I am a huge advocate for shopping local and buying from UK businesses, I also prefer to source my gemstones in the flesh so the last year or so I’ve really struggled to find interesting stones, beads in particular.
Rock and gem shows which take place all over the country are my favourite place to shop as there are 20-30 suppliers all in one place, you can compare quality and prices before you buy as well as meeting the suppliers. I tend to go round the show once trying not to fall in love at first sight with the pretty rocks, then I’ll go round again and make some considered purchases. I’ll always ask where the stones come from and if they’ve been responsibly sourced. Mostly I choose stones and beads just because I like them and think they’re interesting, I don’t normally have designs in mind already so I often have them for quite a while before inspiration hits, but occasionally I’ll see something and instantly know what I’ll do with it.
There is also a lovely shop not too far from me in Exeter called Monty’s beads, where I buy quite a few beads and stones, as well as other supplies. They always have good quality gems and are very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable, you can even join one of their workshops to make your own jewellery. It amazes me how helpful people in the jewellery industry are with other makers, there is a real community spirit and most are willing to share tips and advice.
During the last year while shops have been closed and there’s been no gem fairs I’ve had to learn to take a risk and buy online, I have found some beautiful stones I wouldn’t have found locally and found some trusted suppliers as well as making a few buying blunders. Like most people I’ve found internet shopping far too easy lately, somehow it doesn’t compute that I have made so many purchases until the credit card bill comes!
MY FAVOURITE GEMSTONES
- Lapis Lazuli