All That Glitters – Heat-Treated Gemstones

A couple of years ago, during our annual buying trip to Tucson, AZ, we noticed a trend at A LOT of gemstone booths: brilliantly-colored quartz crystals, some with vibrant aurora-borealis-type finishes. We thought they were cool from the first time we saw them, and their popularity has only grown since then — these quartz crystals continue to be one of the top-selling bead types at Blue Door Beads!

Here's just a taste of the wide variety of aura quartz we sell in the shop!

Here’s just a taste of the wide variety of quartz points we sell in the shop!

Although we have had these crystals for quite some time, it’s only been recently that people have regularly started asking us what is done to the crystals to turn them such brilliant colors. Perhaps the summer sunshine has led people to create more colorful jewelry, so they naturally gravitate toward these shimmery little guys — or maybe folks have just become more inquisitive! Whatever the reason, we soon realized that we needed to find out more about the process of creating what we have since found out is referred to as aura quartz.

Aura quartz is created through a process called vapor deposition: clear, natural quartz is heated to1600 °F in a vacuum, and then vapor from a specific mineral (see list below) is added to the chamber. The atoms from the mineral “fuse to the crystal’s surface, which gives the crystal an iridescent” metallic sheen in a wide variety of colors, depending on the mineral used. (HibiscusMoon Crystal Academy)

The International Gem Society explains in slightly more scientific terms how the process takes place, but the two most important things to keep in mind (we believe) when using/buying aura quartz are:

1.) Vapor deposition is a permanent way to “coat” a crystal. The less-than-one-micron-thick metallic coating will not chip off because the mineral has been molecularly bonded with the surface of the quartz.

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An example of rainbow aura quartz.

2.) Exposing natural crystal to such intense heat, combined with certain mineral vapors, can make the stones extremely brittle. The one exception to this fact is the variation of modified quartz called “flame quartz” or “rainbow quartz.” These quartzes “have been enhanced with a combination of titanium and gold. Titanium molecules are bonded to the quartz by the natural electrostatic charge of the crystal in a process known as magnetron ionization…since only electricity is used to deposit the titanium layers and create these colors, very little heat is involved and the integrity of the crystal is maintained.” (Wikipedia) Good to know!

Here’s a list of some of the more common types of modified quartzes, along with the various minerals that give them their distinctive colors once bonded to clear quartz:

  • Amethyst Aura Quartz (purple) –  magnesium & platinum
  • Angel Aura Quartz (bluish-silver) –  platinum and silver, but also sometimes gold or other trace metals.
  • Apple Aura Quartz (bright lime green) – nickel, which gives the stone a bright yellow-green color reminiscent of Granny Smith apples.
  • Aqua Aura Quartz (bright blue) –  gold
  • Champagne Aura Quartz (a metallic brown-gold) –– gold, iron, and platinum
  • Cobalt Aura (dark blue with an iridescent sheen) –  cobalt
  • Copper Aura Quartz (metallic copper) – Pretty self-explanatory: clear quartz bonded with copper
  • Kiwi Aura Quartz (teal green) – gold and silver, or platinum
  • Melon Aura (orange) – copper, gold, and iron
  • Opal Aura Quartz (clear with opalescent sheen) – platinum
  • Rainbow Aura (a range of colors, all with a dark iridescent sheen) – titanium and/or niobium
  • Ruby Aura (fuchsia) – made with gold, silver, and platinum
  • Sunshine Aura (bright yellow) – made with iron and/or platinum, and gold
We think amethyst aura quartz is one of the prettier varieties!

We think amethyst aura quartz is one of the prettier varieties!

Just when we think we know everything there is to know about beads, we find out about something cool like vapor deposition! Now the next time you create a piece with aura quartz and get showered with compliments (which we know you will!), you can tell you adoring fans a few fun facts about the how the aura quartz came to be!

First photo courtesy of Rachel Bleckman for Blue Door Beads.
Second photo courtesy of Crystal Vaults.
Third photo courtesy of CosmicDreamClub on Tumblr.
Information regarding different minerals bonded to quartz provided in part by Crystal Vaults.

We’ve Been Nominated!

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 6.01.19 PMWe’re excited to announce that we’ve been nominated in several categories for the 2016 Work Local Awards, a celebration of the best local employers in the Bay Area. The categories are:

  • Coolest Workspace
  • Best Co-Workers
  • Best Employer: Retail
  • Most Community-Oriented Employer
  • Most Fun Place to Work

The Work Local Awards highlights the boutiques, cafes, nonprofits, startups, and all the local employers that make our local communities thrive. Blue Door Beads is proud to be counted among the local businesses who have been nominated for at least one of the Work Local Awards!

The awards are presented by Localwise—the local job community in the Bay Area—in partnership with other local businesses. Localwise is a mission-driven organization focused on helping local businesses hire great local people.

Thanks to all of our loyal customers, fellow community members, friends, and loved ones who nominated us for these awards! We’d like to invite to to join the fun by submitting your RSVP for the celebration event on April 28th.

