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If you buy your sterling silver beads in bulk, you're going to need somewhere to store them. Sterling silver can tarnish over time, so there are two things to remember when you store your sterling sliver beads. First, store them separately, even from other silver beads. Second, store them in a soft pouch or in small plastic bags to make sure they are not damaged or scratched. Don't store them with other types of beads unless they are also made of sterling silver. Most dealers carry many storage solutions, including zip bags for your silver beads. If you store your silver beads properly, you won't need to polish them before you use them in a design.
If you worry about silver tarnish in your designs, purchase oxidized silver beads. These silver beads come with a corrugated finish that has a dark layer over it, which brings out the details in both layers. These beads offer more detail than simple corrugated or shiny finishes. They blend well with a variety of other beads, and they are sometimes cheaper than other silver beads. Wholesalers usually carry these beads alongside other silver items, but you may not notice them at first. Don't confuse oxidized beads with Bali or India silver beads, they are different items entirely.
Liquid silver beads are quite stunning when they are used properly in designs. Many dealers simply refer to these beads as "tube" beads, but they came into fashion several years ago, often in Native American designs, and have often been called "liquid silver" since then. Strung together in several strands, these tiny tubular beads literally create the effect of molten silver coursing around a neck or wrist. These tubular beads come in straight or twisted designs. Most wholesalers sell these silver beads by weight. Tube beads also come in a dark, oxidized finish, but they don't carry the impact of their glossy liquid cousins.
If you want the best prices on silver findings and beads, purchase them in bulk. Most dealers offer substantial discounts for the more silver beads you buy. If you plan your projects in advance, you'll know how many beads you'll need for each item in your inventory, and you can buy accordingly. Buying in bulk saves money of course, but it also ensures you'll get the same quality, size, and color for each item on your purchasing list. Sterling silver prices fluctuate, so if you wait until silver prices are down, you'll save even more on your silver beads and findings.
Silver plated beads are cheaper than sterling silver beads, because the base of the bead is a base metal. It has a very thin layer of sterling silver electroplated onto the base metal. The bead looks like silver, but really isn't solid silver. Silver plated beads are wonderful in many projects, but remember the plate can wear off if they are polished to roughly, or they rub against other beads in a design. The depth of the layer of silver is measured in microns, and one micron equals .001 millimeters, so you can get an idea of how thinly the coating is applied. Silver electroplate cannot be sold as sterling silver, and cannot be marked as sterling, either.
When you look for silver beads for your project, you'll find two finishes. Smooth, shiny silver beads are the type of silver many people are familiar with. Often these small polished beads serve as accent pieces for larger gemstone or silver beads. The other finish you'll find is a rough finish, where the beads are less shiny and have texture to them. Most dealers carry many different types of beads in both these finishes, along with findings that match. When you find beads you like that can work in many different designs, ask your dealer if they give quantity discounts, and buy enough for all your design needs at once.
Real Bali beads cost more than fakes and imitations, so price should be your first clue that you're buying a true Bali bead. Of course, unscrupulous dealers can charge high prices for inferior merchandise. So, if you're dealing with a new wholesaler, and the cost of Bali beads seems too good to be true, then it just might be. Other things to look for in real Bali beads are a finish that is sleek and polished, and evenly colored oxidized backgrounds that show off the polished silver. The findings should be good quality sterling silver, and they should all be attached firmly to the bead (like ear posts, they shouldn't be loose). Also feel the bead. Is it too heavy or too light? Then run don't walk to another wholesaler.
Asian countries create some of the most beautiful textured silver beads on the market today, and India is no exception. True India silver beads are handmade sterling silver beads with texture and oxidizing to bring out the details in the beads. They are often used as spacers or other accents in a piece. Many dealers will try to sell inferior quality India beads at sterling prices, so make sure you are dealing with a reputable dealer before you buy. Many wholesalers also recommend buying the beads in bulk, because sizes and colors can have some small variations from batch to batch. Don't confuse Bali or Turkish beads with India beads. Once you see them side-by-side you'll see the subtle differences in design and manufacture.
