Monday, December 21, 2009
I had one of my regular customers come in last week looking for his annual Christmas present. When he said he had no idea what he was looking for this year, I suggested (as I knew he had been with this one woman for awhile) that perhaps it was time to give her a ring. Immediately, of course, sweat began to pour out, hemming and hawing began, and I generally got him completely aflutter. However what then transpired (or tranSPIRERed in this case) was a conversation about whether or not it was appropriate to give an engagement ring (I had initially actually suggested a sort of "promise" ring) as a Christmas present. He related how he had actually had a discussion about this at work and that he worked with quite a few women. They had ALL said that an engagement ring was NOT a Christmas present. For that matter it isn't a present at all.
The fact of the matter is that they are right. An engagement ring is a statement of commitment, a declaration of your love for this ONE person, and something to be worn as an indication that this person is no longer available to the general male public (or female if you happen to be gay). It is NOT a present. That is just cheaping out and trying to kill two birds with one stone. Now if you want to give an engagement ring on Valentine's Day, that's fine as there is nothing more romantic in this world than asking, and being asked, to marry someone. But to give it as a Christmas present (or birthday present) and then pretend that you don't need to give them anything else is simply not the right thing to do. And who wants to be remembered as a betrothed who cheaped out at the very beginning of the new and exciting path you might be embarking on. So fellas, face up to it. Give an engagement ring as a sign of your commitment but DON'T give it as a substitute for some other present. (Ideally of course, if you are commited to giving it to them for one of these events, you should first give them a beautiful pair of earrings or a necklace and THEN surprise them with the ring.)
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I get asked about this more and more lately but I think a lot of people aren't trying to look at the whole picture. First of all, it should be noted that in many areas diamonds have brought great wealth and opportunity to nations desperate for income (Botswana is a notable example). When you decide not to buy the product you actually end up hurting countries like Botswana far more then you are hurting any conflict areas since 99%+ of the diamonds out there are conflict free. You should also be aware that currently more people are dying over the search for and mining of tantalum, a product used in every single cell phone in America, then in any current diamond mining areas. Are you willing to give up your cell phones? I lived for 40 years without a cell phone and got along just fine. And what is our excessive use of oil doing to the environment and how many lives have been lost to guarantee the steady flow of oil?
I understand that jewelry, often considered a luxury, is an easy target. But I firmly believe that if you can't stand to live with the idea that a dear price may have been paid for you to get a product, then you simply shouldn't buy it at all. Everyone seems to want the product, they just want to figure out a way to get it guilt free. But here's the real truth to the matter: NO MATTER WHERE YOU PURCHASE A DIAMOND, WHETHER IT'S CANADIAN, AFRICAN, RUSSIAN, AUSTRALIAN OR ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD THERE IS ALWAYS A CHANCE (ALBEIT SMALL) THAT SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE PAID A PRICE TO GET IT INTO YOUR HANDS. Whenever there is a large amount of money involved, particularly where it is concentrated in small, easily transportable objects there will be crime associated with it. PERIOD. You can't get away from it. It's been like this since mankind first emerged from the forests and it's stayed that way ever since. My firm belief is that, with the Kimberly Process in place, and with the new information age meaning that bad news spreads incredibly easily and quickly, only a very, very minute amount of diamonds are actually conflict stones but NO ONE can absolutely 100% guarantee that the one they are selling isn't. You should also be aware that all diamond mining, no matter where it takes place, leaves some amount of environmental damage (although they have gotten much better about trying to minimize this).
I know that the Canadians heavily promote their diamond product as conflict free, but who's to say that some material from other countries isn't finding it's way into Canada and being cut there and sold as Canadian goods? After all, there's big money involved, THERE IS NO WAY TO IDENTIFY WHERE A DIAMOND COMES FROM, and all you can do is depend on the dealer's word.
