Friday, July 28, 2017

Tucson 2017 - Montana Agate

Ahem. A bit late with this one; apparently I completely forgot this posting regarding some of my gem show goodies....but here's the Montana. :)

I've not always been a Montana agate lover. Much - so much - of what I see just looks junky to me. Dark splotches across an unevenly clouded surface, with no interesting presentation. For years, I avoided it - with very few exceptions - entirely. But in the last couple of years, some really amazing Montana agates have started to show up (or I've just started to notice them), and I'm finding myself a little captivated.



See that above? It's nice. It's just not exciting (to me).And that's my typical attitude toward this gem. So for years they've just not registered. And then...I don't know, suddenly I had something in my hand, and thought, "What is THIS?". That was about two years ago, and it's all been snowballing from there. 


There were these sweet teardrops, which reminded me a little of my beloved dendritic opals, except these are like water scenes instead of winter scenes (and in fact, the process (mineral inclusions being deposited into cracks and crevices in the stone) is very similar. Except somehow seeming even more delicate and ethereal. 


I didn't buy many; there were quite a few to be had, but again...most of them didn't appeal to me. Too dark, too clunky looking, too clouded over. But I did find about ten or so, to start playing with, seeing how they work with my designs. 


They may not appeal to me on a broad scale, but they're here for now. And we'll just see what happens. ;)


This (bottom gem) was actually one of the first Montana agates I ever purchased. It's exquisitely cut and has golden rutiles in it...an amazing, amazing gem I held on to for several years. Finally last year this dark chocolate-y druzy came into my possession and they were meant to be together. It sold last year to a lovely woman and I am thrilled that once I finally put it into a design, it went to a very good home. :) 

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. :)