Win a $25 Gift Voucher!

Subscribe! 1 winner/month

Socialize with Us!

Socialize with Us! Google Plus Follow us on Twitter

Share this Page

Submit to DeliciousSubmit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to StumbleuponSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn


Buy our Beads on Etsy


Top-100 Award

Bead blog top 100

Bead of the Week

red agateJust perfect for your Halloween creations -- these Red Agate Evil Eye beads are of stone that was formed from layers of silica from volcanic cavities. Agate is named after the Achates River (now known as the Dirillo River) on the island of Sicily, Italy, whose upper waters were an ancient source of this gemstone. Each strand offered here has 16 round faceted beads, with colors ranging from red to amber, as shown. Each bead is approx. 10 mm. with an approx. 2 mm. hole. Each strand is $10, but for a limited time, take 10% off with the code HALLOWEEN at checkout.


Search This Site


Opal Cab Set 5So today I used the phrase 'top shelf' to describe the beautiful natural gems shown here, a new acquisition of ours that's just waiting for the right metalsmith/jewelry artisan to do something amazing with it. Then I realized that even though I've been exposed to this term in the jewelry business, I didn't know exactly what it meant. Leaving aside the fact that this phrase is also used for some very shady stuff (apparently and unfortunately, it's also a term for unsavory nudie magazines kept on the 'top shelf' and out of immediate view),  this is otherwise a really cool term that means the gemstones are of the finest quality. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA), where I trained in the identification and evaluation of colored stones, uses a Colored Stone Grading System to grade gemstones.  GIA also teaches you to distinguish between natural gems and synthetics, and how to detect synthetic treatments of gems.

Analysis factors include color, geographic origin, chemical and crystal structure, clarity, rarity, transparency, shape, cut, dimensions, and weight. (If you want to know more about GIA, check out their web site:   It is an incredible organization!

Anyway, when all or most of the 'characteristic' factors are taken into account (color, clarity, transparency, etc.), and when the highest standards are exhibited in a natural gemstone, it is justifiably referred to as 'top shelf'. I had a little more fun with this topic when looking into what Webster's says is the definition of this phrase. And here I share with you:

A-OK, A1, Awesome, Bang-up, Banner, Beautiful, Blue-chip, Blue-ribbon, Boffo, Bonny, Capital, Choice, Classic, Cool, Crackerjack, Dandy, Divine, Dynamite, Fab, Fabulous, Fantabulous, Fantastic, Fine, First-Class, First-rate, Five-star, Grand, Great, Groovy, Heavenly, High-class, Hot, Immense, Jim-Dandy, Keen, Lovely, Marveous, Neat, Nifty, Noble, Number One (Also No. 1), Numero Uno, Out-Of-Sight, Par Excellence, Peachy, Peachy Keen, Prime, Primo, Prizewinning, Quality, Righteous, Sensational, Slick, Splendid, Stellar, Sterling, Superb, Superior, Superlative, Swell, Terrific,  Tip-Top, Top, Top-Flight, Top-Notch, Top-of-the-line, Unsurpassed, Wonderful.

Now, If you need a little deeper understanding, these are things that Top-Shelf are NOT:

Acceptable, Adequate, All Right, Decent, Good, OK (or Okay), Passable, Satisfactory, Tolerable, Standard.

And Top-Shelf gems are especially NOT (according to Webster's list of antonyms for 'Top Shelf'):

Atrocious, Awful, Lousy, Pathetic, Poor, Rotten, Terrible, Vile, or Wretched.

Now having said that, I hope you agree that The Bead ONLY offers the most A-OK, Peachy, Top-Notch, Righteous and Sensational (Top Shelf) beads and pendants. And yes, we have seen many jewelry supplies both online and in stores that are truly Wretched, Atrocious and Awful, and we vow to never deal in such goods.

I hope you think this post was really Boffo, because I enjoyed writing it. Until next week, when I think of something Holiday-related to talk about, may you have a Jim-Dandy, Fab & Swell week, and keep the cards and letters coming! (We especially appreciate responses to blog posts right on this web site -- hit the 'Ad New Comment' link below the post and follow instructions, and/or 'Reply' to others who comment.)

If you enjoyed this post, you also might enjoy a prevous post on this site: 'A Survey From Shannon'.


Copyright © 2018 The Bead Collection. All Rights Reserved.