Both Are Best: Jewelry Designs with Personal Meaning and Wide Appeal
It’s such an intimate thing. Jewelry accents the body and the outfit, and speaks of the person who chose when and where to put on that piece. It can highlight the wearer’s taste and disposition, broadcast her status, tell the story of his latest adventure, or clue us in about aspirations. At times discreetly and at others overtly, jewelry is as much messenger as accessory.
ABOVE: Sarah Wilbanks likes to make jewelry that looks like one thing but is another, or distorts an image beyond recognition. Polymer clay (affiliate link) and silver neckpiece by Sarah Wilbanks. Learn more about her work in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist May/June 2019. Photo: Jim Lawson
The dragon below? You’d recognize that no problem. But if you ever did manage, it might take you a while to pick out the plucky guitar-related shape of Roger Halas’s Dragon Pick pendant. All scenarios would be fine. The best references are those people either get, or never know they’ve missed. They’re ideas that work on multiple levels.
The stamp Roger created and used for the dragon impression is just what we all think a dragon looks like — or at least could look like, given that this is an imaginary creature none of us has ever seen in the flesh. That’s a good design motif: it’s clearly meant to represent something, and everyone will know what that is.
The outline of the pendant is a tracing of a real guitar pick. If you play guitar, play another instrument with guitar, or watch a lot of guitar playing, you’ll immediately make the connection. If your musical interests lie farther afield, it might take you a bit longer.
If music’s not your thing, you might never know the shape’s source. Seeing this pendant around someone’s neck at the supermarket, say, no guitar case or other musical context in sight, you’d have no reason to suspect this unfamiliar shape was supposed to be anything in particular. It simply works well as a pendant. You wouldn’t think it was a sloppy triangle or a not very creative abstraction, you’d just notice it hangs well and has a a few extra curves that push it a little beyond the ordinary. If someone happened to point out its origins to you, you wouldn’t feel like a dodo because you hadn’t sussed them out, but you might gain new respect for the artist. Interesting, you might think, I never would have guessed.
A music fan but not a musician, Roger has seen lots of wearable picks and wanted to design one of his own. Also a fan of fabulous creatures both mythical and ancient, when searching for a central image he chose a dragon in Viking style. (Who knew?) He’s made a perfect pendant for himself, invoking several of his favorite things while still developing a design that anyone can appreciate.
At a time when jewelry personalization is in and getting more so every season, it’s good to think about who will see a piece as well as who will wear it. Customers do want personal elements in their jewelry, and everyone loves the idea of a design secret they can keep to themselves or reveal to others. But make no mistake about it: we all want other people to admire our jewelry, too. Why else would we be seen wearing it in public?
Also in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist May/June 2019
Plus mixing stone shapes and colors in Trends, Cool Tools and Hip Tips for wire workers, and more!
P.S. What Is Santa Rita Sunset?
Collector, cutter, jeweler, and author Falk Burger tells us this new gemstone is chalcedony with other stuff mixed in. He also offers these thoughts on what to call mixtures like this.
“There’s an old rockhound superstition, based on a misunderstanding it seems to me, that ‘silica makes it hard.’ When we say ‘silicified’ or ‘silicated,’ we are correct only if speaking of replacement. Yes, silicas replace organics to produce ‘petrified’ wood, for instance. But even then, the silica doesn’t make the wood harder, it replaces it. In a similar way, ‘gem silica’ is not chrysocolla hardened by silica, but silica colored by chrysocolla.
“I’ve even come to doubt the old saw that silica makes turquoise harder: I find porosity instead. Most experienced lapidarists know the frustration of encountering the quartz crystals that commonly occur in Kingman turquoise, for instance. Poorly bonded to the turquoise, the crystals cause a lot of problems. Crushing a piece of turquoise in destructive analysis tells you what’s in the powder. It tells you nothing about the role the silica plays to produce the physical characteristics of the gem.
“Si Frazier addressed aspects of this issue, proposing ‘chrysocolla-stained chalcedony’ instead of the ludicrous ‘gem silica’ for that prized blue material. I don’t like the connotations of ‘stain,’ however, and propose instead ‘chrysocolla silicasol’ to suggest fine particles of chrysocolla suspended in silica. It’s analogous to ‘aqua aerosol,’ which is fine particles of water suspended in air . . . aka fog.”
Have thoughts clear or foggy of your own about silica in gem materials? Please share them in the Comments section below.
Merle White is Editor-in-Chief of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. This post is adapted from her column, “Personality Plus,” in the the May/June 2019 issue.
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