It’s so hard to keep this material in stock. 3mm rainbow moonstone cabochons, clean quality. I also try not to run out of it, and re-order before it’s completely gone, but then someone comes along and buys up the entire stock, and we can’t find the rough and before I know where we are, I’m out for months! Anyway, this is the first of the 3mm and 4mm restock – plain cabochons, now $1.55 per stone. There’s so much of the cloudy, fractured material about, that when you see a clear stone with bright adularescence (or flash) it can take your breath away. In fact, a customer said to me just yesterday, having received her stones ‘is this real?’ Because the extreme, billowing flash can have an almost unreal appearance. It’s truly astonishing. (Answer, by the way, is yes, it is real. As far as I am aware, this is not synthesised at all). Harder and harder – and very expensive – to find in larger sizes, I can still just about put my hands on it for smaller sizes. Now, I’m not a fan of AAA etc grading systems as it is so subjective, and not standardised, but I do use it for moonstone as I carry such a wide range of qualities. This is AAA material, and for that you can expect clean stones with great adularescence. As for what to do with it, below is a lesson in perfect, understated elegance from one of my lovely customers. This sterling silver and rainbow moonstone ring from Brightsmith features a 3mm moonstone on a narrow, hammered silver band, $28.
Zircon isn’t a very well-known gemstone and it’s a shame because it has a brilliance and fire that rivals diamonds, and which has for centuries caused confusion between the two. Now the confusion is more likely to stem from the similarity of its name to cubic zirconia, a synthetic diamond simulant, also very fiery but a very different beast. For those of you interested in such things, unlike diamond, zircon is doubly refractive; that is, when light enters the stone, it is refracted into two rays travelling in slightly different directions and at different speeds. The double refraction in zircon is so extreme that it is eye-visible in larger stones. This differentiates it from diamond which is singly refractive. You can see this effect in the picture above; the doubled facet edges through the stone, and in fact, can make the stones sometimes appear rather blurry.
Despite its relative obscurity now, zircon was popular in Victorian times, both as a diamond simulant and as a gemstone in its own right. It comes in a range of autumnal shades; reds, greens, yellows, browns and of course, white. However, the most popular and well-known colour – accounting according to the GIA for 80% of all zircon sales – is blue. From pale to deep blue, this unique shade of greenish-blue also commands the highest prices. It’s almost always heat-treated to attain its characteristic colour. I currently have in stock (from left to right above) a 7x9mm scissor cut octagon, a mixed cut 5mm round, a 7x5mm mixed cut oval, a brilliant cut 2.5mm round, and a 6x4mm mixed cut oval. To browse my zircon section, click here.
Zircon is a stone that seems to lend itself to a lot of classic zircon and diamond engagement settings, which are beautiful, but I’ve compiled a pinterest board full of more contemporary and funky blue zircon jewellery. I love this blue zircon and 18k gold engagement ring by lolide. Anyone who knows me knows that I love textured metal and this band sets off the deep blue of the zircon perfectly. I like the combo of the yellow and white gold and by the way, this is a unisex ring, and I can see that working.
Or how about Jewellery by Francine’s Sterling Silver and Blue Zircon necklace? I love the way that the shape of the round stone is echoed by the silver rings and this is a piece that is sleek and restrained, where every detail counts.
Possibly because of its unfamiliarity, zircon is one of the hardest stones in which to find funky, contemporary designs. The zircon in this ring, below by Metamorphosis Jewelry, is kept company by a classic pairing of diamonds and set in white and rose gold, but its shape and form is out of this world.
Speaking of out of this world, Jacob Albee’s cuff bracelet is formed from Gibeon meteorite, and set with a single, 3.03 carat zircon. Peppered with diamonds and inlaid with gold, this is contemporary, stark and original, the gold echoing and highlighting the natural striations of the Widmansttatan pattern (didn’t that make me sound clever? Actually I just came across that term on Wikipedia 😉 ). Looking at it, I just want to touch it.
I love these solid 18k gold maple leaf earrings, by Patrick Burt and not just because I’m married to a Canadian! It’s nice to see the zircon paired with gold, rather than silver, as it gives it a completely different feel. These leaves were individually moulded and cast and then set with the zircons that take on a warmer feel set against the gold.
More gold; this is a-mazing, right?! My mum is freaked out by octopuses (octopi?). When my older daughter was young, she had a furry, squeaky octopus and I could make my mum shriek by playfully tossing the thing at her. Anyway, this is a ring of strange beauty; a 4.5mm blue zircon set in a swirling set of 14k gold tentacles, by Marty Magic. This is not a piece that would go un-noticed, nor I imagine, un-remarked upon. Love it. Love the texture, the undulating lines, the complexity, and, oh… I fear it *might* give me nightmares. But I still think it’s amazing.
