New York, New York

A touch over two years ago I posted a blog entry about a planning a specific project:

https://thegemstoneproject.com/2014/11/28/new-york-city-inspired-ring/

Well, it evolved. I will get to that in a second.

Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal

The first time I ever went to New York City was when I was 18 years old with my parents for a business trip for my dad. I remember walking the streets wearing furry Steve Madden shoes and having a doorman compliment them. I fell in love with the city in that trip, between the Empire State Building, the flagship stores, the food, the energy and life of the city. I didn’t know it at the time, but only a few short years later, I would be going to school slightly upstate from the city.

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It wouldn’t be until I went to NYC via train from upstate that I would first experience Grand Central Terminal in all of it’s glory, between the Oyster Bar, the marble floors, the tile ceilings, and the glorious teal ceiling bedecked with celestial gold in the main hall. For me, with the Grand Central ceiling, it was love at first sight. Every time I would take a trip to the city via MTA, I would be delighted to experience it’s beauty once again, and I would look forward to seeing that ceiling every time.

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So, since I don’t get to do that regularly anymore, I had to base a piece of jewelry around it.

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My starting point, as is often the case, was color. I had a copper bearing precision cut teal tourmaline from Barry Bridgestock that was absolutely the color of the ceiling.  I knew from very early on that I had to have yellow gold, as the zodiac symbols all over are painted in a golden color. It was only later that I would decide that the piece would need to have white gold as well, which was a difficult conclusion for me as I’m typically not a fan of mixed metals.

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In planning the rest of the elements of the design, I took into account an incredible number of details from around GCT, from the arches of the hallways, to the color of the walls and the floors, to the incredible iconic pendant chandeliers. I evaluated every single one of the zodiac symbols, the detail of the arches, the Tiffany glass of the clock, the golden clock in the middle of the terminal, the detail of the windows. Essentially, the entire building is one very large piece of functional art, each detail has had painstaking work put into it by artisans of years past. There is some sad irony in the fact that most people who witness it never take the opportunity to enjoy those details.

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I started out thinking that it would be a ring. I soon found out that between the stone size, the ring size and the sheer scope of my vision for it, a ring that size would be essentially unwearable on a regular basis.  So I ended up changing it to a necklace. And of course I took the opportunity to use a stone that I have an infatuation with – a rose cut diamond. This time around, I decided that it should be prong set with a hexagonal surround, to echo the geometry of the iconic graphic feel of the Art Deco era.

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For a while I considered something that had to do with my zodiac sign, my husband’s zodiac sign and my daughter’s zodiac sign, but that became too complicated and didn’t end up making any sense design wise. So I simplified,

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I considered adding a detail from the arches (also seen on SNL’s GCT set) to the eventual outer halo, but nixed that idea as it became too busy. I also considered having no negative space, with just the contrast of diamonds and metal color to guide the design, but again, cited the busy-ness of the design for utilizing negative space rather than adding more to an already complex concept.

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I ended up with just a thin outer diamond halo to provide some structure for the centerpiece of the piece, and I chose a octagonal shape for it inspired by the octagonal frames around the medallion detail on the large arches on either end of the building. (Bottom left corner in the below image.)

Grand Central Terminal Ceiling
Grand Central Terminal Ceiling

I originally designed the star’s diagonal points to stretch all of the way to the halo, but after thinking, and evaluating the actual stars of the GCT ceiling, as well as looking at the Art Deco stars, I realized that while it may be less stable, shortening the diagonal points would be better for the over all aesthetic, and echoed the compass like shape of the actual GCT stars.

Grand Central Terminal Taurus Detail
Grand Central Terminal Taurus Detail

Elevating the star and the stone just a touch was the finishing detail. I used fancy yellow diamonds on the yellow gold and single cut white diamonds on the outside halo, in keeping with the Art Deco era.

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It is not very often that I create jewelry for myself anymore. This isn’t a piece that I will probably wear often, but it is a small, sparkly tribute to a city that I love, and the Art Deco masterpiece that lies within it.

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TGP Updates

It has been far too long since I managed to get a post up! In the last few weeks, I’ve had a family emergency, found myself terribly sick and even had a birthday.

