Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The AUTUMN COLLECTION - Leapordskip Jasper !

Autumn colors can not be brought out any better than they are in Leapordskin Jasper.

Leapordskin Jasper graduated coin beads are the focal point of this 20 inch necklace. Czech crystal beads sepparate the coin beads to give them depth.

Some of the colors within the Leapordskin Jasper arfe repeated along the sides with Poppy Jasper peanut beads, peach Crystals and gunmetal seed beads.

The necklace is closed with a antique silver plated Toggle clasp.

The silver plated French Hook earrings hang 1 1/2 inch with Crystals and Poppy Jasper.

Jasper - Sometimes we have an Agate, sometimes we have a Jasper, sometimes we have a name and not sure which exact gemstone we have. Many times we try to find an "easy answer" where there isn't one. The basic difference between Agate and Jasper is a structural one - at the microscopic level. It has nothing to do with the color or pattern. Agate is composed of microscopic 'fibers' of crystalline quartz. Jasper is composed of microscopic 'grains' of crystalline quartz. Jasper has less-regular patterns and is less defined than the Agates. Another subtle difference between the two is that Agates tend to be translucent (or at least contain translucent bands), while Jaspers are generally opaque.

Jasper coming from Greek origin, "iaspis", means "spotted stone." This form of semiprecious microcrystalline Quartz is usually red, brown or green. Its patterns are much less regular and defined than those of its sister variety, Agate. Although the term Jasper is often applied to unidentified stones, true Jaspers are metamorphic rocks. Jasper derives its colorful patterns from other minerals present, and is often named according to its pattern. It has a dull luster but takes a fine polish, and its hardness and other physical properties are those of Quartz. Jasper is often sealed with petroleum products. Its polish might wash away in water, so clean with a soft, dry cloth. Leapordskin Jasper is an ideal Jasper, one with many colors and meets the criteria of the "spotted" stone. Poppy Jasper is opaque and somewhat striped but of a single color, usually shades of dark reds.

Czech Crystals and gunmetal are also used in this set.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The ELEGANCE COLLECTION -- Lapis Lazuli and Crystals !

For those who want a "different" kind of a jewelry piece and who are not afraid of getting a lot of attention, this Lapis Lazuli asymmetrical necklace should fill the requirement quite well. The left side with the Lapis Lazuli rectangles has a 3 inch drop of golden beads and a Lapis Lazuli round bead below the main necklace.

Lapis Lazuli rectangles join with three rows of Lapis Lazuli round beads, Czech Crystal round beads, Czech golden glass beads and blue Crystal faceted rondels with gold plated hammered coin beads.

A gold plated triple circle Toggle clasp finishes the 21 inch necklace.

Gold plate Leverback earrings consist of a Lapis Lazuli bead, Czech Crystal and a golden accent piece with a 2 inch drop.

Lapis Lazuli --- See the BLOG entry for Sunday Aug 28th for a complete write-up about Lapis Lazuli.

Czech Crystals are also used in this set.

Monday, August 29, 2011


SOLD Moss Agate graduated coin beads overlap each other with Bronze speacers between each bead.

The sides of the necklace are then completed with Cloisonne beads, Ivoryite rondells and Bronze spacers.

This 18 inch necklace is then fitted with an antique gold plated square Toggle clasp.

The matching gold plate French Hook earrings of Cloisonne, Ivoryite and Bronze spacers dangle 1 7/8 inches.

Agate is a microcrystalline variety of silica, chiefly Chalcedony, characterised by its fineness of grain and brightness of color. Although Agates may be found in various kinds of rock, they are classically associated with volcanic rocks and can be common in certain metamorphic rocks. Colorful Agates and other Chalcedonies were obtained over 3,000 years ago from the Achates River, now called Dirillo, in Sicily. Most Agates occur as nodules in volcanic rocks or ancient lavas where they represent cavities originally produced by the disengagement of volatiles in the molten mass which were then filled, wholly or partially, by siliceous matter deposited in regular layers upon the walls. Such Agates, when cut transversely, exhibit a succession of parallel lines, often of extreme tenuity, giving a banded appearance to the section. Some Agates are found to be translucent when cut thin enough. Many different varieties and types of Agate occur naturally and all different kinds of names have been applied based on location found or the colors in the Agate. Moss Agate is one of some 130 plus names currently associated with specifically named Agates.

