These are also known as GEM STONES and are widely used in bead work. There is a wide variety available worldwide, and we are so fortunate to find so many of them in our own country. The study of gem stones is a fascinating hobby. They are full of lore and symbolism, have healing and spiritual properties, as well as being unbelievably beautiful.
There are too many of them to discuss in one issue. In future issues we will cover different aspects of gem stones and will also discuss a specific stone per issue. As you learn about gem stones, you’ll find it helpful to find either a good bead shop or a comprehensive and easy-to-understand guidebook until you feel comfortable identifying specific stones, and you are able to distinguish between good and not-so-good gems to use in bead work. Ask a lot of questions of those in the know, read a good book, search the web and make sure you visit the web page of SAGAMS at www.sagams.co.za
Keep the following in mind when choosing semi-precious stones:
CHECK THE COLOUR
Gem stones originate from the bowel of the earth and as a result, are not as bright and shiny as they appear in the shop shelves. They undergo a process to end up like that - being tumbled, faceted and polished. Some are even dyed to make them more attractive. If the colour is too uniform, suspect a dye job. To test if a bead has been dyed, dip a cotton swab in alcohol and run it over the bead surface. If the colour comes off, the bead has been dyed.
CONSIDER THE TEMPERATURE
In normal settings, stone is usually cold, glass is warmer and plastic is warm.
Stone is usually heavier than glass and both are heavier than plastic. Amber is an exception and is not a heavy stone.
TEST ITS SOUND
Stones have a deep, heavy sound. Glass has a high, crisp sound and plastic has a flat, dull sound. Tap the bead lightly against a hard object and you will be able to identify the difference.
LOOK AT IT CLOSE-UP
If you look at a stone under magnification, you should be able to see various imperfections and striations. Compare stones you wish to purchase with those in your gemstone book. The more you feel, touch and study stones, the more you read and listen, the more you will learn about the wonderful world of semi-precious stones. You will soon develop the ability to see the differences in the stones, and be able to distinguish between the imitations and genuine stones.
www.sagams.co.za – Southern African Gem and Mineral Showcase – a portal proudly showcasing the Rock, Gem and Mineral community of Southern Africa, all under one umbrella
BOOKS ON SA GEMSTONES:
The Sasol First Field Guide to Gemstones of Southern Africa, by Prof. Bruce Cairncross
Field Guide to Rocks & Minerals of Southern Africa, by Prof. Bruce Cairncross
Gemstones of the World, by Walter Shurman