So I’m super excited about a new turn in my jewelry making. I’ve aquired some rock cutting equipment and am learning lapidary skills. I’ve always used regional turquoise from Nevada, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico and have been wanting to increase my regional offerings so last year I introduced jade sourced from Wyoming. To get hyper-local I figured I would be interesting to start cutting some of the stones I find while hiking here in my own county, Sublette County.
Sublette County is a huge piece of land and mostly public land. It’s amazingly beautiful and varied in geography. We have high sage-brush desert in the southern half of the county and large granite mountains in the north. A lot of the land was carved by glaciers during the ice age so there are large boulders and glacial moraines at the base of the high peaks of the Wind River Range. The desert used to be a vast ocean and is part of the Green River Formation. People find all sorts of cool fossils in Wyoming and Sublette County and south is no exception. If you go a little farther south from Sublette County you get to Kemmerer, Wyoming, a small town known for the Green River fossils, millions of little fish fossils (below is a photo of one I have in my kitchen) as well as palm fronds, prehistoric crocodiles and birds.
The jade in Wyoming is found in the center of the state near Lander and Casper and it varies in greens to pitch black that shines up like a mirror. I love the jade found here and this is especially one of the reasons I am beginning my lapidary journey; I want to cut unusual shapes for my jewelry. Besides jade we have quite a bit of interesting agate and jasper of varying patterns and colors. So now that the snow is melting I can go rockhounding with pals, what a good time.
(fossilized algae with the corner polished up)
By the way…an interesting thing about the word ‘lapidary’… it comes from the Latin word for rock: ‘lapis’. You hear ‘lapis’ used for Lapis Lazuli is a popular blue stone, often found in Afghanistan, and that name simply means Stone Blue (lazuli coming from the word ‘azure’).
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.
I just added a bunch of necklaces to this site made of African Bottle Glass. Last year at a gem and mineral show I purchased the beads from a Ghanan man. He travels back to Ghana periodically to buy beads for import. The bottle glass beads are made from crushing up old bottles and remelting them. I love repurposed, recycled and reused materials and these are fun and colorful. You won’t see many of them out there. The necklaces are chunky and kind of weighty on the neck, I like the feel of them. A lot of people have thought they were beach glass because they have a tumbled, matte surface.
Also I made some lighter necklaces with African white-heart glass beads. White-heart beads have clear colored glass with a white center that winds up giving them a pretty glow. They’re mixed with chevrons and smaller bottle glass beads.
I am endlessly updating my website with new work. First I design and fabricate the jewelry— then I photograph it in my special light tent— then I crop and correct the images— then I upload the information and images and then…ta-da…it’s online! It can be overwhelming to run my own business and tend to every task, including sweeping and mopping the floors, but it is rewarding because I love my work and it makes me happy when my customers appreciate the jewelry.