Cloisonné is an ancient technique for decorating metalework objects, but in recent centuries using vitreous enamels, and also inlays of cut gemstones, glass, and even linen. and other cloth materials, has become common place, especially in jewelry beads.

Ivoryite is a great substitute for ivory. It is a sedimentary precipitate of magnesium, calcium and silica. It is 5 to 5-1/2 on the Moh's scale, which makes it slightly harder than ivory. Ivoryite can be worked with metal tools, but cuts effortlessly with diamond tools. Polishes well with diamond, tin oxide, cerium oxide or white rouge. Excellent material for inlay, cabochons and small carvings. Do not confuse Ivoryite with Ivorite, whic is a black tektite material from Africa. The majority of Ivoryite currenly comes from the western United States, especially Colorado and California.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lapis Lazuli - The Perfect Blue !

Lapis Lazuli is a relatively rare semi-precious stone that has been prized since antiquity for its intense blue color. Lapis Lazuli is a gemstone of the kind that might have come straight out of the Arabian Nights: a deep blue with golden inclusions of pyrites which shimmer like little stars.

Lapis Lazuli has been collected from mines in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan for over 6,000 years and there are sources that are found as far east as in the region around Lake Baikal in Siberia. Trade in the stone is ancient enough for Lapis jewelry to have been found at Predynastic Egyptian and ancient Sumerian sites, and as Lapis beads at neolithic burials in Mehrgarh, the Caucasus, and even as far from Afghanistan as Mauritania

The main component of Lapis Lazuli is Lazurite (25% to 40%), a feldspathoid silicate mineral. Most Lapis Lazuli also contains Calcite (white), Sodalite (blue), and Pyrite (metallic yellow). Other possible constituentsare: augite; diopside; enstatite; mica; hauynite; hornblende, and nosean. Some Lapis Lazuli contains trace amounts of the sulfur-rich löllingite variety geyerite. Lapis Lazuli usually occurs in crystalline marble as a result of contact metamorphism.

As mentioned Lapis Lazuli has been primarily found in limestone in the Kokcha River valley of the Badakhshan province in northeastern Afghanistan, where the Sar-e-Sang mine deposits have been worked for more than 6,000 years. In addition to the Afghan deposits, Lapis has been extracted for many years in the Andes (near Ovalle, Chile), the Lake Baikal region of Russia; Siberia; Angola; Burma; Pakistan; Canada; India; and in the USA in California and Colorado. Not all Lapis is of gemstone quality, but that which is can produce beautiful jewelry. Most Lapis is prepared in cabochon shapes.

Before the year 1834, when it became possible to produce this blue color synthetically, the only ultramarine available was that valuable substance made from genuine Lapis Lazuli that shines out at us from many works of art today. Many pictures of the Madonna, for example, were created using this paint. But in those days, ultramarine blue was not only precious and so intense that its radiance outshone all other colors; it was also very expensive. But unlike all other blue pigments, which tend to pale in the light, it has lost none of its radiance to this very day. Nowadays, the blue pigment obtained from Lapis Lazuli is mainly used in restoration work and by collectors of historical paints. Since Afghanistan is the primary supplier of gem quality material, current world conditions on top of the very extreme remoteness of the mines, Lapis Lazuli has become harder to obtain and the price has risen accordingly. However, Lapis jewelry is still in high demand because of its beauty.

