Bead Buying Tips, Moonstone + Emerald, May's Gemstone

This month has tips on buying beads, all about moonstone, & May's birthstone emerald. Scroll down, or click one of the links below on the html version to go to a section.

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See us in the UK at The Cheshire Bead Fair, Nantwich, on Sunday 24th May - for full details click here

Top Ten Tips Buying Beads
Ten Reasons for Buying Beads at all!
Fair Price for Beads
Buying Wholesale Beads
Magical Moonstone
May's Birthstone - Emerald
15% Off Offer

Top Ten Tips when Buying Beads Online

1. When bidding on online auctions, keep cool. Don't get caught up in the excitement - know your limits. It's easy to get into a bidding war and end up paying more than an item is worth. When an auction closes at five times the original asking price, dealers feel embarrassed.

2. Make sure that the item you are bidding for is what you want. Always be sure you know the size, especially if a picture is enlarged. Don’t assume it is a certain size, then when it arrives in the mail the 'necklace' is suddenly a bracelet for a cat! And don’t buy a strand of beads if you assume you would receive a ready-made necklace.

3. Use your head. Don’t be naive reading descriptions - never take words at face value. Like “This fabulous bead is so hard to describe, the picture speaks for itself!”. “Exquisite” beads are everywhere, and every other item is “unique.” Enter the word “unique” in the search box and its overuse reduces it to meaninglessness. Misinformation is another problem. More sellers misrepresent out of ignorance than by deceit, but it helps to know something yourself and not just trust without question. "Antique" is identified as by U.S. customs laws as being at least 100 years old. Beads from the 1960s are not antique. Occasionally, a little research brings a bargain. You might spot a rare old African tribal necklace being sold as a trinket from Thailand, though more likely you would be fooled the other way round.

4. Search the Web. Look for similar items and determine what a fair price is. Sometimes dealers will have the same items on their web sites for less than you'd pay if you were competing with other bidders, or the other way round. Look at the sellers other auctions. Keep track of many like items before placing your bid, compare over different auction sites.

5. Check what other buyers have said about the seller and examine any negative feedback. If there are unhappy customers, or if the seller presents a nasty defense, be wary.

6. Bid just before the auction ends, if possible. Buyers like to outbid each other in the final moments. This is referred to as “sniping,” although is perfectly legitimate. It's very frustrating to have someone “steal” the item out from under you in the last seconds. Unless you have the time to monitor the close of every auction in which you have a bid, this will happen sometimes. A sniper program like “esnipe” at enable you to outbid someone at the last minute. However, don’t feel guilty about sniping, it's not really stealing, the item doesn’t being to your competing bidders.

7. Can you make a return? You should be able to receive a refund on items that don't live up to their promise or match their description. However, don’t expect to be refunded shipping or a handling fee to cover the seller’s expenses. Some dealers don't accept returns, but they have to realize you're buying from a small picture only. If you buy a computer or a car on the web, you probably have a good idea of what you're looking at - not necessarily so with beads. Buying online is like a catalog sale, and catalog vendors always offer a no questions return policy. A good dealer knows that pleased customers will bring extra sales that will more than cover the cost of returns.

8. Good auction etiquette. There are some things you can do to make things easier for the vendors and foster a good relationship. When you win an auction, the dealer will e-mail you the item number(s), always ensure this is quoted with your mailing address and payment. Sellers hate spending hours doing detective work or guessing which beads goes to whom. Don’t just rely on Paypal to inform this for you. Some dealers with many auctions take a few days to contact all their buyers. Unreasonable e-mails demanding a total just slows down the process. And some sellers offer a checkout like MarketWorks that automatically adds all your wins including combined shipping - saving you a lot of time.

9. Pay well. Always pay as quickly as possible. If you have not dealt with the seller before, you may have to wait for your check to clear. And if you are using snail-mail to pay international purchases, allow at least 14-days just for your payment to arrive. US sellers in many states have to collect sales tax for their resale license. They don't get a commission on this and have to pay penalties for mistakes in collecting these taxes – so don’t try to evade. Same with VAT in Europe.

10. Watch Shipping Costs. Some sellers will try to rip you off with shipping, especially from China, so check before you bid. However, be aware that international airmail is expensive, so expect to pay reasonable shipping & handling fee. Under US$10 for a small order is OK, over $20 is scandalous. If you order a lot from abroad, airmail doesn’t come cheap - beads are heavy! Allow a reasonable time for your item to arrive before you complain. Ten days from within your own country, or twenty-days from abroad.

Ten Reasons for Buying Beads at all!

