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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.


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zinciteIn this example by Desert Light Creations (from*), you see just above and to the left of the exquisite Labradorite cabochon, a beautiful piece of Zincite (the orange-colored piece).  Zincite is an amazing stone for many reasons.  It is the mineral form of zinc oxide, and its crystal form is rare in nature.  The rich color actually depends on the presence of impurities.  It can be created artificially, and was at one time actually created 'accidentally' in the smoke stack of a manufacturing facility of zinc-based paint in Poland!  The story goes that the Zinc Oxide and Zinc became gaseous due to some undetermined error in the commercial production process.  The gaseous material then combined with oxygen and cooled, forming brightly colored, mostly orange, red and yellow crystals within the smoke stack. Those who now manufacture Zincite deliberately produce it in colors of dark red, orange, yellow, and light green.

As you can see, Zincite is generally brightly colored and has a high dispersion ('dispersion' refers to the stone's 'fire', in other words -- the way gemstones flash spectral colors as the stone is turned in the light).  It is like diamond in this regard, though it is a much softer stone than diamond, so much so that it is best used in pendants, pins and earrings, rather than in rings where it is more vulnerable to damage.

Both natural and synthetic zincite crystals werre used as semiconductor crystal detectors during the time of those early 'crystal radios', even before the use of vacuum tubes.  In the 1900's, crystal radios were sold by the millions, and the fact that it was so available to the public contributed to the development of radio entertainment by the 1920's. This would not have been possible, had Karl Braun not discovered (in the late 1800's) the ability of such crystals to generate direct current for use as a source of power.
Now to the theories regarding its spiritual qualities.  Perhaps it is no accident that in addition to Zincite's ability to direct electrical current, it is said to be 'one of the really strong stones', one that even those who normally are not able to 'feel' crystal energies can feel.  The belief is that this crystal stimulates the life force, creativity, sexuality, and personal power associated with the lower Chakras -- and moves those energies upward to link them with the upper Chakras.  Zincite is thought to be an incredible tool for revitalizing one's life, by instilling awareness of one's personal power and igniting a sense of enthusiasm and fun.  Some also believe that it inspires courage, passion, creativity, and the general enjoyment of life.
Whether or not you embrace the idea that stones have 'power' and 'spirit' aspects, it is clear that Zincite is one of the most fascinating gemstones.  It is not difficult to find on the market, and is found in gorgeous specimens of cut and faceted stone, ready for setting, wire-wrapping, or other applications.  As you explore this and the rest of the world of beading and jewelry-making, don't forget to look over our own wonderful set of gems, charms and pendants at The Bead Collection, and also at its sister Etsy site:

*The E-Bay-type (online) market specifically for crafters/small business owners like the jewelry designers and beaders I'm often thinking of when I write posts for this blog.


+1 # Hope Kiah 2012-12-12 19:34
This piece is incredibly beautiful. I love your choices.
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