Lapis Lazuli mounted in a Silver Pendant and a Silver Ring

In recent years Lapis Lazuli is commercially "synthesized" (actually simulated) by the Gilson process, using artificial ultramarine and hydrous zinc phosphates. Some dealers try and substitute Lapis using Spinel or Sodalite, or by dyed Jasper or by our old friend the Turquoise substitute, Howlite.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The AUTUMN COLLECTION - Sea Shells match Falling Leaves !

SOLD Sea Shell medallions contrast with the jet black of marquise glass beads.

The Sea Shell medallions have the look of the veins in fallen leaves.

This 19 inch necklace is highlighted with copper bubble accents and has a double circle Toggle clasp.

The matching French Hook earrings have a 3 inch drop.

Natural dyed sea shells are used in this set.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The ELEGANCE COLLECTION - Champagne and Chocolate !

Nothing can be more elegant than Pearls, even today's Glass Pearls.

Elegant strand of large champagne glass Pearls woven with same color ribbon highlight the center of this necklace.

The necklace coninues with smaller chocolate and champaign colored glas pearls and silver plated daisy spacers.

The 19 inch neckace is finished with a silver plated heart Toggle clasp.

Coordinated silver plate French Hook earrings complete the set.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Let's go traveling thru the Southwestern United States, visiting Arizona where we have many locations to find Blue Turquoise, in Nevada we will visit the Comstock Load and get Silver and then head to Colorado where in the Thunderegg Mine we will acquire Black Agate. Throughout the centuries, the peoples of the Southwest gathered, traveled and exchanged their goods. Out of the mix comes the Southwestern Style of Jewelry.

Graduated spikes of stabilized Turquoise present a "spiked look". Black Agate (Onyx) rondels are used betwen each spike as a highlight.

Black Agate (Onyx) spheres combined with Turquoise spheres and Silver highlights on each side of the two strands of this 20 inch necklace.

The clasp is a silver plated S-hook with a 2 inch silver plated chain extender.

The French Hook earrings are silver plated filigree triangles with charms of silver, Turquoise and Black Agate (Onyx) with a 1 1/2 inch drop.

Turquoise comes in many colors, shades and types in today's market. To help understand a bit, the following is provided----

Natural - This comes directly from the mine. It is cut shaped and polished and set into jewelry. It has no man made treatment or additives other than a polishing compound that adds to its luster. Several pieces of natural Turquoise from Arizona, can be seen to the right and are beautiful with very little polishing. Most stones in this state are very close to gem quality. The coloration of natural Turquoise can darken as oils from the skin work its way into the stone over the years, especially of not properly cleaned.
Stabilized – This is a natural turquoise usually in nugget form, but does not hold a luster. It is submerged into a stabilizing compound and dried, cut and prepared for jewelry. The turquoise has not been altered. The pores of the stone have been filled with a clear resin that makes the stone usable. This process allows for diversity of shapes and possibilities in jewelry making. Color Stabilized stones are considered altered and sometimes color has been added in this process. This in not necessarily bad, but it has less value than a piece that is naturally colored. Stabilized Turquoise usually does not change color with wear and because of its hardness, wears better in jewelry.
Treated - This form of color enhancement has been used for thousands of years. It is done as discussed earlier by submerging Turquoise stones into animal fat or vegetable oil and later air dried. Normally the color will not last very long. A new variety on the market, called "Motaska" and "Majave" Stone is much more stable and retains its color as well as being infused with gold, silver and copper.
Fake and Synthetic – Ceramics, bone, celluloid and plastic are used to imitate turquoise. Synthetic turquoise has a very natural matrix that is produced by placing stones in the synthetic “batter”.
Imatations - Then there are the imatations, in many cases natural gemstones that are beautiful in their own right, but due to the fact they accept dyes, many times are dyed the various turquoise colors and then are sold by unscrupulous dealers as real Turquoise. Price becomes the real determining factor when it comes to seperating real Turquoise from dyed Howlite, Magnesite or Ivoryite.