So what's a consumer to do? Well you can live with the fact that the odds of your getting a conflict diamond (especially from companies like Lazare Diamond who were instrumental in setting up the Kimberly Process) are extremely small, and that you are helping many developing nations earn some amount of money from their natural resources. Or you can buy a colored stone, something I strongly recommend because, personally, I think a fine blue sapphire is both more striking and is far more rare than a diamond (plus you get more bang for your buck). Or you can simply forget about getting a stone altogether. There is nothing wrong with having an interesting, but stoneless, band for an engagement ring.
Recently there has been a lot of press about synthetic diamonds coming into the marketplace. While fancy colored diamond synthetics have been available for quite some time, colorless diamonds are still extremely rare. The companies producing them regularly come out and make big press announcements that they are soon going to be producing massive quantities of colorless synthetic diamonds, but it has yet to actually happen. Are they producing some? Yes. In quantity? No. The other issue with these stones is that it takes a huge amount of energy to produce them as they are produced under high temperature and high pressure over a long period of time. So you may be avoiding the conflict diamond issue, but personally, I believe that you are inflicting more environmental damage.
My personal goal has always been to achieve some balance in my life. I bought a hybrid car before the gas prices went up because I felt it was the right thing to do. I recycle. I buy my gold from a refiner that sells me only recycled metals. I started disclosing gemstone treatments over 20 years ago, long before any other companies were doing it. I try to minimize my impact on the environment. I try to contribute to as many good causes as possible. But I also know that I am not going to give up a car altogether, nor am I going to stop using diamonds and colored stones in my jewelry. The choice of course, is yours. I just ask that you think about all of the things you are doing before focusing in on only one issue.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
So let's start with a little history. Diamonds have been known almost since man became civilized (assuming you can say that man is actually civilized even today). But when diamonds were found in ancient times they were extremely hard for the people to cut or polish, what with their hardness and all and no modern technology to help. Some of the oldest known historical diamonds were simply polished with a few facets on the top and left flat on the bottom. It was about the best that could be done at the time.
However, over time, man, in his never ending quest for wealth finally figured out how to take such a rare (at that time) substance and actually cut it into something that sparkled a bit, particularly in candlelight. Most diamond crystals occur in the form of two inverted pyramids and early cutters figured out that they could lop off a piece on the top, and then add some facets around the still somewhat square stone to get some nice light reflection. These early cuts are known as "old mine cuts", almost always have a squared off outline, high crowns (tops) and either excessively shallow or deep pavilions (bottoms). Their facets were almost always lopsided, poorly placed and there were often naturals around the girdles (a natural is a part of the original diamond crystal skin that was never polished---you see this on some modern cuts as well because in a cutters' efforts to retain as much weight as possible they would often not even finish rounding up a diamond's girdle on the narrower spots on the crystal).
In the early 20th century, cutting techniques improved and they figured out how to actually round off the outlines of the crystals, achieving round stones. They also began to realize that if they didn't leave such a large crown on the stone they could actually cut a second stone from the same crystal. These early stones, which are still usually top heavy, have very small tables, are not very well cut either, but have rounded outlines are known as old European cuts.
Then in 1919, a diamond cutter/mathematician who's name was Tolkowsky worked out a formula for what angles to cut a diamond to in order to maximize the brilliance and light reflection from the crystal. This cut became known as the American Ideal Cut and was the standard against which all round cut diamonds were judged until just fairly recently. Tolkowsky had a cousin/apprentice who's name was Lazare Kaplan. Lazare Kaplan was the first person to adopt and popularize the American Ideal Cut and has continued to cut it ever since. The company Lazare Kaplan is now known as Lazare Diamond and they were the first in a number of other important advancements in the diamond industry, including developing the first lasers that could be used to imprint numbers (or words) on the girdle of a diamond (I believe they still own the patent) and a new high pressure high temperature treatment used to change the appearance of certain types of diamonds (not marketed under their own name).
