Dateline: New York, 7/16/09 - 7/28/09
The area around Sixth Avenue in the upper 30's in Manhattan could be called the Bead District, although it's really part of the Garment District. On Sixth Avenue between 36th and 39th, and on 37th between Fifth and Sixth, it seems as if almost every store sells beads. These stores have an overwhelming inventory. A lot of them are wholesalers, but most also sell to individual customers like me. I spent parts of two days exploring these stores, and below are my favorites.
Fun2Bead has its own line of reasonably priced crystals, in addition to selling Swarovski and lots of other products. Personally, I can't see a difference between their crystals and Swarovski's, except that Fun2Bead's range of colors is smaller, and they don't have the beautiful AB (Aurora Borealis) finishes. Mary Beth and I each bought a lot of crystal bicones in a variety of colors.
I didn't actually buy anything at M&J Trimming, but I was fascinated by browsing there. They have some beads, and an incredible inventory of sequins, ribbons, rhinestones, etc. I imagine that this store is frequented by fashion designers and people creating costumes for Broadway shows.
Margola is a big importer of Czech beads. They were discontinuing a line of Czech pearls, and were selling them at half of their already-low prices. I bought a bunch, and then a few days later went back and bought a second bunch, knowing that my beading friends would be happy to take some of them off my hands. I still have enough pearls left for a lifetime of beading.
Mary Beth and I also took a trip to Bergenfield, New Jersey to visit Beads By Blanche, which is a fantastic store for beadweavers like us. The store is small but well organized, and has lots of seed beads and crystals. It was there that I finally started buying rivolis, round crystal stones without holes. My friends in the South Bay Bead Arts Guild love to use rivolis, which they incorporate into jewelry by bezeling, using seed beads to surround and "capture" the stone. I've resisted the rivoli craze until recently, and now I'm addicted. I bought Laura McCabe's book about using rivolis and I'm making earrings with them.