Black Agate (Onyx) which is truely a died black Agate, is more common and perhaps the most famous variety, but not as common as natural Onyx. Onyx is a crypyocrystalline form of Quartz. The colors of its bands range from white to almost every color (save some shades, such as purple or blue). A picture of a true Black Onyx specimum is seen below. True specimens of Onyx contain bands of colors of white, tan, and brown. As stated, the pure black form which most people know as Onyx, is not a naturally occuring variety. Black Agate or poorly colored Onyx is heated and dyed black to come up with the pure black form so well liked within the jewelry industry.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What Color of Gold Should You Wear ?

As far as nature is concerned there is only one answer to the question,


Gold nugget from Alaska

There is no such thing as white gold or rose gold in nature, or any other shade of gold, it is all the same color, gold. For some reason in today's market there is an extremely high demand for 'white gold'. Many people believe this is a natural option. The true demand for this white color comes from two other metals, Platinum and Silver. The cost of Silver is still somewhat low, but it will need cleaning as it will tarnish over time. Platinum on the other hand will not tarnish, but the cost is even more than gold.

White gold was created to be able to sell people a white metal that does not tarnish at a lower price than platinum. This was a keen marketing idea as people would pay the same or even more for it than traditional gold, while the cost of this alloy was far lower than normal gold alloys, thus boosting profits. However, this idea came with a number of problems. To become white, the gold had to be alloyed with a large amount of a base metal, specifically nickel. Many people are allergic to nickel when it is placed against their skin. To further complicate matters, the white color from a nickel gold alloy is not really pretty, as it is more accurately described as 'gray gold', thus the marketing plan was doomed to failure. So this marketing idea of 'white gold' had two problems to overcome, people were allergic to it and it was ugly. So to overcome these problems in order to sell 'white gold' they came up with the idea to plate it with rhodium, one of the members of the platinum family. Rhodium is an extremely expensive metal, far higher than plain platinum, but plating uses such a tiny amount, that the cost is negligible. It is a very strong metal and is very chemically resistant. A thin plating of rhodium over the unappealing white gold makes it look fabulous, so many people now select 'white gold' as the color of choice in their gold jewelry. A considerable amount of market trickery was employed and continues to this today. However, it is all in ones eye, and what the public likes is what the public will get.

Ironically, the same rhodium plating over silver keeps the silver from tarnishing. It looks and wears exactly like the finished rhodium plated nickel/white gold jewelry at a small fraction of the cost. It also has another advantage, silver is much less likely to create an allergic reaction as the nickel/white gold when some of the plating wears off, plus the silver looks whiter and prettier than the nickel/white gold when the plating wears off.

And plating does wear off, regardless of what it is, so any plated jewelry needs to be returned to the jeweler periodically for a new 'dip'. Often they will do this for 'free' or just a small cost as many times customers will make a new purchase when they take the item in to be replated. This is a win-win situation for the jeweler, as it requires very little skill to plate something once you are set up to do it.

For some unknown reason, more people in Europe have a problem with the allergic reaction to the nickel in the white gold. So another metal, palladium, which is a precious metal, which people are not allergic to was added to the gold. The cost is much higher than nickel and is even much higher than the traditional gold alloys, but there is much less allergic reactions with palladium compared to nickel, but the old problem remains that the color is just too gray. The finished project has little eye appeal as it is not as white as even inexpensive silver, thus the same solution is again employed, a rhodium dip.

Can you see the difference in plated jewelry versus non-plated by your eye? Most people can spot it very easily. All our lives we have seen cheap costume jewelry plated with gold, silver and rhodium and many people automatically think 'cheap' when they see that plated look. But nothing can compare and have the elegant look than a highly polished piece of precious metal, which plating can never hope to duplicate. Plus plating cannot, or really should say, should not be polished, as it will simply wear off, so once it is plated, it is 'done'.

