I’m happy to be a part of the Homefront Team’s bloggers!
I’m a jewelry designer, fairly new at this, and decided to focus on various resources that I’ve found over the past few years. When I say I found them, it’s not necessarily that I looked under every rock to discover these resources, but I have spent many red-eyed nights scavenging the internet, and clicking and clicking and looking and looking - I’m sure lots of you know what I mean!! First, let me say that I felt compelled to write about this topic because of a certain “non-conversation” I had with a fellow Etsy member about 9 months ago. Since I was relatively new to the Etsy world and still getting my bearings on the forums, teams…oh, and the quad-rillion other jewelry designers also selling their wares, I happened upon this specific jewelry designers shop, located in New Mexico, and began clicking away, honestly admiring her collection and getting inspired…not only at the various components she used, but also by the prices she was posting and SELLING!
Well, sure enough, her shop also listed her blog address, so I clicked on that and began to read her entries, which on occasion included comments about her visit to her favorite local bead shop!
So, I’m reading and clicking, and reading some more and clicking some more, wondering if this local bead shop she constantly referred to is the MECCA of all bead shops - based on the styles and unusual stones she was designing with. So, being the inquisitive person that I am, I decided to send her a “convo” on Etsy and graciously ask her what was the name of this shop? I offered that I was a new Etsy member, had honestly admired her work as a fellow jewelry designer, had enjoyed reading her blog, and it was there that I noticed her comments about the local bead shop - and wondered if she would give me the shop’s website or phone number so I inquire as to wholesale pricing, catalogs, etc.
Ok - so I did it; I sent the request, and sure enough, she never responded! That totally blew me away - not in a good way, but in a very confused, ill-feeling manner. I thought, was it something I said? I mean, I had actually contacted other Etsy artisans to ask for their resources, and NEVER did I receive a cold shoulder or a refusal to share their knowledge of the bead, gemstone, pearl & component world, as well as also receiving excellent jewelry-making tips.
So I figured it had to be one of two situations -- either her blog entries were not technically true, that this fabulous bead shop didn’t exist, or it did exist and she apparently was not willing to share this resource - and that in and of itself I thought does not do the jewelry designer’s world any good - I mean, wouldn’t she have wanted her favorite local bead shop to prosper & welcome more customers? Surely, she could not have been their only customer, right?
And that brings me to this article --- we are military spouses, we share everything --- the best hair stylist in a new town, the only place to take your car when your husband is deployed, the only place to register your kids for daycare, the only person to talk to in the housing office, etc., etc.! We network very well, and in some instances, we certainly could do better - but we are usually full of resources and are quick to help somebody out.
So, I thought I could pay it forward to those in the jewelry designer world - the little bit of knowledge I have from the thousands of late night hours I have spent online trying to find my own MECCA! While there are more and more websites popping up daily, these seem to be the ones I go back to over and over again, and are pretty user-friendly:
http://www.gemmall.com/ - I stumbled upon this place over two years ago, and thought it was a pretty good supplier, and had placed a few orders but not on any specific repeat order. Then I discovered last year that had I entered my name and wholesale number, I also then qualified for discount pricing! Ok, didn’t know that and was then VERY happy because even though the pricing was somewhat good prior to that, it was now even much better! And, no minimum!
http://www.limabeads.com/ - Great source for gemstones, and just within the last year, they have added Vintaj and Green Girl Studios brands to their inventory (at normal retail prices). Once you register as a customer, you receive emails that allow discounts on your next purchase; no minimum required; and they also offer half strands which helps when you’re on a budget.
http://www.earthbazaar.com/ - ok- this site specializes in faceted, high quality gemstones, briolette & teardrop shapes, etc. I only purchase though when they send our their email offering their Deal of the Week promotions.
http://www.bluemud.com/ - this is an excellent source for Swarovski, sterling charms, sterling alphabet letters, sterling charms, etc. They have no minimum purchase - and the shipping is only $1.95 - this is one I use to quickly purchase a handful of Swarovski, or a smaller supply of sterling without breaking the bank. Oh and I don’t know how they do this, but my package almost arrives the next day! Who doesn’t’ love that?
http://www.halsteadbead.com/ - about my only source for sterling wire, chain, and larger sterling orders - they have LOTS - and that also includes pewter, copper, gold filled, etc. They are a wholesale company, minimum order of $100, but if you budget the right way, you will save money in the long run. Very user friendly, and they have coded items that are being discontinued or new, as well as an area when you can save the info of the items you usually purchase.
http://www.purebeads.com/ - this is a really nice website specializing in Czech beads - the gentleman who owns this shop seems to be a very honest, hard-working guy. I appreciate his descriptions and pricing; he will tell you the honest truth about the beads, and will discount them when he feels they are irregular or the colors don’t match exactly, etc. If you sign up as a customer, you will receive updates on new stock, etc.
http://www.guyotbros.com/ - this is a manufacturer of raw brass components. Yes, they are the big daddy of where to get your brass filigree, dragonfly, sparrows, links, etc. The deal is you have to purchase 1 gross per item minimum. But, when you consider the wholesale cost of raw brass, and what you might currently be paying from other sites, I still think it’s worth purchasing from Guyot. Consider going in with another jewelry designer and you can split your order and each get the components you want. And there are various websites that can tell you how to age brass. I have used household ammonia, and liver of sulphur.
http://www.grecoleather.com/ - Greek leather cording (the best product for jewelry making); small minimum order required - great selection & very fast shipping.
http://www.brightlingsbeads.com/ - their site sells items similar to Fusion beads, but I specifically enjoy their lampwork selection - very different - and great bargain. Also, great pricing on silk cording. No minimum, and when you sign up, you get emails offering discounts, etc.
http://www.conniefox.com/ - this site is fairly new to me, but it offers the popular design stamps at the cheapest price I have seen online, as well as the sterling, copper and brass blanks use for stamping, tools & tutorials.
Hize Silver and Twinklehut shops on Ebay - they are excellent sources for Thai silver; no minimums, and free shipping @ Hize Silver when you order 7 items, which is easy to do when you need to stock up!
Well, I guess I could really go on and on, but I tried to include a cross-section of various jewelry making sites. If you really are looking for a specific bead or component, you can certainly contact me (www.themadisongallery.etsy.com) and I will try to help! In the meantime, I hope you get a chance to browse these shops and tell me what you think - and if you also have a great source you’re willing to share, please pay it forward! I promise it will make you smile when you do!
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