Thursday, November 27, 2008

Keepin' it Real

It has been way too long since I posted something here, so in the spirit of the upcoming holiday season, I thought I would talk a little about the real vs. fake options in semi-precious stones used for jewelry making these days.

I just took a quick trip to Toronto this past weekend to pick up a few more strands of beads (can NEVER have too many!) for the pre-Christmas jewelry-making blitz, and was again dazzled by the array of different "semi-precious" stone beads available these days. I have only been making bead jewelry for just over a decade, but in that time I have seen a whole lot of new things become available that I never even heard of when I started!

Once I do a bit of reading, however, I begin to find that not all stones are what they seem. In fact, some stones aren't even stones at all, but composites of glass and stone bits, irradiated or heated or dyed to take on various colours and qualities! And some cheaper stones are dyed or processed in order to mimic the look of more expensive and rare stones - case in point - Howlite is often turned into "poor man's Turquoise", and is sometimes even sold as Turquoise. I guess a good rule of thumb is if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is! Definitely a "buyer beware" situation out there in the world of stone beads, so be careful!

I have always been a big fan of "keeping it real" with my stones. I like the idea of a rock being dug out of the ground or the side of a mountain, and then cut and polished into a bead (or beads!) and then nicely drilled so I can string it on some jewelry wire to make something fabulous. Natural stones are thought to have their own special healing qualities. I do NOT like the idea of someone using stone scraps and glass and glue to create the "spam" of beads. What kind of healing qualities would something like that have? And it just wouldn't be a REAL stone bead! Or, would it?

After giving the matter some thought, I have lately come to the conclusion that, although a bead may have had dubious beginnings, there really is a place in the world for something that just looks good. Not everyone believes that stones have special powers, so what difference would it make to them if it was dug out of a mountain by Juan Valdez or not? They just want something that is budget-appropriate, and that adds spark to their outfit!

So, maybe there is a place in the world for all beads - be they real, or fake, or really really fake! Vive le difference!!! (Pardon my lack of French...)