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by Layna Palmer, Wire-Sculpture.com

Today's Gem Profile is...



We’ve all heard, or told, the silly jokes that come inside bubble-gum wrappers – here are a couple to start your day off with a giggle: “What’s black and white and read all over?”  Answer: The newspaper.   “What has four wheels and flies?” Answer: A garbage truck.  And best of all; “What is green, pink and yellow all at the same time?” That may be a new one to you, but the answer is Zultanite!

What is Zultanite:

Zultanite is an aluminum oxide hydroxide AIO(OH) mineral from the diaspore group. These minerals form as metamorphic sedimentary ores in bauxite, the mineral mined for aluminum. Though diaspore was first found in the 1800’s, it’s never been commercially mined until recently, with the material coming from a single mine in Turkey.  It is currently the only source of Zultanite in the world

Zultanite Gemstone

Zultanite gemstone. Photo credit International Colored Gemstone Association.

Why is it so unique?

What makes Zultanite so unique in the gem world are the color-changing properties it possesses.  While most gems have fire to them and will flash different colors, Zultanite is one of the few that changes color depending on the light.  In sunlight, Zultanite is a kiwi green with flashes of yellow and blue.  Indoors, a Zultanite will change to a more olive or even peridot green with flashes of pink and gold.  Under candlelight, a Zultanite will take on a deeper pink tone with flashes of brown, olive green and raspberry.

Zultanite Color chameleon

Zultanite Color chameleon. Photo credit Zultgems

Zultanite also has the unique property of having chatoyancy, or cat’s eye effect, when it’s cut en cabochon, which makes the color changing properties even more spectacular.  The stones are cut from eye-clean crystals and are never enhanced.  This makes Zultanite one of the most beautiful and natural stones on the market today.

Cat's Eye Zutlanite

Cat’s Eye Zultanite gemstone. Photo credit International Colored Gemstone Association.

Why is it rare?

In addition to being one of the more beautiful stones on the market, Zultanite is also one of the more rare stones.  Only 50% of the crystals found in the mine are suitable for taking a facet and of those, only a fraction are deemed quality enough to become a gem.  The reason for this is the crystal structure of the stone.  Zultanite is formed as orthorombic crystals with a definite cleavage to the stone.  The lapidary yield from Zultanite is only 2% meaning that 98% of the crystal is waste material due to the orientation of the micro-crystals, abnormally large number of inclusions, and the tendency to break apart during cutting (to give some perspective on yield, most gems have a 30 – 50% yield).

Zultanite Mining:

Mining Zultanite can be a bit of a chore too since the mine in Turkey is located in the Anatolian Mountains and sits nearly 4,000 feet above sea level.  The miners live onsite and work with air hammers with only the light from their headlamps to chisel the crystals from the rock.  The Zultanite crystals are located in soft layers between harder bauxite and must be dug from the rock after they have been located.  Zultanite has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale and a refractory index of 1.7 – 1.8.

Zultanite miners

Zultanite miners. Photo credit Zultgems.

Zultanite before mining

Zultanite before mining. Photo credit Zultgems.

The owner of the mine named Zultanite after the 36 Sultans of the Ottoman Empire and only the stones coming from the Millenyum Mine can be called by the trade-name Zultanite.  Other diaspores in the region do have color change properties, but none like those from the Millenyum Mine. This mine also has the unique distinction of being a “green” mine.  The miners plant 10 trees for every one they use within the mine and the miners are also fully insured and paid above average wages for the region.


Zultanite – Photo credit Zultgems.

The Millenyum Mining Company also provides materials and maintenance for the village schools nearby.  On a side note; the mine owners have also encouraged people interested in purchasing Zultanite to only purchase from reputable dealers and not to purchase the stone in Turkey, its mother country!  The reason they don’t encourage purchases is due to the unethical practice of some vendors selling color changing glass at highly inflated prices to tourists looking for souvenirs within Turkey.

Zultanite Beauty:

Zultanite has really made an impact in the gem world with its color change properties, scarcity and beauty.  Since the stone is only found in one small area of the globe, Zultanite joins the ranks of other gems, like Tanzanite and Larimar, with the unique distinction of being beautiful and very rare.

Green Zultanite gemstone

Zultanite gemstone. Photo credit International Colored Gemstone Association.


Do you have any beautiful jewelry you’d like to share with us? Send us pictures at tips@wire-sculpture.com and they could be featured!


