Which is to say, I know nothing about them. Oh sure, I can point out an amethyst, or a labradorite, and I can even tell you the metaphysical properties of a few stones. I used to carry a lapis for wisdom and vision and a beautiful citrine for energy and clarity of mind. But, in reality, I just like things that are pretty. I know nothing about the Mohs scale of mineral hardness and, as far as I’m aware, a jasper is a jasper is a jasper. If it has nice colors or pattern, I like it. If it doesn’t, I don’t. Beyond that, I find there isn’t much more I need to know.
Did I just commit jewelry blasphemy?
I recently ran across a series of comments about gemstones which inspired this post and were (ahem) spirited, leading me to believe perhaps I was doing a disservice to my customers with my lack of interest in gemstone specifics. One comment suggested the stone should always be the focal of the piece. Another suggested you should never sell jewelry in which you don’t know the name, origin or specifics of the stones used. And another implied you should have your rights to sell stripped entirely if you couldn’t distinguish between a Feather Ridge plume agate or Mexican flame agate.
And then I realized I’m an artist, not a jeweler. I’ve never considered it important to my work to know where a stone was mined, or that jasper is a member of the chalcedony family, or what that even means in relation to the piece in which it is used. Does it make the stone less beautiful? Hardly.
Now, I understand the porous nature of the stone can effect its wearability, that aquamarine is not kiln-safe, but I’ve never allowed these details to dictate how or when or if I utilize these stones in my work. If it’s pretty, I use it. If it doesn’t work out, lesson learned. And, for some, this may be an elementary or irresponsible approach, and maybe I should have my wire wrapping card revoked and then burned in a funeral pyre at my feet. Or maybe, I’ll carry on not worrying about the specifics, and you… the you who needs to know the water content of opals, can educate yourself and help educate those who seek to learn these facts. Gemology, although an incredibly informative field, is science that, for me, wont change the art.
My interests are born from a place of beauty or spirit or energy. Beyond that, everything else is secondary and, I dare say, not at all important. The stone, for me… and I’m going to say something shocking here… doesn’t matter. It’s an accent, a pop of color, it compliments copper or silver, it helps determine the flow and pattern of the metal. But I don’t need them. In fact, I don’t always use them. And if I cover half a 30mm cabochon with 25 yards of wire, I don’t consider it a loss of something precious. Because what’s left is a piece that represents my vision.
I suppose I should clarify that I don’t want or need to know the specifics of the stones I use, because for my work, those details are (mostly) unimportant. I don’t use a kiln. I don’t use a torch or other extreme temperatures. I know enough not to use fragile stones in rings and, usually, don’t make enough rings for it to matter. I rarely use a hammer and I’ve yet to ship to the arctic or nearest volcano. And none of this should suggest that I don’t learn things along the way, because I can now distinguish between a Feather Ridge plume agate and Mexican fire agate, but that I don’t seek to allow these things to determine the direction in which my work flows. And (though I am loathe to hurt the hearts of my rock hound friends) could live and work happily if never a gemstone existed.
So what am I really saying here? I’m saying make what you want, with what you want, and the rest, my friends, be damned.
On that note, happy weaving and a joyous creation to you!