So now we have our "rose gold" buffs. Rose gold is also called pink gold or red gold. This is simply a gold alloy with a lot more copper and less silver. Copper is the lower grade of the metals used in traditional alloys. When it percentage is increased, it causes the gold to have a redder color, but it can also give more people an allergic reaction and may tarnish a little as well. It is very pretty alloy all by itself, so it requires no plating.

Ever hear of green gold? It is more of a light yellow as it contains only two metals, gold and silver. In 18k it is great to work with as a smith and a purist in the trade, but the paler color is not very popular.

The color of the gold most people are used to seeing today in the United States is really 58.5% gold with the remainder split between silver and copper. This is called 14k yellow gold. The color can be improved by adding more copper and less silver, but this also makes it more brittle, more likely to tarnish, turning green when worn by some people, and a bit more difficult to work with. Usually the remaining 41.5% of 14k gold is split evenly between silver and copper, thus producing a rather washed out gold color.

People generally trend towards the traditional 18k gold alloys as the color is more golden than the 14k. Traditional 18k gold is 75% gold with the remaining 25% being half silver and half copper. At a recent Gem Show, a gold dealer was showing the various grades and colors of gold, all in all he had 66 different shades.

Some goldsmiths make jewelry that uses almost pure gold such as 23k which contains over 90% gold and a small amount of silver. It is a very rich golden color and is often thought of as too soft by most American standards. The most common carats used for gold in bullion, coins, jewelry making and goldsmithing are:
999 (24 karat) (millesimal fineness 999)
916 (22 karat) (millesimal fineness 916)
833 (20 karat) (millesimal fineness 833)
750 (18 karat) (millesimal fineness 750)
625 (15 karat) (millesimal fineness 625)
585 (14 karat) (millesimal fineness 585)
417 (10 karat) (millesimal fineness 417)
375 ( 9 karat) (millesimal fineness 375)
The use of the carat (karat in North American spelling) is a system of denoting the purity of gold by fractions of 24. The carat (karat) term is only associated with gold, millesimal fineness is used for all other precious metals. The United States currently issues 22k and 24k gold coin.

United States 22k Gold American Eagle and 24k Gold Buffalo coins

In the jewelry business, I believe that it has become necessary that full disclosure of what is being bought is made, whether it be about gemstone treatments, natural or man made gemstones, metal treatments, or what the grade the metal being used is. It is simple honesty at it's best. Many people, especially at markets and craft shows have been misled about the gold, the silver and the gemstones being purchased. That is disturbing trend. Educated customers are happy customers. They will come back and buy more, because they know what they are getting, andthey are making a fully educated choice.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The AUTUMN COLLECTION -- Shades of Fall !

Autumn or Fall, depending on what you call in in your area of the country, is a magical period of time when nature changes from the greens and bright colors of Summer to the almost mystical tans, browns, golds, yellows and reds of Autumn. These colors are repeated many times over in many of the gemstones that are also worn during this time of year.
Using an assymetrical design and earthtones, this 3-strand necklace uses large Picture Jasper coin beads as focal points between bronze toned wire bird-cage beads and Czech Crystals for one side. Czech glass brown and white tear drops and Citrine chips complete the opposide side of the necklace. Ceramic rondels and Citrine chips complete the back of the necklace with a golden S-hook clasp along one side that dramatizes the unusual arrangement of the different shapes and sizes of the components used in this 24 inch necklace.

Golden French Hook earrings with a bronze toned wire bird-cage bead, a Czech Crystal and grouped Citrine chips that hang 1 1/2 inches complete the set.

Jasper is a form of chalcedony, is usually an opaque, impure variety of silica, usually red, yellow, brown or green in color; and rarely blue. This mineral breaks with a smooth surface, and is used for ornamentation or as a gemstone. It can be highly polished and is used for vases, seals, and at one time for snuff boxes. Various varieiies of Jasper go by regional, location or pattern names. When the colors are in stripes or bands, it is called striped or banded Jasper. Picture jaspers exhibit combinations of patterns (such as banding) from flow or depositional patterns (from water or wind), dendritic or color variations resulting in what appear to be scenes or images, on a cut section. Diffusion from a center point produces a distinctive orbicular appearance, or linear banding from a fracture.