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers has been selling Lazare Diamonds for close to twenty years. The best thing about them is that every stone they sell will absolutely be an ideal cut diamond. Unfortunately a lot of people today sell stones they claim are ideal but often they are just better cut than some other stones and they don't actually have the proper angling on the facets or the correct table size to actually be called ideal. In my book it's a little like being pregnant. You can't be almost pregnant and you can't be almost ideal. The stone either meets the criteria or it doesn't.
I don't want to overwhelm you all with information at one time so I'll leave this here. Next posting, I'll talk a little about quality and rarity of diamonds.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I always wanted to do one of my ads in the Boston Globe with a picture of a platinum ring and the headline: The Other White Meat...Metal (with Meat with a line through it). In fact it isn't the other white metal, as it really is a white metal as opposed to white gold that is actually yellow metal posing as something it isn't.
Platinum is normally worked as either a 900/100 platinum/iridium mix (platinum is almost always alloyed with a member of the platinum metals group) or a 950/50 platinum/ruthenium mix. The numbers refer to the parts of platinum relative to the parts of alloy. There are other alloys available and recently some companies have started to work with a 585 mix (14k yellow gold is 58.5% pure gold) although they aren't allowed to call it platinum as the metal quality laws don't allow anything less than 900/100 to be called platinum. Personally I like that platinum is used with such a high purity level (I only sell 18k gold or higher for the same reason) and it seems foolish to cheapen it so much. but there is always someone out there looking for a way to make a buck.
Platinum is a more expensive metal than gold for a variety of reasons. One is that it generally is more per ounce than gold is (although they are getting incredibly close in price at the moment as gold continues to rise due to the value of the dollar falling so much). It is also worked purer than gold (90/10 or 95/5 as opposed to 75/25 for 18k gold) normally. It is also a much denser metal so the exact same piece in platinum weighs far more than gold does. And to top it all off it is a much more difficult metal to work with. While hand constructing platinum is certainly possible, casting is a far easier option normally. Platinum is soldered or fused at such high temperatures that protective eye gear is necessary whenever working with it and it takes far longer to attain a suitable finish than gold.
There is some confusion about the durability of platinum. Depending on who you talk to you'll hear that platinum scratches much easier, that it is harder than gold, that it lasts longer, doesn't hold up as well, you name it. In fact all metals scratch, especially when used in rings. Platinum does, in some cases, seem to scratch a little easier but it builds up a nice patina as it does. However, the difference between platinum and gold is that when you scratch a gold ring you actually remove metal from it. When you scratch a platinum ring most (although not all) of the metal is simply moved from one point on the ring to another. Hence it is actually a more durable metal as it will wear away more slowly.
So the question becomes should you get platinum or should you get white gold? In my belief, you should get the one which has the color that pleases you the most. This is a little tricky when buying commercially made rhodium plated white gold as it starts out looking almost the same as platinum, but you do have to remember that it will change in time. My 18k palladium white gold has a different appearance altogether than platinum. There is nothing wrong with it. It is just different.
Personally I believe white metals were put on Earth only to accent yellow ones and anyone asking me would be told, get a yellow gold piece. But I'm not the one who's going to wear it. For those of you who love white metals, get the one who's color you like and enjoy!
Pictured above is one of my platinum rings with a color shift purple/blue sapphire and diamonds.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
So here's what happens to pictures when you get a professional involved. My good friend Lorrie, who is perhaps the single most talented person I know, did a little work to my picture and Voila! you can actually see the darn things and the way they really look. Lorrie, incidentally is a jeweler, photographer (she takes all of my advertising photos and some of my website ones), graphic artist (she designed my logo), weaver and then she has some kind of a regular day job too! I may have left out some of her talents as every time I talk to her I find out about another. One of my best new (relatively speaking) designs for earrings I did for her originally:
I had another happy, newly engaged couple in the other day. The young man had come to me to get this engagement ring for his girlfriend who was in Israel at the time. He picked out the design and we started talking about how he was going to propose. He was picking her up at the airport so he thought that would be a good place to do it. When she came out of customs, he was down on his knees with flowers in hand. She says that she thought he was just so emotional about seeing her that he had fallen to his knees and she kept telling him to get up...until he pulled out the ring! And then she was speechless. This is a great business to be in.
