Dakota Stones’ quality control process is rigorous and precise, and it has been since the beginning. As jewelry and lapidary artists ourselves, we take pride in delivering the highest quality stones at a good value. We source our materials from around the globe and work with hand selected lapidary factories and artists that provide fair trade wages and share our standards of quality and ethics. From Dakota Stones’ first year in business in 2003 we live by the motto that ‘every bead on the strand should be usable’.


Dakota Stones’ process starts with sourcing. Only the top 20% of materials are of a good enough grade to be cut into a  ‘Dakota Stones’ product.  Starting with materials of A or A/B quality right off the bat ensures a better product before the cutting even starts. The factory then sorts it, slabs it, and grades it again before we begin cutting. It’s kind of like the old carpentry saying “measure twice, cut once”, but we grade twice and cut once. Doing a 2nd or even 3rd grading also allows the material to be sorted into patterns that will best tell the story of a stone or a strand as a whole. A 4mm bead requires a much tighter pattern than a 10mm bead to translate well. 

When the shipment arrives at Dakota, we do our own QC process examining each hank of stones, making sure each strand checks off each box. We will reject and send back any batches that don’t meet our standards. All of this is done before we even accept and document the shipment! Having a trusted relationship with our factory is important and we’ve been working with our partners for over 20 years. Dakota Stones’ owner, Jeff Elvin, likes to personally go and work with our factories to source materials for our product line, but since the pandemic he hasn’t been able to travel overseas.  This has required us to put our trust in the factory and the process we have built. And we are proud to be able to maintain the quality you have come to trust in Dakota Stones.


In the world of gemstone beads, there is a common QC process that we follow:

Color: We only choose beads that resemble what the gemstone actually looks like. The colors are bold and striking, and they are consistently rich throughout the strand. In the past, we have turned away batches of Sleeping Beauty Turquoise because the color resembled more of a pale green than the beautiful bright blue you usually find.

Consistency: If a strand doesn’t have the same look throughout, we won’t sell it. The cuts need to be the same or extremely similar, the round beads need to be round, the holes need to be the same size, and the beads themselves need to be the same size throughout the strand. Another factor is trade names - we won’t call stones any names that are unknown or strange to the market.

Cut: The cut of a bead is very important. If you’re buying faceted round beads, you want them to be perfectly round and faceted - that should be a given. The precision of the cut is also important.


Beads that don’t pass Dakota Stones’ quality test are returned and eventually they’re sold to other distributors and resold into the market. Whether you choose to buy from Dakota Stones or another vendor, we recommend that you always do your own quality control and carefully review your product after you receive it or before you buy. Make sure that the beads are usable for you! If you’re shopping bargain strands, factor in the number of beads on the strand you can actually use - it may make more sense for you to pay a bit more for a strand with usable beads throughout.

Dakota Stones has over 20 years of experience with sourcing materials, grading stones, and quality control. We provide the best stones to you because it’s what we love doing. Thank you for trusting us in your designs!