How to Choose Quality Gemstone Beads

Gemstones have always been valued for their beauty and charm. Different types of materials have been used throughout history to fashion the beads we love, but nothing tops the prized gemstones. If you’re looking to pick up a few new pieces of jewelry or planning to design and make your own, the gemstone beads should be near the top of your list.

What’s Available

Gemstone beads are produced in different sizes and shapes, and their vast array of colors make them the top choice for most jewelry artisans. When choosing beads, you’ll find a wide price range between the different types of stones, so it pays to keep your budget in your mind.



It is important to remember that gemstone beads are supposed to be refined and sophisticated. There are variations in stones that will fit just about any budget, from the truly expensive to the bargain basement price.

You can buy gemstone beads in huge quantities online but you have to remember that doing this puts you in a position of buying a product sight-unseen. That opens the door to the possibility of a disappointing sale if you’re not satisfied with the quality of the beads you get. There are a few tips you can follow to make certain you’re getting the best quality gemstone for your money when you’re buying online.


Shop around for prices. Most reputable gemstone dealers will offer their product for sale at comparable prices. If a dealer is offering gemstone beads that normally are on the more expensive side at a ridiculously reduced price, there may be a good possibility that the beads are not of a good quality.

The other extreme can also be an indication of a problem. If a dealer is offering a strand of beads at a greatly elevated price when compared to others, there may be something amiss.

What You See and What You Get

When shopping for quality stones, remember that the pictures displayed online may not be a true representation of what you receive when you make a purchase. There may be a marked difference in color or the size may be vastly different from what you’re expecting.

With the advent of digital photography, we get very crisp and clear close-up views of gemstone dealers’ products. Your own computer monitor size and resolution could alter the aspect and color of the item you’re seeing, however.



It is sometimes difficult to discern scale when looking at a picture online. Most semi-precious gemstones are measured in millimeters (mm), and this information is generally readily available in any listing. If you’re not certain of metric system sizes, it may pay to have examples of the various sizes on hand for comparison. This way, if the listing states the bead is 5 mm, you’ll have something at hand that is 5 mm for reference. If you’re not certain about the size or color, ask the dealer for additional information or clarification.

If the gemstone beads have been treated, it should state this in the listing. Stones that are not treated, meaning they remain in their natural state, can be extremely beautiful, and they usually have a pretty price tag to go with that. Remember, however, that some treatments, such as the application of heat, are common practices that have been done for centuries.

Some treatments may improve the looks of a stone but there may be a danger that the treatment will wear off. Dyeing a stone can enhance the color, change the color completely, disguise a flaw or make one stone mimic another. Relatively inexpensive white “howlite” dyed robin’s egg blue to mimic much higher priced turquoise is a good example.

If a stone or string of beads is not specifically listed as natural or genuine, there is a possibility that it has been enhanced in some way. If the listing states that the stone has been treated in a manner that is unfamiliar to you, ask the seller to clarify for you. A reputable dealer will welcome questions from customers and relish the opportunity to brag about the quality of his or her product.

Money-Back Guarantee

Money-back guarantee – the magic words. If you are working with a reputable dealer who takes his or her business seriously enough to guarantee the product, you can probably rest easy that you’ll be getting quality gemstones when you make a purchase.



Check the seller’s website. If there is not a section on returns and refunds/exchanges, you may need to consider looking around a bit more before making that important purchase.