Here are some handy tips to help you make handmade beaded jewelry with gemstone beads.
One simple way to elevate any piece of beaded jewelry is by using gemstone beads.
Introducing semi-precious stones adds a luxurious feel to the finished piece. The organic look and feel of the stones, plus the amazing array of colors, textures and patterns are quite appealing.
However, there are some things you need to consider when using gemstone beads for jewelry-making. So below, you’ll find tips for working with gemstones.
7 Tips For Using Gemstone Beads In Jewelry
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Take Advantage of the Shape
Gemstones come in all shapes and sizes. Let the shape of these natural beads influence how you use them.
For example, use top-drilled gemstone chips to create a spiky organic piece of jewelry in a spiral rope.
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Gemstone round beads will be the easiest to incorporate into jewelry as they can be used to replace glass pearls or even fire-polished beads in a pattern.
Make Note of Heavy Gemstone Beads
Some semi-precious stone beads can be quite a bit heavier than regular glass beads. Make sure to use stronger bead weaving threads e.g. 8 lb and 10 lb test weight to accommodate these heavier beads.
Are the Beads Dyed?
Manufacturers sometimes dye gemstone beads. That colorant may then run once the beads are damp. Before using them in jewelry that may get wet as you sweat or wash your hands, check the color fastness.
Soak one or two beads in a little soapy water for a day or two. If you see color in the water, you’ll know the beads have been dyed and the color is prone to running.
Avoid making gemstone jewelry using beads that have been dyed.
How Hard Are the Gemstones?
When you’re thinking about the hardness of a gemstone, you’re really considering how easy it is to scratch the surface.
The Mohs Hardness Scale rates gemstone hardness from 1 to 10. The hardest stones — like diamonds and rubies — get a rating of 10, while softer stones e.g. amber, will be closer to 1 on the scale.
So, why should you care how hard your gemstone beads are?
Well, just think how tough you can be on your jewelry, especially bracelets. The harder the stones, the better they’ll stand up to being whacked against walls or tabletops and dropped on the ground.
Gemstones can be pricey and I’m sure you want ones that are durable and will stand the test of time.
Check The Holes
Sometimes, gemstone bead holes are drilled halfway from opposite sides so that they meet in the middle. This means that the holes don’t always line up as they should.
If you have any gemstone beads with this problem, use a bead reamer to remedy the issue.
This tool will also widen holes that are too narrow for your beading needle to pass through and will smooth out sharp edges that may cut your beading thread.
Not all gemstones will have holes. If you have pieces without holes, simply use them as a cabachon. Larger gemstone beads can make lovely focal points in beaded jewelry e.g. pendants.
Whether you’re making jewelry for a special occasion or you simply love the look of gemstone beads, these tips will help you create pieces that will look great and last a long time.