I promised I would talk about my "green gold" in this posting so I'd better get into it. First of all "green gold" shouldn't be confused with green gold, which is gold that has been alloyed to have a greenish cast to it. All karat gold used in jewelry is an alloy of pure gold and various other metals. In most cases it is alloyed with copper and silver and in order to get a red (pink or rose) gold it has a high copper to silver ratio, a yellow gold will have approximately equal amounts, and a green gold has a high silver to copper ratio. White gold is an entirely different story but I'll get to that in another posting.
Anyway the "green gold" I'm talking about here is environmentally sound, preferably recycled, gold. A number of gold mining companies have recently changed their mining practices to reduce damage to the environment as much as possible, but there is a huge amount of this resource already mined from the Earth and the less we have to mine, the better it is. Unfortunately mercury is often used in the gold mining process and it is a major and dangerous pollutant.
A number of years ago, my primary gold supplier began selling only recycled gold for their mill products and they are active participants in the No Dirty Gold Campaign. Additionally they have spent a large amount of money to upgrade their refining facilities so that they meet or exceed all federal, state and local laws regarding pollutants. For their finished products (none of which I buy as I only sell jewelry I make) they do have to purchase some metal but they follow these guidelines when they choose the suppliers they use:
1) Appreciation of basic human rights outlined in international conventions and laws.
2) Free, prior and informed consent of communities effected by mining operations.
3) Provide safe working conditions, respect for workers rights and labor standards.
4) Keep operations our of areas of armed or militarized conflict, protected areas, fragile ecosystems or other areas of high concentration value.
5) Do not force communities off their land, dump mine waste into water or generate sulfuric acid.
6) Disclose information about social and environmental effects of projects.
As you can see they are in the forefront of this issue and I'm pleased that I can offer their mill products in my jewelry. Unfortunately, my casters do not offer the same guarantees (although I believe most of their metal is also recycled) so I can only offer this option on hand built pieces, or pieces that I have cast in the past, but can hand build. It's just another small step we're trying to do to help out in the environmental mess that humans seem to have done such a good job of creating.
If you come into my shop please feel free to ask me about the "recycled gold" option.
By the way, for those of you interested, the Philippe ring is now out in my shop (albeit with some minor variations). If I can get Lorrie to take a picture of it, I'll post it, but the difference in the two colors of white metal is something I don't think I can possibly show.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
We had some trepidation about returning this year because of this but ultimately the draw for us of going back to the place where I had proposed to my wife and where we spent our honeymoon was just too strong. Interestingly the least exciting part of our stays at Ventana in the past were the restaurant. While it's location was stunning, sitting out on the deck eating lunch looking at the mountains to the left and the Pacific Ocean in front of you was always a memorable experience, and it had a very nice bar, the food was, well, like hotel food. Mind you there was nothing wrong with it. There just wasn't anything (especially for a foodie like me) very special about it either. Consequently Kathy and I were prepared for the worst, as the Inn had moved a small kitchen into their main building where their offices are located and set up a small dining room there as well for hotel guests only. One of the things I find so relaxing about the Inn is that there really isn't much to do there so the idea that we might have to drive out somewhere else every night to eat (especially on the winding Coast Road after starting the cocktail hour early) was NOT something I was looking forward to.
You may be asking by now what this all has to do with jewelry but bear with me. There are a number of points I'm getting to but you have to hear the whole story behind it first.
