10 Ways to Avoid Work: Favorite Designs from Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist

Maybe you never procrastinate. I’m not saying I do, but sometimes I find myself leafing through back issues and admiring the outstanding jewelry and gemstones that have appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. All of these great pieces remind me just how talented our contributors are, and how generous they are with their advice and encouragement for everyone else.

ABOVE: These citrine and silver earrings may be simple but they have a lot of presence. Sam Patania shows you how to make them using Sam’s Simple Mounts, which he developed. These special prong settings can be soldered to any flat or domed surface. “Sparkling in 3D,” in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist January/February 2018; photo: Jim Lawson.

Need inspiration? Hoping to find technical advice? Or are you just looking for a guilt-free way to spend some of the time you should be working? Whatever your motive, check out some of the coolest designs, materials, tools, and tips from Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. And here’s a tip from me: spend a little quality time with your own finished work or pieces in progress, focusing on what’s successful about it. There’s always room for improvement, But if you’re fair, I’ll bet you’ll also find reason to be impressed.

Now, before you get back to work, take a minute and just look at these!

Classic Contrasts

“Steel and Gold: A Love Story” by Bette Barnett, cuff project, appeared with her primer, “Steel into a New Metal,” in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist January/February 2019; photo: Jim Lawson

Steel and Gold: A Love Story” by Bette Barnett, cuff project, appeared with her primer, “Steel into a New Metal,” in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist January/February 2019; photo: Jim Lawson

Black and gold are a classic pairing, and this cuff makes me sigh every time I look at it. That little bit of gold sprinkled and stretched across the expansive surface just beckons. The blackened steel makes the perfect backdrop as it alternates with open space, all capped off with a lusciously shimmering pearl. Artist Bette Barnett not only walks you through making the cuff, she includes essential information for making jewelry with steel in a companion piece in the same issue.

Falling Leaves Pin,, by Susan Mahlstedt. “Graphic Grace,” in LJJA September/October 2018

Falling Leaves Pin, depletion gilded sterling silver with oxidized edges, 18K bimetal, 18K gold, black quartz drusy, by Susan Mahlstedt. The piece is shown in a profile of the artist, “Graphic Grace,” in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist September/October 2018; photo courtesy Susan Mahlstedt

Here’s a very different way to create striking designs with a spare use of color. Susan Mahlstedt devotes herself to producing such dramatic contrast in black and white with a complex technique of depletion gilding sterling silver for that whitened surface, and oxidizing for the black. Her secret to making it work? “Very high tech, I know,” she laughs. “But the advantage of the toothpick is that it absorbs some of the oxidizer while at the same time letting me use enough to apply. It allowed me that perfect balance.”

Jewelry Artists Mix It Up

Santa Rita Sunset chalcedony

Falk Burger’s story about hunting for” Santa Rita Sunset” chalcedony near Rosemont, AZ, appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist May/June 2019. Cabs cut by Falk Burger; photo: Jim Lawson

After years of on and off rock hunting around the Rosemont/Helvetia District/Asarco Mission Complex in Arizona, Falk Burger found some material he finally decided was worth writing about. In “Santa Rita Sunset,” he shares his adventures and shows off some of his finds. The name refers not only to the splashy mixture of greens, blues, and oranges the gems display, but also to questions about how long the area might remain collectible.

“Lots of Character” by John F. Heusler, bolo tie with RGB Blanket stone, blue chalcedony, sterling silver jewelry artist

“Lots of Character” by John F. Heusler, bolo tie with RGB Blanket stone, blue chalcedony, sterling silver. The project appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist July/August 2019; photo: Jim Lawson

Speaking of splashy colors, John Heusler recently learned about, collected, cut, and set a Chilean rhyolite he calls Red Green Blanket stone in this very spiffy bolo tie. As if the main cab weren’t interesting enough, he used a sawtooth shape in textured silver for the setting and the bolo tips, inspired by — should I tell? Oh, okay: inspired by Bart Simpson’s hair! Jewelry design is everywhere, you just have to see it.

Hot and Cold

“In Orbit” pendant by Mary van der Aa, carved mookaite cab, citrine cab accent, silver wrap-around. The project appears in <i>Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist</i> January/February 2019; photo: Jim Lawson

“In Orbit” pendant by Mary van der Aa, carved mookaite cab, citrine cab accent, silver wrap-around. The project appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist January/February 2019; photo: Jim Lawson

For fabulous patterns in warm shades, the classic stone is agate, and mookaite in particular. Add a little carving to a cabochon and who could ask for more? Mary van der Aa, that’s who — pairing it in this pendant with a little pop of translucent orange and wrapping the whole thing up in a dynamic setting.

Heart of the Grizzlies synthetic ruby by Jim Perkins

Heart of the Grizzlies designed and cut in synthetic ruby by Jim Perkins. The facet design appears in “With an Open Heart” in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist January/February 2019; photo: Jim Lawson

And what could be warmer than a ruby red heart? Jim Perkins wanted to develop a more approachable cutting pattern for this well-loved but challenging shape, and this design is it.

Michael Paone’s “Blue Eye” pendant, lapis, topaz, sterling silver

Michael Paone’s “Blue Eye” pendant, lapis, topaz, sterling silver. The project appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist March/April 2018; photo: Jim Lawson

Although I’m always drawn to warm colors, I like cool colors, too. I had my eye on this pendant for a project as soon as I saw it, though admittedly more because of the startling way it looked back at me than its very pretty shades of blue.

Tool Focused

“Put a Spin on It” by Jeff Fulkerson. The project demonstrates the use of a new spinner bangle tool, aka anticlastic forming discs jewelry artist

“Put a Spin on It” by Jeff Fulkerson. The project demonstrates the use of a new spinner bangle tool, aka anticlastic forming disks. It appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist July/August 2018; photo: Jim Lawson

I have a pair of hoop earrings with hanging charms , and I love how they swing about. Unfortunately, I also loved snapping the ear wires in and out of their catches so much that eventually I broke one. Moral of the story: not all jewelry is designed to be played with even if it’s designed to have movement. Good news and the point here? Jeff Fulkerson designed a special tool just to make spinner bangles, which are indeed designed for the fidgety jewelry wearer. Spin those babies around all you want: that’s what they’re for.

Daylily by Brad Nichols, brass and copper. The project appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist March/April 2018; photo: Jim Lawson

Daylily by Brad Nichols, brass and copper. The project appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist March/April 2018; photo: Jim Lawson

Brad Nichols created this brass and copper daylily not to fiddle with, not even to put in jewelry (although with a smaller size it could look splendid). His goal was to demonstrate how to make a floral form using a hydraulic press and hand forging techniques. No doubt it was also to create a thing of exquisite beauty, because this piece is one.

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

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