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A Caution About Jewelry Cable

Semiprecious Beads, the Moral Dilemma

Gallery of Customers' Designs

* Articles are revised periodically.  Between revisions,
information may go out of date.

 

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Why shop at Purebeads?

Interesting selection of beads with new items posted every month

Reasonable prices (not the lowest, but definitely not the highest) (1)

No "premium" pricing (I do not put a higher markup on desirable beads) (2)

Defects clearly described and compensated for (3)

Good, clear pictures with detailed descriptions (4)

Attractive, easy-to-navigate site

Good customer service; all emails are answered

10% discount on orders of $100 or more

15% discount on orders of $200 or more

Flat-rate shipping of $3 for all U.S. orders (international customers pay actual shipping costs)

Reasonably fast shipping, depending on sales volume (5)

Many payment options (major credit cards, PayPal, money order) (7)

No restocking fee for returns made within 30 days

 

(1) My prices on some beads, such as the regular table-cut beads, are the lowest retail prices on the internet.

(2) If some beads on my site have unusually high prices, it's because my suppliers used premium pricing, and I decided to get the beads even though they were over-priced.  I apply markups in a range of percentages, and I never exceed that range.

(3) When some beads in a batch are defective, I lower the price or (in the case of very expensive beads) I examine the beads individually and eliminate the defective beads.

(4) To see a full description of a particular bead, click on the bead name or the picture.  A larger picture is always available on the product's page.

(5) My original policy was to get orders in the mail the business day after they were placed, but increasing sales volume has made that impossible.  I now normally ship 3-4 business days after an order is place, and sometimes 5 days or more if I just sent out a mailing or I am holding a sale.  In most cases you will have your beads within a week.  To read more, please click here.

(6) In March, 2010, I started using biodegradable bubble mailers.  These mailers are lined with a type of plastic which degrades in the presence of water and, once in a landfill, will eventually be eaten by micr-organisms.  In April, 2010, I switched to cellulose tape instead of plastic tape.  Please note, however, that I still have a lot of the old tape and bubble mailers to use up.

(7) Unfortunately, I had to cancel American Express in July, 2010, because they raised their fees.  Credit-card-processing fees eat up 3% to 4% of my sales, and I can't afford to pay more.

 

Important note about viewing pictures on the internet:

AOL and many other dial-up services (especially those that advertise themselves as fast or "accelerated") use graphics compression to make pictures and web graphics load more quickly.  Compression, however, causes pictures and web graphics to look blurry.  If all of the graphics you see on the internet look slightly blurry, please contact your internet service-provider to find out how to turn graphics compression off.  If you don't turn graphics compression off, you won't be able to appreciate the quality of the pictures on this site.

 

Privacy Notice:

No private information that is given to Purebeads by customers (such as names or addresses) will ever be sold or shared with any other company.  Furthermore, Purebeads does not have access to your credit-card information.  Payments are processed immediately by the credit-cart processing company, and that information is never given to Purebeads; nor is it stored on this web site.  If this site were to be hacked, your credit-card information would be safe.

   

News & Announcements

June, 2014

What's happening at Purebeads?

From 2002 to 2012, Purebeads was my sole source of income.  But, as I explained below, in late 2012 I started to receive Social Security benefits.  In mid-2012, my sales started to drop, even before the benefits started.  My sales have continued to drop since 2012, and I believe that's because the bad economy finally caught up with my customers.  Because my sales are down, I am posting new beads only a few times a year; I no longer have the money to buy new beads every month.

So what is going to happen to Purebeads?  The answer is "nothing".  It now provides me with only part of my income, but I would be truly poor if I had only Social Security to live on.  So I expect to keep the business open for as long as I have the health to run it, and I expect to have the health for at least another decade (I'll be 64 this summer).  The only unfortunate thing is that I won't be posting as many new products.  I will, however, post enough new products to keep the number of products in the store at 1200 or more.  Eventually I may be able to increase that.

I expect to post new beads in August.

September, 2013

New payment procedure

For more than a decade I have used a payment service called PayPal Pro.  In addition to paying 2.9% of every purchase to PayPal, plus a 30 transaction fee, I have also been paying $30 a month for the Pro service.  I recently learned that PayPal has a similar service called PayPal Advanced which has a monthly fee of only $5.  However, when I applied for the Advanced service, I was declined.  I have one unpaid debt on my credit record (long story), which is apparently why they declined me.  (Having been a customer in good standing for 14 years, you would think that they would approve my application based on that alone.  Frankly, I don't know why PayPal does credit checks at all, since they do not extend credit with any of these services.)  After being declined, I decided that I really wanted to save that $30 a month, so I downgraded to their Standard service.  If and when I clear up my credit, I'll upgrade to the Advanced service.