Citrine is a variety of quartz whose color ranges from a pale yellow to brown. Natural Citrines are rare; most commercial Ctrines are heat-treated Amethyst or Smoky Quartz. It is nearly impossible to tell cut Citrine from yellow Topaz visibly, but they differ in hardness. Citrine has ferric impurities, and is rarely found naturally. Brazil is the leading producer of citrine, with much of its production coming from the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Sometimes Citrine and Amethyst can be found together in the same crystal, which is then referred to as Ametrine.

Czech crystals and bronze wire are also used in this set.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Lapidary and Gemstones - unusual finds !

MAW Sit Sit --- A beautiful green colored stone that looks like fine quality jade, which makes sense since one of the constituents that make up Maw Sit Sit is jadeite. It is a metamorphic rock that was formed when higher pressure changed a formation of igneous rocks. The formation had a lot of chromium based minerals such as chromite and chrome rich jadeite, which accounts for the color. Maw Sit Sit has been pretty rare on the market, but more and more of it is appearing as time goes by.

This is a wonderful example of what the gemstone world can offer with an unusual name from a small place that no one has heard of ... until they named a gemstone after it, from a place called Maw Sit Sit in upper Myanmar. Maw sit sit was first identified by the late Dr. Eduard Gubelin in 1963 and named after the village close to the site where it was found. It is currently on the list for non-importation into the USA along with Myanmar (Burma) Rubies unless one can show a purchase date before the law went into effect.


Zoisite Conglomeriate --- This beautiful combination of Ruby embedded in a matrix of green and black Zoisite is also known as Anyolite. This stone has wonderful red Ruby crystal structure embedded in a natural matrix of green and black Zoisite. It is strikingly dramatic, beautiful and hard to come by. Bright and bold opposite colors contrast to form exquisite patterns people love to look at. Although Anyolite is many times advertised as a variety of Zoisite from Kenya and Tanzania, Anyolite is actually a metamorphic rock composed of intergrown green Zoisite crystals, black Tschermakite cystals, and Ruby crystals. It is said to be named after the Maasai word 'anyoli', meaning "green." The contrasting colours make Anyolite a popular material for sculptures and other decorative objects. It was first discovered at the Mundarara Mine, near Longido, Tanzania in 1954. Much of the material now being called Zoisite Conglomeriate nows comes out of South Africa. Anyolite is also referred to as Ruby in Zoisite or Tanganyika Artstone when smaller amounts of the black Tschermakite crystals are present. Do NOT confuse Ruby if Zoisite with Fushite, especially when it is Ruby in Fushite).


Septarian Concretion --- Concretions are masses of mineral matter formed when minerals in water are deposited about a nucleus (such as a leaf or shell or other particle) forming a rounded mass whose composition or cement is usually different from the surrounding rock. This can occur at the time of deposition, shortly thereafter, or after the sediment has hardened. Generally, concretions are harder than the rocks around them; therefore, over time the concretions can weather out of the surrounding rocks. Concretions are found world wide, but some of the best come from Wyoming and Kansas. These are formed from any of a number of minerals, including calcite, limonite, barite, pyrite, or silica. They vary widely in shape and size. The smallest are oolites, which can be smaller than the head of a pin. At the other end of the spectrum are the huge spherical Septarian Concretions, the largest of which have diameters of 20 feet or more. The exteriors of septarian concretions are crisscrossed by a network of ridges, giving some of them the appearance of a turtle shell. Geologists think they were formed by the shrinkage of concretions, which caused cracks to form, followed by the deposition of the various such minerals. When the concretions are exposed to weathering, the softer parts between the mineral-filled cracks are eroded and the cracks extend above the surface of the concretion, like ridges or little walls. When cut and polished, they make interesting stones for jewelry, as long as they are well protected. .