And finally, black gold is a ‘thing’ right? I keep seeing more and more of it and I’m not sure how I feel about it, but it certainly appears to make that zircon pop. This ring by David K Designs is made from rhodium plated white gold and set with a lab grown stone – sharp intake of breath, I know, but I guess you can make a case for lab-grown stones… They are chemically, physically and optically identical to natural ones, they’re just grown in a lab rather than dug out of the ground, and as long as the seller is upfront about what they are, I guess they have a place, but…I don’t sell them and yes, I do have the equipment and skills to tell the difference! This ring, accented with black diamonds, is supposed to be for men, but hmmm, I can’t see my old man sporting it! Anyway, something different, isn’t it?
Look out for more ‘gemstone’ specials, or if you have a piece you’d like me to feature, please contact me. I’m going to be looking at tourmaline next.
It’s out and it’s on time for once!! My February newsletter with a round-up of the latest additions, some interesting news and articles, the exclusive newsletter offer, and what to look out for next month. Click here to read the newsletter, and why not pop over to www.joopygems.com to sign up and you’ll never miss out again!
I saw these and I had to buy them! So beautiful and unusual; carved flower beads in rock crystal and rose quartz. To me they are reminiscent of Art Nouveau with their curving, undulating shapes and elongated lines. I see them as earrings, with maybe silver beads at the centre of the flowers, but you will be far more creative than me in your ideas! For the time being I am selling them as singles, with the option to have them in sorta-kinda matched pairs (that is, they are all unique, but I can vaguely match in terms of size and visual similarity). However, if I get the demand, I can sell them in full strings. The rock crystal flowers are matte finish, which gives them a gorgeous, soft, frosted appearance and are $1.75 per flower. The rose quartz flowers are gloss, with a lovely petal-pink colour and are $1.40 per flower. Just the thing for the coming Spring months! Click here for rock crystal; click here for rose quartz and to browse all of my beads, click here.
Last week’s post focused on rose quartz; this week I am looking at the second of Pantone’s colours of the year: Serenity. Pantone see these two colours in balance; the warmth of the rose quartz contrasting with the cool beauty of pale icy blue, perfectly realised by blue chalcedony. With its billowing translucency, this stone often glows as if lit from within. There are lots of examples on my Pinterest board; below are just a few that have caught my eye.
Pictured left is a pale blue chalcedony ring, set in solid sterling silver and oxidised to a dark, blackened finish. This is by Raphaela and Jenna of Fifth Heaven Designs, a team based in Brisbane, Australia, who love making interesting and quirky designs, and who specialise in one-off custom designs, hand-forged from silver and gold-fill. I love the edgy, industrial feel this ring has, the stark metal a perfect contrast with the soft blue of the stone.
Dana Evans of Dana Evans Studio is an architect-turned jeweller, who remains inspired by architectural forms and details; incorporating a love of shape and pattern into her work. Her silver and blue chalcedony Ravena earrings are part of her Etruria collection, part homage to the ancient Etruscans, who were masters of the art of granulation. You can see this technique in these earrings, which blend an ancient and modern aesthetic into a perfect harmony. I love the bold shapes and the contrast between bright silver highlights and oxidised background. Dana incorporates cast and hard-forged pieces into her hand-made work.
Bridget Clark takes her inspiration from primitive, industrial and organic forms which she simplifies into bold and striking pieces of wearable art. Pictured left are her sterling silver and Peruvian chalcedony long fob earrings; I love the matt silver finish and subtle elegance of these. Bridget states that she aims for a subtle asymmetry in her work, for interest and movement and I think this works perfectly, challenging the eye and the brain. Bridget makes all of her pieces herself and is constantly experimenting with shape and form.
I absolutely love mokume gane, and you don’t see alot of it about. That is most likely because it is a challenging, technical and precise technique, but Chris Ploof Designs specialises in it. It involves the bonding of many metals which can then be bent, twisted, cut, rolled, ground down or shaped with punches and chisels. These are then rolled out, to reveal the intricate, curving patterns. This hollow construction silver, 14 carat gold and white gold ring with blue chalcedony takes my breath away, the white metal acting as a perfect complement to the cool, blue stone.
For more examples of amazing and inspiring blue chalcedony pieces, check out my Pinterest board, including, below from left to right, J Chapa Hernandez Ellensburg blue chalcedony ring set in 18 carat gold, Dior Gourmande Libellule ring in white gold and blue chalcedony, Bartosz Ciba’s ‘Wennonah’; sterling silver upcycled wire wrapped earrings with blue chalcedony and Leslie Zemeneck Jewelry’s ‘In a Blue Mood’ sterling silver and blue chalcedony pendant.