Friday, May 5, 2017

Tucson 2017 - Red Creek Jasper

Red Creek jasper is a bit of a mystery. It's from China, not the U.S., and its makeup isn't exactly the same as other jaspers. It's a bit softer and doesn't take a high, hard shine like the American jaspers I shared in an earlier post (here). So it's a bit of a mystery. But oh, what a beautifully colorful mystery!

Though it's got "red" as part of its name, not all Red Creek jaspers are very (or even a little) red. The color range runs the gamut, from soft browns, beiges, and peach, to this lovely cranberry color mixed with olive, yellow, and charcoal gray. 

It's a gem that has enough personality to get noticed, yet pairs wonderfully with a neutral wardrobe. 

Here's an example of the softer color palette:

They all just feel like autumn to me. ;) 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Tucson 2017 - Picture Jaspers

Jaspers occur all over the world. Many of them are known for their ability to look like small landscapes; thus they're called "picture jaspers".

This large lovely is Owyhee jasper, from the Oregon-Idaho border. This is an excellent example of the blue color morph or "blue sky" of Owyhee jasper, which not all Owyhee's will possess. Many of them are soft neutral shades of brown and beige, but to me the blue contrast is what makes them standouts. Essentially this (and several other jaspers from Oregon / Idaho that are classified as Owyhee) are petrified mud. They take a very high polish and often contain stunning desert vista "scenes" on their surfaces.

I took this beautiful gem to Tucson this year, as it's been in my hoard for some time, and I wanted to find it some earring mates. I'm not a fan of "matchy" jewelry designs, but sometimes, with something as specific as this, it's nice to have a pair of earrings that complement it.

And that search led me to:

Rocky butte jasper (bottom two). Apparently the Rocky Butte claim is not far from the Owyhee claim; the similarities in color and patterns and pretty obvious. I don't mind that the earring and pendant gems are not the same; it's an overall look that I'm going for. :) And just to throw another jasper into the mix, the earrings in the photo above are actually Deer Creek jasper. Idaho and Oregon (particularly Oregon) are well known for their variety of really gorgeous picture rocks. ;)

So...the earrings I found to "go with" the big Owhyee? Here they are:

At some point this year, those are going to be made up into some gorgeous jewelry!

As a side note, most of the American jaspers are kind of a niche-y product. You won't find too much about them online, and they tend to be cut by American gem cutters, rather than sent overseas to India or China like a lot of other gem rough. Which means that you (or rather, I ) purchase them from - usually - grizzled older men who look exactly like you'd expect. Weathered, stubbly-chinned, gnarled fingers, sitting in tiny booths in small gem shows, with a selection of amazing gems that you truly have to see to believe.

One of my favorites to buy from is Gary Wiersema, of Gems of the Earth. He has no online store, no Etsy shop,  he barely has a Facebook page. But he has the most AMAZING cabs.

Here's an example:

The top gem is another Rocky Butte, but the bottom is a Deschutes (Oregon) cut by Gary. I only bought one from him last year (I only bought two last year; these are spendy beauties) but they are truly special treats. That mountain and what looks like a cliff (or river) below it? It must be my Southewestern background, but that stuff just grabs me.

Here are the cabs I purchased last year:

that top one went for a custom order, for a very special lady:

such a stunning gem. I wish I could tell you how much I love what I do. :)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Tucson 2017 - Mooka Jasper

Mooka jasper (or Mookaite) is an Australian jasper. It's one of the few gems that can morph into a lovely, deep pink / garnet-y red (though it's often deep maroon, beige, or yellow). Like other jaspers, it's formed in sediment, layers gradually building onto other layers, and this is evident in the soft striations of color often found in this gem. Like most jaspers, it takes a high, very reflective, polish.

I buy from just one gem dealer, who always offers what I consider the absolute loveliest examples of this beautiful jasper. This year I picked up some seriously gorgeous cabochons:

So much pinky-red goodness in my stash now! I try to find gems that are not entirely monochromatic (like the center stone in the second row); though that's nice, I usually like my gems to showcase a bit more interesting patterning. And these certainly do. You can see how reflective they are; making them hard to shoot without high spots. And there's not a variety of shapes usually; but fortunately the triangular shapes are a favorite of mine, and the organic-y asymmetrical gems work wonderfully with my own curvy metal designs.

Just a few more. These really showcase that beautifully soft pattern shift.

This gorgeous mooka jasper was paired with a beautiful peacock freshwater pearl. Both hues play beautifully together.

This is from a few years ago; one of the most unusually colored mooka jaspers I've ever seen. Topped with a bit of rhodonite which echoed the very light pink hue.

And this is another gorgeous (and large) cabochon, sharing its glory with a faceted labradorite. Very much a statement necklace.