Gem Profile by Layna Palmer

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Gem Profile July 26: Large Hole Round Beads

by Layna Palmer, Wire-Sculpture.com

Today's Gem Profile is...

Large Hole Round Beads with Leather Cords

Shop Large Hole Beads

My daughter is in charge of the activities for girl’s camp next week and she came to me asking if she could use some of my extra beads and cord to make name bracelets with all of the girls that are attending.  We started sorting through my beads, leather and silk cording and were a little disappointed to find that there were very few beads that fit on the cord I had.  The holes were just too small.

My discovery:

The next morning, I was walking through the warehouse and was thrilled to see Megan unpacking some new beads that were already strung on leather cords.  I just had to have a strand, so I liberated one to take to my desk for a few minutes. I excitedly called my daughter to let her know that I had the answer to our cord and bead dilemma.

Strands of Large Round Hole beads

Varieties of Large Hole Beads on leather cording available at Wire-Sculpture.com

What I discovered:

These beads are beautiful!  They are the same stones that we already carry, but they are large hole beads that are pre-strung on a nice leather cord.  You can almost use the cord as is, attach a button for a fastener, and have a really cute modern bracelet!

So with this discovery, my daughter is using them for name bracelets at camp. Each girl picks a bead that corresponds to each letter in her name and strings it on the leather or silk cord.  They’re teaching the girls how to make a sliding knot for one of the camp advancements, so this fits really well with learning a skill, and making something meaningful and memorable from camp this year.

More fun projects:

As I was looking at the beads I had at my desk, I realized that they will not only fit the thicker cords, but also larger gauge wire and will look great on the new expandable bangles that are all the rage right now.  I’ve even seen people layer the expandable bracelets alongside the leather bracelets with charms and stones for a great bohemian look.  My son even asked the other day if I could make him a tiger-eye bracelet on a leather cord.

Tiger Eye Large Hole Beads

Tiger Eye 8mm Round Large Hole Beads – 8 Inch Strand

Discover your own Large Hole Beads too:

I thought to go along with the names, I would review the birthstones for each month so you can have some great ideas for our newest stones.

We are familiar with the traditional gems for each month, but there are alternatives that have also been used throughout history;

You can also use gemstones to channel energy, heal and just plain look pretty too;

  • Amethyst; Brings calm energy, can help with insomnia and is considered a “power” stone.  It is also called a Bishop’s stone and is worn by many Catholic bishops today. Amethyst was used.
    Dog Teeth Amethyst Round Large Hole Beads

    Dog Teeth Amethyst 8mm Round Large Hole Beads – 8 Inch Strand

    anciently to bring clarity and heal headaches.

  • Bronzite; Alleviates doubt and is considered a great stone for masculine energy.
  • Carnelian; guards against poverty, calms temper, magnifies sense of humor

    Matte Carnelian Large Hole  Beads

    Matte Carnelian 8mm Round Large Hole Beads – 8 Inch Strand

  • Goldstone; Energy stone will help maintain vitality and positive energy.

    Goldstone Large Hole Beads

    Goldstone 8mm Round Large Hole Beads – 8 Inch Strand

  • Golden Obsidian; Clears negative energy, helps with direction in life, clears aura

    Golden Obsidian Large Hole Beads

    Golden Obsidian 8mm Round Large Hole Beads – 8 Inch Strand

  • Jade; Ancient stone used to attract love, aids in mental reasoning and helps bring money into your life.
  • Jasper
    • Iron Zebra; Physical strength, reinforces health, encourages creativity
    • Picture; self realization, creative visualization, alleviates fear
    • Red Creek; Balance, physical energy, and is great for actors
      Red Creek Jasper Beads

      Red Creek Jasper 8mm Round Large Hole Beads – 8 Inch Strand.

      Iron Zebra Jasper

      Iron Zebra Jasper 8mm Round Large Hole Beads – 8 Inch Strand

  • Labradorite; Strengthens intuition, stimulates imagination and new ideas, realization of goals.

    Labradorite Large Hole Beads

    Labradorite 8mm Round Large Hole Beads – 8 Inch Strand

  • Lapis; ancient purification stone for love, healing, protection and power

    Lapis Large Hole Bead

    Lapis 8mm Round Large Hole Beads – 8 Inch Strand

  • Onyx; defends against negativity, strengthens self confidence, sharpens senses
  • Pyrite; energizes the body or area where it’s placed.  Overcomes lethargy, helps the circulatory system and is great for those with asthma.
  • Sardonyx; Money, love, protection, enhances willpower and increases stamina
  • Smoky Quartz; Perception and learning, relieves depression, enhances organizational skills
  • Tigereye; focuses the mind, brings good luck, helps in interpersonal relationships
    • Red Tigereye

      Red Tiger Eye Large Hole Beads

      Red Tiger Eye 8mm Round Large Hole Beads – 8 Inch Strand

Take a moment to visit some of these beautiful beads – you won’t regret it!

