Meet Our New Instructors!

After a short hiatus from classes for the holiday season, they’re now back & better than ever! Our Spring 2017 class season not only includes a wide range of new classes, but also a great group of new instructors! Allow us to introduce you to a few of our newest team members:

Carol Bernau 

Carol’s true love is weaving seed beads, because seed beads show endless possible permutations of color, shape, texture, and reflection of light. Join her in learning a new seed bead weaving technique in her Friday, April 21st class, Herringbone Weave Bracelet.



Jen Laursen

Inspired by the beautiful leatherwork from Mexico, 6 years ago Jen went on a quest to teach herself this time-honored tradition. She now teaches private lessons and group workshops to kids and adults, and loves every minute! Jen’s Leather Punched Jewelry class is coming up on Thursday, March 16th.


Elizabeth McKinley

Elizabeth is a Registered Yoga Teacher and teaches groups and individuals yoga and meditation, emphasizing the body-mind-spirit connection. Join Elizabeth for Malas & Meditations on Saturday, March 11th and explore mantras and methods of meditation using a mala you will create in class!


Rae Rodriguez

Rae has been designing jewelry for over 18 years, and she finds metal clay fascinating in many ways — and also very fun to teach! Join her Saturday, March 18th for her Intro to Metal Clay class, where students will explore molding, forming, and firing this amazing material.


Joe Silvera

A master jewelry with over 25 years of jewelry and teaching experience, Joe’s classes provide a great foundation in the fundamental skills of jewelry, mixed with laughter and creativity. On Saturday, March 11th, Joe will be hosting his Saw, Hammer, & Rivet class — a great introduction class that demonstrates how to use a jeweler’s saw, hammering techniques, riveting, and polishing by hand.

Click here to meet more of our instructors!

All That Sparkles: Photos from our 3rd Annual Jewelry Collective!

We are proud to say that this year’s Jewelry Collective was our most successful to date! 16 local artists displayed their work here at Blue Door Beads through December 22nd, and it all started with a wonderful Opening Night on Thursday, December 17th! Below is a collection of photos we took that night, and you can see more close-up examples of each artist’s work by visiting our More Fun Stuff page. Enjoy!


Katie setting up her jewelry display. We want that wooden swivel box!

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Katie’s completed display, streamlined and lovely — gift boxes included!


Janet and Cheryl (Bellacarisma) having fun setting up their jewelry!


We liked the subtle elegance of Cheryl’s display — very clean lines, and easy to see her pieces.

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Janet had lots of cute textured “trees,” and she featured her work at different heights for variety.


Chau (Beaded Girl) and Dawn (Dawn Boyer Jewelry) were getting in the holiday spirit! 🙂

Chau kept her display simple so people could happily pick up and try on her jewelry with ease!

Dawn’s “earring trees” were super cute, and she enticed customers with candy — yum!

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Jewelry by Tanya Moss of Laurels & Moss — a perfect example of letting jewelry speak for itself. Her dainty gold-filled pieces stood out against both her clean white and dramatic black jewelry busts.


Sara giving Kelly some encouragement during her set-up.

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Jewelry by Kelly Rathmann of Subtle Spark Jewelry. Kelly’s display was low-fuss, with subtle texture and a range of shapes to keep it intriguing.

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Jewelry by Stacy Presson of Joyful Jewelry. Stacy’s display was another great example of featuring jewelry at different levels to add visual interest.


Karen Deford posing with her jewelry (D4D Creations).

Karen’s colorful jewelry showed up nicely against her dark blue, subtley-patterned backdrop.


Revola of Revola J setting up her vibrant display!

Revola’s big, bold jewelry called for an equally bold display with lots of shimmer and shine!


Danya of Jolie Bijoux. Danya’s delicate pieces looked terrific on her rustic, vintage-style box!


Courtney of Feisty Kitty Jewelry

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Courtney’s whimsical, seasonal display. We loved the snowflakes & candy canes!


Phred Swain-Sugarman of ph.RED. Phred used a creative mix of romantic pieces (perfume tray, ornate frame) and pops of color to show off her upcycled pieces.

Phred, Courtney, and Danya with their lovely jewelry!


Sydney having fun serving champagne to all of the guests!


We had a full house all night long!

Our fabulous artists! Left of overhead light (L-R): Margaret, Cheryl, Katie, Stacy, and Revola. Under light (back to front): Janet, Danya, Chau, Courtney, and Dawn. Right of light (L-R): Karen, Phred, Tanya, Kelly, and Vida.

WTF? or The ROI of Open Studio Time

Iris’ classes are consitently our most popular — and for good reason! Iris makes all jewelry-making techniques very approachable, and students who take one of her classes instantly become fans of her workshops. So, it is no surprise that Iris was one of the first of our instructors to jump on the Create Space bandwagon. We’re so glad she did! Thank you, Iris, for your time, patience, and kind words about our Create Space hot & cold studios. See you soon!

Sandkuhler's Blog

Forging into new territory? Read the story of how one student benefitted by registering for Open Studio time at Create Space, Blue Door Beads, Oakland California.

Today we started an experiment. I work as an independent contractor at a really cool bead-store-cum-art-space in Oakland, California which is located in the East Bay of San Francisco. As an independent contractor, I pack up all the tools, materials, equipment and handouts for a particular workshop, drive down from the North Bay, arrive at Blue Door Beads, teach my metals workshops (, go home, unpack, reorder, restock and get paid for it.

