Married metals

Married metals
combining gold and silver

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Queen of Kunzite

Herewith, a photo of a 722-carat Kunzite, a pink-lilac gemstone that was discovered in 1902 and named after George Kunz, chief gemologist at Tiffany at that time.  Apparently, a miner sent George a specimen of what looked like pink tourmaline from California's Pala Mountain. After testing the stone, Kunz realized that this innocent looking "tourmaline" was indeed a  mineral formerly assumed to be extinct.  Adding to his excitement, he saw that the gem could store light and glow in the dark.  Given his position at Tiffany as the procurer of the rare and fabulous for the store's wealthy clientele, the mineral was named for him.

This is why, every year, the pilgrimage to the AGTA Tucson show is such bliss for we gemhounds.
Mother Nature at her shiniest!

Photo is courtesy of Diana Jarrett.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Necessity is the mother of Reinvention

So, what happens when you find yourself lovingly producing jewelry from the noblest of the noble metals, gold, and suddenly, you are in competition with scared investors all over the world who are running to buy gold as a "safe haven?" Well, first, you stop a moment to appreciate just how precious a substance can be when it has been used for millennia as a "store of value," or, the "gold standard."  As a metalsmith,  one appreciates gold's working characteristics and the resulting luster of a finely finished piece of jewelry. One expects to sell gold, studio jewelry to discriminating customers who recognize a beautiful, lasting creation when they see one. And, in normal times, you do. You sell alot of gold jewelry and everyone goes home happy.  So, we all appreciate gold for its enduring beauty and value.

But, when I start to see formerly all-gold (22KT and above) designers begin to use silver, bronze, wood, and anything else that can develop form as a adornment because gold has run away with itself,  I know this is a major shift in the way we will proceed to earn our livings. Maybe it is somewhat temporary, but maybe not.  I have been producing silver jewelry for three years so that customers who loved the work but could not afford the Linen collection in gold could have it in silver, and it works beautifully.  But the basic stampede into oxidized, blackened silver is indicative of the studio designer who is in the process of reinvention. It's a wallet-based decision, and at first, it feels funny. I mean, why shift away from gold, which makes the best jewelry? It's kind of a step down and it isn't fun to be forced by world conditions to change your business plan midstream. I realized how freeing it is to reinvent, redevelop and create new work out of things that just don't punish my wallet the same way that gold does. It's fun and challenging to explore different things that will make a cool, edgy piece that has a little bit of whimsy, nerve, and the underlying determination to keep doing what I love...   to be continued...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Diamonds at Chicago's Field Museum

Saw the new Diamond exhibit at the Field Museum today. A well-conceived and informative show for those who care about more than bling, this show includes geology, chemistry, mining, geography, and of course, jewelry. To bad it was so poorly lit, making it a trying experience for those who know who the lighting should work to show diamonds and their companion minerals to best advantage. And the absence of jewelry by noted designer Todd Reed, who brought raw diamonds to   national acceptance with his gorgeous, fabricated jewelry was an affront to this designer!  Stars of the show in the bling category were a 5+ carat pink diamond ring and a 3 -4  carat orange diamond, in addition to a 287 carat yellow diamond. Another fabulous piece by Jean Schlumberger (and one I've seen in many books) was a yellow and white diamond encrusted bird perched atop a vivd yellow rock in the form of a brooch. 
However, just as important, we had kimberlite and lapronite samples with embedded raw diamond , showing something of how they look in nature. Maps showing the worldwide distribution of diamond deposits, a film about how the Canadians found diamond deposits, some extries about diamond mythology (Adamas, a Hindu god, whom nothing could destroy) seems to be where we get the term "adamantine," when we describe the refractivity of some gems as being diamond-like. For 2,000 years, India was the world's primary source of diamonds (the Hope, the Kohinoor, for example) of exceptional quality.
There is so much to this gem, coming from hundreds of miles underground to glisten at us and bring lasting pleasure. More to follow.