Bead Storage, Dzi & Opal Beads

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Beads Up North!
How To Store Beads
Opal For November
The Magic Of Dzi Beads
MrBead Bead Fairs
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Beads Up North Bead Festival

Gordon Halfpenny & his twin at a past Beads Up North Festival in Haydock. Come to see us all there today – many exhibitors!

Beads Up North in Haydock Racecourse, WA12 OHQ – details here.

How To Store Beads

Eventually every beader is faced with the dilemma of how to store their beads. Everyone has their own way depending on quantity and availability.

Some beaders use a fishing tackle box, plastic shoe boxes, wood or plastic utensil trays from a supermarket – others, clear sliding drawers designed for nuts and bolts, plastic pencil cases, or plastic drawer storage bins. These compartments are the ideal size for storing beads, findings, and tools. Sturdy and portable, they allow you see project options quickly.

If you make handcrafted jewellery from beads, then eventually you will have a bead storage problem. Cardboard boxes or drawers are not enough. Everyone has their own way, depending on quantity and availability:

All these compartments are the ideal size for storing beads, findings, and tools. Sturdy and portable, they allow you see project options at a glance.

Inside these drawers you need to separate different types and sizes of beads. For small loose beads, tubes are good with a label or photo around. Zippy seal-able plastic bags are great for strands – plus they have a large opening to get inside. These bags can be brought from freezer-food and stationary stores.

Another way is to build narrow shelves for baby food jars. You can even screw the top of the lid to the top of the shelf so they always go back neatly. For small loose beads use old 35mm film containers, candy tins, aspirin bottles, and paint cans for larger beads.

Other ideas
One beader has eight spice racks that turn, bought second-hand, along with 16 glass jars with lids for her seed beads. Each jar has several shades of the same colour. She just turns the rack to find the colour she’s looking for and the type of bead.

Another beader uses Tic Tac containers when she travels. They’re small enough for all the different colours she needs and they never spill. She also stores beads in margarine containers because they’re flat and can be piled on top of one another.

Other people use empty travel-size baby-wipe containers to transport their beads. These are lightweight, the right depth to hold tubes of beads, and they fit easily into a purse. With a little imagination, you can utilize many every-day containers. Transparent or translucent drawers are good for seeing what’s inside.

More Storage
However, as your collection grows you’ll need a more and more containers. We use plastic drawers that are stacked together and labeled on the front with a photograph and a description of the beads inside – each measures about 8 x 8 x 18 inches.

These are ideal for us and sometimes we stack them ten boxes high, almost 6-feet up. MiMi has to stand on a stool to reach the top! Each drawer has a specific type or size of bead. Some are categorized by the kind of stone and colour, as well as size. All jades are together, as are pearl, turquoise, and agates. They’re also arranged in alphabetical order for fast finding a drawer.

Plus we use an Excel data base for our regular stock. Each type of bead is given a number and the data base tells which draw it is in. So whoever is looking for a particular bead can easily find it is.

Opal For November

What Is Opal?
All of Natures fury can be seen in fine opal. Like a Rembrandt: fire, lightning, all the colours of the rainbow and the shine of far seas. Australia supplies about 95% of the worlds opal from the outback. Aborigines there believe their creator came down to Earth on a rainbow to bring the message of peace to all humans. And at the spot where his foot touched the ground, opal was born.

The name Opal could have came from many places. In Greek Opallios translates as colour change, and to the ancient Romans Opalus was a stone from several elements. Pliny, a Roman author, wrote that opal combines the sparkle of Almandine, the shining purple of Amethyst, the golden yellow of Topaz, and the deep blue of Sapphire.

Types of Opal
Fine opals shine and sparkle in a continually changing play of colours called Opalising. Depending on the rock and location they have names like Harlequin, Peacock, Mexican, and Fire Opal. Most opal has this play of colours except Common Opal, a name give to all others, like Pink Opal.

As demand outstrips supply, fine opalizing opal is very very expensive, so is sold in individual beads for hundreds of US dollars each. Therefore, the type of opal common in necklaces is non-opalizing opal – usually pink opal from Peru (more below).

