Thank you, everyone, for the wonderful welcome. I’ve had a great time reading your responses. I’m still learning how to do this, not being a computer oriented person, but again, Kathleen has been wonderful. If you ever get to meet her in person, your life will be greatly enriched. Those of you wanting to learn to solder, I hope we will be able to help you. If you live in or visit the Southwest US, I’ll be teaching soldering at the Lapidary Journal’s Jewelry Artist Beadfest in Santa Fe in March. Please come join us.
We’re getting ready for the Denver Gem and Mineral show right now. It’s the 2nd largest gem show in the US, right after Tucson. In some ways, it’s better. The Tucson show is HUGE. It has megatons of rough stone, if you are interested in cutting your stones yourself, and lots of the Big 4, (diamonds, rubys, emeralds, and sapphires). But the Denver show has more cabochons, and the top cab cutters in the world are here. My favorites are Gary B. Wilson, Mark Lasater from The Clam Shell, Joe Jelks from Horizon Mineral and Michael Hendricks from Minarex. If you follow my work in Lapidary Journal’s Jewelry Artist magazine, almost all my stones come from these 4 cutters because their quality is the best and their designs are easy to work with. They have fabulous stones, some hard to find things, and the unusual…like a sliced cue ball that makes a cool necklace, or reflectors from an old inventory of 1930’s tricycles. (giggle)
As you look for stones, you may find a beautiful specimen, and you may be swept off your feet with the colors and patterns in the piece. You may not think about the actual shape of the stone. Later, in your studio, when you get ready to design with it, you find it’s difficult and bulky to design around. These guys cut stones with us, the artists, in mind.
When you go to pick out a stone, think about these things:
1. If you only buy stones you fall madly in love with, you will never sell those stones. (And how would I know this?) If you can, purchase 2 of them, one for you and one to sell. This works for beads, too.
2. Don’t forget to buy small stones, even though they may not knock your socks off, you need small accent stones, especially if you are working at 3 AM and realize you suddenly need a 4mm black onyx to finish the piece. Have a small supply on hand, always.
3. Make sure the stone is flat on the bottom if you are doing a cabochon set. Stones with a curved bottom will never set right..
4. If you are a beginning stone setter, stick with rounds and ovals. Squares will take more practice. Those with very sharp points, though beautiful, will be difficult, and you may break off the point. Save those for when you are more advanced at bezelling.
5. Don’t shy away from large stones. They make stunning focal pieces, usually worn up high on a simple neck wire or omega chain. Watch what is being worn by the women news announcers on TV. They only have a small area in which to show jewelry, and its usually a gorgeous necklace that just shows under a collar.
6. You may have your own organizational techniques, but I put my stones in Riker boxes, the glass topped flat boxes, and group them according to the cutter. That way, if I need another Chinese Writing Stone, like I recently did, you have them grouped with all those from the same cutter, so you can call him and ask for more. The quality and the finish will be consistent with others you have.
I hope these ideas have helped you with stone selections, and hope you get to go to some fabulous gem shows and find treasures. If I learn how to post photos I’ll send pics of the Denver Show. Kelly Bly is flying out from PA. She’s one of my students from PA, and still flies out to have fun and deplete her checking account. Several writers from Lapidary Journal are coming. We will all meet and share our goodies, have a cold adult beverage, “ooooh and ahhhh” over each other’s finds, and then rush off to buy more. So this is an open invitation to you all to come visit the Denver show. There are 8 different locations in north Denver, and shuttles between venues.
And if we’re standing at The Clamshell, fighting over the same stone, tell me who you are. I’ll be happy to let you add it to your collection.