The Standard service allows a customer to pay with either PayPal or a credit or a debit card.  However, the checkout process is confusing.  You will fill out your address on my site, and then you will be taken to the PayPal site where you will see the screen below.  If you are paying with a card, you must click the link indicated by the red arrow, and that will take you to a screen where you can fill in your credit-card details.  Furthermore, you cannot use your own PayPal debit card to pay (they expect you to use your PayPal account directly); and the address-verification process is more aggressive with PayPal Standard, so the address you type in must be absolutely correct.

July, 2013

Postage amount will now be visible on packages

For quite a few years now, the postage amount has not been visible on my packages.  Hidden postage is called "stealth postage" in the industry; my postage company, Endicia, offers it for an extra $6 a month.  I was hiding the postage amount because I didn't want my customers to wonder if they were charged too much or too little.  My flat-rate shipping charge is $3.00 to U.S. customers, but on a very small package the postage can be as little as $1.69.  What my customers can't see are the extra shipping costs:  package insurance (50), cost of bubble mailer (30), and a small charge for the postage service (30).  Since starting to receive Social Security benefits, I've stopped promoting my business so much, and consequently my sales have dropped.  In order to save some money, I have reverted to Endicia's cheaper service.  Since the postage will now be visible, please don't forget that the postage amount is just part of the total shipping cost.

Shipping cost for large international orders is coming down

One year ago I changed my shipping policy for international customers so that they were paying the actual shipping cost (please see the July, 2012 entry below for the reasons).  Then, in January, the U.S. Postal Service raised international postage rates by a whopping 40%.  My charge for shipping $200 worth of beads to an international customer went from $20 to $27 overnight, and the cost of shipping $400 worth of beads increased to more than $60.  Well, I recently learned about a little-known flat-rate box being offered by the postal service which holds more merchandise than the original small flat-rate box, and for the same amount of postage.  I can now ship up to $380 worth of beads (more if the beads are mostly small, and less if the beads are mostly large) for $29.  That's quite an improvement over what I was charging before.

New shipping option:  the padded flat-rate envelope

The postal service recently came out with a padded flat-rate envelope.  Instead of being made of paper with a bubble lining (as most bubble mailers are), it is entirely plastic.  The postage amount is only 45 cents more than a small flat-rate box, but it holds more beads.  Since I am charging my U.S. customers a flat $3 for shipping, I will start to use this new envelope for orders which are too large to fit into the small flat-rate box.  Previously I had to use my own boxes, and the postage was much higher.  (In other words, this new envelope will save me money, not you; but I still want you to know about it.)  I haven't used one of these new envelopes yet, but I estimate that I can get up to $400 worth of beads in one (a small flate-rate box will hold only about $250 worth).  The beads will have less protection than they have in a box; but then, I am already mailing all of my small orders in bubble mailers, so that's nothing new (beads aren't very breakable).  I will, of course, compensate any customer who receives broken beads.

March, 2013

Where are the new beads?

I haven't posted many new beads since the beginning of the year.  This is mainly for personal reasons.  I haven't been feeling that well, and I've been dealing with various issues -- and doing my taxes took up a lot of time.  Just when things seemed to be settling down, I developed a condition which made it painful to sit.  None of these problems will last forever, and I hope to have new beads on the site sometime in April.  Thank you for your patience.

January, 2013

International postal rates have gone up

As many of you may know, the U.S. Postal Service has been having financial problems.  This became very evident when, on January 27th, they increased the cost of a small Priority International flat-rate box from $16.95 to $23.95.  That is an increase of $7.00, an astonishing amount!  That is the largest increase I have ever seen for any class of mail from one year to the next.  I assume they made this increase because the cost of flying mail to other countries is prohibitive.  If that's not the reason, I don't know what is.

