Category: Gemstones

Tucson 2016

My third annual pilgrimage to the Tucson Gem Shows last week was my best one yet. The shows can be daunting, sprawling across Tucson with forty different sites, each ranging in specialty and scope. But they also make for a thrilling buying trip as the world’s “Greatest Treasure Hunt” with vendors from numerous countries conglomerating once a year with their colorful eye candy. With every trip, I’ve become a savvier shopper – knowing what to expect, where to look and building relationships with vendors. I’ve come to know and look forward to seeing specific people to reconnect over our mutual love of all things gems.

I was privileged this year to meet new faces – including the brilliant Perpetuum Jewels who specialize in post-consumer antique diamonds. They commissioned Angie Crabtree to live paint an old mine cut diamond enlarged 10,000x in their booth. I’ve been drooling over Angie’s work via instagram and was lucky to receive a painting for Christmas (thanks, Mom!) so I was giddy to meet her and witness her talent in action.

Meeting a new Australian Boulder Opal vendor who owns a mine and does much of the opal cutting was also a highlight. It was fascinating to see pictures of the exact hole forty feet below the Earth’s surface in Koroit, Queensland where the opals I purchased were extracted. Bonding over the intrinsic beauty of one of a kind stones brings me the most joy – that love at first sight feeling can’t be beat!

Of course I can’t recap my trip without a huge thank you to my best Tucson companion, my mom. Her stamina, enthusiasm and support is unwavering and I couldn’t do the trip without her. I’m invigorated to create with my new inventory and am already looking forward to the next trip!

loot1200A rainbow sampling of this year’s one of a kind loot
angie square1200The lovely Angie Crabtree painting an old mine cut diamondspecimens1200Rock and mineral specimens on display at a booth
emerald1200Selecting a special emerald
mom and i tucson1200Mom and I ready to treasure hunt at AGTA Gem ShowEthiopian1200Ethiopian Opals


October Opals

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers
– L.M. Montgomery
Anne of Green Gables

October is one of my favorite months. Leaves are fiery, the air is crisp and yet sun is still present in Seattle. To make it even  more special, the birthstone is one of my favorites – OPAL (along with another good one – tourmaline). More specifically, boulder opal. Only found in Queensland Australia, it is formed by water trickling down the earth carrying silicone rich ironstone into rock crevices. Over time, the water evaporates leaving silica which layers as veins of opal within the ironstone. The opal is cut leaving the natural ironstone backing for strength – which can often be seen as the brown hue mixed within the vibrant opal matrix. Because of this formation, Australian boulder opals are each unique, irregularly shaped and can display color flashes called opalescence.  I think of the natural distribution of the intense cobalt, aquamarine and lavender as fantasy aquatic worlds. Each stone its own little cosmic legacy, the mystique of opal is fitting for such an enchanting month.

Opal group - 1200xOpal duo_1200x


Falling for Rutilated Quartz

Gemstones with inclusions (minerals or foreign material locked into a stone while it’s forming) are my absolute favorite because they add character and tell a geological story that spans across billions of years.  While inclusions can detract value when the objective is a clear stone (most notably in the case of diamonds), there are far more gem varieties that benefit from Mother Nature’s unique playfulness. Rutilated Quartz is one of nature’s best examples. Rutile is the mineral appearing like needle deposits piercing the otherwise clear rock crystal quartz. Rutile can range from hair thin strands to dense fibers and even converge to form a starburst structure. The mineral brings warmth to the otherwise lucid gem and its often golden hue perfectly complements 14k yellow gold. The stones pictured below are unique with fiery rutile embodying the glow of autumn. Above all, their pattern and color will never be replicated just like each individual fall leaf.

Falling for Rutilated 1200