How do you source your stones?
This is definitely my most frequently asked question! And also one of my favorite topics.
The simple answer: mostly from amazing small businesses all over the Southwest, that I find on Instagram!
The detailed answer: Some people think I cut my own stones, but unfortunately I do not. That is a whole other art world I would one day like to tackle, but for now I'm sticking to mastering the jewelry making process. I leave all of the stone cutting to lapidary artists. Lapidary is the art of working in stone. Basically, they take a rock or mineral and form it into the desired shape. I buy in cabochon form or "cabs". Cabs are stones cut and shaped with a flat bottom and curved top.
Most of my cab buying happens on Instagram! There are some really amazing lapidary artists and stone curators on IG. A lot of them live in the Southwest near the actual mine. It's taken me a few years to know what to look for, but I'm starting to feel really confident with my buying process. My biggest priority is QUALITY. It can be hard to judge the quality of a stone solely from a little square on my phone screen, but I've gotten really good at it and have built trust with who I buy from!
I also love to attend gem shows to see stones in person and meet the amazing vendors. The biggest show of the year is the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show that happens in February every year. I've never been, but it's a bucket list item for sure!
What's your favorite stone?
That's so tough, so I'll do top 5!
1. Turquoise, duh. Any and all of it. Specifically, Royston Turquoise!
2. White Buffalo. A fan favorite for sure.
3. Variscite. Variscite is often confused with turquoise, however it's usually more green in color.
4. Opal. It's my birthstone and I always find it hard to look away from those beautiful, iridescent colors!
5. Spiny Oyster Shell. They come in the most beautiful shades of red, orange, and purple.
The ones that are hard to get seem to always be a favorite too...like Damele. Damele turquoise and variscite is so hard to find since the mine has closed. Luckily for you, you can shop some of that rarity in the shop now!
Fun facts about stones...
- Once a mine closes, value and price of that stone goes up like crazy!
- Stones are priced by carat weight and I have to factor that into the prices of my jewelry.
- Most cabs I buy are backed with a material that helps serve as a shock pad to prevent cracking.