Sterling Silver Kokopelli Charm bracelet, with Ocean Jasper, Turqouise and Red Jasper by
Sterling Silver Kokopelli Charm bracelet, with Ocean Jasper, Turquoise and Red Jasper by

Sometimes I am gifted with a charm or some precious stone/bead form a loved one. On those occasions like this one, I choose to use that gift opportunity to design something from my ‘odd’ bead pile for myself.

What exactly is an odd bead pile, and why should every prodigious bead jeweler have one?  When buying stock for your shop, you will usually come across beads included in your order that don’t quite fit the project you are working on, or have too many ‘character flaws’ to be useful.

A gemstone or bead character flaw that contributes to its addition to the ‘odd bead’ pile is as follows:

1. Not the same size or finish as the rest of the beads in the lot. This makes that ‘odd’ bead stick out all the more.

2. Too many natural inclusions or pock marks in the stone. This can make the stone photograph poorly. Even if it is a sturdy stone, a picture could make it look as if it will break at any moment. Or, in the case of large pockets of rough pits on the stone, most likely will break.

3. Not enough of the main stone material clearly displayed in the stone. For example in the above bracelet I used faceted round red jasper beads that have too much clear quartz in them to be used as ‘red jasper’. They are mostly colorless with only a small spot of the red jasper color. This is my ‘personal’ quality control. I feel if a buyer is entrusting me as a seller to deliver a specific stone, it really needs to be that stone, and a good show of the stone as well. Certainly if every seller did this, I wouldn’t have such a large amount of unsalable stones.

4. Mis-shaped bead. If you are matching this is an issue.

5. Wrong bead hole size for current project. Sadly this happens a lot and something every beader needs to really watch out for.

6. Misplaced bead hole. Especially when working with natural gemstone beads, some bead holes will not be drilled in the optimum location or angle. This can make the bead lay awkwardly or even worse, breakable and destroy your metalwire, string, line, or make the actual bead very susceptible to breakage. Gemstone chips, or any cut other than round can be notorious for this.

7. Entirely wrong gemstone. Just because you ordered Green aventurine beads, doesn’t mean that’s what you’ll get on the whole string. Anything else could be included. And I mean anything depending on the quality of your distributor. Know your stones! This will help immensely.

8. Lastly, all those extra solo beads that didn’t make it into whatever project they were initially designed or purchased for, due to such reasons as jewelry sizing or odd counts of symmetry.

In all honesty, some of the most interesting beads end up in that ‘odd bead’ stash. Personally I love the character that those odd beads show, and as a jeweler who can fix anything that doesn’t hold up to the durability test, I don’t mind taking those chances on myself.

In the shop however, is not the place to make those risks. Bead sorting is an essential component to extend your reputation as a reliable jeweler and shop owner. Like my previous post on the importance of testing your pieces, this is also an integrity as a designer and seller issue.

So who is Kokopelli anyways?- “flute player, mythical Hopi symbol of fertility,replenishment, music, dance, and mischief” Seems a pretty perfect totem for this gal, and along with those ‘interesting character filled odd beads’… an OOAK design fit to be worn 🙂

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