Previously I had been charging $19.00 to ship $100 worth of beads to other countries, and $20.00 to ship $200 worth of beads to other countries (the extra $2 and $3 covered insurance and other shipping costs).  If I continue to use flat-rate boxes, I'll have to increase those charges to $26.00 and $27.00, which is unacceptable.  Fortunately, the cost of First Class mail to other countries (as opposed to Priority mail) remains reasonable (although those prices have gone up too).  However, if I send packages by First Class mail, I won't be able to use the Priority boxes supplied by the post office.  Consequently, I have started using bubble mailers for shipments of $100 or less (which means that the beads won't be as well protected).  Eventually I will buy my own boxes.

The new rates will be $18.00 for $100 worth of beads (approximately one pound) and $25.00 for $200 worth of beads (approximately two pounds).  The price for larger amounts will also go up.  I am sorry for the necessary increases.

November, 2012

Problems with pictures

As most of my customers know, Purebeads is a home-based business.  In case you are curious, the largest room in the apartment is dedicated to the business, along with part of the living room.  For years now I have photographed the beads in natural daylight in front of windows.  In Queens, New York and in my first apartment in Rhode Island, I had double windows that let in a lot of light.  In my new home, I have only single windows which let in less light.  The time when the light is best is in the mornings; but I am a late-sleeper, and I don't get up until the sun has crossed over to the other side of the house (where it is inconvenient to take photographs).  That leaves me with weak afternoon light coming through a single window.  In order to increase the amount of light for the pictures, I have started using a lamp with a daylight-balanced bulb in it.  But the bulb makes the pictures look more stark and harsh, although I can fix that to a certain extent in my photo-editing program.  Also, round beads will have many more dots of light on them.  Until I find a solution to the problem, my pictures may not be quite so stellar.  (The solution will include a better camera and, possibly, a better lamp.  I may have to go back to using the light tent that I used before, although I don't think that will be necessary.)

September, 2012

I have applied for Social Security benefits;
What does that mean for the business?

I recently turned 62.  I knew that meant I was eligible for early Social Security retirement benefits.  I had heard that if I started collecting at age 62, my benefit rate would be lower, so I decided not to apply.  However, sales have not been good since the economic downturn started in 2008.  Buying all the beads I want has been difficult, and paying my rent every month has been difficult.  A friend in the neighborhood convinced me that I should apply for benefits, so I did.

So what does it mean for the business?  Fortunately, it means mostly good things.  My monthly benefit check will cover my rent and my utilities, so I won't have to worry about my security any more.  The money that I would've spent on rent will now be spent on other things, including beads, so the number of products on my site will increase.  Also, I'll be able to buy a better camera and make better pictures.  I may also, at the age of 62, finally learn how to drive.  This is an exciting time for me.

The only bad thing is that I probably won't hold as many sales.  In almost all cases, I held sales to raise my rent or pay off debts.  The need to raise money won't be so urgent now.  I'll still hold at least one sale a year, possibly two.  However, you can always get 10% off by buying $100 worth of beads, and 15% off by buying $200 worth of beads.

It's also possible that I won't be sending out so many mailings.  My monthly mailings (in which I announce new products) were always timed to my rental payments, but now I don't need to do that.  I may choose to simply post the new beads when I have the time, and let my customers find them whenever they decide to visit the site.

August, 2012

Beads from the 1980's

In the 1980's I was a jewelry designer, just like my current customers are.  I started out designing in New York, and then I moved to Providence, RI (where my mother lived), and I continued designing there.  (So that makes two times that I moved to be close to my mother:  in the early 1980's and in 2007.  My mother wasn't particularly thrilled to have me around on either occasion.)  However, when I decided to move to Arizona in the mid-1980's, I put all my beads in two boxes and stored them in my mother's attic.  Well, I've just started going through those boxes.  What I found surprised me.  I have many more beads from that period than I thought I had, and I also have many completed necklaces that I never sold (I thought I sold them all, but I didn't).

I've decided that there is nothing for me to do but to sell off that old stock.  Some beads I have in such a large quantity that I will post them on my site like any other bead.  Those beads that I have in small quantities will be sold as Mystery beads.  I will create a new category to sell my finished jewelry.

My beads from the 1980's are much more eclectic than the beads I am selling now.  I used semi-precious beads, glass beads, ceramic beads, and wood beads.  I also used seed beads, which I do not sell now.  The ceramic beads were particularly nice.  They came in bags with little slips of paper in them that said "Made in Japan".  (I thought the Japanese made only seed beads.)

Anyway, if you would like to get some of these older beads, be sure to buy some lots of Mystery beads.

