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


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)


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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.


Evaluating a Moderately Included Red Spinel

So recently I was asked to consult on a stone for an international friend of mine. Typically what happens is that they will ask me to look at a stone that’s in the USA and then send it to them if it passes my inspection/and they like what they see in photos. To this point, it has all been with known vendors, but this newest one was a previously unknown vendor, so he wanted me to go through it with a fine-tooth comb.

The stone was described as being a top red, 2ct spinel that is eyeclean and the cut was “not precision cut, but good”. So I really wanted to go through this stone thoroughly because I know my friend has been looking for a good red stone forever.

First up was looking at color. This stone is a very good red, making my red spinel’s purple modifier and less than ideal saturation look, for a lack of better term, funky.


So, as you can see, the stone is not precision cut, and the meets between facets are all over the place. No symmetry, no problem. This was not an issue for my friend.


So, in evaluating it, I took out my loupe and macro lens and went at it. I noticed a couple problems right away. First one was the fact that the stone is not eyeclean. Second, and these images show it best, but there is also a small window in the middle of the stone, which means that it appears as a dead spot instead of being sparkly. Two different lighting situations and angles of the stone.


You can see the window manifesting as a black spot in the middle of the stone in the following image:


The more I looked at the stone though, the more obvious the inclusion problem became. This is the largest and most noticeable inclusion from the pavilion view. I thought that it would probably be covered up by a prong or an enclosed setting. Unfortunately it is also surface reaching, unevenness I could feel with my fingernail.

Spinel is considered a Type II stone, which means that it is usually included. After going through the stone, I would consider this to be an I1, because the inclusions have a moderate effect on appearance or durability. This is just based on my experience and what I can see with a loupe and feel with my fingernails – I do not have a formal education…yet.


The following image was taken trying to get a clearer image of the inclusion in the center of the stone. The resolution on this image took a dive when uploaded.


There was a point where I just started taking pictures of the stone from different angles so I could see what caught my eye in the stone. For this one, it was the feathers around 4 o’clock in this picture. I had thought there was only one feather before.


This image captures the off center culet. You can see it leaning to the left a bit. This isn’t as bad as it could be, or as bad as I’ve seen before.


This image shows how shallow the table is. It actually looks taller in this image than it feels in the hand.


In my first go around, I missed some things, for instance, what appears to be a small chip on the girdle, but could potentially be a small crack. I would need higher magnification to be able to tell for sure. Inclusions that are surface reaching are problematic because they can serve as weak spots for potential damage when worn. This is especially true for the girdle, which is one of the weakest spots in a stone.  Off to the right of the illuminated facet is an indented natural – a piece of what was originally the outside of the rough stone.


You can see how the middle inclusion is close to the table of the stone, and impossible to avoid.


A closer view of the pavilion of the stone shows the largest, closest to the surface and most noticeable inclusion to the left, the crack/chip slightly to the right, the greenish bit is the indented natural and then another cluster of inclusions all the way to the right. That’s not getting into the chunk of crystal inclusions closer to the middle of the stone, which does not include the inclusion I talked about being in the middle of the stone, close to the table of the stone – which is out of focus at the very bottom of this image:


A side view of the most obvious inclusion, from the girdle perspective.


Ultimately, my friend decided that this stone had too many problems for him to deal with and decided to return it, even though it was a nice color and a good size. There were other chips along the girdle that I haven’t included images of, so between the placement of the inclusions and the undisclosed issues, my friend was not interested in keeping such a risky stone, even if the color and size were exactly what he was looking for.

I am super excited to announce that I will be doing a feature on Erin and willajunejewelry in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled for that!

Gem Blast: Purple Sapphire

One of the best things about visiting home is my favorite little gem shop. When I was there over the summer, I managed to catch a glimpse of this stone, and couldn’t stop thinking about it when I got home! So I sent my gemstone-buying-partner-in-crime, Erin of Willajune Jewelry to go back and grab it before anyone else could.

2.4ct purple Ceylon sapphire, measuring 6.4×9.7mm. It was sold as being unheated and color shift, but I haven’t really played with it enough yet to see if it actually has a shift. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had sold my unheated color shift sapphire to a friend, and of course, I had to replace it with something else. This stone has a few cut issues, but I adore the color, so I’ll easily be able to overlook it.

This picture was taken at the gem store, shown with an amazing blue sapphire that is super saturated, but a bit on the silky side:

purple oval

This image shows it’s tiny window and a hint of the half and half shadowing. Notice how the upper half is a little bit darker and the facets look less defined than the bottom half.

purple sapphire

purple sapphire3

purple sapphire4

These next two were taken with my Canon in mixed lighting, fluorescent and natural daylight.



Under fluorescent lighting:


And outside:



I see more blue sometimes and more purple at other times, but I can’t really decide if it is a real color shifter.



I always have the hardest time thinking of settings for ovals, which is sort of weird because they were my second love, after trillions. At this stage, I’m pretty equal opportunity when it comes to shapes, but I play favorites with more symmetric shapes. So hearts, pears, trillions are harder for me to wrap my head around when it comes to setting rings, but easier when it comes to setting necklaces!

When I set something from my own collection, I tend to let the stone talk to me before I set it. So far, this one is pretty quiet, but I have done some quick shape sketches when an idea pops into my head for an oval.