1. Beady eyes keep a happy mind – it’s a great hobby. Cheaper than drugs and more fun than psychiatric care!
2. Buying beads is not immoral, illegal or fattening. It calms the nerves, gratifies the soul and makes us feel good.
3. To make money or investment.
4. A bead keeps without refrigeration. You don't have to cook it to enjoy it, and it never needs feeding, changing, or walking.
5. Buying beads keeps our economy going. It is our patriotic duty to support bead stores.
6. Beads are a proven aphrodisiac.
7. Beads don't argue or get crabby. Like women and wine: beads get better with age.
8. Bags and tubes of beads tightly packed make an excellent insulation for the home.
9. At any moment the employees of a bead factory might go on strike and limit the availability.
10. We are participating in a contest. The one with the most beads wins.

What's a Fair Price for Beads?

What are beads worth? On eBay, most buyers are looking for a bargain, but what's a fair price? Machine-made bead are extremely cheap to manufacture. Especially when most are made in low-income countries too. So why do beads cost so much at retail? The answer is labor. The most expensive part of any product is the labor that goes into it, not just the time of the factory workers but of all the other people involved. Four or five middlemen may handle your beads between the factory and you: the manufacturer, the exporter, the importer, the wholesaler, the retailer, and two or three shippers. Each middleman has labor costs. Transportation and storage don’t come cheap.

At MrBead your beads are brought in a large Chinese city from a wholesaler who buys them from another wholesaler in the outskirts who gets them from the factory. They then go by truck to Hong Kong where they are stored and packed, and then travel by air to your country and by road to your door. Unless you buy from our UK auctions, in which case they are shipped from Hong Kong to Britain to be resorted and repacked before mailing to you. Sounds like a lot of work: it is!

Out of a bead merchants stock, only a few types of beads sell well, the rest gather dust taking years to recover their costs. Other beads get lost, damaged, or go out of style quickly. And often the merchant can’t restock his top sellers because the wholesalers have run out too.

Then there’s the cost of retailing. Shop rents and taxes are crippling, occurring throughout the off season and holidays. Online selling is cheaper, but a web store with out visitors is useless. Hits cost money. Marketing and advertising is a substantial cost of your beads. Auctions like eBay cost the seller over 10% of the retail price, and that’s before the expense of getting paid. Paypay, credit cards, and bounced checks are expensive.

Buying Beads Wholesale

Many people think wholesalers make most of their money from sales to big customers who spend a lot of money. The fact is, most bead wholesalers have many customers who spend small amounts of money. Most wholesalers are also retailers and will charge high prices for small quantities, so walking into a wholesale shop doesn't guarantee low prices. To get cheap, you have to buy a lot, and even then you won't get the best prices unless you spend thousands of dollars.

There's also a negative side to dealing with wholesalers. Many wholesalers have a general attitude that makes you feel a nuisance unless you’re spending thousands. They'll get irritated if you haggle on the price for small orders, despite haggling being part of the wholesale game. They can also get mad when you make returns.

However, you can make substantial savings buying larger quantities of beads wholesale. Think ahead and plan what beads you will need. Buy as much as you can afford to keep the unit cost down. Pool with friends. And you can always auction what you don’t use on eBay. Many wholesalers will even let you use their pictures and copy to sell online.

Wholesale Bead Buying Tips

1. If possible, buy at least $100 a time. The more money you spend, the more you save and the they'll take you seriously.
2. In America, get a tax ID number to save paying taxes on your purchases. Makes you look like a serious customer too.
3. Look at the beads under bright light – many defects are not noticeable in dim light. Except for seed beads, don't buy beads that are sealed in plastic without opening to examine the beads inside. Many defects can’t be seen through the bag.
5. Check the prices they put down on the invoice very carefully. If they over-charge you (which is common), it’s much better to say now than later. Also, if you are buying beads on your lunch hour, don't leave the order with them to total up later – there could be problems.
6. Every time you buy beads, note the size, style, price and wholesaler, and bring this list with you when you shop. If they charged you $30 for a bag of beads two months ago, and this month it costs $36 for the same beads, your questioning could save you a lot of money.
7. Be friendly but otherwise unemotional. Don't get angry or defensive if they don't give you the price you want or a refund. You can’t expect the same level of service buying wholesale as you can retail. It helps to have a sense of humor.
8. In conclusion: do your homework before buying wholesale to get the best deal. Know what you want and for what price.

