Lost Cities Beads- A Place For the Unique

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Treasures in Silver

This past week we sent out our holiday newsletter that highlighted a handful of things we find to be really special and unique in the store. One thing we highlighted that I think deserves a little more explanation is one of my favorites, the antique bracelets and bangles.

The majority of our antique bracelets and cuffs come from the northwestern state of India called Rajasthan. For centuries Rajasthan has been known as home to some of the best silver workers in the world. Since silver was readily available in the region these bracelets have a high silver content (about 90% silver).

It can be tricky to accurately age these bracelets because the traditional decorative designs used were repeated for centuries. That means that even though the bracelet is only 100 years old, the design can be 600+ years old. The pieces we carry were made in the early-mid 19th century, making the newest pieces over 100 years old.

See that hole at the top? It's common for these bracelets to have screws that fit into both sides of the bracelet making it extra secure around the wearers wrist.

The details on some of these bracelets are amazing! Look at the close up on the end of this bangle. Some people see an intricate design, some people see a face staring back at them!

These cuffs are particularly interesting. These beautifully decorated pieces are made from door panels that had adorned Mughal palaces.

Check out that amazing silver work! Can you imagine and entire door panel made with these stylized peacock designs? Surely palace worthy if you ask me.

Unlike India, Yemen did not have a ready supply of raw silver. Instead, they resorted to melting down coins to cast their pieces (shown above). In fact, you can still see the imprint of an unmelted coin on the center piece of one of these bracelets (below).

Because Yemeni metal smiths were using coin silver, the silver content of these bracelets ended up being about 80% silver. These bracelets were made during the early-mid 19th century, making the newest pieces over 100 years old.

We couldn't forget this little weapon of a bracelet. This bracelet is Burmese and was made by the Shan people during the late 18th to early 19th century. It is unique because the Shan people (who were traveling silversmiths) often catered to other tribal groups making village specific designs, not their own. This bracelet, however, is a reflection of the Shans personal style. Measuring at only 2.5 inches at the widest point this bracelet is looking for a very special person to become it's new owner.

This is just a small representation of what we have available. If you find your self in the area, come in and check them out. See for yourself why we love them so much!

Friday, December 16, 2011

New Shipment of Antique African Amber!

Antique African Amber $9.50 per gram

We've got a whole new strand of the antique African amber beads to share with you today! These beautiful beads are destined to be added into the singles basket along with the rest of our antique Amber beads.

Despite the name, this amber wasn't originally sourced from Africa. The amber rough was found in the Baltic and traded into Africa where it was carved into beads. Unlike Tibetans (who also carved Baltic amber into beads), Africans preferred to carve specific shapes like wheel and square-ish shapes. These beads were generally produced during the 19th century but some pieces can be even older. We sell them by the individual bead so you can pick out the beads that speak to you and make a bracelet or necklace that is truly personal.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Antique Bead Collection: Pema-Raka

Pema Raka, in all it's ancient red-orange glory.

We've got some new additions to our ancient and antique beads case.
These red-orange Pema Raka (also known as Pemma Raka) hail from western Tibet and Sinkiang province and were made into beads prior to 1000 AD. We've had some Pema Raka beads in the past, but they were quite different from these. These are smaller, rounded beads and were particularly used in malas (prayer beads).

Pema Raka (left) and natural red coral (right) both exhibit highly desired red tones. Despite Pema Raka's more red-orange color, it is still prized by the Tibetan people.

The name Pema Raka is believed to have come from the sanskrit words Padma (meaning lotus flower) and Rakta (red or blood) translating to 'blood lotus' or 'red lotus'. These beads are also referred to as 'stone of the right color' (no doubt due to their closeness in color to coral beads). The color red is auspicious in Tibetan culture and considered sacred. Pema Raka has sometimes been referred to as "poor mans coral", but it has been treasured for its own unique qualities that make it an equally collectible bead.

Pema Raka pieces featuring natural "eyes".

For centuries the Tibetan people have used Pema Raka as protection from evil spirits and illness. They were also used as an important ingredient in Tibetan medicine. Some pieces feature natural white banding which can form "eyes" in the stone. These "eyes" are believed to specifically protect the wearer from the evil eye.

Robin is modeling our necklace of Pema Raka hand picked by the owner, Christina. This necklace is on display in the store and could be all yours for $247.