July, 2012

Restocking fee for beads returned after 30 days

On July 30th I received beads back from a customer, some of which were purchased 60 days prior, some of which were purchased in 2011, and some of which were purchased in 2010.  (At the time, my return policy had a limit of 30 days.)  Because of the work involved in processing refunds (I must count all the beads that are returned), I have decided that it is not unreasonable for me to charge a restocking fee for returns over 30 days.  Thus, for items returned between 31 and 90 days after shipping, I reserve the right to charge a restocking fee of 15%.  For items returned after 90 days, you will get only a scolding.  (And you'll also have to send me money to get the beads shipped back to you.)  There will never be a restocking fee if you return beads within 30 days.

New shipping calculator; international
Customers now pay actual shipping costs

There are extra expenses associated with international orders, and because of that I have altered my cart to charge international customers the actual cost of shipping.  At this time the shopping cart is not programmed perfectly, so there is a possibility that some customers will be over-charged.  If that happens, a refund will be issued.

The new shipping calculator has one little quirk:  You now must go part-way through the checkout process to see what your shipping cost will be.

An order weighing 8 oz. will cost $10 to ship ($6 for Canadian customers).  An order weighing one pound will cost $19 to ship ($15 for Canadian customers).  An order weighing two pounds will cost $20 to ship ($16 for Canadian customers).  However, starting at 3 pounds, the shipping cost really sky-rockets -- that's because a larger and much more expensive flat-rate box is required.  For example, a 5-pound box will cost $60 to ship ($42 for Canadian customers), and a 12-pound box will cost $80 to ship ($65 for Canadian customers).  (A 12-pound order will contain about $1,000 worth of beads.)

It grieves me to charge my customers so much, but the cost of international shipping has gone through the roof.  If I don't charge my international customers the actual cost of shipping, I will have to pay money out of my own pocket.

Shipping to U.S. customers will remain at a flat $3.00.

June, 2012

Duplicate payment problem fixed

In the last several months there have been about five instances when I received two payments for an order.  What usually happens is this:  As the last step in the order process, the customer clicks "Confirm" to place her order, and my site then gets stuck on the "Please Wait" prompt.  The customer then clicks "Confirm" one more time, and I end up receiving two payments.  For the order-confirmation page to appear, my site must hear back from the payment-processing site that the payment went through.  If it doesn't, then my site remains stuck on "Please Wait".  I have now installed a fix which will show the order-confirmation page even if there is a communication problem with the other site.  In the vast majority of cases, the payment will have gone through without a hitch.  You should receive an order-confirmation email from my site.  If you don't, please contact me.  (But before you do, check to make sure that the order-confirmation email didn't go into your Spam folder.)

May, 2012

Date format fixed

A customer complained to me about the European date format that my shopping cart was using (DD/MM/YY), and I told her that I couldn't change it because the shopping cart publisher was in England.  But then I investigated the matter, and found that it was changeable.  The date format that you will see on the site and in your orders is now the American format:  MM/DD/YY or MM/DD/YYYY.

April, 2012

Good Night, Sweet Darling

Shortly after moving, my darling cat Tillie came down sick with end-stage renal disease and had to be put to sleep.  This was a sweet, dear, unassuming animal who didn't have a mean bone in her body, and I feel totally alone now.  She used to sleep in the boxes of beads during good times.  I am completely heart-broken.

Price-per-bead won't be marked on baggies

For the last year or two I was marking the price-per-bead on at least some of the baggies of beads that I sent out.  My baggie labels say "___ cents per bead" at the bottom, and I was filling in the amount when I could calculate it quickly in my head.  However, the amount that I filled in wasn't usually accurate.  It didn't factor in discounts or the cost of shipping.  For this reason, I've decided to leave it blank.  I am going to let my customers decide what the beads cost them, and to fill in their own amount.

February, 2012

Purebeads is moving

Since Purebeads is an online store, my physical location doesn't really matter to my customers.  However, sometime during March I will be closing the store while I move to another location (within a mile from my current location).  The store won't actually be closed; rather, I'll put up an announcement that orders can be placed but won't be filled until the move is over.

The benefit of moving just a short distance is that I can move in several short steps.  When I moved from NYC, I had to close up for a month, and my business never completely recovered from that.