The problem is, many of my metal-smithing students need time to acquire their tools and practice their skills. We’ve had many requests about offering a supervised open studio space at the shop, where they can practice until they are comfortable enough to work alone. I live too far away (bridges, traffic…

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The Real Deal: How to Tell If Your Gemstones are Genuine – Part 1 – Turquoise

Photo courtesy of @arrowsandstone on Instagram.

Photo of natural turquoise pieces courtesy of @arrowsandstone on Instagram.

We here at Blue Door Beads are unfortunately neither gemologists nor lapidaries, but after many years of being rock hounds (and 3+ years running a bead store!) we’ve learned a thing or two about gemstones and beads made of other precious, natural materials and how to tell which ones are the real deal.

Writing about every bead and/or gemstone in the world would take forever, so we decided to dedicate our next few blog posts to the top beads we carry whose authenticity is most frequently questioned: turquoise, amber, coral, and ivory.

Through numerous experiences, both good and bad, we have found that there are certain attributes to look for in a bead if you want to know if the vendor you’re buying from is trying to pull a fast one on you. Specific factors make certain beads highly desirable, including their rarity and how un-modified they are; the less they’ve been messed with, the better. Of course, the worst-case scenario is that the bead has been completely mislabeled — nobody wants to pay top dollar for a faux stone! So, without further ado, here are some crucial facts to squirrel away for future reference about one stone in particular:

This large Kingman mine cabochon from Durango Silver is worth over $200.

This large cabochon from the Kingman mine is worth over $200. (Photo courtesy of Durango Silver Company.)


There are many, MANY different turquoise mines throughout the world, several of which closed decades ago, making certain turquoise specimens very rare and extremely sought-after. (Source 1) Kingman turquoise, for example, is a type that is only found in the Kingman mine of northwestern Arizona. Kingman turquoise’s bright blue color with fine, black matrix is highly coveted by collectors. Another example of “exclusive” turquoise is Sleeping Beauty, a type only found in The Sleeping Beauty mine near Globe, Arizona. This type of turquoise is noted for its solid, light blue color with little or no matrix. The heyday of both the Kingman mine and Sleeping Beauty mine was in the 1960’s, and within a decade, the turquoise in the mines had been depleted, forcing them to close in the 1970’s.

This fairly small Sleeping Beauty turquoise cabochon is still worth over $50 because of it's highly desirable light blue color with very few imperfections. Photo courtesy of ChamisaGems on Etsy.

This fairly small natural Sleeping Beauty turquoise cabochon is worth over $50 because of it’s highly desirable light blue color with very few imperfections. Photo courtesy of ChamisaGems on Etsy.

Both Kingman and Sleeping Beauty specimens are examples of some of the most expensive in the jewelry industry, and tiny-to-small pieces are the only types that haven’t been stabilized. The term “stabilizing” refers to a process which “involves impregnating the material with a clear epoxy resin, which effectively is absorbed by the turquoise and fills the pores in the chalky material, much like silica does, thus hardening the stone.” (Source 2) Overall in the world of gemstones, you would be hard pressed to find a piece of any turquoise that has not been stabilized since it “has been estimated that less than 3% of the world’s supply of turquoise can be used in its purely natural state for jewelry, as most is soft and crumbly.” (Source 2)

Purists search high and low for natural turquoise, and although it would be wonderful to find non-stabilized turquoise, the culprit to really look out for is reconstituted turquoise. This is a process that involves “grinding pieces of turquoise to a powder and binding it all together with glue or resin.” (Source 2) Though technically made from turquoise particles, we consider it stretching the truth a little too much to call this type of turquoise “natural.”

Magnesite is frequently dyed to imitate many different types of turquoise. The giveaway that it's not the real deal: magnesite is MUCH less expensive than real turquoise. Photo courtesy of Rings & Things.

Magnesite is frequently dyed to imitate many different types of turquoise. One giveaway that it’s not the real deal: magnesite is MUCH less expensive than real turquoise. Photo courtesy of Rings & Things.

However, there are other stones that exist that are 100% synthetic turquoise, but are sometimes sold as the real deal: howlite and magnesite. Although they are real stones, they don’t have a single molecule of genuine turquoise in them. Both respond really well to dye, and both have interesting crevices and matrix patterns (magnesite more so than howlite), so they can make excellent imitations. We don’t feel there is anything wrong with imitation turquoise, as long as both the vendor and the consumer know that it’s imitation. The only way to truly find out if the stone you have is genuine or imitation is to crack one open: if it is super veiny on the outside, and white with a chalky consistency on the inside, chances are it’s dyed magnesite. If it’s less veiny on the outside, and white —  but with a denser consistency — on the inside, the stone is probably dyed howlite. Like the folks at Rings & Things say, vendors “make mistakes, but when we discover we’ve used the wrong description or name we quickly change to the correct one and admit our error.” (Source 3) Certain beads may sometimes slip through the cracks, but 9 times out of 10, we’re confident we’re identifying our turquoise — or our non-turquoise — correctly.

Check out more tips & tricks in identifying beads of different materials:

Part 2 – Amber

Part 3 – Bone
Part 4 – Coral

Source 1: AG Designs
Source 2: Blue Turtles Turquoise Facts
Source 3: Rings & Things Blog (includes tons of even more helpful tips)
Other helpful source: Durango Silver Company (includes a list of different grades of turquoise)