Wrapping it all up:

Well, I have to hurry and run this strand of beads back to the warehouse before it’s missed, but I hope you will enjoy using these new beads as much as I will!

Do you have any beautiful jewelry you’d like to share with us? Send us pictures at tips@wire-sculpture.com and they could be featured!

Gem Profile by Layna Palmer

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by Narlene Allen, Wire-Sculpture.com

Wire Jewelry Tip for
July 24, 2013

Sneak Peak

NEW Large Round Hole Beads with Leather Cords.

Do you love trendy new things? Are you a “fashionista?” Fashions seem to come and go, and we all know that jewelry plays huge part of our style. There’s a hot new trend that’s been sweeping the country and it’s made its way to Wire-Sculpture!

This week in our Gem Profile, Layna will give us a full article about a NEW line of beads that we are now carrying, however, today I wanted to give you a little “sneak peak” to get you ready for it!

Strands of Large Round Hole beads

Varieties of Large Hole Beads on leather cording available at Wire-Sculpture.com

Have you seen or heard about the leather wrapped bracelets made of beautiful beads and gorgeous leather cording? I’ve been seeing them popping up all over at local stores, boutiques and fairs.

In the past, it’s been difficult to use leather cording with beads due to the size of the hole, but now there is a new line of Large Round Hole beads, that are making it easier to create gorgeous bracelets and other items with cording.

Here at Wire-Sculpture we’ve started carrying a brand NEW line of Large Round Hole Beads that you are going to love! These gorgeous beads come in a variety of beautiful gemstones like Pyrite, Tiger Eye, Onyx, and Lapis and are sold by the 8 inch strand and have a 2.5mm hole. They come on a leather cord. You can use these beauties with wire up to 12 gauge or with leather!

I am going to let Layna tell you more about them on Friday, but I wanted to give you a sneak peek of how beautiful they are!

Goldstone Large Hole Beads

Goldstone 8mm Round Large Hole Beads – 8 Inch Strand

If you are interested in doing a little investigating before Layna’s Profile comes out, feel free to visit us and snoop around our Beads category!

Do you have experience with beading and leather? If so, we are always looking for great new tutorials from our readers – so feel free to share your ideas with us. Click Here to submit your idea. You could be featured on our Blog!

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by Narlene Allen, Wire-Sculpture.com

Today's Gem Profile is...

Jewelry Measurement Conversions and Charts

Resource Center

This week were going to focus on a very rare and beautiful gemstone called Zultanite, however Layna, our Gem Profile contributor, was out ill. Since we don’t want to miss the wonderful information that she has to share, we are going to postpone that topic and come back to it in a couple of weeks! I can’t wait to hear what she’s discovered about it and we wish her a speedy recovery!

So, in the place of Zultanite, we are going to discuss the conversions of measurement for gemstones, beads, wire gauge and jump rings.

In the jewelry world, millimeters, as we all know, is a common form of measurement. However, if you’re like me, you have to think about the conversion. Today, I thought we’d take a quick look at how to figure it all out.

If you haven’t been to our Resource Center lately, there is a great article which covers a lot of this information as well. Today though,  I”m only going to touch on a small portion because I want you to all go on a little treasure hunt and see what you can find!


How to start:

Cabochons and beads are commonly measured in millimeters (mm), while many people in the United States are more familiar with inches (in). Here are some easy ways to figure out what size cabochon or bead to work with!.

  • To convert inches to mm, multiply inches by 25.4
  • To convert mm to inches, divide millimeters by 25.4


In most cabochon measurements, the height comes first, then the width (which may seem backwards).

Here are some common cabochon sizes, in millimeters and inches.

