Posted April 1, 2015
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’).