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Bright Yellow Sapphire

In more jewelry related news, I managed to get some new gems up on etsy, got a few custom projects underway, and am anxiously waiting for a few items in production.

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Pastel Green Aquamarine

I’m really sad that I haven’t been able to get more jewelry into production so far this year, but things have been distracting me, and I am hoping that as soon as I get moved into the new studio, things will take a turn for the better. I have a bunch of custom projects in the works, including a step cut halo, some cluster type rings, another halo, and some others including a fancy colored diamond ring.

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Medium Gray Spinel Pair

Speaking of the studio, I have a new drafting table, and I’m so excited to be able to draw without getting instant neck strain! I also have a big south facing window with incredible natural light (except during those pesky storms that make it over the Cascades from Seattle) that has been working quite well for photographing stones and jewelry. I didn’t realize when I started planning this new space just how many functions I need it for – drawing, photography, computer, writing, storage, shipping, etc. And all of those tasks need different lighting (say, for instance, color shifting stones!) and suddenly office planning is incredibly complicated.

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Lavender Spinel

Now, as for decorating the studio, I already have one print up from Angie Crabtree – the Elle modern asscher, and my wonderful husband surprised me with a new print for my birthday – the Dominique antique pear! This complicates things though – I had just figured out my wall configuration with the decor, so I will have to redo it once it is framed.

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Barry Bridgestock Tourmaline

I hope that you have taken the opportunity to take a minute to check out my Repertoire page – I have many of the items I have designed up there, both stock items as well as custom items. I am going to be writing another Inside The Industry blog coming up soon – I just need to be able to spend some time writing, instead of spending it on random non-jewelry related items. And I will be sharing a couple new items to go with the Vivant necklace as well – they should be coming out of production very shortly!

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Peter Torraca Tourmaline

In other updates, I have stones at AGL for certification/testing, and I will have a new small padparadscha sapphire as well as a gorgeous blue sapphire here soon as well!

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Gem Blast: Garnets

In honor of my best friend growing up, whose birthday is tomorrow, I’m posting a whole bunch of gemstone pictures of her birthstone: Garnet.

Merelani Mint

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Almost Colorless Grossular Garnet

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Tsavorites:

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Imperial Garnet

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Imperial Garnet:

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Loliondo Spessartite

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Loliondo Spessartite

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Hah! I just realized that I don’t have any pink or red garnet pictures on this computer. I guess I need to take some more pictures!

But check out the variety of colors. I wish (sort of!) that the general public knew that these stones were as varied and interesting as they are. Of course, I don’t wish that the general public knew about them because then the prices would go up even more.

This is for all you January babies out there!

Lapidaries

I have a few favorite lapidaries, but I’m always on the lookout for new ones. I do tend to go for precision cut stones over non-precision cut stones, but so long as a gem is cut well, and sparkly, that’s the most important part. But, if all else is equal, I’ll chose a perfectly cut stone over a non-perfectly stone. Which is where those lapidaries who slave over their laps come in!

For a little bit about some lapidaries I have had experience with….

Barry Bridgestock of Artistic Colored Stones
Barry is fantastic. Barry watches a lot of baseball while he’s cutting stones. He is one of the most personable cutters I have had the pleasure of working with, and an amazing lapidary on top of that. I would tell you to run, don’t walk over to ACS to see what he has in stock – if he cut it, it’s sure to be beautiful. His website is a bit…old fashioned, but his cutting is worth it!
Artistic Colored Stones

Dan Stair of Custom Gemstones
Dan and Cindi are a great pair. Dan used to be a graphic designer, and his photographs are typically more on the artistic side. However, he recently started using videos on his site, and I cannot commend him enough for doing something that so few vendors do. Video is really the best way to see how a gemstone performs. I adore Dan’s step cuts, and he does not cut highly treated material.
Custom Gemstones

Gene Flanigan of Precision Gem
Gene is an engineer by trade, and can be a bit gruff at times. However, his cutting is wonderful, and some people absolutely flock to him and won’t purchase from anyone else. I think his cutting is top-notch and can absolutely see why people are drawn to his stones.
Precision Gem

