The world is a huge place – but social media has made it easier than ever to connect with people and companies you’d otherwise never even know. One such connection I’ve made is with Level Up Dice, an Australian company specializing in higher-end luxury dice. Any of you that have spent much time looking for metal, gemstone, or other precious material dice have probably at least seen some of their products in the past.
Likewise, they are often seen on the popular Acquisitions Incorporated games (a PennyArcade D&D actual play series).
Packaging and Shipping
When you order a product from across the globe, you run the risk of – well – having your package shipped across the globe. I would feel remiss if I did not share my experience in its entirety.
Well, crap… Looking at this package, I just knew these dice were ruined – meaning another several weeks of waiting to get a replacement. Luckily for me, however –
The dice case was COMPLETELY unharmed. I was, and am, pretty baffled. So take heart!
These gemstone lovelies come in a quite serviceable case of composite faux leather, high density foam, steel and aluminum fastenings, and a pressure hinge that holds the lid open – the same kind you’d find in a jewelry store!
I enjoy the branding Level Up has done, a lovely clean typeface, a stylish and simple icon – all around its not too intrusive and quite well done on the lid of the storage box.
The fastenings are also designed and placed to be snug and stylish in their own right.
The high density foam is pretty problematic when it comes to retrieving your dice, I won’t lie. There is almost no give to the foam to allow for easy retrieval and the tiny access hollows are not big enough for me to get my little finger inside. I ended up having to pry them out with a marker to adjust each one.
The benefit of having such firm/stiff foam is that the dice seldomly move once in place. The lid, while closed, only allows for a tiny big of wiggle for the d4, the rest are absolutely stable, making for a good display case and storage option for these precious dice.
I know why you’re here. You’re here for the dice. And let me tell you – these guys are incredibly unique and lovely. Lets take a closer look at each one and review some of the gemstone properties.
Note: the Mohs Hardness Scale ranges from 1 (very brittle) to 10 (diamond hardness).
Jasper d4 (Hardness 6.5-7)
Jasper is a type of Quartz – named from the Greek word for “spotted stone.” Nearly every form of jasper is multicolored – often splotchy, spotted, or striped – though the colors vary widely. Jasper is quite dense and fairly hard.
Weighing in at 0.15oz, the Jasper d4 is about 2.5x heavier than a traditional acrylic d4.
The real selling point of these dice are their lovely patterns and completely asymmetrical look. Much like wood-grain, these dice, even when chiseled from the same block, will always have unique patterns and un-uniform color.
Lapis Lazuli d6 (Hardness 5-5.5)
A gemstone that has been used for thousands upon thousands of years – including ancient Egyptian jewelry – Lapis is considered a timeless classic.
Lapis, actually, means “stone” in Latin. And though you may think otherwise “lazuli” has become defined as ‘blue’ simply for the popularity of this gemstone’s color. You can honestly say that lapis lazuli is just a pretty rock – it’s not really even a mineral!
You can expect your Lapis die to, on average, weight almost exactly twice as much as their acrylic version.
Don’t be fooled – despite the rough looking exterior and odd marbling – the die is completely smooth. I love the blue color, but I do wish the die had a bit more polish to it – giving it a more expressive gemstone shine.
Red Tiger’s Eye d8 (Hardness 7)
Another quartz family gemstone, Tiger’s Eye will always have a series of brown, gold, and red colors marbled together. They’re fairly hard and modestly dense – you can expect these dice to have a silky luster.
These dice will give you the “mesa” vibe – especially the d8 of my set.
Tiger’s eye, much like Lapis, will clock in at about twice the weight of your traditional plastic die – simple and easy.
I’m told some people take stock in the Tiger’s Eye gemstone’s ability to help people focus – granted, the lovely color and smooth feel of the dice may make it a wash in the end. One of my favorite gemstones.
Hematite d10 (Hardness 5-6)
I cannot stress enough – Hematite you see in jewelry or novelty shops, most of the time, is not actually the gemstone Hematite. I cannot confirm with absolute certainty that these dice are really iron oxide, but from what I know – they seem to be the real deal!
Hematite is fairly dense, but otherworldly brittle. Hematite rings shatter under almost no provocation. Keep that in mind when purchasing a full set of Hemtatite dice, as the corners may snap off if dropped.
Hematite is quite heavy – it is iron oxide after all. You can expect these dice to be three times heavier than acrylic dice. Their weight is comparable to other metal offerings you’ll find here on my blog and from Level Up Dice.
Hematite has a deep gunmetal color. It’s easy to polish and care for, and the red contrasts well enough to keep the numbers visible. I would urge Level Up Dice to offer a white lettered variation to go with the rest of the collector’s set – but few people will have a complaint with this crimson option.
Howlite d12 (Hardness 3.5!)
A very porous and soft material – howlite should be reserved for those who will care for their dice. It has a beautiful white chalky color with small veins of graphite grey running through it.
I’m quite impressed with how sharp and angular the die is, considering how brittle Howlite is – most of the time when I see it, it is kept round and polished – like beads and marbles – to prevent those edges from breaking off or rounding through use.
Howlite will feel about twice as heavy when compared to plastic. The distribution of weight in the die is very even feeling, making it roll quite well.
The deep veined colors make a lovely contrast to the pale white exterior. When the light catches the die just right – there is a slight luminosity to it that mimics bone.
Amethyst d% (Hardness 7)
“Real” amethyst has a deep purple color (like plum or violet) – but in general amethysts can range quite vastly from those dark shades of purple to pale, near white lavender. Keep in mind that amethyst is extremely plentiful, so these dice are chosen for a cool and interesting look, not for their purity!
Under the surface, these dice look like cracked ice, but the face of the die is extremely smooth and well polished.
These guys are about twice the weight of average dice, giving it a hefty quality to contrast the delicate color.
Being quite translucent – the small imperfections within the stone make these, by far, the most photogenic and striking of all the listed gemstones when daylight is available. These are show stoppers, for sure.
Malachite d20 (Hardness 3-4!)
Another very brittle gemstone, the striking greens and whites make for a lovely and pleasing contrast that make for incredibly pretty dice.
Malachite is completely opaque, so no amount of additional light will change the look of the face of these dice – giving a reliable look in all lighting conditions.
Malachite is the only gemstone in this set that is nearly identical to the acrylic version in weight. This one, for instance, weighs 0.03oz less than a similar sized plastic d20.
The selling point for these dice, other than the variations of green and wonderful marbling, is the smooth, polished, opaque faces of the die – letting the numbers be crisp and clean while keeping the weight familiar and very manageable.
I cannot tell you exactly how much a collector’s set, such as this, will cost. I can guess, based on the relative price of the dice within, that it will set you back between $75-110 USD. The most interesting material, to me, was hands down the Amethyst, though I have trouble spelling it, as the translucence gives it a dynamic and shocking beauty.
I am most excited that Level Up Dice have been so open and accepting of reviewer feedback that the entire company has shifted, changed, and conformed to better serve their customers. I feel that some customers may like to see a collector’s set of opaque gemstone dice, others may wish to get a translucent variety set. Pale gemstones, dark gemstones – the options are near limitless.
One thing I can say with certainty: for a debut product on this blog, LevelUpDice has done an amazing job with quality control, shipping, customer service, and their steadfast commitment to stand behind their products no matter the problem. I can honestly recommend each of you go check out their store (Australia/International store and USA store online now, European online portal in the works soon) and let me know what you think!
I don’t always advocate rolling, but when I do… be sure you have to Drop the Die.
Review by JB Little, Follow me on twitter for more “useful” information.