Sourcing reliably high quality beading supplies?
January 7, 2014 11:28 AM   Subscribe

I've had some trouble ordering silver-plate and hypoallergenic earring hooks from Amazon and I'm looking for better alternatives, both from an Amazon is Evil standpoint and from the standpoint of wanting to actually receive what I order. If you have a mail order or SF-Bay Area supplier for beading supplies, especially silver or silver plate, please help me with a referral.

I ordered some silver-plate hypoallergenic earring hooks from Amazon. The item was only $4 so I'm not really burned on cost, but what I got definitely wasn't silver plate and may not be hypoallergenic. We'll see - testing it now: yay human experimentation!

As far as quantity goes I'm definitely in the retail zone - I have more than enough jump rings at 100 each of different diameters, though I may run out of the smallest 5 mm ones at some point soon if I keep ordering earrings from Shapeways (which come unattached, even if earring hooks are included). This is not a sales operation, just getting things on hooks for friends and loved ones.

I'd love to have any leads you have on:
- reliable suppliers of high quality metal beading supplies (misc findings, jump rings, clasps, wire)
- in stainless, niobium, sterling and gold
- and high quality beading tools and supplies (storage, organizers, etc.)
- who are either local to me (South Berkeley or accessible via BART/MUNI) or reliable mail orderers (bonus: inexpensive shipping)
- that you like/trust/want to promote or refer my business too

I'm kind of sick already of getting ripped off by Amazon randroids from Amazon Marketplace, so any specific help you can give here is something I'd deeply appreciate.

Thanks so much in advance!
posted by kalessin to Shopping (14 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I use Rio Grande for all my jewelry-making supplies. Reliable, fast, good quality, easy returns, and quantity discounts.
posted by bedhead at 11:33 AM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Rio Grande is great. I also use Fire Mountain Gems. Those are pretty much the two suppliers I use for all my mail order stuff.
posted by RogueTech at 11:37 AM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yes! I forgot about Fire Mountain Gems. They are also great.
posted by bedhead at 11:38 AM on January 7, 2014

Metalliferous for sterling ear wires--a little expensive, but priced per wire.
posted by miss patrish at 11:46 AM on January 7, 2014

Thirding Fire Mountain Gems.
posted by Bardolph at 11:46 AM on January 7, 2014

I have only purchased beads from them but General Bead on Minna in SF (exit BART at Civic Center, then it's about 2 blocks S of Market) is a great resource. I don't know if they have everything you're looking for, but take a look at their website or give them a call. And it's like some kind of dreamworld inside the shop.
posted by janey47 at 11:52 AM on January 7, 2014

I've bought lots of stuff at Fire Mountain Gems and a couple of orders with Rio Grande, so I can vouch for both of those. For findings specifically, I use Monsterslayer a lot. I work mostly with sterling silver rather than plated metals, and their quality is very good with what I would consider reasonable prices. They also have a huge selection of items if you need different types of stuff, and I see that they have a pretty big section for plated findings too (including surgical steel earring hooks and post earring findings). You can pretty much dictate your own quantities, with lower unit prices if you buy more.
posted by Starling at 12:27 PM on January 7, 2014

Just a heads-up that sterling silver or surgical steel != hypoallergenic. The remaining alloy often contains nickel. People like me, who can't wear any amount of nickel in my pierced ears without triggering a reaction, will thank you!
posted by serelliya at 12:45 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another vote for Rio Grande and Fire Mountain.

And, Etsy has been very good to me for micro-orders of craft supply whatnot. Apart from searching for precisely what you want, also try a look for "destash" (+ "findings" or "sterling" or whatever) -- people's craft cupboard clear-outs can be a good buy.
posted by kmennie at 4:02 PM on January 7, 2014

Rio Grande.
posted by antiquated at 6:27 PM on January 7, 2014

Nthing Fire Mountain Gems.
posted by stormyteal at 9:39 PM on January 7, 2014

I used to use
posted by jen14221 at 1:25 PM on January 8, 2014

Oh, yes, of course Monsterslayer as well. Great people, we've ordered bulk wire from them several times.
posted by RogueTech at 10:48 AM on January 9, 2014

Thanks for all the help! I went to General Bead which was a blast, thank you janey47! Also good to know about what's hypoallergenic.

I also asked around on Facebook and found out that some of my friends have findings to spare.

Finally my Mom told me that she often makes nickely metal findings "hypoallergenic" by adding a coat of clear nail polish.
posted by kalessin at 7:55 AM on January 27, 2014

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