Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday Feature: Reviews & Interviews - - Swarovski Flower Beads and Pendants

As I've mentioned a couple times, I received a very kind invitation to review the to receive some items with a promotional coupon and then share my impressions with you here.

I received the email early in August, and had let it sit for awhile, having a lot of things on the to-do list.Then I saw some posts by Lisa of A Bead A Day about her experience and remembered I hadn't gotten back to them! I made my order on the 10th and received it on the 15th, so standard shipping was fast - in fact the follow-up detail indicated that the order was fulfilled and shipped out the very next day. It came securely wrapped and well padded, all the Swarovski crystals ordered were in great shape and also in their consumer packaging, not repacked. The order also came with their color catalog.

My online shopping experience was a good one. They're a relatively new site which may be why I wasn't familiar with them yet. When I visited I noticed that it had two easy to use ways to navigate, a left side listing of categories (and the jewelry section has a project gallery - more later on that) and tabs a the top of the page that remain visible through out the site. When I entered something in the cart, because of the set up of the site, I never left the page I was on, a small pop up came up to show that I'd added it and could select to keep shopping or check out, so I didn't have to click back to complete my shopping.

The front page and every section has featured items as well. There is also a search feature with an advanced search. I put 'links' in the non-advanced search field and got no results, so they probably don't carry those, then I tried 'components' but still no results, however 'jump rings' did return their items. I would probably have done better to say 'findings'.

Drilling down into each section is easy with top level links or the more detailed selections for that category to the left. As you peruse the items you'll get a small thumbnail, some details and the option to put the item in the cart or save to favorites. clicking on thumbnails brings up a larger picture, some "similar products" and a tab to 'email a friend' - maybe a way to subtly hint "I'd like this for my birthday"? On several of the items in the 'specialty findings' area the similar products were always the same two bead suggestions, so I checked some in a different category (glass beads) and it was still the same two. Now that doesn't really impact my shopping experience, but perhaps it's a site feature to look into improving.

Not only does the site feature beads and findings, but a good selection of supplies for a number of different crafts all in one place - and if you're into multi-media, it's a one stop shop:

* precious impressions (molding kits)
* kids crafts
* paper mache
* bridal
* miniatures
* floral
* metal
* ribbon
* home decor
* wood
* basics
* hot buys
* art supplies
* education

I compared their pricing for 8mm Swarovski bicones and the flower pendants I ordered. I found the bicones at slightly lower price on some sites, slightly higher on others. The pricing for the 12mm flower pendant, though, was much lower on the other online sites (four that I regularly shop from and one that I found on Google I'd not visited before) I checked.

I would like to refer you to Lisa's blog where if you scroll back over several days you can see the Jill MacKay items she bought - I'm not familiar with how available they are on the web, but it seems like has a great selection.

This is the retail pricing, by the way. Wholesale pricing would probably be half that at least, and some suppliers provide quantity discounts which I didn't notice them having. They do say in their FAQs that you can contact customer service at a toll free number to discuss some wholesale options.

Edited to add: I forgot to talk about the project gallery. The plus side is that you can buy all the recommended materials right on the page with the project, separately or as a complete set. Also, they give instructions that are fairly good, although not illustrated or in as much detail as a complete beginner might need. Sufficient for someone with a little experience in the basic techniques. The minus side is there just aren't many projects yet and some of them are photographed as a set of matching pieces which is used in each category for the individual pieces of the set, which I don't think gives enough detail to the actual piece in that category. I hope they'll make improvements and add new pieces to the gallery soon.

What I did order were 12 and 6 mm Swarovski flower pendants. When I make my planned necklace, I'll be sure to post about it here!

Well, glad to introduce a new site for craft supplies to you - if you decide to make a purchase there before Sept 2nd you can use this code for free shipping: XPV3CCQ

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Blogger Designs by Blanche said...

What a great review! I'll be checking this vendor out, thanks for bringing them to my attention!

August 20, 2009 at 8:39 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hi there! Very nice review!! By the way, thanks for mentioning ABeadADay!!

I love the products I received from and the one piece I have made so far was noticed by a coworker, so it belongs to her now. :)

August 20, 2009 at 8:46 PM  
Blogger Dawno said...

Thank you Blanche! As always, Lisa, I'm very happy to mention you - I'm constantly inspired by your posts.

August 20, 2009 at 9:42 PM  

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