Opals fantasy-like play of colour is caused by small spheres of silica creating interference and refraction manifestations. The spheres, which are arranged in compact structures, dissect light through the gemstone, turning it into the rainbow effect, always new and different.

Peruvian Opal
Peruvian Opal comes in faint pink, light blue and light mint-green tones. From the Andes Mountains near San Patricio, Peru, just like the name implies.

Although native South Americans have been using the stone for more than a thousand years, it only became widely available commercially within the last decade or so. It is usually translucent to opaque with no play of colour and often has lots of black and tan dendrites.

Most Peruvian Opal beads are semi-opaque to opaque. Peruvian opals metaphysical properties are similar to other opals. Helping to intensify your traits and characteristics and deepening your personal understanding. Peruvian Opal in particular is used to activate the heart charka and to assist you during spiritual journeys.

How to Value Opal
The most important criterion for determining the price of fine opal is the play of colour, the colours themselves and their pattern. If red appears when looking through the stone, all the other colours will also.

Value also depends on body colour, transparency, and original location. Body colour can be black, dark or light, or coloured. Black Opal or a dark grey body has the most brilliant play of colour. Black Opal from Lightning Ridge or Mexican Fire Opal is the best. Crystal opal, is the next best, and should be more transparent with a deep play of colour. White or milky opals show more diffuse colour and are the cheapest.

To best bring out the play of colour in a fine opal, the stones are cut and polished to round or oval cabochons, or any other softly domed shape. Only the best qualities of Fire Opal are suited to faceting. The opal cutter removes any impurities using a diamond cutting wheel, before working out the rough basic shape, fine cutting, and finishing with sandpaper and polishing with a wet leather wheel.

How does Opal Effect You?
Opal is thought to solve depression and to help its wearer find true love. Opals are supposed to enhance the positive characteristics for people born under the sign of Cancer. With Black Opal recommended to Scorpios and Boulder Opal for Aries. The opalizing effect reflects changing emotions and moods of people. People prefer different opals for different moods. Opals are like human emotions: each type creates different feelings.

Looking after Opal
Due to 2 to 6% water, opals easily become brittle and if stored too dry or exposed to heat over a longer period of time, they will show fissures and the play of colour will fade. Therefore, Opal jewellery should be worn as often as possible, for then the gemstone will receive the needed humidity from the air and from the skin of its wearer. In earlier days opals sensitive surface was oiled, but today they are sealed with clear resin.

To buy our Peruvian Opal Nugget Beads click or

The Magic of Dzi Beads

What Are Dzi Beads?
For 5,000 years, crafters in Tibet, India and Afghanistan have cut natural agates into round or tubbier shapes, and polished to make the stone’s markings stand out. After firing at extreme temperature, these patterns are etched onto the stone. Then, over time, the designs become eroded by weathering and wear. Each bead has unique features and meanings.

The Mystery
Tibetans believe Dzi beads possess magical power. These mysterious beads have been found among golden masks and other burial artifacts in 2,000-year-old tombs. Once uncovered, Tibetans pass them from generation to generation making authentic dzi beads very expensive. “Dzi” in Tibetan means shine, brightness, clearness, and splendor.

However, although over 99% of dzis are now mass produced, part of this magic can still be shared. Allowing the home jewellery crafter to take advantage of ancient Tibet and market these inexpensive beads with mystery.

Facts & Myths
There are many stories and superstitious to these ancient beads. Like stones falling from the heavens or carved by creatures under the ground. Some believe the aura of magnetic energy within the bead has healing properties.

Others think dzi beads can ‘store karma’: either good or bad. Dzi BeadsHowever, this is nonsense as karma cannot be transferred, destroyed or given. What one sows, one reaps – so its impossible for a stone to make any difference.

New Dzi Beads
Mass produced dzi beads are shiny, flawless, with clearly defined patterns. Nevertheless, they make interesting jewellery that sells well.

To see our dzi beads key “dzi” in the search box at or

See our beads at or

Bead fairs

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