In the last few weeks I have been working on some special wax carving projects. I usually fabricate most of my jewelry from sheet, wire and various metal stock but sometimes a project calls for unusual curves or shapes so I carve a wax model to be cast in silver or gold.
I just carved a setting for the pear shaped citrine pictured above. This stone is a large gem and I wanted to have some interesting cut-away areas to allow for light to pass through the setting and brighten the stone. Faceted stones need a “seat” to sit on inside of a setting, you can see that I carved out a step down for the stone to be able to sit evenly all around. I will be adding a bail to the top of the drop so that this can be worn as a pendant.
Another project I am working on is developing a fun line of stacking rings in various textures. I’m enjoying working with geometric and repeating patterns. I will be offering these in both silver and gold in a range of sizes.
And pictured above is a one-of-a-kind wax carving for a large flat stone. My customer desires a signet style ring and I will be adding Masonic symbols that he has chosen as well as carving words on the inside of the band.
Carving waxes taps into a free-form sculptural style. Fabrication with metal is also sculptural but more architectural in its approach, building blocks put together with connecting angles.
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.
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.
Sometimes a customer comes to me with a piece of jewelry she doesn’t wear or has outgrown and wants a new and improved piece. I love to transform a ring from commercial to custom and she loves that she gets a one of a kind piece of jewelry. Here are two recent examples:
Commercial diamond ring to custom diamond ring:
Commercial diamond ring to custom diamond anniversary pendant:
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!
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.