluminum silicates and composition varies with color often affected by other metallic constituents beyond the calcium and aluminum.  Vesuvianite is another heavy complex calcium and aluminum silicate that also contains magnesium and iron but is not actually in the garnet group.  (Note that while garnets are never blue, vesuvianite can be blue.)  It is our belief that all of the beads and cabochons referred to as vessonite, vansonite or vansuanite are actually vesuvianite, formerly known as idocrase.  (The older mineralogical name for vesuvianite was idocrase.)  Also some things now called green garnet may be vesuvianite and not green grossular garnet.  Look for our new beads alphabetically on the wall and take a look at the rings and pendants too.  There are four strands of giant faceted nuggets, eight of smaller ones and another six strands of a more regular oval tube that are unique.

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