Upon our arrival, after a 5 1/2 hour plane flight, and a 3 1/2 hour drive from the San Francisco airport, through mist and fog, the last thing we wanted to do after checking into our room was to get back in the car and drive somewhere for dinner, so we headed over to the main building to see what they had done about the restaurant situation. They had set up a formal dining room area and off to the side, right next to the what was now the door to the kitchen (formerly the office door) they had set up a 4 seat bar. Since Kathy and I both prefer to sit, and eat, at bars we plopped ourselves down there and settled in. We were presented with menus that were short (4 appetizers, 4 mains) but that certainly didn't look anything like the former restaurant's menu.
The food, as it turned out was simply amazing. It utilized completely different ingredients (although there was a nod to the fact that it was still a hotel restaurant with a meat and a fish dish), was flavorful, unique, amazingly well presented and just downright delicious. Now because of our seats at the bar, we were kind of in the middle of the action as everything went by us on the way in or out of the kitchen and we could see through the window on the door what was happening in the kitchen as well. We were befuddled by how such a tiny (and I mean tiny) kitchen could be producing food of this quality but we were thrilled to know that we wouldn't have to be making daily trips out to eat elsewhere.
I can't remember if we actually met the chef on the first night we were there (although I believe we did and complimented him then) but on our second night, after yet another fantastic meal, he came out, introduced himself to us and we had a very pleasant conversation. His name is Philippe Breneman and he had been brought in by the hotel group that now manages Ventana to get the temporary restaurant set up and running while he was waiting for the restaurant at another inn they manage in Santa Cruz to be built, as that was going to be his restaurant. In the course of the conversation, I mentioned that we were there for five nights and the menu was a little short for our stay given some of our food preferences. He almost immediately offered to make us a five course prix fixe meal for the next night that would allow us to have some things that weren't on the menu. Every single dish he brought out for the five course meal was a masterpiece of attention to detail, flavor and sight. He personally brought out each plate and talked about the food and how it fit into the theme he had come up with for the meal. Although he used many of the main ingredients that were on the regular menu, he presented them all in a completely different format. This was, if not the best meal I've ever had, one of the top two or three meals I have ever had in my life (and we eat out a lot). We were also the only people in the restaurant the meal was prepared for.
As our stay continued we spent more time with Philippe learning something about each other's lives and he continued to treat us with service that was far and above anything that was asked of him. Now I have a number of local chefs who are friends and quite a few more where we are regulars and are somewhat known by the staff, but I have never had an experience like this.
Okay, okay, so what's my point? There are two actually. The first is that, at Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers I try to treat my customers the same way that Philippe treated us. It is important for anyone who is taking care of the public to do just that. Take care of your customers. I try to do that myself by listening to my customers about what it is they want and why they want it. I try to learn something about them so that when I make them a piece (especially a custom one) I am making something that has meaning to them. I like to think of myself as being here to make my customers happy. I'm not just selling a piece of jewelry; I'm more often selling something that has huge meaning to the people who are going to wear it. In over 25 years in my store I have created thousands of wedding bands for people and every day I am continuing to be a part of their lives. You may not remember where you bought a car or an air conditioner twenty five years ago, but you do remember where you got your wedding bands.
So here's the second point: A few months ago I got an email from a woman (Sara) who said that she was Philippe's fiancee and that they were getting married soon and that Philippe had insisted that I make the band for him. I was thrilled by this both because I had obviously made a new friend, but also because someone who had never actually been in my store (and it is different to see something on line than to actually come in) had felt so strongly about me that they wanted me to participate in such a significant event in their lives.
We had many emails back and forth trying to come up with a design that would make both Philippe and Sara happy and that I could produce for them in their price range. Pictures of different pieces went back and forth. Different ideas flowed throughout the process. But foremost in my mind throughout the process was who Philippe himself was and how he had treated us. How could I not at least attempt to make him something that would impart at least some amount of the pleasure for him that he had created for us, for such an important time of his life?
