WYSIWYG Gemstones and Making Jeff Fulkerson's Bracelet With My Dad

Imagine my surprise last week when I visited my Dad and he picked up the April issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine, flipped to a project by Jeff Fulkerson, and said, "I want you to make me that!"

Jeff Fulkerson's 3-stone cuff  
Photo by Jim Lawson

The project, a Navajo-style three-stone cuff bracelet, is a far cry from the gemstone-bead stretch bracelets I made him years ago that he still loves to wear. He takes orders for more when people comment on them–he even raised the price and people still want more. Gotta love that! Thanks, Daddy!

  drawing silver balls
Photo by Jeff Fulkerson

But back to the project. Thankfully, my metalsmithing skills have grown since the beaded bracelets and I realized I can actually make my Dad this piece of jewelry! I especially love the silver ball accents; Jeff calls them raindrops. I love making them and joke that I could make them all day long. This would be a fun part of the project to let my Dad do himself, too.

I knew choosing the stone was going to be the key to making a bracelet that my Dad would like. I have the silver sheet, I have the silver wire (and copper, if we decide to go with an alternative metal), but the stones are the star in this project. In the past, we've had fun together going to rock shops, gem mining places, and the big gem and rock show that happens in Franklin, North Carolina, each summer, so I've heard enough of his comments on what we see to know what he would like.

red creek jasper from Cool Tools  
Red Creek jasper, photo by Cool Tools

While there are no gem shows in my immediate future, I knew I could find a great selection of stones online–but I wanted to be able to pick out the exact one I know he would want. I thought he would enjoy helping me pick out the stones, too, so I checked out the gemstone selection on CoolTools.us and sent him links to the ones I thought he might like. I have shared before how much I love the fact that Cool Tools has a "WYSIWYG" (what you see is what you get) shop–they actually photograph every single stone and you receive the exact one you see and purchase online. I LOVE that! It's not always necessary to know exactly what the stone will look like, but in this case, it is. I love having that option.

He especially likes the colors or patterns in the stone to look like scenery (the mountains of the Southwest, for example) or to have that Southwestern/Navajo color palette, so I was thinking about turquoise of course, carnelian, Red Creek jasper, or imperial jasper. He likes bright colors, too, so maybe bumblebee jasper, aventurine, sunstone, or lapis lazuli. I might even try to find scenic jasper, a really colorful pietersite, or maybe even boulder opal! It's fun to have a project to make for such a special "client" and to work with him to make just what he wants.

  polishing the bracelet
Photo by Jeff Fulkerson

Just-right cabochons being picked out, metal on hand, design reviewed and tweaked to suit him–we're thinking maybe just one stone turned sideways instead of three vertical, but nothing is set yet–time to fire up the torch and make this puppy!

Once you have your just-right gemstones, you can find great projects for them in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine–and you can get an entire year's subscription to it (and lots of other great jewelry-making and craft magazines) for less than 20 bucks in our subscription sale! (You can get the same great deal on digital magazines, too.)

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