Custom Red Burmese Spinel Halo Ring

I’ve been incredibly busy, to say the least!

I actually took my first day off in three weeks renovating/decorating/etc the other day to exclusively work on jewelry stuff. I had been sorely missing it and really had a stack of things to get back on – gemstone photography, rough jewelry ideas, blog ideas, sketches (which I’m still behind on!), as well as giving my back a rest, as I had pulled it over a week ago.  So I’m feeling as though I’m in a much better place than I was last weekend, with getting some items that were way overdue taken off my list.

I have a few fancy shaped antique diamonds in queue to design custom rings around, and I’m really excited about those. And of course I have some colored stone custom designs in the works as well!

In the meantime, I wanted to share some images of the most recent design to come out of production, something reaching quite a ways outside of my comfort zone, which I often struggle with, but always comes out better than I could imagine.

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Sketch, slightly underdeveloped.

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Jeweler’s photographs. 

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Client’s photographs.

I always love when clients come up with something that’s out of the ordinary, and this certainly fits the bill in that regard! An unconventional diamond and platinum halo surrounds a 1.69 ct Burmese Red Spinel.

I will be sending a parcel of sapphires and an emerald to AGL for certification this week. I had been intending to send them to AGL and kept putting it off for various reasons. But they are going to go now, and typically they are at about a 2.5 week wait, so hopefully I will have them back relatively soon.

I have been working on some stock items, and as per usual, the CADs came out perfectly the first time for both items. Both share elements with the Vivant and as such, I decided to use Mahenge spinels as them as well. I can’t wait to see them completed!

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Color

When I was young, I really wanted to be an interior decorator. Every wall in my house was painted white, except for my room, which was a soft buttery yellow. When I was about 7 my mom decided to hire an interior decorator for this one room in our house, and I still don’t know why that room was picked, as it was the least formal communal room, containing our tv and my father’s desk. The decorator ended up wall papering one wall, and took about 6 months to coax my mom into painting the rest of the walls a light peach color. I never understood the color scheme in there, and still don’t, but I loved the idea of giving a room some personality through color, shape, texture and furniture arrangement.

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I have mentioned on social media that I’ve been in the midst of home renovations. My family and I recently purchased a home that was built in the 1970s, and as a result, requires a bit of work to update the place. I’ve been getting a lot of grief about the colors I’ve chosen for the house. I really decided to go all out for this house and I’m not holding back in the color department, with deep emerald, pale periwinkles, vibrant teal, violet and a vivid green, to name some of the more exciting colors.

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But I’ve come to realize that color is one of those things that’s highly subjective, and everyone’s opinion is going to vary based on a lot of factors. The most controversial color is surprising to me – a pale green. The reasons I chose it aren’t important, but the strong reactions to it have been startling – it’s a pale minty bluish green, reminiscent of Baskin Robbins’ Mint Chocolate Chip, but lighter (kind of like the above garnet). In my opinion, a pretty innocuous color.

But that’s the thing, color can have unexpected visceral reactions and people are going to love and hate the same colors, and sometimes won’t even be able to explain why they are having the reactions to the color that they are.

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So here is a little bit about color terminology for gemstones. I’ve gone over some of these terms before, but it’s always good to have a refresher.

Hue: the color of the stone. “Purple” “blue” “red” “teal” are all hues.

Tone: lightness to darkness of the stone. “Deep in tone” connotes that a stone may have a darker color. “Light in tone” connotes a pale or pastel shade.

Saturation: how much color/pigmentation a stone has, the intensity or vividness of a color. “light” “medium” “intense” “vivid” are all terms that can be associated with saturation.

Modifier: if the stone has a strong primary color, the secondary (or even tertiary colors) are called modifiers.

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I would describe the above spinel’s color like this: Blue in hue, with medium-dark tone, medium to strong saturation, with a slight green-gray secondary modifier. This stone also shifts to a purple under fluorescent lighting, the rest of the information stays the same in both colorways.

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The most highly sought after stones in the colored stone universe are going to be pure of hue, medium in tone and with vivid saturation. A little gray goes a long way to making stones be within a more reasonable price range with typically a barely perceptible difference.