John Burleyson of GemRite
John has recently been upping his game on the rough, and has been producing some larger rare stones. His cutting is wonderful, he posts videos for some of his stones and he is incredibly nice.
GemRite

Peter Torraca of Torraca Gemcutting
I love Peter. He’s exceptionally kind and posts great blogs himself, plus has an excellent Facebook presence. I loved watching his gradual heating of a red zircon, and always point people to his post about how to open gem boxes. Not to mention his skill at the lap, which is awesome!
Torraca Gemcutting

Gary Braun of Finewater Gems
I have nothing but good things to say about Gary. He’s an absolute doll to work with, and usually has some amazing and rare stones that he found on gem buying trips overseas but refuses to recut for fear of loss of face up size or the risk isn’t worth it. His cutting is absolutely wonderful and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy from him again.
Finewater Gems

Dana Reynolds of Master Cut Gems
I actually have not purchased directly from Dana, but the only reason is because he didn’t have what I wanted at the time, and I always seem to miss out on stuff when I see something I like on his site. He is incredibly knowledgeable, and pleasant to talk to.
Master Cut Gems

Jeff White of White’s Gems
I’ve bought only one stone directly from Jeff, but he is absolutely wonderful and a fantastic cutter. He will bend over backwards to get what you’re looking for, but if he custom cuts for you (and that’s a vast majority of his work) you will have to pay a non-refundable deposit.
White’s Gems

And because I do my best to put photos in every post, some samples of their work. Check out the crown height on this blue spinel from Barry!

Big Blue

A rubellite tourmaline from Gene.

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Montana sapphire from Dan Stair and a Merelani Mint Garnet from Barry.

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A asscher spinel from Peter

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Special shout out to Stephanie for the idea for this post!

This will be my last post of 2014! See you all in 2015!

Gem Blast: Merelani Mint

Since things are starting to get a bit crazy around these parts, I’m going to take it easy for a post! This little stone is a Merelani Mint Garnet, so named for the Merelani Hills area of Tanzania, where some of the most awesome green garnets come from.

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The trade ideal dictates that the more saturated, the better, and the more blue in the green, the better. This one is not deep enough in tone, or saturated enough to be considered the trade ideal, but it a beautiful little gem that’s internally flawless.

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You can see in this picture how much more blue the center stone has in it next to it’s two companions, also green garnets. The center stone was a birthday present from my husband, the sides were an anniversary gift.

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A lot of people like the set these garnets in rose gold, because of where they sit on the colorwheel, but it just reads as busy to me for most of the pale greens out there.

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I plan to eventually set this stone with white diamonds, I just haven’t figured out how I want to do it – especially because I have the two other green garnets to set as well.

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This stone was cut by Barry Bridgestock at Artistic Colored Stones. Should you ever see something you like on his website, I highly recommend snapping it up right then and there, his stones tend to fly off the shelves as soon as they are put on them!

Regrets and General Musings

I’m a little bit sad because I recently let go of two stones that I’ve had for a long time and had previously spent a lot of money to set. However, sometimes things just change and you have to let go. I’ve owned enough gemstones and jewelry items to realize that if you are meant to have it, it’ll probably come back to you. And if it doesn’t come back, odds are pretty dang good that something “better” will pop up later.

To date, I don’t regret passing on most of my gems, although there are some that will stay with me, and I will continue to think about them for a long time. Now that I think about it, there is no one gem that I say, “Man, I regret letting go of that stone!”

If anything, I regret certain settings for some stones, and often take big hits there. I’ve learned over the years to let a gem tell me how it wants to be set, which sounds kind of corny and New-Agey, but I can’t figure out a better way to express how I feel. I have set things before and gone on to regret those decisions mightily when coming to the realization that they just didn’t work together the way I wanted them to.

I’m a big believer in matching the stone to the jewelry item and to the owner, and I am glad that I’ve developed a stronger sense of how I best operate. It has taken many gems to get there, but I think that I, my collection, and my knowledge base really have a strong background for what I want in a piece of custom jewelry now. It has taken a lot of gems to do it, but I think that knowing the gems went to good homes is part of why I have so few regrets.

