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Buying Quality

Posted June 22, 2015Β 

When you buy a piece of Isabel Jewelry you are buying handmade quality with a lifetime guarantee. I realize that there are piles of cheap jewelry that I compete with every day but I know what I am producing is carefully and individually made…because I make each piece. Like all micro-businesses I have to compete with factory made products. Knowing this, I like to keep my jewelry small pieces of artwork.

Some companies use flashy marketing campaigns to push lower quality jewelry, it’s hard not to get convinced by beautifully produced commercials and print ads that their commercial jewelry is more valuable. People wind up paying for a company’s marketing rather than quality artistry. When my customers buy from me, they are paying for top-notch, handcrafted jewelry that I guarantee for life and I am proud of that.

I have been metalsmithing for 20 years now and I create hundreds of pieces of jewelry every year. I am very comfortable at my jewelry bench and love forming metal into tiny wearable art, my tools are extensions of my hands and I am happy when I am at work.

This Saturday, June 27, 2015, I will be having a 5-year anniversary party for my shop in Pinedale (you are invited!). I opened the doors five years ago and have been enjoying serving my community and travelers ever since. It’s a good life and I plan on continuing my work. I thank everyone that has ever bought a piece of jewelry from me, you mean the world to me.

Pictured at top: Wyoming jade & Sterling Silver pendants.

Pictured above: my Pinedale, Wyoming storefront.

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Wyoming Jade

November is here and I’m starting to ramp up for the holiday season which means building up my inventory in the shop. I’ve been using some beautiful Wyoming sourced jade. In the center of the state there is a nephrite jade deposit and the colors range from an apple green to black with all shades of green in between. One of the unique specimans to Wyoming is the “snowflake” green which has little white crystals mixed into the green. The rock hounds find it in the center of the state, in the sagebrush desert between Lander and Casper; it is usually above ground so they walk all over with their eyes glued to the ground looking for the rocks and hoping for the big million dollar boulder. A lot of people are unaware that gemstone quality jade is found in Wyoming.

I bought some Wyoming jade from a local guy this past summer and have begun using it in my jewelry. And since jade is the toughest gemstone available, it makes for a great jewelry stone and can be worn with confidence in rings.

(This is my husband looking over the rough although we bought all cut stones. We hope to learn the art of lapidary someday.)

Some of the stones show a whole different color when they are held up to a light, for example the pendant below shows a mossy medium green when held up to a light and is a forest green when held against my hand.

The pendants above show the variety of greens found in Wyoming jade, from an apple green to a dark forest green and even a grey-green.

I am super excited to have a localy sourced gemstone available for everyone and will be offerening more designs as quickly as I can get them made and uploaded to the website.

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Here Comes Summer!

Written May 27, 2014

Summer is fast approaching. Life in Pinedale, Wyoming goes from winter to summer in an instant, it was snowing 2 weeks ago and now it’s in the 70’s, the grass is getting green and already needs to be cut. Our corner of the USA is heaven on Earth in the summertime, wilderness and wildlife abound and the sky is huge and blue.

I always look forward to chatting with tourists on road-trips that stop by my shop and backpackers heading into the Wind River Range for an exciting trip. This past weekend we camped out for the first time this season and then floated the Green River for 13 miles in our canoe with friends. The river is covered with birds this time of year since they are all migrating north. What an amazing place.

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Gems Gems and More Gems

Written February 13, 2014

I just returned from Tucson, Arizona where I was taking gemology courses and visiting some of the gem shows. There are about 40 gem, rock, fossil and mineral shows going on during a two-week period each February and the offerings go from $1 pebbles to super high dollar gemstones, not to mention a T-Rex skeleton!

(sea dinos!)

Currently I am working on becoming a graduate gemologist through GIA (Gemological Institute of America). In Tucson I took a Colored Gems Lab and a Pearl Grading Lab.

The Colored Gems Lab was three days and covered all the details for grading colored gemstones. We learned about describing their color in very specific way that includes hue, tone and saturation. We identified good and symmetric cuts as well as polish, amazing what you see once you really start looking. Finally we were taught to use a gemological microscope to seek out all of the inclusions inside of the stones. What a universe each little gem holds inside. Who knew?! There are little markings from when the crystal was growing, lines, bubbles, ‘needles’, ‘fingerprints’, ‘clouds’. And there are various fractures and cracks. The inclusions can affect the clarity of the stone but some are so tiny that you would never know they were there. It’s like the stone’s personality, each one is totally different.

And then the pearls…oh the pearls. So pretty. We were able to study pearls from white to black and all colors between. It can be pretty hard to get the hang of describing pearls’ colors since they are so muted. Greenish-blue or Blueish-green? Orangeish-yellow or Yellowish-orange? Slight variations make the differences. And then there are the overtones that can be a totally different color like pink. I’ve always loved the iridescent Tahitian grey and black pearls so I was happy to examine some up close. I hadn’t known too much about the yellow and orange South Seas pearls found in Australia and Indonesia and enjoyed those too. We examined cultured freshwater pearls from China and the cultured Akoya pearls from Japan (the classic white round pearls).

Both of these labs are in conjunction with distance learning I’m doing online and it was really good to get the hands on training. I’ll be using my new knowledge to expand what I offer online and in my shop. Soon I will be introducing colored gemstone engagement rings (well…you don’t have to be getting engaged to buy yourself one) and I’m really excited about this. My gemology courses have really been helping my knowledge and I will be loving the chance to share that with my customers.