Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tucson Goodies, Part II: Labradorite and Larimar

I went to the Tucson Gem Show with a fairly limited list this year, and I didn't stray from it very much. I have been looking at getting back into wholesale, so I decided to buy (hopefully) enough stones for a small wholesale line as well as what I need for my retail designs. Thus I bought a bit more of my favorite stones and best sellers, but not as much of an assortment overall. I also bought lots of small gems for earrings, which are not nearly as exciting to photograph or view, so I'll spare you those. :)

First up, just a few of the labradorites I found:


a lovely round lab. Beautiful coloring and striations. I don't buy round shapes very often, but occasionally I stray from my love of asymmetry and play with something more balanced. This is about the size of a 50-cent piece and looks even better in person. :)


This is the biggest labradorite I purchased, with an amazing blue flash. It's at least double the size of my usual lab pendant gems and I can't wait to design around it!

Larimar, a perennial customer favorite, was much harder to come by this year. I saw a lot of what I consider bad quality larimar, for very spendy prices. And I really would rather not offer the stone for sale at all, than buy what I consider poor quality material...so I came home with very little. I did see some excellent larimar, but at prices that were way out of budget. The stone is found in only one location in the world, in the Dominican Rebublic, and it's definitely changed over the years - I don't know if it's getting played out, or the quality is changing, but the "good stuff" (in my opinion) is harder to come by and prices continue to rise.


I bought this rough slab - it's unpolished, so has a matte surface finish - and I'm thinking about prong-setting it. Prong setting is one of my goals for 2014, and I think this will lend itself nicely to that. It's also THICK:


a little over 1/4 inch thick. It's pretty substantial compared to most of the gems I buy. And in the side view above, you can see a lot of the natural brown inclusions - which I find in most of what I consider "lesser grade" larimar. I try to buy stones without much of the inclusions as I prefer the overall blue coloring. I don't mind if the inclusions are on the side, as in this slab, but usually I like my larimar clearer. A lot of what I'm seeing is very pale white with just a hint of blue, or a pale green combination, which I don't find nearly as attractive.

I also found this wonderful, splurge-worthy stone:


and couldn't leave it behind. It's better in person than in the photo, because you see the gradations of color more clearly in person. Why was it a splurge? The beautiful, consistent coloring over most of the stone (compare the color on this stone to the more striated-white areas on the slab in the first larimar photo), the rectangular cut, and the way it looks like ocean waves crashing toward the bottom. I'll have to design something really special for this gem. :)

And while I struggled with finding larimar, I did manage to purchase quite a few Peruvian opals and some great turquoise...I'll show them to you very soon!

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