Tag Archives: jewellery making

A Guide to Pearl Qualities and Grades

Buying pearls can be confusing – there are many myths and misconceptions. The days of the pearl fisherman diving off the side of a small boat to harvest pearls from the ocean floor is mostly gone. Wild pearls still exist but are difficult to find and are often protected from harvesting. Nowadays, most pearls are cultivated in freshwater lakes and rivers or seawater rafts.

Pearl Grades; There is no international standard for grading pearls so identical pearls may be graded differently by different suppliers. However, grading takes into account shape, lustre, surface quality, nacre thickness and matching on the strand. Grading a strand of pearls like a necklace is slightly different to grading individual pearls as not every pearl on the strand will necessarily meet all the criteria.

  • GRADE A, Shape near round, Lustre fair, Surface <75% clean, Nacre 0.25 to 0.35mm, Matching fair.
  • Grade AA,  Shape mostly round, Lustre good, Surface >75% clean,  Nacre 0.35 to 0.5mm, Matching very good.
  • Grade AAA, Shape round, Lustre high, Surface >90% clean, Nacre over 0.5mm, Matching very good.

Shape; Pearls develop into a variety of shapes. Round pearls are the rarest and the highest priced. The term ’round’ does not mean spherical like a marble but the pearls should not look obviously oval or flattened to the naked eye.  Non-round pearls can offer value for money. Wild pearls are rarely round so different shapes could be thought more natural.  There are a variety of shapes including round, near round, circle, oval, drop, baroque.

Lustre; This is the shine that gives pearls their beauty and is an important buying factor. Lustre refers to the pearls brilliance – the way it’s surface reflects light, and to the inner glow – how it refracts light from the layers of nacre within.

Surface Quality; Pearls are a natural product and small natural imperfections are quite acceptable – even desirable. Unacceptable faults include cracks or holes in the surface and thin or flaking nacre.

Matching; This compares all the pearls on the strand with each other to see how they match. They don’t have to be identical – that can seem artificial and real pearls will vary a little.

June Free Bead Giveaway Competition

Flaming June! In celebration of this scorching month, we are giving away a strand of our gorgeous 9-10mm white large hole pearls plus 3m of 2mm leather in a colour of your choice from our leather range. To enter this competition to win this FREE bundle worth over £10, just place an order of any value on our website at www.sand-stones.co.uk before 30th June and we will put your name into a sunhat! Winner will be notified on 30th June by email and an announcement will be made on Facebook. Check out the little beauties here;-

Good Luck!!

10-11mm white pot large hole

How to use French Wire (Bullion)

french wire

Great news! By popular demand, we are now stocking Griffin bead cord and stringing products again. Griffin French wire now in stock. Here is a nice little pic of how to use it in your designs to beautify and strengthen the area around a clasp and to give a professional looking finish!

NEW! Gemstone and Silver Charm Pendants

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My newest project!  I had hours of fun making these sterling silver hand wrapped semi precious gemstone and Thai silver charm pendants.  They are sparkly and petite and are perfectly glamorous on their own or for layering with other necklaces when added to a sterling silver chain.  I hope you like them!

Make Jewellery with Large Drill Hole Pearls!


10-11mm white pot large hole

Have you seen our new Large Drill Hole Pearls?


With their 2.5mm drill hole you can thread them easily on leather and other wide cords.

Here is just one simple idea:-

large hole pearls 1

Take some Large Drill Hole Pearls, 2mm leather, fold over cord ends, a lobster clasp and a couple of jump rings, assemble and enjoy!!

large hole pearls 2

You don’t need fancy tools to make beautiful jewellery!

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I was in a vintage shop in my hometown of Matlock yesterday and I picked up a bundle of old silk threads for £4 with a view to using them to knot some nice gemstones I’ve got stashed away!  I chose to knot some frosted agate first and decided on ‘old school’ as the method I would use (a small length of 0.4mm copper wire, which I sell in my store, folded double to create a simple needle and some needle nose pliers).

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The following set of pics show how easy it is to form a tight knot using the pointy ended pliers.

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And the result:-

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Enjoy x