Monday, February 8, 2010

Natural surface gems

Possibly the best part of my job is shopping for gemstones. Who wouldn't love shuffling through piles of beautiful sparkling gems looking for the ones that speak to you as a designer? Then the anticipation as the gems are filed and stored and waiting to sit down with you and your sketchbook to be dreamt (is that a real word....maybe dreamed?) into stylish jewelry pieces.

Traditional gemstones are classically beautiful, and often carry a lot of meaning to the wearer. Some are birthstones, and are good luck for the wearer. Others are thought to heal or relieve certain ailments. The history of folklore behind gemstones goes as far back as the ancient Greek and Egyptian cultures. For instance, the Greeks believed that an amethyst in a persons goblet could stave off drunkenness. The really funny part about this piece of folklore is that an amethyst dropped in a goblet of water makes the water look like wine. I suspect that if a person's guests were drunk enough, they could save quite a lot of wine by trading off for this trick late in the evening. Especially considering that the Greeks were notorious for their long lasting feasts flowing with wine.

The gems pictured here might not remind you of any that you are familiar with, but many of them are related to gems that you know of. The long slice of crystals in the top image is actually amethyst in its naturally occurring form. The white and black stones are opal with fossils trapped inside! A lot of stones that you might not recognize have a very interesting story. I am fascinated with the story of their creation.

Most of what is pictured here is druzy. Druzy is a word referring to the stones that seem to have glitter across the top surface. The glitter is natural! These gems are created when water saturated with silicate is pressured into porous rock underground. If this water and rock are cooled rapidly, the silicate in the water fuses with the rock and sort of freezes into these tiny crystals! How cool is that?! Maybe it's the science geek in me, but I just love to learn about how these fancy rocks came to be.

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