If you'd like to know more about these beads or other ancient Tibetan beads, we encourage you to seek out these books; The Jewelry of Nepal by Hannelore Gabriel and The History of Beads by Lois Sherr Dubin. The first book is no longer in print and maybe be difficult to find (such a shame, it's a beautiful book) but the other two are back in print and would make wonderful additions to any beaders collection. For a quick refresher you can visit our website http://www.lostcitiesbeads.com/ or better yet, come in for a visit! We'd be happy to share our bead knowledge with you!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

New Cubic Zirconia

We've got some great Cubic Zirconia to share with you today! Cubic Zirconia is ideal for jewelry designs. Not only are they wonderfully glittery, but they're also very hard (about an 8.5 on the Mohs hardness scale) making them extremely durable and suitable for everyday wear. And affordable! Can't forget that part.

Check them out!

Faceted Rondelles 4mm, 6mm and 8mm
8mm in clear and black.
6mm in light champagne, medium champagne, black, garnet, ruby, amethyst, olive.
4mm in clear, light champagne, medium champagne, olive, amethyst, and ruby.
3mm in olive, blue, amethyst and ruby.

$31-$41 per 6 inch strand
*Except for the 4mm blue, those bad boys are $62 per 6 inch strand*

Yes, you read right. $62 per strand for those beautiful aquamarine colored CZ's. The reason? To make CZ's in different colors, manufacturers add specific minerals to produce certain colors. To make blue they add erbium and neodymium, minerals that tend to be more rare than the minerals used to make pink, purple, champagne etc.

Tear drops in black, olive, light champagne, dark champagne, ruby, garnet, light amethyst and amethyst.
$35 per 5 inch strand

Ovals in black, clear, light champagne, dark champagne, garnet and olive.
$25 per 6 inch strand

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Red Velvet is back!

And in three great sizes! Red Velvet is without a doubt the most popular color in Chinese crystal we've ever had. It's not hard to see why....it's the perfect red.

Red is historically a difficult color to produce in glass. The origins of red glass are unknown but thought to have been discovered during the production of the Lycurgus Cup made by Roman artisans in the 4th century. Historians believe his technique was accidentally discovered and was not reproduced successfully until the 17th century. In the past, artisans would mix gold and acid (making gold chloride) and add a small amount of the mixture to molten glass. Thankfully, modern artisans can substitute the gold mixture with copper and still produce beautiful reds. With the ever climbing gold prices, can you imagine how expensive red glass would be if we still only used gold chloride?

Perfect for Halloween (even vampires need necklaces) and great for Christmas (admittedly I'm not ready for that just yet...but I know there are some of you early birds out there who are!). We've got them in 6mm, 8mm and 10mm. All are faceted rondelles and range in cost from $6.30-$9.30 per 16 inch strand.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

New Shipment: Large Hole Pearls

Finally! Pearls with PRE-DRILLED large holes! And in such pretty colors! Be still my beading heart.

Bronze, silver and a greenish-peacock.

9mm-10mm, $29-$32 per 16 inch strand

White in a few large sizes.

9mm-11mm, $31-$49 per 16 inch strand

These holes are so large that you can easily string them or knot them on a variety of fun fibers. We've got them on leather, waxed cotton, satin, synthetic suede....so many choices! Sure was fun trying them all out! And we didn't stop at fiber...

...they easily slide onto our sterling silver and gold filled chains as well! What a inexpensive, fast, sweet necklace! I like that they easily move about on the chain, makes for a great worry bead.

The choices are endless....come in and play with us and find the combonation that suits you!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New Treasures: Round Pearls

Pearls are every beader's friend. You can always use some round pearls in your bead stashes. They're just so easy to incorporate into jewelry pieces. Use them as spacers, feature them as the main attraction or knot them on their own. With pearls you really can't lose. True story. Here's whats new to our collection of pearls....

Classic pearly whites in multiple sizes. Accent with pearls or faceted quartz for all your wedding themed pieces.

4mm-6mm, $12-$13 per 16 inch strand

An assortment of fun colors in smaller sizes. Perfect as inexpensive spacers or left alone for a delicate look. I'm really drawn to the pinks on the right side of the quarter. Look closely and you'll notice that each strand has slightly mixed shades of pink and peach!

4mm, $5-$10 per 16 inch strand

Gorgeous large rounds in silvery greys and peacock blues. The luster on these are simply amazing! Pair with gemstones for a simple, yet show stopping knotted strand (I've done garnets with the dark peacock before but you could always play it safe with iolite or aquamarine ;).