There is no such thing as pure silver beads. Silver is an element that occurs naturally in the earth and is too soft for practical use in silver jewelry making. An alloy such as copper is usually added to make silver workable for silver jewelry. A sterling silver bead is 92.5 percent (925 parts) pure silver and 7.5 percent (75 parts) alloy metal. The alloy minerals vary, but copper is typically used to insure that the Sterling silver can be easily worked into the desired shape. Sterling Silver is used to create silver beads or silver clasps in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Beautiful jewelry can be made from gemstones attached to silver findings. A toggle clasp is a nice finishing touch. Choose one whose style and weight complements your silver jewelry piece. You can find toggles shaped like leaves, sunbursts and ropes or you might choose a simple bar and circle toggle. Try to decide on a theme before you buy your beads and you can make sure your toggles tie in with the overall feel of your necklace.
The best way to prevent tarnish is to wear your sterling silver pendants and other sterling silver jewelry often. The touch of your skin and hand will prevent the build up of tarnish. However, don't wear sterling silver in chlorinated water or when working with household cleaners such as bleach or ammonia. Some of these cleaners will turn your sterling silver jewelry black. If this does happen, don't despair. Pick up some Twinkle, or another silver polish and you should be able to fix the problem. If not, take it to your local jeweler.
Sterling silver jewelry should be stored in a cool, dry place. Real silver can oxidize with time. Store sterling silver jewelry in a tarnish-proof cloth or in drawers lined with tarnish-resistant strips. You should also store your silver away from contact with air. Many people use zip lock plastic bags to ensure the right environment and to prevent tarnish. If a sterling silver bead or sterling silver clasp become tarnished, clean with a paste, liquid polish, or a treated polishing cloth intended for use on sterling silver. Or you may wash your sterling silver jewelry with warm water, rubbing in a little soap or toothpaste, rinsing, then patting dry with a fine soft cloth. Avoid using tissue paper or paper towels on a sterling silver bead as they can scratch silver.
Vermeil is a French word describing sterling silver that has been electroplated with at least 100 millionths of an inch of karat gold. vermeil sterling silver beads must have a sterling silver base and a plating of at least 100 millionths of an inch of karat gold. So although Vermeil has a core of sterling, it looks much like gold. Vermeil jewelry is long-lasting and has the endurance of pure gold.
Bali beads are unique silver beads created on the small island Bali in Indonesia. These intricate beads feature dark designs on a silver background. When you purchase Bali beads, make sure you purchase them from a reputable wholesaler who is not mislabeling the beads. Some dealers call any bead with this type of design a "Bali" bead, no matter where it was actually made. In addition, when you deal with a reputable wholesaler who has experience and longevity in the jewelry business, you can be certain the Bali silver beads you buy are truly 92.5 percent pure silver, which is the mark of pure sterling silver.
Only jewelry that is at least 92.5% pure silver can be labeled "silver," "solid silver," "sterling silver," or "sterling." If sterling silver pendants and sterling silver clasps are stamped with these words, your purchase meets U.S. government standards. Sometimes, sterling silver jewelry will be stamped with "925," or "92.5." These are also appropriate markings and they assure you that you are buying genuine sterling silver jewelry. If you are buying beads or sterling silver charms, you should ensure that you are buying from a reputable online vendor. You don't want to pay for sterling silver beads that aren't actually sterling silver.
Gold and silver beads are often used as spacer beads. A sterling silver bead placed between two large beads, of silver or of a different material, will help a necklace curve when its worn. Silver jewelry beads placed between colorful gemstones will showcase the gemstone beads. They can also create a lovely theme when used with silver findings and clasps. Wholesale silver beads and other silver findings are available online for retailers and jewelers and you can find inexpensive sterling silver beads if you are a crafter or jewelry making hobbyist.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|