So, while the stones that I recently parted with are beautiful and I will remember them fondly forever, I am so happy they went on to new homes. I hope that their owners love them just as much, or more than I did, and I hope that they give me updates on what they did with the stones, or even let me help them figure out how to set them.

Say “Adieu!” to these guys:

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I’ve been working on designing a lot (with a couple personal projects, a design contest and some other random stuff) and blogging not so much. Between the holidays coming up and all of the craziness that accompanies them, I’ll be slowing down on the blogs a little bit until the first of the year.

Spinels: Scale of Gray

I started this blog talking about gray gemstones. When I started my search, I kept coming up empty with what I wanted, until a gemstone that was pretty under appreciated came to my attention – gray spinel. But there wasn’t really any out there.

It turns out that people are reluctant to cut a gray gemstone, because everyone wants bright highly saturated gemstones.

These are some of the stones that were bought (and some since sold) in my quest for exactly what I wanted. One note about gray spinels is that they are incredibly difficult to photograph. They are very temperamental and reflect everything in their environment, and as a result, they are exceptionally problematic to photograph.

The Scale of Gray (SOG) is a scale of 1-10, with one being colorless and 10 being black. The idea for this was based on the art and graphic design principle of grayscale: Wiki article on Grayscale

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Image taken from google image search)

These two spinels are almost colorless. Spinel is typically not colorless and almost always has a modifier of some other color. To be colorless, spinel cannot have impurities. These spinels are so close to colorless that I cannot discern a modifier in them. I consider these stones a 1 on my Scale of Gray. The round stone looks darker here than it is in real life. I will attempt to get a better picture of it and replace it at some point in time.

Round stone: Artistic Colored Stones
Pear Recut: Gemart Services
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Grey 1b

This spinel is a very slightly silvery gray, so much so that it’s almost imperceptible unless the stone is on a white background. It can appear colorless at times, especially when in a bright lighting situation. I consider it a 2 on the SOG.
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This stone is deep enough in tone so that the gray color is apparent even when the stone is on a colored background, such as skin, as seen in this picture. This stone can appear to look colorless in certain lighting conditions. I consider this stone a 3 on the SOG. Round: Jeffery Davies Gems & Jewelry
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This stone is what I consider a 4 on the SOG. It is definitely gray in most lighting situations and never appears colorless. Sometimes it can look lighter gray and sometimes it can appear a darker gray, but only blacks out under bright direct sunlight. Round: Julia B Jewelry
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I consider the following stone a 5 on the SOG. Sometimes it appears to be a lighter gray, and sometimes it appears to be darker, but the body color is a clear medium gray. Round stone: Artistic Colored Stones
Grey 5

This asscher cut from Ryan Quantz is finally being added to the the line up as a 6.  This stone always appears gray, sometimes can appear silvery when the pavilion facets reflect light, and sometimes can appear black in very low lighting situations.
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This stone is what I would consider a 7 on the SOG. It often appears darker gray and never appears colorless. Sometimes the facets reflect light, making it appear medium gray, but overall, this gray color is always going to appear to be darker.
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This spinel is an 8. It’s body color is decidedly dark, and unless it is in very bright lighting situations, it will appear to be very dark or black.
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I consider this stone to be an 8.5 on the SOG. It is a darker gray, often appearing to be black, and when it does not appear black, looks very dark gray, and may have a lighter flash move across the pavilion facets. Cushion: Gemcal
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I consider this stone a 9 on the SOG. The majority of the time, it appears to be black, and only sometimes appears to be gray, typically with sparks of color. Black is considered the absence of light, so I cannot in good faith call this “black” because light travels through it to some extent. Cushion: Custom Gemstones
Grey 9

I feel as though there has been an increase in popularity in gray spinels, which is great and terrible, all at the same time. I think it’s wonderful that people are giving attention to a neglected color, but at the same time, they are driving up demand, and as a result, prices.

I am constantly on the lookout for these underappreciated gemstones. Nothing really makes me quite as happy as an amazing gray spinel!