Those of you who know me well know that I love tourmaline. Out of all gemstones, it is simply my runaway favourite, and I value it for its infinite variety; the colour range, the pleochroism, even the fantastic and fascinating inclusions. This is a fantastic 15.1mm round bluish-green tourmaline cabochon – yes it’s all the same stone in the slideshow above but what you are seeing is an example of that pleochroism I was referring to. Tourmaline is strongly pleochroic; that is to say that it absorbs different wavelengths of light depending on the direction of the rays. What that means in reality is that it will show different colours according to different viewing directions. You can see that in the stone above, which shows both green and blue colours, strongly. It’s an absolute beauty.
Now, tourmaline grows in an environment rich in liquids, which are often captured as inclusions during crystal growth. I wish I had a camera on my microscope as when I view this stone, I see a network of tiny thread-like cavities running all over the stone. They are really fascinating and beautiful. In fact, I think that the inclusions make this stone; a fingerprint of its creation. However, as with all of my stones, because I use a macro lens and the stones are magnified beyond their actual size, they always appear far more included in photographs than in reality.
Most blue and green tourmalines derive their colour from traces of iron, and they are sometimes known by the trade names of indicolite for blue and verdelite for green. Less common than pink stones, they are according more expensive and sought-after. This is a strongly saturated stone with open colour, and at 15.1mm round and 14 carats in weight, it is a substantial rock. It’s going to make a fantastic ring or centrepiece for a pendant, something like this one, below. I found it on 1st dibs, and it’s not credited to any known designer, but I love how they have called it a ‘dragon’s eye’, because that’s exactly what it looks like. I also hope it shows just how fantastically beautiful and effective a large, included stone can look. The stone in this piece is a whopping 39.5 carats and both more included and less saturated than my stone but it’s nonetheless an amazing piece.
Be inspired! And do it fast before temptation gets the better of me and I filter the stone into my personal collection! To view this fabulous stone, click here. It’s in my Hong Kong shop, but it ships internationally.
This one is all about the cabochons… A whole new lot of small to medium sized pink tourmaline cabochons. Lots of teardrops. Some ovals. Some marquise. Lots of bright, vibrant fuschia, and nice affordable prices for a lovely unique piece that won’t break the bank. Prices start from $37 with these stones which I think lend themselves very well to pendants. Mix them up with unexpected partners for an exciting effect; sunshine yellow citrine, or sharp green peridot. Perhaps even turquoise or rainbow moonstone could be fun. My mother’s engagement ring is a rather unexpected and lively tourmaline and amethyst combo. Or just go clean and lean with some white stones; diamonds if you can run to them; white topaz if not!
One thing that you tend to get with tourmaline – especially cabochons – is inclusions; very characteristic mirror like-inclusions, two-phase inclusions, liquid inclusions and growth tubes to mention just a few. Because of this, the predominent value factor with tourmaline is colour, and inclusions are tolerated to the extent that they don’t interfere with this. Besides, I think that many of the inclusions you see in tourmaline are quite simply beautiful, and rather than detract, add to the character of the stone. Clean gemstones are desirable, I know, but a few inclusions roots a stone to the earth, tells you where it has come from and reminds you of its incredible and unlikely journey to the surface of the earth. To shop the new tourmaline cabochons, click here.
I’ve been promising these for ages and they are finally here! 2mm rose cuts and cabochons in a variety of stones. They really are so tiny I can’t imagine what you are going to do with them, so pictures please! Also probably best not to work with these if you have a heavy cold… I have all the usual suspects; garnets, turquoise, amethyst, peridot, citrine, white topaz, opal and more. Two things about these stones; firstly, because they are small, you’re not going to get the saturation on the transparents, and some of them are quite light; for example the peridot is light green, the amethyst is light to mid purple, the almandine garnet is pink to orangey-red, the rhodolite is pinkish. The other thing is the price. It’s not easy to get these cut and it is rather expensive; most of the rose cuts are around the $2.85 mark per stone, and the cabochons $1.45 (some – the ruby, emerald and turquoise, for example, are still more). Most of the cost of these is in the cutting, but the up-side is that because of this, they are really unusual and not everyone is going to have them. Why not give them a whirl – I can see rings dusted with gemstones, earrings with tiny scattered points of light…and please do send me pictures of your creations! To shop 2mm rose cuts, click here; to shop 2mm cabochons, click here.
I had a sample of rose cut opal in stock recently and it just flew out, in the space of a couple of hours. I don’t think I’ve ever stocked anything that sold out so quickly. So I got more in and once again it is selling phenomenally well. This is Ethiopian opal, which ranges from transparent to almost opaque, with a powerful play-of-colour that appears
to hang suspended within the stone. Opal from Ethiopia is a relatively new discovery – the source was only discovered in 1996. I have these in a 3mm, 4mm, 5mm and 6mm rose cut round and I must say, the rose cutting works phenomenally well with this material, highlighting the play-of-colour and making it absolutely pop. This is very eye-catching material, which is going to make stunning jewellery. You can see what I mean right; Louisa Gallery’s opal and 14k gold ring. Stunning, unexpected and rare.
To shop all rose cut opal, click here. Prices start from $2.35 for a 3mm rose cut cabochon.
