Nothing evokes the spirit of the American West for me more than cowboy boots and Montana sapphires. As pioneers and gold prospectors journeyed west in the mid-1800s in search of wealth and adventure, they found not only gold sparkling in the spring runoffs, but rounded pebbles of pale blue, pink, yellow and green sapphires.
Mining is hard work in any climate, but it would seem particularly grueling under the heat of the Arizona desert. There is, however, one group of miners who have been at it for millennia who don’t seem to mind the heat at all: ants. Specifically, Pogonomyrmex barbatus, the red harvester ant.
When we think of tourmaline, we might think of far-flung places like Brazil or the Himalayas. But some of the world’s most beautiful (and largest) tourmalines can be found deep in the forests of Maine. The US state is probably known more for its rocky coastlines than for the shinier, more valuable rocks under its hills, more for the frights produced by Maine native Stephen King than for the beauty produced by nature.
A few nights ago, I settled into bed before sunset, recalling childhood memories of coming in for the night at twilight while the older kids were still playing outside. I noticed the time, musing, “9:30, and it’s still light out!” Yes, it’s June, it happens every year, but it still takes me by surprise, just like daylight saving time. June 21 was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, and the first day of summer. As we welcome the warmest, longest days of the year, let’s take a look at some sunny yellow and orange gemstones to complement your summer looks.
I have always had a box of gemstones. It is an ever-changing assortment of colorful stones, comprised of acquisitions I purchased, with only a vague idea of how I might use them, or a design I’ll create. Most of the time, I buy what I like and know the rest will work itself out later… sometimes much later.
Who knew gray could be so colorful? Yes, gray. Boring? Neutral? Depressing as a heavy autumn sky? The uniform of dystopian conformity? None of the above! Those using gray as a symbol of everything dull have obviously never seen the confounding beauty of a gray spinel.
The custom design process usually provides plenty of inspiration, constraint and collaborative exchange for me to produce thoughtful designs that delight my clients. There are times, however, when this magical combination is lacking and the clarity to move a design-forward is absent. When realistic ivy vines compete with hammered scrollwork or domed minimalism, I take a break and do some “creative cross-training.”
In my last blog, I talked a little about tsavorite, one of the rarest gemstones on Earth, mined in only a small corner of Kenya and Tanzania. Tanzanite is another rare beauty from East Africa, perhaps even rarer than tsavorite. If you’re looking for tanzanite, you’ll find it only in an eight-square-kilometer region that lies in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Few gems match the pure, rich green of emerald, but the tsavorite variety of garnet comes close. When we think of garnet, we probably think of a gemstone ranging in color from caramel brown to pomegranate red, but garnet appears in just about every color of the rainbow. Tsavorite, which ranges in color from olive to evergreen (the latter being the most valuable), is one of the rarest shades of all—and one of the rarest gemstones in the world.
As the snow melts and the trees sprout leaves in May, we start to see the soothing, rich green of emerald all around us. If you feel the same sense of relaxation looking at an emerald that you do sitting in a green field in the springtime, it’s not just your imagination. Emeralds are said to relieve exhaustion and bring a sense of tranquility to the wearer, and like many of the properties often attributed to gemstones, this idea has some scientific basis.
A rough diamond looks cold to the touch, like a tiny shard of ice. To a 5th century BCE alluvial miner sifting through the sand and gravel of the Krishna River in India, a sparkling diamond crystal must have seemed like something that fell all the way from the icy reaches of the Himalayas. But as we now know, they’re actually produced in the most fiery of conditions, deep in the churning mantle, where extreme pressure turns solid rock into very hot jelly.
It’s only the beginning of March and summer still seems a long way away, but this month’s birthstone, aquamarine, will transport you to the deck of a ship on some tropical sea, surrounded by clear skies and clear waters, embraced by the warm sun and a gentle breeze.
The regal amethyst has been associated with royalty for centuries, and as one of my favorite gemstones, it has been a part of my company identity for decades. Many gems lay claim to the title Queen of Gemstones—emerald, opal, pearl—but amethyst is the undisputed Queen of Quartz. Let me share my love of February’s birthstone.
It’s that time again: time to talk about the Pantone Color of the Year. The announcement of the new Color of the Year is always a fun time for artists and designers of all kinds as we begin thinking about and looking for inspiration for new projects for a new year.
Traditionally, each of the twelve months was assigned one birthstone, but some months have multiples. December babies have the fortune of three separate birthstones - Turquoise, Tanzanite, and Blue Zircon - all of which take on a unique shade of blue.
Rubies and red spinel are some of the most scrumptious reds in the jewelry box. You may think they are the same (they can look really similar), but they're not. They have different properties that make them unique.
Since the Bronze Age, garnets have adorned the wealthy, from the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs to the markets of Rome to the streets of Victorian London.
I think often about the sentiment we attach to the jewelry we wear.
I am often asked how I come up with my ideas.
So now, I am feeling the urgency to get The First Piece to Done!!!
After I decided to feature the beautiful oval spessartite garnet in the First Piece, I moved on to procuring gemstones for the first three pairs of earrings.
The "First Piece" is to be a large pendant, with a floral design in an architectural style made in 18K yellow gold, inlaid American walnut, with a spessartite garnet center, rubellite tourmalines radiating out to the perimeter, and a drop component comprised of peridot and diamonds.
Creating a new collection is not something I do on a timeline.
I find myself returning east to Chicago by mid-October. I would hate to miss a Chicago winter!