So, I’ve been posting less to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc because I’ve been busy painting and painting and painting. Good thing it’s a labor of love but I will be so happy when it’s over! I have some exciting things planned for the coming weeks, including a Q&A feature with someone in the gemstone world, and a couple fantastic custom projects I’ve been working on over the last few months. I have fun stuff coming up for 2016 too, and I can’t wait to share those things with you as the year progresses!

Eye Candy, Updates and Gray Spinels

It has been a long, crazy week. I spent a lot of it photographing and posting 3 ring settings (Aurore, Exaltée, and Feuilles Dorées) as well as my first necklace, Vivant. I have one band that is super close to going into production, and a couple other bands that need to be photographed and posted. Since I have spent so much time taking photos of these pieces this week, I figured I’d include some of them in the blog.

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I’ve also been working diligently on some custom projects, one of which is being set now, and is certainly going to be a statement piece. I also have a custom design for a violet spinel that I’ve been struggling with, but I think I have finally got an idea in my head and know the general concept. Then I also have a green cuprian tourmaline ring that will probably need a few tweaks before it goes into production. Plus a bunch more custom projects coming through the pipeline.

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I have also been getting a ton of requests to find stones for special occasion rings – lots of engagement ring stones in the works over here, with some funky cool cabs thrown into the mix. If you are looking for a gemstone, please be aware that it can take a lot of time, depending on what you’re looking for! The earlier I start looking, and the looser the deadlines, the better.

I’ve been working with a friend to find the perfect stone for a prize she won at the Pricescope JCK event back in May, and we found the perfect stone and I cannot wait to see it in the finished piece.

I get tons of requests for gray spinel, because it’s one of those stones I’m super passionate about, and I don’t keep that quiet. It is getting increasingly popular, and I have a growing list of people who are looking for it. Beware, prices for it are going up!

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I’m considering a few additions to my newly revised website, and perhaps changing the structure of the blog a bit, with maybe one monthly post with what I’m up to, perhaps a Gem Blast, an informational/educational post, and then perhaps a wildcard post of some sort (design process perhaps?). I’ve been so terribly swamped that I haven’t been able to keep up and get as ahead as much as I normally do.

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Another reminder of the sale I have going on in my etsy shop! This coupon code is only good until November 1, so use it while you can!  “AUTUMN2015” (no quotes) is good for 15% off purchases of $100 or more. I might run some holiday specials when it gets closer to that time, but I haven’t determined that just yet.

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It looks like I will be getting a new office space relatively soon, (yay for no more gem-color-altering pink walls!) so lots of my time will be dedicated to redecorating as we move into the winter months. I’m really excited about this, because it will be the first space I really get to call my own!

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Also, because I have been getting questions about it, some of the prototype rings seen in their various pages on my site will be going up for sale – please let me know directly if you would like to be added to that item’s interest list!

Many things underway here, and definitely keeping busy!

The Gallery

Can we talk about galleries for a minute?

So, what is a gallery?

The gallery is the part of the ring, when the ring is facing down, that is facing back up at you. It’s behind or underneath a stone, depending on how you want to look at it.

Now, when you turn over most of your rings, you might notice a trend – no one does anything with the gallery. Sure, a ring might have a nice basket or a cool shoulder design, but the gallery is often one of the most neglected parts of the ring. It has recently come to my attention that, especially when getting a custom ring, they want it to be special, they want cool little details, and you know what? The gallery is a great place to start with that.

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This is the gallery piece in wax form from my design for the Voeu ring. 

I have had clients say to be before, “well, who cares? You can’t see it when you’re wearing it!” To them I say, “You know how you will sometimes put on your favorite pair of underwear and or bra, and you suddenly feel sexier or more positive – just because of what you’re wearing under your clothes?” No one (well, you know, maybe not no one) sees it but you. But it still elevates your mood. It’s for you. So think of it like it’s your ring’s fancy lingerie.

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I want my rings to have fabulous views from every angle. I don’t want my pieces to be completely one dimensional. So I always give thought to the gallery, even if I don’t end up doing anything with it. You can guarantee that I have still thought about it and decided what is best for the overall ring design.

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Your ring’s sexy knickers.

I want you to pick out a ring I have designed from your jewelry box, and take a look at the secret view that no one else can see just before you slip it on your finger, and cherish that private detail until the next time you take off your ring.

Maybe it will even add some oomph to your step.

A Year in Review

Happy first birthday to The Gemstone Project!

