Daily Wire Tip April 12: How Do I Identify Unlabeled Stones and Beads?

By on April 12, 2010
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip
April 12, 2010


In keeping with the “full disclosure to our customers” theme, do you know of a good resource to help me correctly identify all the unlabeled stones, beads, cabs, etc. that I have collected over time? A good gems and minerals library of sorts, where I could plug in what I see and it tells me what I have?


I’m not sure that there is such a search engine or site available that could actually do that, but it would be an amazing thing! Some of my students keep old jewelry supply and bead catalogues around just for the pictures that can help them ID some of their unlabeled treasures. Wire-Sculpture is currently in the process of putting the finishing touches on our upcoming and brand new ‘Gemstone Glossary’, so stay tuned and maybe you’ll be able to figure out and then label those cool supplies.

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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  1. avatar

    Harriet Warkel

    April 12, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    The problem with glossaries is that they can’t possibly refect all the differ manifestations of a stone. Jasper and agate come in so many different colors and styles that it’s almost impossible to know what you have. Even dealers often misidentify what they sell and then I pass this off to my customers. There has to be a way to solve this problem.

  2. avatar

    Yvonne Bernier

    April 12, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    There are a lot of very good books which can help identify different stones, one of them is Melody, she now has a book that you use with the first one. The first one has no pictures but the one that goes with it is called “Love is in the Earth Mineraligical Pictorial” It has all the pictures that are in “Melody`s Love is in the Earth” Wonderful set of books, I use them all the time.

  3. avatar


    April 12, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    ….the next problem is that sometimes beads/stones are shipped under one identification and you do some research and find out that some have many names or have been mis-identified by the company shipping them…. I try to keep everything in the original bag with the label on it, or keep a multitude of zip lock baggies and put the label, invoice, beads … everything in one baggie. The last resort is to spend a really anal day of sorting and labeling, tiresome and mind boggling, but worth it. I always discover some gorgeous bead or stone that I swear I have never seen before.

  4. avatar

    Nina Christen

    April 12, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    I have found a web site that identifies and explains what the stone/mineral consists of etc. This might be helpful in identifying some of your stones. It doesn’t cost anything but your time. This site is very interesting to me, maybe you will like it too. Here is the site http://www.galleries.com/history.htm
    Good luck.

  5. avatar


    April 13, 2010 at 6:19 am

    I keep my stones in those nuts and bolts storage cabinets and try to keep them sorted by type of stone, then cut. I also keep a sharpy marker with me to write the name on a tag before I bring them home. I also label finished pieces with stone contents.

  6. avatar

    Nina Christen

    April 13, 2010 at 11:01 am

    I agree with all that has been said. I have several books on gemstones/minerals and read through them when I have time to sit and do that. It gives me another resource for identification. The easiest way for me to keep track of what I have in my stash is to run off a label identifying the stones when I receive them. Put them in a container and label the section where the stone lays with its name etc. The labels would also adhere to a plastic bag. The invoices I receive are put into an alphabetized file box (under company name). That way I can compare prices etc. or reorder an item. As stated above sometimes you order stones relying on the description provided and find the same stone with another description elsewhere. Finding a reliable, trustworthy, source is the best way to be assured of getting what is described. Making beautiful jewelry is much more involved than just designing a piece. When I sell a piece I want to be absolutely sure my customer is getting exactly what the piece is described as.

  7. avatar

    pat austin

    April 15, 2010 at 7:47 am

    the only way i know how to identify stones is the refratomer. and you can also use it for cab. i know that it is hard to find a book that will have the pictures of all the stones. i get a parcel of cabs. and i may know what 5 stones out of 20 are. and i get upset that i cant tell what they are. and i go and buy all these books and then there are no picture of the one i have. the problem i think is what the host rock looks like then they cut it open and the center and all the way to the end is a little different with each cut. so if any one even dale maybe you could take pictures of host rocks you have and know the names to. and put them in a book or dvd.