Gemstone Jewelry Making: Why Colored Stones Deserve a Better Name Than "Semi-Precious" Stones
My love of gemstones goes back to my rock-hounding days at about the age of seven. I kept my prized "gemstone" collection in a pink (of course) Styrofoam egg carton, and as I only had twelve spots to work with and many more stones than that, I remember categorizing and recategorizing, sorting and resorting them, based on all kinds of my own made-up criteria and classifications—ones that sparkled vs ones that didn't, ones that showed (what I now know is) crystal structure vs ones that didn't, ones I found in the dirt vs ones I found in the creek, and by color. Thinking back, I also now know that the "diamonds" and "gold" I had were actually a few kinds of quartz—rose quartz and smoky quartz, amethyst—some mica, "fool's gold" or pyrite, and several kinds of agate or jasper, among other plain old "rocks." If you can relate to my love of gemstones, as well, then you’ll LOVE this FREE gemstone jewelry making eBook.
When I recall my childlike gemological classifications, I have to laugh—I was pretty wise in my crystal structure distinctions and even separating the dirt-mined rocks from the water-mined stones had some wisdom to it (eluvial vs alluvial?). But one way I certainly never dreamed of classifying my gems was as precious vs semi-precious stones; they were all like magic to me, each one just as precious if not as sparkly as the rest.
Now that I've had a few years of gemstone training and worked with gems of all types, values, and levels of rarity, I feel even more strongly against the term "semi-precious" in regards to gemstones. After all, the ones considered precious—diamond, ruby, emerald, and sapphire—aren't the most rare, aren't always the most valuable, and aren't necessarily the most beautiful since beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder.
I'm not belittling those "precious" gems at all–my heart skips for a sparkly diamond just as much as the next girl's, the gorgeous pigeon's-blood red of a fine Burmese ruby makes me swoon, and I adore the velvety rich blue of a fine sapphire, if not all the other colors, as well—I'm just elevating the "semi-precious" gems. Some of my favorite gemstones—including rubellite and indicolite tourmalines, poor underloved spinels, lovely blue little benitoites, and pearls, of course, always pearls—all fall into the "semi-precious" category. Really? I think not!
And how about the opaque gems? I admit I never fully appreciated the beauty in opaque gems until I saw a fine pietersite about four years ago. The swirling colors in it were beautiful and reminded me of those deep-space photos sent back from a NASA satellite. When I met and began working with my teacher and mentor Lexi Erickson, who uses opaque gem slices and cabs almost exclusively in her artisan jewelry, I was once again reminded of their unique beauty. Jaspers (including mookaite, one of my faves), agates, and a wide variety of other gem cabochons can all be just as lovely in their own way, bringing a mix of color and unique textures that other gems simply cannot provide—and generally at a much lower price point. Bonus!
Over the past five years or so, along with many other jewelry designers, I've fallen for the beauty of opaque versions of typically known transparent gems, such as aquamarine and ruby. This option allows you to use very colorful and often large, bold versions of popular, well-known gems at a much more affordable price.
So the next time you're in the market for some stones to enhance your metal jewelry designs, consider the "semi-precious" transparent faceted gems and those peculiarly beautiful opaque cabs and slices. If you'd like to learn more about a handful of them and get tutorials on how to use them in your jewelry designs (both set in a bezel by Lexi Erickson and wire wrapped by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong), download a copy of our newest free eBook, Natural Gemstones for Gemstone Jewelry Making: Why Colored Stones Deserve a Better Name Than "Semi-Precious" Stones.
Celebrate the wonderful power of gemstones with the experts in this free eBook full of gemstone information! You’ll agree that many of these colored gems are more beautiful than the often recited big three: ruby, emerald and sapphire. These stones are usually prized for meeting one standard—and looking exactly like one another.
We created an in-depth guide to creating jewelry with gemstones that’s full of insight from experienced jewelers into best practices for gemstone jewelry design. In this essential gemstone jewelry tutorial, you’ll learn expert tips for designing jewelry for beautifully patterned colored gemstones as well as step-by-step instructions for fabricating one natural gemstone pendant. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to make gemstone jewelry, this free eBook is for you!
Gemstone Jewelry Making Projects You’ll Find:
How to Make Tigereye Jewelry
Eye on Tigereye by Si & Ann Frazier
Learn about one of the most fascinating colored gems with 20 most frequently asked and most interesting questions about the tigereye. Get insight into details of this gem such as: what gives tigereye its gleam, how easy it is to find, and what you should look for in a finished tigereye. Learn of the many color combinations that can be found: brown and yellow, deep blue, and more depending on geological conditions. Ever wonder what the difference is between tigereye and cat’s-eye? Learn almost everything there is to know about this one-of-a-kind gemstone in this informative eBook!
DIY Wire Wrapped Pendant
Wire Wrapped Malachite Pendant by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong
The beautiful shades of green that swirl, bend, blossom, and bulls-eye in malachite almost demand to be set in sterling silver. Because malachite is a copper mineral, however, combining it with sterling is a recipe for tarnish. Although there are chemical treatments for gemstone jewelry that resist tarnish, they do not last forever, and as a studio jeweler, Dale tries to remain as much of a purist as she can. Malachite is a relatively soft and fragile stone, which scratches easily and can be difficult to polish. Explore a classic technique designed with square Argentium Silver in this one-of-a-kind wire wrap gemstone project.
DIY Petrified Wood Pendant
Conical Petrified Wood Pendant by Lexi Erickson
Learn to create a special bezel setting for this special colored gemstone! Using a conical stone that was cut from petrified wood, Lexi Erickson guides you through detailed instructions for successful gemstone jewelry making in this free project. Anthropologically speaking, circles are symbolic of so much, Lexi explains of her inspiration for this design. Early human homes were circles, and in some places they still are. The center of the home, the hearth, was and is a circle. Tea is served in circular cups, to your circle of friends. Yellow tabbies curl into a cozy circle to sleep. Let’s face it: square Oreos would be just plain wrong! Join the fun adventure of creating one of a kind gemstone jewelry with Lexi in this free project.
You’ll also find projects that will show you how easy it really is to create jewelry that stands out from the crowd with the rich palette of gemstone colors and patterns. Then you can use both these projects as starting points for your own one-of-a-kind jewelry designs.
With informative tips and instructional projects on how to work with these delicate colored gemstones and wire wrapping stones, this free eBook, Natural Gemstones for Gemstone Jewelry Making: Why Colored Stones Deserve a Better Name Than "Semi-Precious" Stones, will help make all of your gemstone jewelry making dreams come true!