8 x 6mm Cab

8 x 6mm Cab

0.3″ x 0.25″ Cab

14 x 10mm Cab

14 x 10mm

0.6″ x 0.4″

18 x 13mm Cab

18 x 13mm

0.7″ x 0.5″

25 x 18mm Cab

25 x 18mm

1″ x 0.7″

30 x 22mm Cab

30 x 22mm

1.2″ x 0.7″

40 x 30mm Cab

40 x 30mm

1.6″ x 1.2″

  • Remember, there are 10 millimeters in 1 centimeter, so a 40 x 30mm cab can also be measured as 4 x 3 centimeters. Most rulers in the U.S. have one side for inches, and one side for centimeters.
  • For comparison, a U.S. Quarter is 24.26mm in diameter (across); a quarter is nearly the same size as a 25mm round cabochon.


U.S. Quarter


25mm Round Cab

25mm Round



A U.S. Penny is 19mm in diameter, or 3/4″ across. Here’s a penny compared to an 18 x 13mm cab:


U.S. Penny (19mm)

18 x 13mm Cab

18 x 13mm


Do you want to know the number of beads in a strand? If you know the length of the strand and the size of the beads, you can estimate the number of beads in any strand. Note: this method may not work on beads of different sizes on the same strand.

  1. Take the strand measurement and convert it to millimeters. On Wire-Sculpture, most of our strands are 16″ long, or 406.4mm
  2. Divide the strand measurement by the size of the bead.  For example, we have a 6mm round bead.6mm Bead406.4 ÷ 6 = 67.7

There are about 67 beads in a strand of 16″ 6mm beads. Each strand may vary slightly by a few beads in either direction.

What did you learn?

If you’d like to read more about Wire Gauges and Jump Rings – you can continue reading this article in our Resource Center! It’s great information for anyone from the beginner to the advanced wire artist.

Next week, we have some very exciting news – do you love new beads? I do! We will be hearing all about a NEW line of Large Hole Round Beads that are now available on Wire-Sculpture. You won’t want to miss next weeks profile!

Do you have any beautiful jewelry you’d like to share with us? Send us pictures at tips@wire-sculpture.com and they could be featured!


Gem Profile by Narlene Allen

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by Layna Palmer, Wire-Sculpture.com

Today's Gem Profile is...

Pearls – Saltwater and Freshwater

Creation, Cultivation and Care

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Just recently we talked about Mother of Pearl and the different types of mollusks or invertebrates we use for Mother of Pearl.  Last year about this time Rose also wrote an article on the historical uses and value of Pearls. This week, we’ll go a little deeper into the world of pearls and talk more about their creation, cultivation and care.

What are Pearls?

In nature, the creation of a pearl is very rare event. It is caused by a foreign object getting into the body of the mussel or oyster causing the animal to coat the object with nacre which creates a pearl. Man has taken this process to the next level by cultivating pearls within the oysters on farms. These farms are located in saltwater bays where the oysters live on ropes which are hung below floating docks. The temperature of the water is monitored constantly and the oysters are raised and lowered to keep them at the correct temperature at all times. They are also fed an optimum mixture of algae and nutrients to keep them healthy.  Once a year, they are pulled from the water, their shells cleaned and treated with anti-fungal solution and put back in the water to finish growing.

Pearl being extracted from an oyster

A pearl being extracted from an Akoya pearl oyster.


Millions of oysters are nucleated every year with surgical-like precision, but only a small percentage actually create a pearl with many succumbing to disease or environmental problems like red tide, or too much freshwater being trapped in the bays.

It takes between 10 – 18 months to develop a pearl, the longer the oyster is left in the water, the larger the pearl becomes.  Each year only about 20% of the oysters actually create pearls suitable for market.  Today there are nearly 2000 oyster farms in Japan creating these beautiful gems using the method developed over 100 years ago.

Pearl Nuclei from Japan.

Pearl Nuclei from Toba Pearl Island, Japan

Saltwater Pearls:

South Seas Pearls are another type of saltwater pearls and are created in the white-lipped Pinctada maxima oyster. These pearls grow over a 2-3 year period and are exceptionally beautiful and rare.  The Pinctada maxima  is a wild oyster that is collected by pearl divers in water ranging from 10 – 80 meters deep.  Some divers, like those in the Philippines, don’t use any equipment opting to “free dive” for the mature oysters.  Once the healthy oysters are found, they are isolated in bays, nucleated and then placed at the bottom of the bay to grow.  After several months, the Pinctada maxima  is x-rayed to make sure the nucleus has not been rejected.  If the nucleus is still within the shell, the oyster is then placed back in the bay for 2 -3 years while the pearl forms.  Once a Pinctada maxima has developed a pearl, a farmer will carefully remove it and insert another nuclei. Healthy Pinctada maxima can be nucleated up to 4 times over its lifespan.

