I really enjoy creating my own clasps and findings from beads, and coming up with designs that require no closures at all. Still, once in awhile I miss some of the more traditional beading and jewelry techniques. There are just some designs that can’t be done without metals.
With the prices of metals going up and up, finding a good price on jewelry components requires a little more work than usual. One of the best places to look is with smaller suppliers, especially those that specialize in the types of materials you need.
For our first ever bead supplier spotlight, we’re getting a look at some of the unique beads and findings from Royal Metals. An expert purveyor of precious metal beading supplies, Holly shares some insight into the benefits of shopping small.
Inspirational Beading: How did you get into the business of jewelry supplies?
Holly: I've been designing jewelry for several years now and have always bought lots of supplies, so when I sit down to create I have what I need right there. It was a natural progression to start offering my favorites online and from there it just kept growing and growing. Now it's grown to the point I don't have time to get 8 hours sleep!
If I did not design jewelry I'd have no idea of which findings and beads to offer, which work best and are top quality.
Inspirational Beading: In your opinion, what’s the best thing about small supplies shops vs. the big bead retailers?
Holly: The big supply shops have a lot of overhead the smaller online stores don't, so pricing is usually a lot more reasonable online from the smaller shops. Just as important is customer service. I do a lot of custom ordering and even advising that you wont find with one of the large retailers. And my customers, who are the best, do appreciate that I'll bend over backwards to help them.
There have even been cases where I could not find what they wanted from my vendors so I've located the piece and sent them elsewhere to buy. Fortunately that doesn't happen often! I don't think you find the same level of customer service from a big shop.
Inspirational Beading: Do you have a favorite material, color or bead style to keep in stock?
Holly: I keep all of the necessary supplies available and add others that I love. Karen Hill Tribe silver is a good example. It's incredibly beautiful, fair trade (if not made in a factory) and so unique. Actually it is my favorite.
I generally design with silver and studies show that 70% of women prefer silver over gold. I do like designing with gold filled and gold vermeil as well though. Copper patinas beautifully and I love mixing it with silver, especially my Hill Tribe silver. That also brings down the cost of a finished piece.
With metals soaring it allows someone who might not be able to afford silver alone to buy a piece of mixed metal jewelry at a more affordable price. Besides that they do look wonderful together not that copper can't stand on it's own. It can.
Inspirational Beading: What makes your bead selection stand out from other craft supplies shops?
Holly: Besides carrying the "staples" I chose a large variety of beads and findings I love. If something doesn't make my heart happy I don't offer it. My selection is huge. I have to slap my hand sometimes before clicking Order as I have so many assorted items already. I don't think you'll find this variety in many shops. I've had customers comment they can find all of their metals with me.
Inspirational Beading: Most beaders are familiar with the emotion that comes from selling a finished design. How does it feel when you well something that will become a beautiful work of art?
Holly: Some of my customers email me pictures of their designs and that is always so gratifying. I love hearing from them and seeing what they create. Sometimes I'll peek into one of their shops and just be awed. My only complaint is that I rarely have time now to design myself. Here I'm surrounded by all of this great material and hardly using any myself. My head swims with ideas...
Inspirational Beading: What is your favorite thing to make with the supplies you carry?
Holly: Presents for my mom! I love to make her new necklaces and earrings. Since I rarely have designing time these days I tend to do more custom work.
Inspirational Beading: Do you have any plans for new products in 2011?
Holly: My main supplier comes out with a large supplement each year in January or February. You know I'll be adding from that. And every time I order Hill Tribe silver I find several new must have items as well!
Inspirational Beading: Can you recommend any great beading sites or books to help artists make the most of your products?
Holly: Most art shops offer coupons you can print online. We have an AC Moore here that comes out with a 50% off coupon frequently and I often go in and grab a book.
There are so many different types of jewelry designs that it would depend totally on what the designer enjoys doing. There are also a bazillion tutorials, free and otherwise, online for just about anything you can think of.
Want to see more? You can shop for beads and findings with Royal Metals on ArtFire and Etsy.
Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading and RoyalMetals
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