One of my very favorite beads is goldstone. I love the way goldstone beads shimmer and glitter in the sun! But, did you know that goldstone has no gold in it and it's not even a stone? I didn't, until one day when I stumbled across the way it is made while trying to find out the reason for the wide disparity in prices that I see.
Goldstone is actually a man-made glass! It is made from silica, copper oxide, and other metal oxides, which is heated, allowed to crystallize, and then cooled. It is during the heating process that the metallic copper crystals are formed. Once it is cooled, it can then be carved into beads or other shapes, and polished.
There are also blue, green, and purple varieties of goldstone. These are made with other metals, usually chromium, cobalt, or manganese.
And, as I suspected, there are definitely differences in quality! Most obvious is the talent of the person making the glass. Goldstone is not easy to make. It has to be heated to just the right temperature, with low oxidation, in order to form properly. The copper crystals have to grow to the right size without falling to the bottom of the crucible. If too much oxygen is used while heating, the copper can take on a greenish tinge. If the hot glass is not kept at the correct temperature, the copper crystals can melt. During the cooling stage, it must be cooled in a low-oxygen environment, and very slowly, so that the copper crystals remain evenly distributed and it does not crack. So, you can see all the difficulty.
Once it has crystallized and cooled, it comes out of the vat in a large mass. The outer layers of a batch tend to have duller colors, larger or non-reflective particles, and a more opaque-looking glass. These outer layers, as well as glass that has not been made properly through one or more steps of the process, are more than likely the reason why you will find some goldstone that is less expensive than others.
For these reasons, I always make sure I am buying high quality goldstone. I want a translucent glass that does not have too little, or too much, glitter. I want to be sure that it has been polished smooth, and has no inclusions. A quality bead makes a quality piece of jewelry. One that you will be proud to wear for years and years. So always make sure that you buy goldstone either in person or, if on-line, from a trusted seller.
+ Goldstone's associated elements are earth and fire, its associated planet is Jupiter, and its associated zodiac sign is Sagitarrius. (Hey, I'm a Sag!)
+ It is said that goldstone will attract fame and prosperity.
+ Some think that the copper suspended in goldstone strengthens the bones and circulatory system, and eases arthritis pain.
+ Goldstone is believed by some to have properties that ward off stress.