Lets see, the past year has been chock full of wonderful craziness.

August 2014
The first month started out with a lot of posts about various gemstones, including a colorless garnet, and gray spinel. It included an unheated Umba color shifting sapphire in a Harry Winston inspired halo that I helped put together for a friend. I posted a bit about myself and some about my photography. And I topped off the month with my first Gem Blast.

September 2014
September started out with a visit to Lang Antiques in San Francisco that took up three posts. September included three Gem Blasts, including one about considering gemstone recuts. I concluded September with my handy guide “Scale of Gray” for seeking out gray spinels.

October 2014
October gave way to talk about birthstones, including two antique birthstone rings, tourmaline & opal. I touched on gemstone cutting flaws and what to keep an eye out for. I posted a design I used for my first jewelry design contest with David Klass. I included posts about tsavorites, Mahenge spinels, and an evaluation I did for a friend on a red spinel. Two designs were posted, including a breast cancer awareness ring and a red spinel inspired by the Art Deco period. October only had one Gem Blast – sapphires and moonstones.

November 2014
I created a Facebook page in November! I posted my drawing process for my solitaire setting entry for another of David Klass’ contests, this time winning. I also featured willajunejewelry. A Gem Blast about diamonds, some rough ideas for a NYC ring, plus some random thoughts flowed through November.

December 2014
A feature on Jewels by Grace brought December in with bang! Though the rest of the month I stayed a bit quieter due to the holidays, I still had a range of topics to cover. I wrote about design ideas and inspiration for my pad sapphire ring. A Gem Blast on Merelani Mint Garnets, my thoughts on what the New Year would bring, and a post about lapidaries fleshed out the end of the year.

January 2015
I brought in January with my own type of confetti: red spinel melee. A reader had suggested posting about a guide of what to look for in a gem. I announced that I was starting to design my own line of jewelry, posted a Gem Blast on the many gems at my beloved gem store and another Gem Blast celebrating January’s birthstone, several varieties of garnets. Then January closed with my declaration of opening an etsy store.

February 2015
February started with me changing to trade status on Pricescope and picking up a new username, and a post about fantasy cut gemstones. Pantone had announced their color of the year to be Marsala, and I have a few things to say about that. Sticking with the birthstone idea, I posted a Gem Blast about amethysts. I added a simple diamond pendant design, and a post about my most memorable Oscar jewelry.

March 2015
I brought in March with a post about a green beryl/aquamarine, another birthstone post. Some discussion about current jewelry trends took place, as well as a post about red spinel. I finally posted the finished product from winning David Klass’ contest. A more detailed post about my design aesthetic wrapped up March. But that wasn’t all! I also started a TGP Twitter account, and my 3rd ring prototype was completed, and the 4th one put into production.

April 2015
Since diamond is the birthstone for April, and also my birthstone, I decided to dedicate almost the entire month of posts to diamonds. Until recently I wasn’t a diamond lover, so I blogged about diamonds that really captured my imagination, including rose cut diamonds, a yellow diamond trillion, and a pinkish brown diamond. But I didn’t post entirely about diamonds – I added in a post with the end product of my David Klass contest band. My 4th prototype was completed too, and the 5th prototype was put into production! I also got a gem back from AGL as certified unheated. The event that took place that I was most excited about was a sapphire purchased from my shop being used as an engagement ring!

May 2015
Of course I would have to do an emerald Gem Blast for May, since it is the birthstone for the month and that seems to be the trend I picked up on! May was an incredibly busy month for me with JCK at the end, and preceding where to find me on social media, and a post about how I would be posting to instagram and twitter from JCK. I also finally posted a post I had made on sexism and gender issues within jewelry marketing and the jewelry trade. I also included a Gem Blast of the AGL certified violet sapphire. 5th ring prototype was completed!

June 2015
June did not get a birthstone post! Instead, I did a post about my jewelry line updates, a post on blue-green tourmalines, THREE posts on my experiences at JCK, including meeting lots of colored stone celebrities. I also did a post on metal color and how I prefer color flow to contrast, and how I like colors to work together. I also did a post about imitation and inspiration that had been writing itself on my phone for months prior. I finished the month with a Gem Blast on a stunning tanzanite from Precision Gems.

