Where do I find my stones?
I aim to bring my customers the best product at an affordable price, and to do so requires time and effort. Thankfully, over the years I have developed relationships with vendors - some which have their own stone cutting facilities - so I am able to ensure that the product is top notch.
When I am looking to make a purchase from a supplier, there are several factors I take into consideration:
Quality of the stones. I like to inspect how the holes were drilled, and ensure that they are even and clean. I also check to see if the integrity of the stone has been compromised in any way. Even with a good strand, I still tend to discard 5% to 10% of the stones, because there are always a few that don't meet these standards. I also like to look at the richness of the color and the sharpness and complexity of the cut. Sometimes vendors sell stones that are not authentic and I keep an eye out for any misrepresentation.
Value. Every once in a while I see strand that is offered at a price I can't refuse. The beautiful sunstone and Peruvian opal stones used in the Sunstone and Rainbow Opal Necklace are an example of a special find. There are some stones that tend to fluctuate in price with market demand, for example turquoise, so I like to keep an eye on price trajectory. If I feel that a particular stone is no longer a good value, I find another stone to include in my collection. I also comparison shop on most of the purchases I make. Even when I attend gem shows, I do a walk around to get a feel for what is offered and the prices before I chose to purchase from a supplier. This includes shopping from my tried and true gem show suppliers; I still search my go-to online wholesalers while shopping with my favorite vendors to ensure the price and quality is comparable.
Vendor relationships. I have a few go-to vendors that I have purchased from many times, with some of these relationships going back 12 years. I know that their prices are fair and the quality is excellent, and they know my preferences. I can rest assured that if I have a problem with their product that they will resolve it.
Recently I have begun to work with stones cutters for custom work. For example, I started working with a partner
in the Dominican Republic to have Larimar cut into unique shapes. The rest of the gemstones that I buy are cut in India, even though they are mined from around the world.