10mm, $36 per 16 inch strand

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New Treasures: Nacazari Turquoise

Here's the good news.....we received some amazing, large Nacazari turquoise in our new shipment! The bad news? We're sorry to report that as of this month, the Nacazari Turquoise mine has closed meaning no more new material will be made available in the future.

Nacazari Turquoise Wafers
$179-$228 per 16 inch strand

I don't know about you, but that tid bit of information made me need a strand of this pretty bad. Emphasis on the need.

Since it's only found in one place on earth it was only a matter of time before the source became depleted. Nacozari Turquoise is only found in Sonora, Mexico (south of the Bisbee, Arizona in the same mountain range). Like the Sleeping Beauty Turquoise, this turquoise is desired for it's beautiful blue color and little to no matrix. Some beads contain tiny pyrite inclusions and white spots due to the stone's aluminum content.

In addition to these amazing wafer cut strands we also have some smaller sized beads still available from previous shipments. Check them out here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Treasures: Chinese Turquoise

Our largest shipment of the year has arrived, and for those of you that received our email announcement some of these items may look a little familiar. However, the email only touched on a handful of exciting beads. Let me take you on a more in depth tour on our newest treasures starting with the Chinese turquoise. Stay tuned for more post throughout this week!

Most of you are familiar with popular turquoise mines like Sleeping Beauty, Fox and Nacazari, but did you know that turquoise is also found in China? In fact, turquoise has been actively mined and treasured in China for over three thousand years (remember our Tibetan turquoise?). It occurs in a wide range of color tones and matrix variations....from rich browns to lime greens to sky blues to deep indigo's. Chinese turquoise tends to be more affordable as compared to American mined turquoise because of the abundant supply and low labor costs. Major deposits of turquoise are still found in the Hubei Province. 

Check our the newest additions to our Chinese turquoise collection....

This fabulous one of a kind piece is truly a show stopper. Each bead is hand carved individually into a "melon" shape and graduates in size from an impressive 26mm to a  14mm. Very impressive indeed. This unique strand is $252.

These are one of my favorites from our new turquoise collection! I personally prefer the green turquoise (typical for a redhead!) so it was especially hard to figure out which strand (or three) I couldn't live without. Better come and claim one before I decide that I need all of them.
Green Turquoise Barrels
$28-$106 per 16 inch strand

We also got a handful of the more common silky blue tones of the turquoise barrels. These are just as nice as the green toned turquoise, but we weren't able to get as many so what you see here is what we've got.
Blue Turquoise Barrels
$28-$106 per 16 inch strand

A favorite cut has returned! These flat, tapered nuggets are captivating. Each strand has natural, earthy, multi-color patterns that remind me of watercolor paint washes. The dark brown and black matrix compliment those color "washes" very nicely.
Tapered Turquoise Nuggets
$98-$189 per 16 inch strand 

Lastly, wonderful tear drops in a variety of sizes, drop shapes, and colors. I can't wait to incorporate these in some huge, lush chandelier style earrings!
Tear Drop Turquoise
$8-$30 per 16 inch strand

Stay tuned for the next chapter of our new shipment series....

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New Gold Filled Chain

Looks like we've got a gold theme going on this week when it comes to our new shipments. Safe to say that no one around here is complaining about it.

In addition to our new gold vermeil order, we've got a collection of gold filled chains that range from the very tiny, to the large yet delicate. These are beyond perfect for earrings or delicate necklaces. I've already got a couple ideas!

$6.20-$15.50 per foot.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Time for Gold

Don't you love when you open a box and find this?

Yeah. Us too. Believe it or not, this is how our gold vermeil order comes to us. We send out a giant mixed bag of silver and it comes back as a giant mixed bag of golden pirate treasure. No one here complains about having to organize this gold vermeil wonderfulness. We each get a hefty handful and retreat to our corners to happily divide and conquer. As always, we had a lot of fun things come back, here are a few worth mentioning:

A selection of toggles of all sizes...

...including the glamorously gigantic...

...clasps used in multiple strand designs (yes, even that amazing butterfly!)...

...soldered rings and various connector links...

...two different "Miraculous Metal" rosary stations...
...beads, beads, and more beads...

...and these guys. Remember our wonderful collection of antique Hindu amulets? We selected a handful of the most detailed pieces and sent them off with the rest of the silver. Looks like it was a great idea. As beautiful as the look here, they're 10 times more stunning in person.

Now that the dividing and organizing is all done, the pricing begins. Keep in mind that these are vermeil (a thick, high quality gold plate over silver). Translation? A glowing high karat look at an appealingly low price.