July 2015
July kicked off with a post about sending a sapphire to AGL and getting it tested. I then had a bit of an artistic funk and found myself writing about art of other mediums – Angie Crabtree and some chefs made some brief appearances and helped lift my spirits and inspired me further. I also got to the final stages of a big custom project, and took a fantastic mini vacation down to San Diego at the Vineyard Hacienda, which also helped get the creative juices flowing. I published a “living document” I had been writing about gemstone terms and vocabulary, and hopefully that will still be added to continuously. I finished off July with a couple of Gem Blasts – moving across state lines does not make for a lot of blogging time!

August 2015
August has only just begun again, but already this one holds a special meaning to me – I have never been good at continuing things – I have started so many blogs and stopped writing after a couple months, or lost interest, or whatever, so to reach and celebrate a year of posts, and all of the incredible things and wonderful people I have met – it truly is a remarkable milestone for me. So far into August, I have posted only one blog, but it has been one of the most important and edited (18 times! Two different highly educated editors!) items I have ever written – Gender Inequality and the Jewelry Trade. Oh, and I also moved across the country, a thousand miles to the north counts, right?

Here is to the future and everything it may bring!

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Viva Las Vegas! JCK 2015 Part 3!

So. It’s the final day. I would have loved to stay in Vegas longer, but my daughter was already having a hard time with me being gone. I’d had a packed schedule for three days and wasn’t able to talk to her as much as I (or she) would have liked.

Saturday

I actually woke up at a decent time, and got ready as soon as possible and made my way over to the convention center. I was alone because my companion from Friday had some other engagements, and I had put this day aside to spend at the show. I was determined to go up to the diamond levels, but had to go spend some quality time back downstairs with my beloved colored stones.

JCK Luxury Salon

So, one thing I wanted to point out is that security is TIGHT, of course. These security cameras were on the escalators up to the Luxury Salons. Security guards are everywhere, police are everywhere, it was kind of amazing. But I will tell you, I’ve never felt so safe.

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Now, one other reason I am showing the video cameras is that I wasn’t able to take a ton of photos. Luxury and the main floor of the show is nothing like AGTA – cameras and photographs are not welcome. Designers and jewelers are determined that their ideas will not be stolen. I may or may not have gotten yelled at at least once by a guy wearing a bow tie that was peddling 20+ carat antique cut stones. How can you copy something like that?!

So, I’m going to lay this out there and be flat out honest. I am a colored stone girl. I am so tired of diamond halos. And that’s what the vast majority of what was in the Luxury Salons. I don’t know that I should be apologetic about that, because it’s obviously what people want, but for the love of Pete, you can only do a diamond halo in so many ways! Having said that, I sometimes like diamond halos, but at least get creative with them!

NOW, one company that did something besides your every day diamond halo was Cicada Jewelry. Don’t get me wrong, they had some diamond halos, but that wasn’t all they had. So I wildly sketched some ideas and noted some color combinations. I wasn’t even tempted to take pictures, because I respected their work enough to not want to copy it, but to use some of the lessons learned while standing in that aisle admiring their work. They have a minimal presence online and on social media because they are so protective over their work and designs. They actually do not even photograph and publish most of their work so that they don’t get copied. And for good reason, their items were exquisite, definitely the best I saw at the show. I got a shot of their business card though! Their booth was what the entire section of Luxury Salons should have been.

Other companies need to step up their game.

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AGTA, Random Cabochon Vendors

I would have to go back through my business card collection to tell you who the vendor was, but they had some of the coolest stuff – adding some mother of pearl to the back of some translucent cabochons of different colors. I was fascinated by the resulting light play and will have to delve further into the idea of making jewelry with it when I have more resources to do so.

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This concave cut belonged to a HUGE vendor who had so many items out on their tables that they must have had a terrible time keeping track of everything. I was a horrible convention goer and didn’t grab one of their business cards.

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AGTA, Bruce Bridges

One of my most entertaining visits from this day was when I went by the tsavorite.com booth and happened to meet Bruce Bridges. So I asked him to pull out the biggest example of tsavorite he had in the cases, and he polished it up with a clean cloth while I pulled out my OlloClip and readied my camera. They asked to see the photos I took and were enthralled with the quality of the photograph I had just taken using just my phone and a relatively inexpensive macro lens. Bruce complimented my photography skills, and I taught him all about the OlloClip. I’m pretty sure he’s now a convert and will be purchasing one, if he hasn’t already. This stone is 12.5cts and I was afraid to touch it, knowing how rare (and expensive!) tsavorites are of this size. The photo does not do it justice, as the stone has less yellow in it than appears on my laptop, or on my phone, for that matter. Silly greens, being difficult to capture correctly.

