Reported by Maria Del Pinto
I just visited the Gem Faire at the Costa Mesa Fairgrounds in California. The gem show provides a great opportunity to find a vast selection of beads, findings and other materials all in one location. They do not allow photography inside the show, so I will just share a bit of what you will find at this particular show.
The key to shopping at a Gem Show is to know your prices and be familiar with the quality of stones you are looking for. Assume nothing and ask a lot of questions before making a purchase, just to be sure you are buying what you really want. I find that it helps to make a list of the beads, chains, findings, gems, and stones I need to purchase before attending the show.
I also recommend checking with online gem stores to get familiar with pricing for the particular types of beads and stones that you are looking for. I like to check out at least a few of the vendors before I commit to a purchase. I have often found that prices will vary from row to row and it has not hurt me to be patient. The exception to this rule is “one of kind” and trendy pieces.
For example, at this particular show, I was on the look out for some cool “evil eye” beads for a design I had in mind. Unfortunately, they were sold out in minutes before I could even get to the front of the line. Next time I will get there earlier.
This show offered a vast selection of beads in a variety of sizes, colors, and designs. I bought a hank of 8mm glass beads (see above photo) in assorted colors. I love to keep plenty of glass beads on hand to use for spacers in jewelry designs and on altered art pieces (they are easy to attach with head pins).
Occasionally I find something that is not on my list that is just to cool to pass up. I bought a hank (above photo) of skull beads to craft with. I know I can make something fun to make with them.
At another vendor, I did find some great Millefiori pieces (see above photo) at an amazing price. The chips and focal pieces will look really cool mixed with stones and beads.
Another fun find was the cats eye beads (see photo above) which great to use with recycled jewelry pieces, felted beads, and polymer clay designs. I like the way the light bounces off these beads and have found they are great accents to various projects.
There were also plenty of precious stone vendors, natural mined pieces, and other more valuable items to be found at this show. It is eye candy for the jewelry designer. As for me, I was there for findings, spacers, chains, beads, and other smaller purchases that could be used with some of re-constructed jewelry pieces I am working on.
Some of the vendors do offer classes at this show. There was a wire wrapping class, beading class, and many others. The classes change at each show and folks need to get on the mailing lists of the various vendors to find out the specifics on each class.
Overall, this is a great show to see, touch, and buy jewelry making supplies. I would recommend getting onto their mailing list so that you can have the mailer and money saving coupons sent to you. The mailer offers a free “Friday” ticket that will let you in the rest of the weekend if you need to return to buy more supplies.
The Gem Faire in Del Mar, CA, continues on Sunday, March 6th, for those in the area. Here’s a link for a 2-for-1 Admission Ticket coupon.
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Maria Del Pinto
I have been crafting since I was a child and I love seeing what others create. I live near the beach so everything around me inspires me. I also enjoy activities where I re-purpose something old & discarded & make it into something cool. My favorite mantra is "Re-use, recycle, and re-make".
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