Pinctada maxima

Pinctada maxima

Another type of pearl is the Tahitian pearl which comes from the black lipped Pinctada margaritifera.  These are large oysters, almost twice the size of those used in Japan, and produce dark-colored pearls, often known as “black pearls” with an almost metallic luster.  These oysters are raised on farms from youth through maturity and then are cultured in the same manner as South Seas pearls.

Ring of Tahitian Pearl

Ring of Tahitian Pearl

Black Pearl

A black pearl and a shell of the black-lipped pearl oyster. The iridescent colors originate from nacre layers.

Freshwater Pearls:

Freshwater pearls are cultivated in much the same way as salt water pearls only using freshwater mussels instead of oysters.  Many archeological sites throughout the Mississippi River basin and the Eastern United States have yielded evidence that the native inhabitants valued pearls for adornment and even trade.

There is a record of the explorer Hernando Desoto in the 1540’s describing the Native Americans as wearing pearls “as big as filberts.” The “queen pearl” was discovered in New Jersey in 1857 and is a large pink, perfectly round pearl from a freshwater mussel. This pearl was eventually sold to the Empress of France.  Quite the reputation for a lowly little river mussel!  Over the next several decades, freshwater pearls were harvested and sold, nearly decimating the population of mussels in the rivers and lakes of North America.

Freshwater pearl bracelet

A lovely bracelet made by Robin Pacey with freshwater potato pearls with tiny peridot coin beads. Photo courtesy of Robin Pacey.

The best of  both worlds:

Much of the production of freshwater pearls was originally in the United States and Scotland, but when Kokichi Mikimoto began experimenting on the nucleation process, the production quickly moved to Japan and Lake Biwa. Through decades of trial and error, Mikimoto discovered that the best material for the nucleation of saltwater pearls is a piece of freshwater mussel shell and the best freshwater mussels come from North America.

Today, the production of freshwater pearls and shells in North America is undertaken by over 30 farms in various states, the first of which was the Latendresse farm in Tennessee during the 1960’s.  Now these farms not only produce American freshwater pearls, but shells for nucleation of saltwater oysters.  So literally, the beautiful salt water pearl you are wearing from the South Seas or Asia has a bit of North America inside it.

Wire wrapped necklace with freshwater pearls.

Wire wrapped necklace by Ruth Soucek with freshwater pearls. Photo courtesy of Ruth Soucek.

Handle with care:

Pearls are not only beautiful, but delicate as well.  Our skin contains oil and acids that can degrade a pearl and change not only its luster, but its shape over time.  When taking off your pearls, wipe them with a soft cloth to remove the oil and dirt from your skin. Never wear your pearls when exercising and always store them in a pouch or jewelry box, don’t hang them to store.  If you need to wash your pearls, only do so with a mild soap, not detergent, and use a soft cloth to dry them, don’t wear until the thread is completely dry.  NEVER place pearls in any type of ammonia or vinegar solution, ultrasonic or steam cleaners, or use any type of abrasives like a toothbrush to clean them.  Remove your pearls to apply makeup, hairspray or perfume as the acids can degrade and ruin your pearls. If you wear your pearls often, it’s a good idea to have them restrung every year or so.

Tying it all together!

Pearls, we learned from Rose, have been valued throughout history for their beauty and rarity. Cleopatra was said to have won a bet with Mark Antony by dissolving a pearl in wine and drinking it; proving that she could consume the wealth of an entire nation in one meal.  Pearls have been found in ancient burial sites and were even worn into battle by knights who thought the gems would provide protection.  Pearls were also a large part of the expansion into the America’s by the European’s whose lust for the beautiful gem nearly caused the extinction of the American saltwater pearl oyster.

For nearly 200 years, pearls were available only to those who were royalty, wealthy or famous. Pearls were so valuable that in 1916 when Jacques Cartier opened his store in New York City, the property was purchased with two strands of pearls.

Pearl strands

Colorful strands of pearl beads available at Wire-sculpture.com

Today, pearls are accessible to more people of diverse economic backgrounds due in large part to the cultivation of pearl oysters.

Next week, we hear about the very beautiful and quite rare Zultanite!  It’s color changing properties are amazing!

Have you made jewelry with Zultanite that you’d like to share with us? Send us pictures at tips@wire-sculpture.com and they could be featured!

Resources & Recommended Reading


Gem Profile by Layna Palmer

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