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Blurrier pic, but I was trying to capture some sparkle.

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A horrible picture of some of what was in their display case. I only asked to see the biggest, but there were some heart wrenchingly beautiful spinels and tanzanites along with all of the greens.

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I hope that Bruce picks up an OlloClip and is introduced to Instagram, as I’d love to see more of those incredible gems all over the interwebs!

AGTA, Random Gemstone Vendors

I stopped by the Paraiba booth again to grab a couple pictures of a few of the tourmalines, the 3ct one in particular, as it is that famed “Windex blue” everyone always goes on and on about. The others weren’t too shabby either, but they really just aren’t my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t turn down designing around one, but I don’t know that I’d ever really want to own one.

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Chinastone is the place with the melee. I actually was planning to pick up some and then realized that I didn’t have the cash on me at the time. So much fun to imagine what to do with all of those tiny stones!

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Then a last stop back by Prima Gems to pick up this little neon red guy and a stone for my day 2 companion. I have no idea what I’m going to do with this thing, but I will do something with it at some point!

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I actually went upstairs and wandered through the tech/tools area for a bit and chatted with some friends/colleagues about tools, the trade and jewelry design, but didn’t take any pictures, so that’s a bit boring.

Pricescope Get Together

2015 marked the fifth year of the Pricescope get together, but only my second time attending. I went straight from JCK and arrived before anyone else did, so I managed to get a couple images of the suite before anyone else arrived. A giant thank to goes out to Andrey Pilipchak, his beautiful wife Linh, and Erika Winters, for putting so much effort into hosting such a great party every year. It’s your playground, we just get to play in it!

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I believe that there is an annual pool game that takes place, but I’ve always stayed away from it while it’s happening!

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Luckily, being one of the first people there has it’s perks, like I didn’t feel guilty about grabbing people’s bling as soon as they walked in the door, since no one else was there to look at it yet. For instance this amazing pear rose cut came through the door, and I didn’t want to give it back. I mean, look at it! I think that Jewels By Grace still has it, but it may have sold already. Unfortunately, not to me.

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This piece is wonderful, first of all because it belongs in a friend’s personal collection, but also because of the history. It’s a 1920s Art Deco brooch that was converted in the 1950s into a bracelet. I didn’t capture the bracelet details, but the brooch part is absolutely immaculate with perfect milgrain.

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Another Jewels by Grace item, this is a precision cut light pink garnet that was set into one of JbyG’s signature bangle bracelets, in brushed rose gold. Sometimes the simplest things are the best ones.

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Now, once I got this on my finger, I absolutely did NOT want to give it back. Another Jewels by Grace item, a to-die-for antique emerald cut diamond. Positively epic. I am such a sucker for the step cuts.

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This may have been the point where I started sending pictures of it to my husband. Who then laughed at me. 3.6cts doesn’t come cheap!

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Another wowza item that is a bit shy and not fond of the bling paparazzi is a stunning antique green chrysophase ring. This thing has presence in any room, and glows like it has a light on inside. From another personal collection.

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Also happening at the party was playing with loose stones. One thing I love about the camaraderie that belongs to Pricescope is that no one judges you for playing with little sparkly items when normal people might think you’re crazy for being so bling obsessed. For us, it’s just the best kind of party! A friend was asking advice for a potential three stone. By the end of the night she had completely changed her tune and was going towards something totally different.

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Now, towards the end of the evening, I happened to check my Instagram, and noticed that I had hit the 1000 followers mark. I had been intending to do a giveaway at 1000 followers, but considering that I was in Vegas, and would be traveling home all day the next day, I decided to postpone the giveaway until 1,500. So, if you’re an instagram follower, start looking for me to do a giveaway on there relatively soon!

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Not long afterwards, my roommates gathered me up, and insisted that we go back to our room, ending my mini-bling vacation. I had seen, experienced and learned so much that I couldn’t even begin to try to remember absolutely everything I had absorbed. I gathered a ton of business cards and made a bunch of new contacts, some very cool mentors and shared a bit of myself. I feel like I created some new opportunities and I hope that some wonderful things come out of it.

