Fossil Beads

Q: Does anyone know where I can find a good source for fossil beads? I've ordered some from South Pacific Wholesale Co. I love them and the company, but they only carry ten colors of the beads. I know Bead Boppers also sells them, but theirs seem rather expensive.

A: If you like the price and want more colors, you could get beads of the basic natural color and dye it to whatever shade you want. You could probably use fabric dyes, because the fossil material is basically a porous limestone. One of the problems with dyed stones is that the dye can bleed out, especially in the presence of a solvent that may be in a lotion or perfume. This can happen with dyed stones that you buy, including the fossil material. A recent discussion on rec.crafts.jewelry has focused on the obligations of dealers to fully disclose treatments to enhance/produce colors of topaz. The same disclosure guidelines also apply to dyed stones. I've ordered from South Pacific Wholesale Co. and am very happy with the beads, price, and service; however, they only have ten colors - black, blue, brown, grape, green, grey, ivory, pink (fuschia), raspberry, and turquoise. I saw that Bead Boppers also have fossil beads, but they seem awful expensive (4mm - 10 cents each, for example). Try Hong Kong Lap, Coral Gables, FL. (No 800 # - Area code 301). There is a $50 minimum, but the prices are very good. A lot of suppliers are having trouble getting and keeping these beads. There were supposed to be 21 original colors, but only about 12 ever made it to market. Some of them are not color-safe, others seem to be.