August, 2011

Fewer new bead postings

For quite a while now I have been posting 25-30 new bead styles per month, but I am going to have to cut back to 15-20 new styles per month.  Since the economy tanked in late 2008, sales have been somewhat slow, and I don't always have the money to buy so many new beads.  In 2010 I received an inheritance that I put towards beads, but that has run out.  Even my suppliers don't post so many new bead styles, so I feel justified in making this change.  15-20 new styles each month is 200 styles a year, which is pretty good.  Old styles which I restock will be in additional to any new styles that I stock.

There is an additional reason why I am cutting back.  In order to post 30 new styles each month, I have to buy small quantities of many styles.  From now on I am going to buy larger quantities of each style so that they won't run out as quickly.  Thus, each bead style will be available for a longer time.  (That will be good news when the style is really nice, though not all of them are.)

International shipping rates have gone up

For all international customers, including Canadians, I have had to raise my shipping rates.  (Up until recently I was charging a promotional rate to Canadians, but I cannot do that any longer.)  International orders cost me more money and time than U.S. orders do.  The credit-card fees are higher, and the shipping insurance is higher.  Also, it takes me longer to pack the orders because a special label is required that has a customs form on it which takes time to fill out.  In addition, all international packages over 13 oz. have to be brought dirctly to the post office, meaning that I can't just drop them in a mailbox.  For all these reasons, I've decided that I have to charge the actual cost of shipping to my international customers.

Canadians will be charged a flat $12, and then I will refund the excess if the actual cost of shipping is less by a dollar or more.  To other international customers, I will charge a flat $19, and then I will refund the excess if the actual cost of shipping is less by a dollar or more.  For example, let's say that you place a very small order and pay $19 for shipping, but it costs me only $8 to ship your order, I will refund $8 to you.  But if you place a large order which costs $18.50 to ship, there will be no refund.  Canadian customers especially are likely to get refunds if their orders are not too big.  If the cost of shipping exceeds $12 (for Canadians) or $19 (for other international customers), I will absorb the extra shipping cost.

Please note that the amount of postage on the package does not represent the entire shipping cost.  To the postage amount I will add 50 if your order is shipped in a bubble mailer, plus $1 to $3 for private shipping insurance (depending on how big your order is).  Thus, if the postage on your package says $8.50, the actual cost of shipping could be $10.00 or more.

(This entry was updated with new information in 2012.)

May, 2011

Pictures may change slightly

In late May, my old CRT monitor died, and I started using an LCD monitor.  LCD monitors, generally, are brighter than CRT monitors, and as a result, I find myself making the pictures a little darker than before.  Also, to my eye, the pictures need less sharpening than they did before, so I am sharpening them a little less.  Consequently, if you use a CRT monitor, the new pictures may look a little darker and a little less crisp than the old pictures look.  However, the difference is small, and you may not notice anything.

Switching to an LCD monitor also showed me that many of the pictures that looked great on my CRT monitor look washed-out on the new monitor.  If you have an LCD monitor and feel that my pictures look washed out, the reason is that they were optimized for a CRT monitor.

February, 2011

Price reduced on 2mm x 4mm rondels

My pricing formulae have changed over the years, and as a consequence the prices of the 2mm x 4mm rondels are coming down.  They were always a little too expensive.  Right now, most of them are priced at $3.00 per 100.  By the end of February, I will have reduced all of those to $2.80, and some of them to $2.60.  (Whether they are priced at $2.60 or $2.80 depends on whether I had enough money to buy them in bulk the last time I ordered them.)  Some of the more expensive colors, such as the metallic colors, will not be reduced.

January, 2011

Everything is back to normal!

About 80% of the beads from the old shopping cart have been transferred to the new cart at www.purebeads.com/catalogue/.  The remaining old stock will be transferred during February and March.  Also, in January I posted new beads for the first time in several months.  New beads will no longer appear on their own "What's New" page.  Rather, they will be posted on the home page of the new cart (that is where you can find this month's new beads).

Reviews are gone

My new shopping cart had a review feature which allowed customers to post reviews of individual products.  However, in the many months that the new cart has been up and running, not one person posted a review.  I finally concluded that beads are not the kind of product that many people will want to review.  Thus, I have turned off the review feature entirely.  If you have comments about a particular bead style that you want other people to see, let me know and I will put your comments in the description field.

Wish lists not coming

I have decided not to upgrade to the new version of the shopping cart (at least, not yet), so I won't have the wish-list feature in my shopping cart any time soon.  Sorry.

 

 



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