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· Rambles...
· Beadwork Bead Expo 2007, Oakland
· Gem Faire San Francisco 2007
· Gem Faire review

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Rambles...
posted by Colleen Shirazi, July 21, 2007 at 6:39 PM (Pacific)

Went to the Gem Faire in San Rafael today. In a sense, I had to go, since I needed some freshwater pearl strands.

I'll have to admit, it was a bit disappointing...the prices seemed to have gone up, the selection wasn't as good as some other shows I'd been to. Still it is always worth going to these things. I got a bunch of pearls, finally...after traversing the entire floor what felt like three times, looking for a good price.

Along with these, I visited my favorite merchant, based in Castro Valley. They've been at every Gem Faire I've attended (three in total) and I've always bought from them. This time I got a strand of chunky aquamarine...I've been trying to develop a really nice aquamarine piece. It's not as easy as it looks. Also, two strands of similarly chunky citrine.

I washed the aquamarine as soon as I got home, wondering if the color would come out (aquamarine is so often dyed), but it's still nice and blue. :)

It occurred to me, I've developed better taste in beads. It's easier for me now to know what not to buy, and what is worth paying a bit more for. It takes time.

Next step...I will need to buy some wire. I have an idea where I want to buy it, but they don't sell online, I'd have to order a catalog. I mean I can do it, but it's an extra step...for people who aren't making jewelry specifically as a business, but are trying to fit it into whatever they're already doing, it's almost worth paying more to be able to put together the order online.

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Beadwork Bead Expo 2007, Oakland
posted by Colleen Shirazi, April 14, 2007 at 2:18 PM (Pacific)

Beadwork Bead Expo

I went to this yesterday. Here are some thoughts...

I don't have a resellers license, so I attended only the "Open to the Public" Bead Bazaar part of the show. (There is a wholesale preview as well.)

It's definitely big...and there are finds there. But there was a markup on a lot of stuff too. I felt some of it was geared less toward people who obsess about this sort of thing and more toward casual buyers. That's okay, it was still worth visiting for me, because most of the stuff I buy now is online. The opportunity to see the stuff in person was well worth the price--$6 admission with online coupon, plus parking or BART (it's downtown Oakland).

I didn't buy much, wasn't planning to since I'm doing my bead "cold turkey." I'd already decided to buy "once in a lifetime" items, such as the Venetian glass beads I could finally see...got some from Merchant of Murano. I'm working on a necklace using some of these beads now.

And I got some pearl strands from BeadBabe/BeadBugle which were extra nice for the price.

In conclusion, worth going to, but shop carefully.

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Gem Faire San Francisco 2007
posted by Colleen Shirazi, March 21, 2007 at 10:38 PM (Pacific)

They had this in San Francisco and I managed to get out for one of the three-day-weekend shows. I would have liked to have gone again...this one was roughly twice the size of the one I went to last year...lots and lots of stuff.

I ended up buying from two merchants (last year I bought from only one...the same one I bought from this year). I got some American turquoise rounds and barrel shaped beads. Also small labradorite rounds...pretty good "flash" for the cut and size, although it looked as much golden as blue...labradorite rondelles, aquamarine rondelles...and from the other merchant, freshwater pearls.

This show had a lot of items the other show didn't...kyanite, amber, greenish American turquoise, Hill Tribe silver, some Bali style items... I suppose it might be good I didn't go a second time. You have to pace yourself with this stuff.

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Gem Faire review
posted by Colleen Shirazi, October 28, 2006 at 6:05 PM (Pacific)

Well I finally made it out to one of these things! I missed the one they had in San Rafael. This one was in Pleasanton (it's still on tomorrow).

It's definitely worth it to go. Anyhow here are my thoughts...

It was smaller than I'd thought it would be. For some reason I'd pictured this ginormous field of merchants, like a big ol' flea market size, but it was indoors. I'd say they had about four or five rows of booths.

There seemed to be as many booths selling readymade jewelry, as there were bead merchants. A bit of a surprise. The jewelry was probably good but I wasn't there to buy jewelry. A lot of Chinese sellers...Chinese-style jewelry (which is one of my favorite styles).

The beads...good price on freshwater pearls. Lots and lots of crystals. They had mainly Chinese sellers, some Indians (the Chinese were selling Chinese products, the Indians, Indian products so it would depend on what you were looking for).

Someone had some lampwork beads on sale but I was disappointed in the price. They had some really nice pieces but the prices were the same as in a regular store.

Some things missing: didn't see any jade beads. Hardly any loose beads (to be fair, I was expecting most of the stuff to be sold by the strand). Not much cloisonne or sterling silver beads. Some things I would have bought, had they had them, were sterling silver Bali/Thai style spacer beads and gold-filled spacer beads.

I ended up buying from only one merchant because her stuff was different (there is a lot of repetition in the bead world). And she had American turquoise, which is exactly what I was looking for. Then she had some strands for a very good price so I stocked up on some of these. She had some "fancy cut" peridot and labradorite so I got some of those (the cut really makes the stones pop!).

Now I'm slightly kicking myself for a couple of things I didn't buy...she had what I think is quartz crystal, but it's faceted so many times it looks like diamonds. The price here was a bit high and the shape was a little unusual...I was pondering exactly what I would do with it. If I'm still thinking about this sort of thing in a month or so, I'll get it next time I see it (there are a lot of bead/gem shows in California it turns out).

Another thing I was dithering about was ametrine. She had some nice ametrine. For that matter she had some nice amethyst. I don't usually wear purple stones so I passed on these.

Anyhoo...I'm already a convert. I don't think you would need to go to every bead/gem show around, but it would be worth it to plan on attending some of them every year. I truly dislike buying beads online unless they're standardized, like Swarovski crystals. You need to see and touch the beads.

I was a bit startled that I seemed to be the only buyer who was wearing handmade jewelry. Not sure what to make of that. I tried out the citrine/gold-filled chain earrings along with the citrine, yellow opal and agate necklace that I finally finished today. The earrings worked well...I check the weight, whether or not you need to fuss over them and rearrange them, whether they stick in your hair...these were fine.


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