Crazy Cool Jewelry Designs from Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist

Looking back at all the Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist issues of 2018, it’s impossible to ignore the cool jewelry designs in each issue. Let’s look back at some you can’t miss!

Delicate, precise, orderly: lace strikes me as just the opposite of crazy. But I think whatever rockhound came up with the name crazy lace agate nailed it. Those busy bands and restful pools of color make this one of the more dramatic agates you can find, and there are plenty to pick from.

ABOVE: Bumpy contours on the unbroken surface of this chunk of crazy lace agate reveal intricate bands of color on the inside. Photo: Lexi Erickson

Like any true agate, this one is tough, hard, durable, and takes a great polish. It’s easy to recognize the patterning when you see it, yet every piece is different. Mined in Mexico, crazy lace is a classic. It also has flair to spare.

Classic crazy lace agate finds its way into contemporary jewelry such as Janet Alexander’s Open & Close bracelet. The project appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist March/April 2018, in which this agate is also the featured Smokin’ Stone. Photo: Jim Lawson

Classic crazy lace agate finds its way into contemporary jewelry such as Janet Alexander’s Open & Close bracelet. The project appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist March/April 2018, in which this agate is also the featured Smokin’ Stone. Photo: Jim Lawson

So does Janet Alexander’s inspired crazy lace agate and silver link bracelet. She bezel-set the agate using metalsmithing techniques, and added a little individual crazy-lace texture onto the metal clay links. She also designed each of these to be a little different in size or shape with the help of a cardboard template. To determine the number of links she needed, she put the template together using Glue Dots (affiliate link) so she could try it on her wrist.

A “true” agate, in case you’ve asked, is at the least a kind of quartz called chalcedony. That’s what makes agates, jaspers, and related stones tough, hard, and polish well. Other “jaspers” and “agates” may be cut into beautiful cabochons. But if they’re not quartz, they may not be suitable for the jewelry use you have in mind.

How they differ in appearance is a bit ambiguous, though. An agate is often considered a translucent stone and a jasper opaque, but the terms aren’t always used this way. Patterning and banding in particular are characteristics commonly associated with agate, but not necessarily. You decide — or just pick the ones that please you most, because Nature has produced a bounty of these stones in a continuous range of looks.

Whale of a Gem

John F. Heusler’s Ocean Voyage pendant project appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist January/February 2018. Photo: Jim Lawson

John F. Heusler’s Ocean Voyage pendant project appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist January/February 2018. Photo: Jim Lawson

Fossil whale bone is whale bone in which at least some of the original organic substance has been replaced by some more durable mineral. Most often that’s a quartz, especially a chalcedony such as jasper or agate. Sound familiar? And like some fossilized dinosaur bone or petrified wood, some fossil whale bone can be cut into durable gems that suggest abstract paintings or scenic landscapes.

Or as in the piece above, a scenic underwater-scape. The main stone in John F. Heusler’s Ocean Voyage pendant is a piece of fossil whale bone John collected and cut himself. Its wavy/pebbly browns and deep blues suggest the seafloor to me. An exotic freshwater pearl peg-set with Epoxy 330 (affiliate link) and a bit of brightly colored coral collected many years ago fills out the marine tableau, with a few small diamond brilliants bubbling up from the top.

Island Lava Flows

I see the sun setting over a turquoise-colored sea in this unusually scenic cabochon cut by Joe Jelks of Horizon Minerals Lapidary. The material is a petrified wood found in Indonesia, and appears as the Smokin’ Stone in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist September/October 2018. Photo: Jim Lawson

I see the sun setting over a turquoise-colored sea in this unusually scenic cabochon cut by Joe Jelks of Horizon Minerals Lapidary. The material is a petrified wood found in Indonesia, and appears as the Smokin’ Stone in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist September/October 2018. Photo: Jim Lawson

Speaking of scenic stones and petrified wood, a real stunner started showing up on the American market a few years ago. Mined in old lava flows on the Indonesian island of Java, this particular petrified wood is partly replaced by opalite and also contains copper. Having the same composition as quartz but a different structure, opalite isn’t as durable, though some cut stones have been stabilized to make them more so. The copper often produces lovely blues and greens — think turquoise and chrysocolla, also indebted to copper for their colors. In some stones, pure copper is also visible as shiny bits of metal.

Lexi Erickson’s Scenic Woods pendant project appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist September/October 2018. Photo: Jim Lawson

Lexi Erickson’s Scenic Woods pendant project appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist September/October 2018. Photo: Jim Lawson

Lexi Erickson created this sleek pendant to showcase a piece of richly colored blue-green Indonesian petrified wood flecked with bits of native copper. She used Japanese art paper (affiliate link) and a rolling mill to impart a flecked texture to the silver.

Petrified Seafoam? Not!

The white pearl “bubbles” atop this piece of seafoam-like turquoise are invisibly kept in place with an elaborate wireworked technique that maker Betsy Lehndorff developed just for this necklace. The Tiny Bubbles project appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist September/October 2018; photo: Jim Lawson

The white pearl “bubbles” atop this piece of seafoam-like turquoise are invisibly kept in place with an elaborate wireworked technique that maker Betsy Lehndorff developed just for this necklace. The Tiny Bubbles project appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist September/October 2018; photo: Jim Lawson

Although its luxuriant color often brings to mind a tropical ocean or lagoon, very rarely does turquoise form with a frothy surface. But it happened at least once in Nevada, and Betsy Lehndorff found herself the excited new owner of a beautiful “seafoam” turquoise nugget. She was so inspired by the stone she worked out a special way of setting pearls on it!

What’s in Those Beguiling Waters?

Roger Halas presented this Scary Swimmer pendant project in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist November/December 2018; photo: Jim Lawson

Roger Halas presented this Scary Swimmer pendant project in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist November/December 2018; photo: Jim Lawson

There’s another coppery way to conjure up the ocean. For his Scary Swimmer pendant, Roger Halas cut out a silhouette of a shark in brass, then patinated the copper back plate a rich ocean blue. He also produced a subtle texture on the plate that adds to the watery effect, suggesting a slightly uneven surface constantly in motion. The artfully patinated copper, sealed with clear lacquer (affiliate link) to preserve it, provides a perfect contrast to the polished brass shark silently gliding through the waters.

Botanicals

Published in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist March/April 2018, Brad Nichols’s Daylily project walks you step by step through the fabrication of this sculptural copper flower, which he formed with help from a hydraulic press; photo: Jim Lawson

From Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist March/April 2018, Brad Nichols’s Daylily project walks you through the fabrication of this sculptural copper flower formed with help from a hydraulic press. Photo: Jim Lawson

Not everything turns copper blue or green. For his exquisitely formed copper Daylily, Brad Nichols chose liver of sulfur for a glimmering, dark finish. The extraordinary range and often brilliant colors of live daylilies are what usually attract us to this flower first. In this muted rendition, we’re drawn instead to its quieter but entrancingly graceful contours.

Merle White, Editor-in-Chief of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist

Find Them All

Each of these jewelry making projects and highlighted stones was covered by Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist in 2018. Now you can get the full year’s issues with all that and much more in a convenient digital compilation that’s easy to search and store. Download the Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist 2018 Collection and have them instantly at your fingertips.

Keep It Coming

Every issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist presents outstanding designs, expert technical instruction,  and thoughtful tips. Plus, explanations and descriptions of tools, materials, techniques, and designs. Subscribe now and never miss an issue!


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