Moonstone - Nature’s treasure with a sensuous and seductive charm

Moonstone’s characteristic feature is a magical play of light. Moonstone is translucent, and softens the light shining through it to give a pearly moon-like glow which appears different whenever the stone changes its position. Years ago, thought to be brought upon by the moon’s phases. This shimmering affect is called adularescence, and is caused by light being refracted inside the stone and scattered. Moonstone comes in colorless, white, grey, and subtle yellow, but always has a blue or white sheen. Rainbow moonstone is colorless with a blue sheen and a rainbow-like array of colors.

Much mystery surrounds this stone. In India it’s considered sacred to lovers, and is also known as a “dream stone” bringing beautiful dreams. In Arab countries women often were moonstone sewn into their garment as a symbol of fertility. It was also believed to be especially protective to seafarers, who have been using it since ancient times. During full-moon, moonstone is very powerful for reconciling love - and as the moon decreases, is said to allow one to foretell the future.

A feminine stone for the inner-child, female issues and nurturing - but also used by men who want to reach their female side and to understand dreams. Moonstone brings confidence and calms the emotions, and aids spirituality, intuition, and clairvoyance. Also known to protect against fever, dropsy, fluid-retention and urinary problems. Its soft shine will support the emotional and dreamy tendencies of a person. Wearing moonstone will also increase your sensitivity for others.

Classical moonstone from Sri Lanka shimmers pale blue on almost transparent ground. Moonstone from India has cloudlike plays of light on beige, brown, green, or orange backgrounds – and some have a cat’s eye or a multi-rayed star. Since blue moonstones in fine qualities have become scarce in recent time, the prices have increased. An uncut moonstone looks boring and lacks the play of light. This is brought out by the cutter’s skills, who must locate the crystal axis exactly in the zenith of the stone. Classical moonstones are always cut as cabochons. Moonstone is fragile and should be handled carefully. However, a jeweler can polish a dulled moonstone back to its original glory.

When purchasing moonstone you will find astonishing differences in price. The more intense the color, the larger and more transparent the stone, the more valuable is the gem. Really top quality fine blue moonstone shows an incredible “three-dimensional” depth of color, which you will see clearly only when tilting the stone. Such specimens are rare and accordingly valued. Brighter colored Indian moonstones are usually less expensive, so are opalite moonstone.

Opalite moonstone is most common today – this looks similar to genuine moonstone, but is man made. Opalite is a synthetic stone that's only been around for the past decade or so. Also called opalized glass, the stone has two personalities. Against a light background, it's milky white and has golden highlights mixing with faint lilac-blue and other colors around the stone. The pastel glow is soft and captivating, and it compliments other light-colored stones like lilac amethyst, blue chalcedony, and rose quartz. Opalite, under these circumstances, will add a romantic feminine allure to your beaded jewelry.

Once opalite is placed against a darker background, though, the whole stone changes to a bright icy blue. The golden highlights also change to intense oranges and reds, like the "fires" you see in opals. The stone practically glows on its own, and demands attention by outshining the stones around it. It loves to compete with bright colors like fuchsias and turquoise. This is the edgier, more distinctive side of opalite that makes it perfect to wear during the night out in the town. The great thing is, opalite always looks refreshingly cool, whether it's milky white or flashy blue - ideal for summer jewelry. By being creative with your outfits, you can really have fun wearing the stone. A beaded belt made with opalite, for example, can become the perfect summer accessory to a brightly colored evening dress.

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Emerald - May's Birthstone

Emerald is known as the gem of Spring. This beautiful green stone is a variety of Beryl and was thought to foretell the future. The ancients of Peru, believed the Emerald ripened like the fruit of the tree, turning from clear to green as it faced the sun. The stone was carried by travelers on land or sea as a talisman to safe guard the journey.

Beryl is often unknown, even through it is one of the most important gems. Beryl is colorless in pure form, but many impurities give its varied coloration. Emerald is the green variety and aquamarine is the blue variety of beryl.

Emerald's precious green color is caused by small amounts of chromium and enhanced by traces of iron. Unlike other beryls, emeralds usually contain inclusions and other flaws. These flaws are not looked on as negative aspects for emerald like they would be for other gemstones. Indeed, these flaws are considered part of the character of the stone and are used to assure the purchaser of a natural stone.

Nearly all emeralds have been treated to improve clarity, generally by immersing them in oil. For gemstones, a green colored oil is often used. Unfortunately, this oil may evaporate over time, making flaws appear where none were visible. A high-grade mineral oil may be used to improve the appearance again.

Special Offer Worth 15% Off!

To sample our beads with 15% off in our MrBead bead store, just key in "moonstone" at the checkout (without the inverted commas) and click "Redeem Coupon". The more you spend - the more you save!

Offer valid until Sunday 3rd May 2009 only - so act now! Only for use in our store at the checkout and not valid with any other offers.

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