Friday, August 26, 2011

New Gold Vermeil Order

Don't worry, no one saw you reach out to touch the computer screen and try and claim some of this treasure for yourself. Your secret is safe with us.

Details on our new gold vermeil shipment to come. Check back tomorrow, or even better, stop in and claim some for yourself (for real).

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lava, lava, lava!

New Lava beads!

4mm rounds in black and cinnamon brown and 14x10mm ovals in black.
Both styles are only $5 per 16in strand. Yes, only $5!

Lava beads are made from basalt, a kind of stone created during volcanic eruptions. They have a pitted and almost bubbly appearance which adds great texture to any piece. But don't let that pitted appearance fool you, these naturally colored beads have been tumbled smooth and lightly waxed to make them comfortable to wear. They're also very light weight making even the largest pieces comfortable to wear. Check out some other (larger) pieces we have hanging around here from past shipments....

These singles range from $0.50 each to $3.70 each and measure from 11mm to a whooping 50mm!

Come mix and match and create your own lava creation!

Friday, July 22, 2011

New Faceted Gemstone

Fourth of July fireworks have come and gone but we still have sparklers here at Lost Cities! A whole box of new glittery goodies arrived from India last weekend and they are B-E-A-UTIFUL! Here are the highlights from this shipment:

First up, mixed tones of faceted Mystic Quartz rondelles. These are soooo sweet. True to Mystic Quartz form they have a nice shimmery, reflective coat that make them really shine! Besides these multicolor strands we also got some tanzanite color and a clear quartz with a rainbow coating.
Mystic Quartz 3mm (all colors), $31- $41 per 15 inch strand

*Mystic Quartz is top quality quartz that has been treated with a reflective or colorful coating. This treatment is a high tech enhancement, meaning it's a very durable and long lasting treatment (no "painted on" coatings on these!)*

Every time I see these pyrite I get giddy. Personally, I see these as the ultimate spacer. I love the organic yet metallic look these lend to jewelry designs. They seem to add just enough sparkle to tie everything together. In fact, my current obsessive bead combination is faceted grey labradorite, aquamarine and these precious pyrite. It's okay, it can be yours now too. I'm willing to share.
Pyrite 3mm, $28 per 15 inch strand

*These were a bit tricky to photograph. The color is actually
a rich antiqued gold color.*

Here's a little bit more of what came in. Featured on the top is, of course, the lovely pyrite (this is closer to the accurate color), garnets in the middle and amethyst on the bottom. We also got some great faceted crystal quartz and rose quartz rondelles in a variety of sizes (not shown....yet).

Garnets 3mm, $28 per 15 inch strand
Amethyst 4mm, $28 per 15 inch strand
Rose Quartz 3-5mm faceted rondelles $25 per 15 inch strand
Crystal Quartz 3-6mm faceted rondelles $25-28 per 15 inch strand

If you like what you see make sure to stop by soon!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Chrysocolla Focal Beads

Fresh out of the box, large 1-1.5 inch long chrysocolla focal beads. It's very, very rare for us to get chrysocolla anything...which makes these large beads even more special. It's not that we have a problem with loving chrysocolla, it's purely because it is so scarce that it's never available. Well, almost never :). The best news? They're only $3.90-$5.90 each.
Hope you all have a happy and safe holiday weekend. Don't forget that we're open normal hours all weekend including 4th of July and, this is very important, we have air conditioning. See you soon!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

African Beads Part Two: Wedding beads, Discs and More

Continuing from yesterday with our African bead shipment....
Wedding beads!

These beads were made in Czechoslovakia and traded into West Africa. The larger pieces were made between 1880 and 1930, while the smaller pieces were made between 1930-1950. We've had the larger wedding beads before, but those sweet smaller pieces are a new treat! I can confidently say that those little guys are every one's favorite from this shipment (and f.y.i., they're going FAST). An entire strand runs you $109 (both sizes) while singles are $1.50 each for the large, and $0.65 each for the small.

Next we've got coconut and vinyl disc heshis. That's right, I said vinyl disc and coconut. If you're like me, you're going to need at least three of each. Seriously, these are such cool skinny spacers. Every strand is wildly different from the other and at $11 per strand...you know you need some (or three).

Lastly, we've got rustic silver tone base metal barrels (pre-strung into prayer malas) and two shapes of bone. The metal barrels are $22 per strand and the bone are $13 per strand.

Unfortunately, that's the end of our African shipment of bead happiness. Fortunately, we've got another shipment of bead happiness on it's way here. Stay tuned for some sparkly goodness to grace this page very soon....