Check out some of the lovely things our supporters had to say:

“Blue Door Beads has the best vibe on Piedmont Avenue! I know I will always be greeted back as if I’m their best friend walking through the front door! I know it’s the most fun place to shop for awesome jewelry-making supplies and art!”

“This is one of the few bead stores left in the East Bay and they are super-cool, friendly, and conscious! They do more than retail – they provide a place for artists, for classes, and for all kinds of jewelry and other media artists to showcase their work. Plus, the vibe is fun and exciting!”

“Community-minded, customer-oriented, responsive, caring, creative, upbeat, supportive, innovative, fun and, again, creative. The owner is amazing. Sara really cares about her store and her customers. She goes out of her way to make people feel well-taken-care-of. She’s good with everyone – the kids, the millennials, the over-50’s. The store is well-lighted, clean, brimming with possibilities, and the shared center table for people who want to do their beading in the store is a magnet for shared creativity.”

“Blue Door Beads is a great fit in the Piedmont area of Oakland. Sara is a wonderful owner, boss, and neighborhood advocate. They support local artists and have great social events to encourage customers to use their services and those of the businesses around them.”

Happy Holidays & Bead Merry!

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Sydney & Lydia get into the holiday spirit by wrapping some boxes for decoration!

Fall & Winter are a couple of Blue Door Beads’ favorite seasons. Not only is the weather crisp enough for us to break out our chunky sweaters & scarves, but new customers are coming into the shop, excited to get started making their holiday gifts!

Of course, we’re always happy to help anyone who would like assistance in making jewelry, but we especially enjoy the enthusiasm that newbies bring to the shop. They come in with a mix of emotions — glee, anxiety, excitement — and we explain that it’s all part of starting out on a beading adventure when you’ve never done it before! We show them all of the beginner-friendly projects and kits we have, make sure that they’ve given themselves enough time to get lost in the creative process — and before they know it, they’ve dived deep into the world of beads, and their lives have been changed forever! (We assure them that this isn’t a bad thing. :-))

Very often, people who are new to the shop this time of your are actually not jewelry-makers themselves, but are rather shopping for gifts for the beader(s) in their life. We have lots of goodies for them, too: pre-made chainmail kits, snowflake forms for making holiday decorations (a great stocking-stuffer!) and tool kits for every level of beader, no matter what kind of jewelry they enjoy making.

Check out the holiday gift ideas below, and then swing by the shop soon to get everything you need for a very sparkly holiday season! Bead Merry!

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A close-up of some super cute ornament earrings!

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Tool kits are perfect for anyone wanting to make earrings, necklace, bracelets, and all sorts of bead-related projects!

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It’s Her Party And She’ll Meow If She Wants To

Here at Blue Door Beads, we love hearing the stories behind customers’ jewelry. We’ve oooh’d and ahhh’d over incredible pieces from far-off lands, such as India, Africa, and Thailand; we’ve gotten the warm fuzzies when told stories about cherished family heirlooms; and we’ve enjoyed sharing smiles with customers coming in to show us what their loved one made for them the last time they visited the shop.

Kira and Ponette, her dearest furry friend -- and birthday girl!

Kira and Ponette, her dearest furry friend — and birthday girl!

Every once in a while, a customer comes in with a story that is just too good not to share with the world. Such is the case with Kira Stackhouse, a renowned Bay Area-based photographer whose cat, Ponette, turned 15 this month. In honor of this major milestone, Kira threw Ponette an amazing quinceañera — and not only did Kira make Ponette her dress from scratch, she made her custom jewelry, as well! We had the pleasure of watching Kira put together her kitty-sized necklace at our work table, and we requested that she keep us posted on how the party went.

Thanks to the magic of Instagram and the internet, we were able to keep tabs on Ponette’s party as everything came together — the jewelry, the dress, and finally the big day, full of all of Ponette’s (and Kira’s) human friends. Check out all of Kira’s adorable photos below!

Kira showing off her completed creation!

Kira showing off her completed creation!

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A close-up of Ponette’s jewels.

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Ponette giving her party jewelry a test run!

Ponette in her complete, gorgeous outfit!

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Another close-up of Ponette in all her sparkly glory.

 

So many ruffles! And such a patient kitty!

So many ruffles! And such a patient kitty!

The birthday girl, lounging diva-style.

The birthday girl, lounging diva-style.

 

Want to know something else? The festivities were so darn cute, even Cosmopolitan and www.dailymail.co.uk featured Kira’s party photo shoot on their websites! As Kira explained, “I think pet parties are a great way to bring your friends and family together and celebrate your pet, since they too are a member of your family.” We couldn’t agree more, Kira! Please give Ponette a belated-birthday scratch under the chin for us!

Second photo courtesy of Blue Door Beads. All other photos by Kira Stackhouse. Check out more of Kira’s amazing, adorable, and awww-inspiring photographs at www.kirastackhouse.com, and follow her on Instagram at @nuena.