Building a Gemstone Collection

Over the past several years I have built a wonderful collection of jewels with a client of mine. She started out pretty slowly, but about 5 years later, through a lot of time, trial and error and wading through a pool of contacts, she has managed to build one of the most beautiful and thorough collections I’ve ever seen (in a collection that’s not in a museum, at least!).

One of the most important factors we learned in building her collection is that sometimes stones will pop out at you at the most unexpected times. You may have been searching for a fantastic blue sapphire, and stumbled on the perfect ruby instead. I would absolutely jump on the ruby rather than keep pursuing the sapphire. Bump the sapphire down a notch on the priority list, but keep an eye out for it. In other words, when opportunity knocks, answer the door.

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Beyond making opportunistic buys, it’s important to have a plan moving forward as you build your collection.

Strategies for building a stunning gemstone and/or jewelry collection:

  1. Make a list of the gems/jewelry you absolutely want. Try your best to order this list according to your personal priorities (see 2-9).
  2. Keep in mind this list is going to grow and change as your expectations and desires change.
  3. Color. What colors do you want? What colors would you wear? Is there any special significance to colors/types of stones?
  4. Hardness. Are you hard on your rings? Do you need to be limited to the very hardest stones? How does that limit you color-wise? Are you willing to wear something sparingly in order to have that color in your collection?
  5. Some of the best overall collections I’ve seen have a full variety, a rainbow of color. But some collections have a concentrated color group – a friend who is a huge fan of blue green for instance, may build a small army of blue-green stones in a variety of shades, while other colors in their collection may appear sorely neglected.
  6. Know yourself. What makes you get butterflies in your stomach? What makes you gasp in delight? Is it a certain variety of stone? Or a certain color?
  7. Keep budget in mind and know where you want to make concessions. Things like cut and clarity can help stretch the budget.
  8. Keep your setting budget and wants in mind. Sometimes people balk at spending more on a setting than on a stone. Know what your priorities are! For some people (myself included!) the setting costs and the stone cost ratio doesn’t matter, it’s the end piece that has to make your heart sing.
  9. Do you want fewer more expensive items or a larger number of cheaper items?
  10. Try to finish some of your pieces. You can go down a rabbit-hole of buying gems or settings and never complete anything (unless, of course, your goal is to collect gemstones and settings!).

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Just keep in mind that beautiful collections don’t necessarily grow overnight. Gemstones are often very hard to track down, especially as you reach for more high end or rare stones. Building a collection takes time and requires patience, but is well worth it in the end.

In the event that building your collection hits a wall, feel free to reach out to me for help with new rocks to overturn or who knows – one of my contacts may have just what you are looking for!

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Gem Blast: Blue and Green Tourmaline

I was asked a while back if I had any indicolite in a specific shape and size. The specification of “indicolite” gave me pause, because what is an indicolite anyway?

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Well, it turns out that indicolite just used as a term for the blue varieties of tourmaline, and is also known by the term “indigolite”. I am not a chemist, gemologist or a physicist, as I have reiterated before, so I had never given it any real meaningful thought.

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Tourmaline is mostly classified by color, and color is usually an indication of mineral presence. Indicolite is usually but it’s complicated by the fact that paraiba and cuprian tourmalines are colored by copper, while other darker blue tourmalines are colored by iron.

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So it seems as though classification of a tourmaline is more of a continuum rather than a linear grouping.

tourmaline emerald

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I typically don’t really delve too far into these things because I look at the stone as a piece of art and a medium I have to work with rather than it’s chemical composition. When I do get questions like this, I ask people who are more knowledgeable than I am (a huge thanks to all of you who do their best to explain these things to me!) so I can answer to the best of my ability, or just point them to somewhere else that might have the answers they are looking for.

Now, ask about color, shape and proportion, and then you’ll get a long monologue!

Feature: willajunejewelry

As promised, I have an exclusive feature on Erin of willajunejewelry. If you haven’t bought all of your holiday presents yet, I highly suggest you pay close attention to this post! (And pay special consideration to the contents of it, because there is something in it for you!) Most of the pieces seen in this post are for sale.

Fluorite cabochon ring

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I have had the great pleasure of knowing Erin since before willajunejewelry was even conceptualized. She has been a friend of mine since 2007 when she became a colleague of my husband’s.

Something that you wouldn’t necessarily expect from a jewelry designer/maker, is that she has a Masters degree in Sociology/Criminology. Cool, right?  Her Masters thesis examined female criminals and, specifically, the role that children can play in stopping a criminal career.

Broken Arrow Turquoise Ring (this one has already been sold)

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Erin started willajunejewelry in 2009,  while working on her Masters degree. She had already been taking various jewelry fabrication classes in a variety of mediums as a way to express her creativity and as a stress outlet. Willajunejewelry was inspired by her grandmother, who was a rockhound and gemstone buyer and had huge impact on Erin and was the namesake for her business.

Shakespeare Quote Necklace

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Erin is one of a very select few of my friends and family members that actually knows just how passionate I am about jewelry and gemstones. I figure at some point I will have to let others in on that secret. As a result, she’s my favorite gemstone shopping partner and is incredibly patient and never pressures me to hurry up!

Oval Apatite Cabochon Ring

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Another fun fact about Erin is that she loves shoes. We have bonded many times over shoes, especially of the high heeled variety, and that will continue until we are old and gray. Hah!

I personally own several pieces of jewelry that Erin has made, both customized items as well as items I fell in love with that were in her shop (or on her Facebook page) but I will put them in a future post, since I’d rather let her photos shine!

Garnet Cabochon Flower Necklace

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She primarily works in Precious Metal Clay, which is a really cool product that has so many uses and applications.  She also does wire wrapping, beading, traditional metalsmithing and is constantly experimenting with new techniques and finishes.

She does some amazing custom projects and is always excited for new ideas and challenges.

Bi-colored Tourmaline cabochon ring

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Lately, it seems as though Erin’s popularity and achievements have just exploded. In September she took home second place in the Metal Clay division of the New Mexico Jewelers Association All that Glitters competition. She has also just completed teaching her first Craft Entrepreneurship Program class on the topic of setting up and selling on etsy (link here, and a sample of her student’s work here). She also applied for Greek licensing to make jewelry for sororities, as she was in a sorority herself. She has been granted licensing for six sororities so far, and I am sure more will soon follow suit.

Gold Sheen Obsidian with lab Rubies, 2nd place winner in the Metal Clay division of the NMJA ATG competition. This is on display at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science until the end of November, which is when it will be going up for sale.

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Now, how to get in touch with Erin and have her make you something amazing! Luckily she has a big social media presence so you can find her at any one of the following places:

willajunejewelry etsy
willajunejewelry website
willajunejewelry instagram
willajunejewelry twitter
willajunejewelry facebook

Gold Druzy Quartz Necklace

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So, the best part about this post is that Erin is offering my readers an exclusive coupon code for 15% off for her etsy store: “THEGEMSTONEPROJECT”
This coupon will be good through the end of the year, so please take advantage of this offer!

Disclaimer: The above images belong to Erin of willajunejewelry and I am publishing them with her permission! These particular images were chosen by Erin because they are some of her favorite pieces.