Many people who are ready to graduate from bead stringing to more complex jewelry projects, and who need to pick up a few tools, often end up buying them at bead shows. I’ve done this myself, and 99.9% of the vendors at these shows charge a fair price. And if they take a little premium, that’s OK with me. I am getting the convenience of finding mostly everything in one place.
But it doesn’t always work that way. I was at a local bead show a few months ago and saw a Solderite soldering board that I bought for $8.25 from Rio Grande on sale for $22.50. The very same item, and it wasn’t a mistake. And yet, the beginning metal smith who might not realize that this price is out of line, is often too intimidated to go to Jeweler’s Row on Sansom Street in Philadelphia to buy supplies, thinking that the stores there are for “real” jewelers and not them. That’s not true.
For those of us from the Philadelphia area, Hagstoz is a treasure both for buying supplies and for selling scrap metal. I have always gotten excellent service there.
Another store I highly recommend is Pamma Jewelry Tools and Supply, located at 809 Sansom Street. It is a tool paradise and they have almost everything out where you can see it. They carry economy brand pliers like Beadsmith and Eurotool and high end brands Such as Lindstrom. They sell all types and sizes of hammers, rotary tool and flex shaft accessories, stainless steel shot, pickle, patinas, soldering supplies (and several kinds of soldering surfaces including charcoal blocks), displays, boxes and packaging. They carry used tools, too. The last time I was there I saw hole cutters, rolling mills and ring stretchers among the items they had for sale.
One of the best places to shop for everything related to jewelry making is Beadfest Philadelphia. The shopping bazaar runs from August 19 to August 21. For a list of vendors, press here. You can even download a floor plan. Just remember that the Beadfest venue has changed to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center this year. Maybe I will see you there!