Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tucson Goodies, Part I: Agates, Opals, Abalone

I promised to show you the lovelies I found at the Tucson Gem Show this year, and I'll get right to the gorgeousness, starting with some lace agates:

These are laguna lace agate, a variety of crazy lace agate, from Mexico. These agates (crazy lace, red lace, Utah lace, etc) are wildly patterned and the colors are earthy and bold, ranging from white to tan to brown to gray to a deep red. The "crazy" name comes from the twisting, irregular patterns.

The triangle above is Utah lace agate, a new stone for me. Most lace agates come from Chihuahua, Mexico, but I did find out that there's a variety of lace agate in Utah. I love the translucency (there are translucent parts in the center, right above the white bottom and in the upper right corner) mixed in with the more colorfully banded patterns.

Another piece of Utah lace. I love the scenic effect, with the cloud-like bands of white up top and then the dark band of "earth" in the center and the deep gray looking like water below...

These are red lace agates. They were actually for sale as two separate pendants, but I really think they'd make great earrings. They're quite well matched in size and color pattern. :)

I also had to get a few more dendrite opals. I see several dealers who offer these at the gem show, but I only buy from one gem dealer, because whomever is cutting his rough is a MASTER at making wonderfully picturesque scenes with these stones. I love how the outer edge of patterning wraps around the center of these gems, and the bottom one looks just like moonlight is shining in from the left side. Brilliantly done!

I really worked hard at staying true to my shopping list; the lace agates were a bit of a side track, but I already had a few, and they'd sold well, so I wanted to add some more to my existing stash. I had bought some as far back as 2003 or so, and then for several years, I couldn't find any with nice enough patterning to satisfy me. Last year I found some organic shapes that I want to prong-set, but this year it was nice to come across some great new gems with those gorgeous patterns. And the dendrites are SO lovely and I always sell a decent handful, so I bought a few more. :)

And then I ran into these:

They're faceted abalone and boy, are they wonderful. The photo doesn't really do them justice. I only bought a few, but I really wanted to play with setting them. I'm not sure exactly what the process is in making these - I know they're a doublet (see my previous blog post about doublets here), but I don't know how the faceted (glass, I assume) top is bonded to the abalone. I DO know that it's a pretty durable process, having had this ring:

for a number of years. It, too, is abalone under a faceted top. And it's held up very well.

Here's a side shot of the abalone I bought:

You can see the facets on the top; the black line on the bottom is the abalone shell bonded to that top piece. It won't be noticeable once they're set in a bezel, and the facets just magnify the bright abalone beauty. What fun! Can't wait to play with them. I also bought smaller pieces for earrings. :)

I still have a lot more photos to share, including larimar, some FABULOUS Peruvian opals, and of course, the turquoise...I found some really amazing pieces of the Royston Turquoise this year...stay tuned.  :)


  1. Oh how I wish we had such a show over here on this side of the world. The 'shows' we have are rather pathetic. I love the faceted abalone!

    1. I know - there is just NO substitute for hand selecting the gems. And to have so many choices in (mostly) one location...it's wonderful. I feel very fortunate to attend each year. You live in such a cool place though...Australia has been on my list of travel destinations forever. I'm dying to experience the land you call home! :)