Saturday, February 3, 2018

February bonus blog - Accidental Treasures

From the time I "discovered" the family run business here in the UK that specialises in beautiful hand-cut cabochons, I have been drawn to the vivid colours of a "stone" called Rainbow Calsilica. But what troubled me is the debate over its place in the world of gemology. You see, no one was absolutely 100 percent sure if it was natural or manmade. There were claims of seeing "rough" material, and there was the fact that many individuals selling these "stones" at rock collection events were representing it as organic. But, until I could find the definitive information about it, I was not sure I wanted to add any to my collection of cabochons for use in jewellery that I then sell on.

After a great deal of research and after reading points and counterpoints to the argument, I found what I feel to be the definitive answer. And it was pretty much sealed with the inclusion of a photo of "rough" with a cola bottle top embedded within it. You see, like Fordite, Rainbow Calsilica is an "accidental" stone, a byproduct of manmade materials.

Before I tell you about Rainbow Calsilica, let me explain about Fordite, because I love this and I am awaiting a piece of Fordite I've just recently purchased. This gorgeous byproduct of automobile manufacture is amazing. It is simply the collection of old automotive paint in bands of colour that have mixed and swirled and then hardened to a finish that allows for cutting and polishing. It has been referred to as one of the most beautiful manmade gemstones and the original Fordite, going back to the Detroit factories of the early years of automobile production, is considered the most valuable. While the older Fordite displays fewer and less vibrant colours (remember when cars basically came in black, white, blue, and red?), this stone, also referred to as Detroit Agate or Motor Agate, is colourful and interesting. I have seen examples that remind me very much of tribal masks and tribal art. As I said, I have purchased a piece to include in my jewellery and, fortunately, the company here in the UK does carry some - both the older and more rare Fordite and the newer, more vibrant Fordite.

And the joy of "accidental" stones or gems doesn't stop there, either. I am old enough to remember the days of bowling balls that were somewhat sparkly and had an almost chatoyant finish (tiger's eye reflection or movement under light). Old bowling balls are now being cut and polished. The name of this man-made "stone" is Bowlerite. But, unlike Fordite and Rainbow Calsilica, it is not accidental, but intentional. This "stone" is not one I will be adding to my collection. But I can understand the attraction some people may have for this "stone."

Now, Rainbow Calsilica. As it turns out, Rainbow Calsilica is caused by the build-up of slurry from Mexican tile factories! Offcuts of tiles are disposed of, obviously in order of colours produced, and over time the slurry hardens and it offers up a striated lump of various colours. Once cut and polished, these stones are so beautiful, so colourful, and what a terrific way for "waste" to become useful again. The piece I bought is pictured at the top of this blog. Isn't it lovely? I believe this piece will become a very beautiful statement ring - I will just need to decide whether to pair it with copper, bronze, or silver. But I am sure it will make a beautiful piece of jewellery.

Once my Fordite has arrived, I will share a photograph of it with you. As I described above, this particular piece reminds me a bit of tribal art, as if tribal art and psychedelic art were somehow combined. I love the ethos behind these pieces as well - turning waste into treasure. The ultimate recycling. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018


What, you may ask, is that headline all about? Well, I will tell you. I recently purchased a genuine agatised piece of dinosaur fossil! Yup, you read that right - agatised dinosaur fossil. This is where a dinosaur bone is left in the earth and agate builds up around and inside the bone. We've all seen old bones - with all the little holes and crevices that appear as the bone ages. With dinosaur bones, because they are underground, they often fill with agate or other minerals. So, amongst my offerings this spring will be a lovely copper pendant showcasing this lovely "stone." I've decided on a fairly simple pendant design that a young man might not think it too feminine to wear. A uni-sex dinosaur bone pendant. Well, it's certainly a first for me!

And here it is! Isn't it fabulous? The agate that forms inside the bones can be various colours and this
particular specimen has taken on a red hue. I find it amazing that I can hold this piece and know that the dinosaur to whom this belonged lived at some point during the Mesozoic Era (between 230 and 65 million years ago). Was the dinosaur this came from alive during the Triassic period, the Jurrasic period, or the Cretaceous period? All we know is that this particular dinosaur was roaming what is now Utah when it came to the end of its life.

Speaking of agates, I also acquired a gorgeous little agate that will be perfect in a statement ring. I haven't decided yet whether it will be bronze or copper, but I do know it will be lovely. This stunning little agate is called Orpheus agate and comes
from Bulgaria. As with all my recent acquisitions, both this agate and the dinosaur fossil stone come from the small family-run business here in the UK. They are, as I've shared before, as fastidious as I am about the provenance of their cabochons. That means that both you and I can buy with confidence that we are buying the genuine article.

The months ahead are perfect for creating, as the first event of the season isn't until late March. So I will be busy in my studio creating lovely jewellery for your consideration. 


A short note about my husband, Chris. He had chemo in early December and it nearly killed him. Just nine days after his chemo (which had to be stopped 2/3rds of the way through due to excruciating pain), he was hospitalised with an infection of unknown origin and dangerously low potassium levels - basically just hours away from developing sepsis. After all that, Chris and I, and our incredible kids, all decided that chemo was not the way to go. Chris is now on palliative care only. We don't know how long we have, we don't want to know. We just know we need to cherish each and every day as it comes. Thank you to those who have sent message of support and good wishes. We will keep up our spirits and keep up the fight...