Sunday, May 15, 2011

Apricot Tarts' Best Bead Stores in Toronto pt. 1

Every jewelry maker needs supplies. From gorgeous gemstones to world beads to precious metals, Toronto bead stores have it all. Below, you'll find my recommendations for the best Toronto-area bead stores. The stores are selected based on quality, uniqueness, affordability, extensiveness of inventory and accessibility. I included a handy ‘In the Neighbourhood’ section for tourists and locals unfamiliar with the downtown core. I hope to add more stores to this list in the future, focusing on shops outside of downtown Toronto.

Arton Beads

Getting There
Located at 523/525 Queen St. West
Take the 501 Queen streetcar to Augusta Avenue or the 510 Spadina streetcar to Queen St and walk 2 minutes west.

The Store
Arton Beads is in fact two bead stores. Number 523 supplies base metal findings and chain; plastic and glass beads; wood beads; ribbon and other stringing materials; base metal charms, etc. Number 525 supplies semiprecious stones; sterling silver, gold and vermeil findings, chain and beads; pearls and shell beads; Swarovski crystals; silk cord and other stringing materials, etc.

Peridot rondelles from a strand from Arton Beads.
Lapis lazuli drops sold loose at Arton Beads.
What makes it Special?
Semiprecious stones are mostly sold by strand, though larger stones are available loose. The stone selection is quite extensive, and most stones come in a variety of forms (e.g. various sizes of round, teardrop, nugget, faceted, and more).
Arton Beads is highly affordable. Many strands are sold for under $10, and with a membership card, all strands over $15 are 50% off (to get a membership card, you need to present receipts totaling $60). Make sure to ask whether the stones you are buying have been dyed, as many are not labeled.
The store’s selection of precious metal findings, chain and beads is also extensive. Findings are sold in packs and individually.

In the Neighbourhood
Queen St. between Spadina and Bathurst is chock-full of bead stores. For a change of pace, hop on the westbound Queen streetcar to Trinity Bellwoods park. Stroll through the park (the former home of Trinity College), gobble up some macaroons at Nadege Patisserie, and visit the quirky shops across from Trinity gate.

Courage My Love

Getting There
Located at 14 Kensington Ave
Take the 510 Spadina streetcar to Dundas St. and walk west on Dundas to Kensington Ave., or the 505 Dundas streetcar to Spadina Ave. and walk west on Dundas to Kensington Ave.

From Courage my Love
The Store
Courage My Love is primarily a vintage clothing, jewelry and knickknack store. However, they have a glorious collection of precious stones, semiprecious stones, vintage buttons, and world beads. Watch out for a small cabinet of sparkly gemstone strands and jewelry – it will take you breath away!

Bali bead caps from Courage my Love
What makes it Special?
Unique beads and findings are the standard at Courage My Love. Gorgeous sterling silver beads from Bali, brass beads from India and African trade beads are purchased directly from the source. Vintage and antique strands dangle overhead. Prices reflect the uniqueness of the beads.

In the Neighbourhood
Courage My Love is located in Kensington Market – a mishmash of vintage shops, specialty food stores (check out Global Cheese), restaurants and cafes that will keep you busy for a while. Or, head to Chinatown to grab lunch at Pho Hung and pick up some cheap fruits and vegetables from the market stalls spilling onto the street.

Earth Rocks

Getting There
Located at 758 Bathurst St.
Take the Boor-Danforth Subway to Bathurst Station and walk south on Bathurst St.

The Store
Earth Rocks can be found in the storefront of the bookstore Alternative Thinking. The small space is packed with loose semiprecious beads, organized by colour - just tell the owner what you’re looking for and he’ll pull up a tray. The store also carries findings, precious metal beads, chain, stringing materials, and the Earth Rocks line of jewelry.

Carnelian drops and natural turquoise from Earth Rocks
What makes it Special?
For someone crazy about making earrings, having an accessible well-stocked store selling high quality loose stones is crucial. When I need a pair of focal beads, what am I going to do with a whole strand? Earth Rocks carries a wide variety of vibrantly coloured stones. The owner is also highly knowledgeable about his merchandise and the various stone families, and avoids dyed and synthetic stones.

From Wiki Commons
In the Neighbourhood
Earth Rocks is part of Mirvish Village and the Annex. Take a stroll up Bathurst and visit the home of Ed Mirvish himself at Honest Ed’s, Toronto’s flashy bargain store. Grab some second-hand books at BMV and head to Future Bakery to mingle with the U of T crowd.

NEW: Part two of Apricot Tarts' Best Bead Stores in Toronto.

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