We finally arrived at a band that would utilize my 18k palladium white gold (a metal with a distinctly greyer tone than most commercial white golds) in the center with platinum (a distinctly whiter metal) on the sides, a row of eight flush set diamonds in the center with the grey toned white gold sandblasted and the platinum on the sides high polished. This band was completely hand fabricated, utilizing metal from my supplier who provides me with recycled gold and platinum, and after about another two weeks I had it ready to go.
Last week I shipped it out to Sara. Of course, then the nail biting stage starts. Did I do what they wanted? Will they like it? Will it fit (in this case a big question because there really isn't any good way to size the band)? So I waited and wondered for a few days. Yesterday I got a call from Philippe (the first I had talked to him since the whole process started) who was thrilled with it. He wants to start wearing it right away but Sara won't allow it (although she said to me in an email: "By the way, it is at our house, hidden away, but he keeps sneaking peeks at it and trying it on!") Now THIS is why I make jewelry. And this, as I said in an earlier posting on custom work, is why you should look for a jeweler who will listen to you. Someone can have the most wonderful skills in the world, but if they don't want to see who you are, they won't be able to make something that is right for you.
As for Philippe, he is currently running his restaurant called Aquarius in Santa Cruz. Anyone reading this who is on the West Coast should absolutely make a trip to his restaurant. I can't guarantee you'll get your own personalized five course meal, but I can guarantee you'll have an absolutely wonderful one.
Because of my marginal photography skills I did not take a picture of Philippe's ring, but I am making one up for the cases (if you're in, just ask to see the "Philippe ring") and I hope to get a picture of that once it is made up (that I will post here) and I have one of my photography assistants in for a round of picture taking.
My next posting wil be "Why I'm in This Business II" and should be up much sooner than this one came out.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
The second ring (meant to be worn with the first) was the same design but with a much smaller rose cut stone that the customers were told was a grey diamond as well.
One of the first thing I asked this couple was if they had recently purchased the rings, and when they said they had, why they weren't having the store they bought the rings in size the bands.
After all, I always include free sizing (anytime) whenever I sell a piece of jewelry, and frankly I think that any store that sells rings (excluding perhaps antique stores) should offer the service. If you pay a lot of money (and this couple did) the rings should be made to fit. If I did the sizing I was going to charge them and that seems kind of silly to me. They said the "designer" who made the bands was in California, but I told them that the store that sold them should at least have a local jeweler they worked with who could do it for them. They decided that they would go back to where they purchased the rings and ask them to do it.
However, that isn't what this is really about. Because I am a Graduate Gemologist, and because I am always thorough when looking at a piece of jewelry someone presents me, I took a closer look at the stones. When I looked at the smaller one, I realized I could see a streak of blue in the stone. Now ANY diamond crystal that shows blue in it would be properly cut (into a modern brilliant) and sold as a blue diamond, even if the color doesn't extend through the stone. As a matter of fact, most natural color blue diamonds that I've been shown by dealers, are stones that you have to hold up and kind of look in the corners to find the blue in them. Obviously there are blue diamonds that aren't like this (I've sold one and the Hope Diamond is a most notable one), but the bulk of them are, as blue is such an incredibly rare color in diamonds.
My suspicions now aroused, I checked the stone with my diamond tester first, and when the reading came back negative, took a closer look at the stone under the microscope. Sure enough, there was a blue streak as I might see in a very low quality sapphire and there were inclusions indicative of it being a sapphire. We then had a longer discussion about what the salespeople had told them about the identity of the smaller stone and they insisted they had been told it was a diamond. At that point I told them that they had to go back to the store and deal with that issue first as it was far more important than the sizing issues.
Legally, if they were told in writing (definitively) or even verbally (harder to prove), that the stone was a diamond than that is what they are entitled to have and it is the legal responsibility of the store to provide them with the same ring with a diamond in it. Ethically it is also the RIGHT thing to do.
