Mom's birthday is going to rock.
September 21, 2008 6:35 PM   Subscribe

Mom's birthday filter: Mom is suddenly all about beading and gems and rocks. Any ideas for a cool, "every-rock-necklace-making-beading-enthusiast-should-have-this-___" present?

Mom already has a lamp with a magnifying glass, a box, and a taste for "cool-looking rocks." She goes to gem shows.

I was wondering if you all knew of any cool books or resources where I might find something that would surprise her.
posted by metajc to Shopping (18 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
If you search for "parcel" on ebay (gemologist word for "lot"), lots of weird mixed lots of assorted cut stones come up. Maybe a little treasure chest filled with a mystery assortment would float her boat.
posted by abirae at 6:54 PM on September 21, 2008

Best answer: A rock tumbler?

If her hobby is like any other hobby -- she will need more stock material (necklaces, storage items, assembly items). You could nose around and see what she is in need of.

If those ideas fail -- perhaps there is a gem collectors forum?
posted by SirStan at 6:54 PM on September 21, 2008

Tools are always useful. Jewelers use about a zillion different types of pliers, for starters, and even if she loses her enthusiasm for the hobby it's always handy to have a zillion different types of pliers around the house.
posted by Quietgal at 7:29 PM on September 21, 2008

Yeah, I'll second nice tools, or perhaps some silver wire.
posted by princelyfox at 7:35 PM on September 21, 2008

As far as specific tools go, how about a Dremel drill with a 1 or 2mm diamond tipped drill bit? This might be particularly good with a tumbler so she can make beads out of any rocks, minerals or glass she finds.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 7:46 PM on September 21, 2008

Best answer: Gift certificate to Fire Mountain Gems. They also have a lot of distinctive findings and such that most bead stores (that I've been to, anyway) don't have.

Of course, I'm going to guess she already knows about Fire Mountain Gems.
posted by darksong at 7:51 PM on September 21, 2008

Fire Mountain is good for gemstone beads (they have a TON), and Art Beads is good for wire and findings (clasps, end caps, crimps, etc).

Any of this stuff would be nice:

20- and 24-gauge wire (sterling if she's experienced, copper if she's not, since copper's cheaper for practicing)
Flat-nosed pliers
Round-nosed pliers
Wire cutters
Jump rings and/or split rings
Beading wire or string (should be pretty thin, but I did wire wrap instead of stringing so I'm not sure exactly what you should get, maybe Accu-Flex?)
End caps or crimp beads if she's going to do stringing

If all this sounds too complicated for you, a gift certificate might be the way to go, but you can give her this list if she's not sure what to buy with it.
posted by bluishorange at 8:12 PM on September 21, 2008

Best answer: I'd second the Fire Mountain Gems gift certificate, or a Rio Grande catalog and gift certificate.

A subscription to a jewellery mag might be nice as well - Ms. Zamboni likes Art Jewelry, but it's oriented more towards the PMC arty crowd.
posted by zamboni at 8:36 PM on September 21, 2008

If there's a rock shop in her area, a gift certificate from there would also work.
posted by zamboni at 8:38 PM on September 21, 2008

Beading shops often offer classes on specific techniques; perhaps if there's a beading shop near her, you could pay for her to attend a class?
posted by pluckemin at 8:44 PM on September 21, 2008

Best answer: Is she more of a collector, or more of a beader? Also, how much do you want to spend? If she's seriously into jewelry-making, beading, and wirework, she'd probably love a pair of Lindstrom pliers or cutters--they're expensive, but widely considered to be the best. Silver is cheaper right now than it's been in a while. If she uses a flex-shaft, drill bits are always useful. Maybe she'd like a subscription to Lapidary Journal. Definitely get her a Rio Grande catalog.

If she's more of a rockhound, you could always hunt around for amazing specimens and cabochons. I like tektites. Pietersite. Fire agate. Phantom quartz. Seraphinite. Charoite. Boulder opals. Ammolites. Agatized fossils. Druzy. Larimar.

As far as gift certificates go, I tend to prefer places like Thunderbird Supply to Fire Mountain Gems. The prices are better, especially for metals, because Thunderbird prices according to the metal market on the day you order, instead of a set price.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 8:49 PM on September 21, 2008

Ooo, I borked that last mineral link. Larimar!
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 8:52 PM on September 21, 2008

Best answer: Perhaps a silver focal bead from Anne Choi, if she's looking to branch out from gems and beads? They're cool, if a little spendy. Or maybe a book on a related topic, like silver/bronze/gold art clay or chain maille making. Or maybe a class at the local college or university for faceting her own stones?

Other thoughts: books on polymer clay and dichroic glass, which can be wonderful mixed in with gems and stones. With a torch and a source to fire on, you can actually do silver and bronze art clay without a kiln.

A subscription to Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, one to Art Jewelry magazine or Beadstyle magazine.

Another birthday gift would be to warn her way from Chalcedony unless she's into heartbreak, since typically the stones loose their lovely caribbean colors and turn white if they are exposed to a lot of light. A few sources say their stones don't do this, but she'd have to research.

Shoot, Chalcedony breaks my heart with its bright, cloudy colors and translucent beauty.
posted by Issithe at 9:13 PM on September 21, 2008

Best answer: This book, Bead Simple, is supposed to be good (IANABeader).
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:42 PM on September 21, 2008

Response by poster: Wow, I can't believe so many people turned out on a Sunday night with such good suggestions. I hadn't even thought of a tumbler and I didn't know of any of those sites or the magazine.

Mom is a beader but she really likes just looking at rocks -- the ones with swirls and layers. I think she'd like tumbling her own.
posted by metajc at 9:56 PM on September 21, 2008

a rock tumbler/polisher or a small glass blowing kit so she can actually make her own beads
posted by docmccoy at 10:07 PM on September 21, 2008

i'm like your mom and i would freakin love it if someone gave me a dremmel. also a GC to or something of the like. of course the ultimate gift would be, like, a trip to santa fe or albuturkey to go to beaders heaven.
posted by Soulbee at 6:22 AM on September 22, 2008

Best answer: a trip to santa fe or albuturkey to go to beaders heaven

It´s not that exciting, really, although there are a lot of bead stores here. If you want to get her a trip there are lots of bead conventions out there, or she might like the February shows in Tuscon.

a small glass blowing kit so she can actually make her own beads

She would probably want to start with a lampworking kit instead of getting into glass blowing right off.

I´d go with the gift certificate to Fire Mountain Gems unless you are really, really sure that there is something else she would specifically like. The usual problems with buying hobby supplies for someone else apply.
posted by yohko at 11:43 AM on September 22, 2008

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