I want to send out a HUGE special thanks to Amy Phillips and David Klass of David Klass Jewelry. Without the kindness and generosity of these two phenomenal people, most of this trip would not have been possible. You guys are the best!

I hope you enjoyed a small piece of what JCK and AGTA were like through my eyes!

Viva Las Vegas! JCK 2015 Part 1!

I don’t even know where to start because I did so much while I was in Las Vegas, so I guess I’ll just go in chronological order and give an abbreviated look into three of the most intense days of my life.

Thursday

So, I’m lucky enough to live relatively close to Las Vegas. As a result, I decided to drive across the Mojave (which is not a decision to be taken lightly!) and save a bit on airfare. Well, just as I had pulled off the freeway to stop at an ATM, and was stopped at a stoplight, I picked up my phone to check the map, and a cop pulled me over for using my phone while driving. Apparently I need to start using paper maps rather than my phone as a map. That did not start my trip off well. In addition to that rough start, my lovely bling friend who was rooming with me, her flight was not only delayed, but she was moved to another flight, that would have her arrive ten hours after she had originally been scheduled.

Not a good start to what was supposed to be a fun weekend.

So, at that point, alone and grouchy, I checked in, got some free drink vouchers (bless the woman at the check in counter!) I unpacked everything, and decided to check my messages, where my delayed roommate had mentioned a potential dinner date with Roger Dery. Seeing as how I hadn’t eaten anything all day, I figured I should probably put something in my stomach. So I text Roger and arranged to meet him at a restaurant a block from his hotel.

Dinner with Roger Dery

Let me start out by saying that Roger is wonderful. I’m not just saying that because I know he’ll read this either! I don’t want to talk too much about dinner because we talked about a lot of gemstone stuff, my plans for the future, his history with gemstones, posting on Pricescope (we both typically refrain unless we think very carefully about what we’re going to say before we say it), the increase in interest in gray spinel, mining, etc. You get the picture, I basically got as much information out of him as I possibly could over a couple of hours.

Gemstone showing with Roger

After we finished dinner, Roger invited me to view the gemstones he had with him, and of course I jumped at the opportunity! Who wouldn’t?! Here are some of the pictures I took of some of his gems.

Chrysoberyl
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Orange sapphire. Just a tiny bit more brown than a fine orange garnet. This picture does not do it justice.
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A large blue sapphire
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My favorite stone of the night, a 2.03ct blue sapphire
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Iolite cabochon. A wonderful violet color. 
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One of many kiwi garnets.
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Another kiwi garnet.
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A fine spessartite, as usual, this picture does it no justice. 
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The amazing crown on a red garnet.
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A gorgeous burnt orange garnet that has a tinge of pink to it; another favorite of the night.
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Admiring the chrysoberyl.
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I took pictures of every single gem he brought with him, but some of them came out terribly, so I won’t post those! Roger gave me some helpful hints about the business and made some great suggestions as to next steps I should take. Not long afterward I finished looking at the gems, Jason Brim, Ryan Quantz and some other gemstone afflicted came by to go through Roger’s gems, and talk about gems. We also talked at length about Sharing the Rough, which I was able to see at the Newport Beach Film Festival. But more on the film later!

Back to the Bling Room

At this point, it was midnight and my roommate had finally made it to our hotel, so I decided it was time to head back….and look at more bling.

Colombian emerald cut by Lisa Elser.
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6+ct violet sapphire from Gene Flanigan at Precision Gems.
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Electric blue zircon from Roger Dery, customized Gabriel & Co setting.
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A red flame spinel in a custom Bez Ambar setting with Blaze diamonds
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A special transitional diamond from Love Affair Diamonds. This diamond comes with a story! 
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Violet sapphire from Natural Sapphire Company, setting from Jeff Davies.
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Shoulder views of Gabriel & Co setting and Julia B Jewelry setting with a Prima Gems red Mahenge spinel. 
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I finally passed out around 3am, already feeling a bit overwhelmed. This is what a colored stone lover’s nightstand looks like when we have a bling weekend.

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Part 2 with the lowdown on Friday’s insanity coming tomorrow!

Hint: it involved a lot of time with Prima Gems, and a limo ride. Not related to each other!