C is also for Chrysocolla; my most recent love. I adore it for its marvellous and intricate patterns in all shades of blue and green. Found close to large copper deposits, it is intermingled with a combination of some or all of these: turquoise, malachite, azurite, jasper and quartz, and it is this combination of minerals that gives each stone its fascinating and unique patterns. It’s not expensive either; you can go large on these without breaking the bank. I have just listed, for the first time, 8mm and 10mm cabochons, at $3.50 and $5.50 per stone respectively. I’ll stock larger and different shapes too, if there is a demand. If you want to know what it’s good for, it’s supposed to be a stone of reconciliation and reassurance, and has been known as the ‘wise stone’, as those who wore it were believed to be good at the kind of win-win negotiation we’re all supposed to strive, coming up with clever compromises and solutions. I could do with a bit of that. To shop 8mm chrysocolla cabochons, click here; to shop 10mm, click here.
It’s the kind of stone that looks great with silver, and I often see it in quite chunky settings. But below I’ve found a collection of pieces whose designers have let their imaginations run riot, from the delicate, branch-like construction of Lucie Veilleux’s sterling silver bracelet (bottom left) to the fantastical blooming of Amy Buettner’s Chrysocolla, sterling silver and 18k gold centerpiece (top left) to the openwork on ZYGO Jewelry’s sterling silver ring, that lightens the entire appearance.
1. Amy Buettner: Ray Mine Gem Silica Chrysocolla Centerpiece, $1200
Golden Rutilated Quartz Cabochon 10mm Roundochon-10mm-round
Golden Rutilated Quartz Cabochon 8mm Round
Golden Rutilated Quartz Cabochon 8mm Round
Golden Rutilated Quartz Cabochon 10mm Round
Golden Rutilated Quartz Cabochon 10mm Round
Talk about cryptic. But those of you in the know will realise I am talking about golden rutilated quartz. And those of you who know me will also know that I absolutely love this stuff. I’ve had it in freeform (polki) rose cuts for a while, but I’m just now offering it in cabochons, 8mm and 10mm round in the first instance. We’ll see how popular it is, and then I might offer it in other sizes or shapes. So rutilated quartz is also known as sagenitic quartz, or sagenite, (although I confess I’ve never come across it being called that, and I’ve been around the ‘gemstone block’ for quite a few years now, so it must be quite rare). What you have is clear to semi-transparent quartz included with rutile which has crystallised into needles. These appear in an amazing variety of forms; really fine, hence the name ‘angel hair’ to really thick, like lengths of straw. They may be sparse or dense; oriented into patterns – hence ‘wheatsheaf’ or randomly criss-crossed, but all are fascinating. The golden colour catches the light and gleams warm and gold. It looks great with silver or gold, and is the perfect stuff for creating something unique, as every piece is unique. I love the elegant simplicity of the pieces below, from left: Moon and Forge Studio’s rutilated quartz ring set in 14k yellow gold and sterling silver, at $315; Nijiko Designs’ rutilated quartz, 18k gold and sterling silver earrings at $175 and Chiara Batelier’s rutilated quartz pendant set in 18k gold
To shop 8mm rutilated quartz cabochons at $6 per stone, click here; to shop the 10mm cabochons at $8.25, click here
Now back in stock, ever popular 3mm turquoise cabochons! These are one of the (actually many now) stones that I struggle to keep in stock. This material is light greenish-blue with a bit of a colour range going from a bit more green to a bit more blue – do shout if you have a preference. It’s stabilised, as is very common with turquoise, but not dyed. There’s a bit of matrix on the underside of some of the stones, but not across the top and hey, at least you know it’s real! It’s pale tan matrix, so for those of you who are interested, this tells you that the turquoise formed in sandstone. Now, turquoise is quite strongly linked with the ‘southwestern’ style of jewellery, but it also lends itself very well to smaller, sleeker designs, and works equally well with both silver and gold. For inspiration, below are some examples of small-scale, perfectly formed turquoise jewellery. From left: Holly Presley’s turquoise ring features a 3mm turquoise sitting on an organic drop of silver; Rita Moehler’s sterling silver turquoise bangle features six turquoise stones on a solid silver ridged band; Melanie Casey’s set of 5 gold stack rings features 3mm and 4mm turquoise stones (and one green chalcedony!) set in solid 14k gold and Thalassa Jewellery’s silver pod earrings feature 3mm turquoise stones set in oxidised silver pods.
Sometimes I can’t believe all the stones I have. And sometimes I can’t believe what I don’t have. Like today, listing for the first time plain African amethyst 8mm cabochons. Well, I say plain, but these lovely, velvety-dark purple stones need nothing fancy to set off their beauty and in fact will work equally well in a sleek, clean setting or a something more complex. Some inclusions on these stones, as is common with this material; a bit of colour zoning, wispy veils and some crystals, but the colour is dark enough that it’s not obvious. $11.50 per stone; to check them out, click here. To shop all African amethyst, click here.
Out now, my January 2016 newsletter, with exciting product news, an exclusive newsletter offer and a round-up of the week’s news. Why not go to www.joopygems.com to get it delivered straight to your inbox?! To read the newsletter, click here
…..AAAAnnnd finally the last of the tourmaline! 5mm round cabochons now up for sale, and I’m very excited to announce a price drop from $12.50 USD per cabochon to $10! As I’ve said before, the price of tourmaline finally seems to be stabilising and this is the same or even slightly nicer quality tourmaline as I’ve had before. All colours are back in stock, with as always, more of the pinks and fewer of the greeny-blues. Also, I’ve reduced further the price of less popular colours across all sizes – which are the yellowy-greens and browns. For 5mm, that means that these colours are $8.50 per stone, and you can’t say fairer than that! To browse 5mm tourmaline cabochons, click here