Most customers, when they are buying a piece of jewelry are buying blind. They have no real idea of what they are getting and it is up to the jewelry store to make sure that they are clearly told exactly what it is. I haven't heard back from this couple about what happened (not sure if I will either, as the bearer of bad news is often not appreciated much) so I'm not sure if I can provide readers with a final comment on this.
However, my point in this posting is that all jewelers (or stores selling jewelry) have both a legal and ethical responsibility to fully disclose exactly what a customer is buying, and if the customer does not understand the information, they should explain it more thoroughly. As a customer, you should always make sure you shop at jewelry stores where full disclosure is a normal part of the sale, and you should also insist that any information relating to the identity, or quality, of a stone is clearly written on the receipt.
Next posting: Gemstone treatments
Pictured above: One of my favorite pins: 18k, 22k gold with Tibetan turquoise, Chinese freshwater pearl, fancy colored sapphires, and diamond.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
While I also enjoy selling to anyone who comes in my shop, it's always nice when the "special" pieces go to someone I know a bit, who I know will appreciate it more. The drusy chrysocola pendant purchased in my first went to a somewhat older (as in age--she's 86) customer of mine, who's son and daughter-in-law buys from me quite regularly as well. She's a great person, travels extensively and, most importantly, has a wonderful sense of humor. And she loves my jewelry. What more could I ask?
I had put the piece in my window display and she happened to notice it as she walked by. No real selling involved here. Once she saw it, she just knew she had to have it. I wish it was this easy all the time!!!
In my next posting I'm going to get into some ethics issues revolving around the jewelry business as it seems to have come up a few times in the last few days.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Every once in awhile I have an ah ha moment. For some reason it's almost always when I'm in bed (often asleep--hence the bags under my eyes all the time). One of the dominant themes that runs through a lot of my work came to me that way over 20 years ago when I was trying to do a new piece for my wife, Kathy, with a mobe pearl and some diamonds she had gotten in a piece before she knew me.
I had the same thing happen with the drusy chrysocola pictured in my first post (although it wasn't quite so meaningful). I woke up with the concept that I wanted to make it fit into a basket of sorts and that I wanted to cover up and use the brown part of the stone as the base for the design element while allowing the drusy part of the stone to speak for itself. The basket idea worked from an economic standpoint as well as I didn't have to build a large heavy bezel and back for a rather large stone.
Creating the actual piece, of course, was not nearly as simple as I anticipated at first, especially once I decided to add the diamonds. Soldering pieces onto an open wire basket without the whole thing falling apart is always fun. Trying to set stones into bezels (the piece that holds the stones) when there is no real support (I had to do it before I set the chrysocola) is also a lot of fun. Since I still handcraft so much of my jewelry, a lot of the things that I do are still a bit tricky, but a little challenge is always far more interesting than doing the same thing over and over again. And, as it happens, I made something up that I really liked.
In my next post I'll talk about actually selling the piece.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
It's always fun to sort through hundreds, or even thousands, of loose gemstones to find that one or two that just moves or inspires you, or you know is simply so beautiful, that someone will come along who loves it as much as you do. I have different sources for different types of goods; some I only buy one or two types of things from, usually because they're specializing in a particular product, but some carry a range of goods that I buy. My primary sapphire dealer also carries beautiful tourmalines, garnets, peridots, etc. but doesn't sell pearls or opals. My opal/pearl supplier doesn't carry anything other than that.
My latest purchase was from Penny who's a West Coast based dealer who carries a lot of cabochon gemstones and a wide mix of goods. She always has some interesting pieces, more funky than my traditional stone suppliers, and while I don't buy a lot of goods from her I can always find something that excites me. The drusy chrysocola pictured in my previous posting (7/17) came from her in my latest purchase. The stones pictured with today's posting also came from her.
In my next posting I'll talk about how the design came about for the drusy chrysocola.
Pictured: Rutilated quartz, carved onyx, Argentine agate