Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A New Year !!!!!

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"Thank you"...to all of you who take the time from your busy day to visit and comment...it is always very much appreciated!!
When I began blogging I didn't realize the wonderful friends I would find along the way...

Best wishes to everyone for a safe, happy, healthy, and prosperous "New Year"!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Love that Argentium Silver!

Here are three more pair of earrings all made with Argentium sheet silver and wire...I'm a huge fan of this silver as it is shinier and more resistant to tarnishing than Sterling Silver!

Each pair of earrings has been hand cut, sanded, polished, detailed, and tumbled, by me of course!!
I've recently purchased some Fine Silver, which is 99.9% pure silver, I've read this is the silver used to make bullion bars for international trading...interesting! I'm not sure if I will enjoy working with this silver as it is very soft ...but I wanted to try fusing which is similiar to soldering without the necessity of solder and chemicals... I'll let you know once I begin working with it. Probably won't be until after the new year now!
I'm looking forward to a productive winter...taking courses in metalsmith and improving my photography skills...both will keep me very busy until the market/show season begins in March!
Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Opal...October Birthstone!!

The Opal has always been somewhat mysterious to me...the way the stone changes color when you look at if from different angles, with flashes of blue, green and red! I found out these are called precious Opals and not all Opals have this wonderful appearance, but more of that later.

Above are two Opal rings of mine, as you can see, the ring on the right has a great deal of flash the one on the left not so much!

I've read two opinions as to the source of the name, one is the Opal takes it's name from a Sanskrit word for "stone", the other is the name is derived from a Latin word "opalus and a Sanskrit word upala which combined means "precious stone"...the opinion makes sense to me!

Up until the end of the 19th century Slovakia supplied Opals of the highest standards, now the primary location is Australia, found around New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland. Other deposits have been found in Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russian Nevada and Idaho.

In 2000, the Australian Gemstone Industry Council developed an system of names and classifications for opals which has been accepted worldwide.

The two basic categories are:
Precious Opal: this is any Opal showing a play-of-color. My two rings above are Precious Opals. With in this category are types of precious Opals,Type 1, Type 2, Type 3, Doublets and Triplets. The difference between Types 1, 2 and 3 is how the Opal has formed in the stone and how and in what stone it is found. The Doublet and Triplets are assembled stones, while they do contain a layer of natural Opal they are not considered natural Opals.
Somewhat confusing... I know!

Common Opal or Potch Opal: while these particular Opals share the same composition of Precious Opals they lack the play-of-color present in the Precious Opals...they are rarely transparent and often opaque.
Below are six large white common opal stones from my stock.

Here is an interesting quote from Galleries.com which explains much better than I could how the flashes are formed...
"Opal has been a popular gem for many centuries. It has the same chemical formula as quartz with the addition of 5 to 10% water. Structurally it consist of
tiny spheres with water filling the gaps. These spheres in most Opals are irregular in size and inconsistent in concentration. Yet in Precious Opal, the variety used most often in jewelry, there are many organized pockets of the spheres. These pockets contain spheres of approximately equal sizes and have a regular concentration, or structure, of the spheres. This has the effect of diffracting light at various wavelengths, creating colors. Each pocket produces a different color, with the different intensity depending on the angle from which a viewer sees it. The multicolored flashes of light that the Opal emits give it a truly beautiful and valuable look."

95% of Opals minded from the Opal fields are classified as common opals, which means they have one color, such as white, grey and black. Of the 5% with color most of those are low grade so only 0.25% of Opals mined have any real value. Seems such a small amount for such hard work!

The yellow common Opals on the right are also from my stock.

Here is a simple explanation of how Opals are formed from Opals Down Under!"Opal is formed from a solution of silicon dioxide and water. As water runs down through the earth, it picks up silica from sandstone, and carries this silica-rich solution into cracks and voids , caused by natural faults or decomposing fossils. As the water evaporates, it leaves behind a silica deposit. This cycle repeats over very long periods of time, and eventually opal is formed."

For those of you who aren't familiar silicon dioxide is commonly known as quartz or sand...

Again...the common Pink Opals on the right are from my stock...

As always... I've enjoyed delving into the world of stones...finding fascinating information and passing it along to everyone...

Information References:
Gemstones of the World, Walter Schumann, Third Edition, Sterling Publishing Co. Inc.,
The Jeweler's Directory of Gemstones, Judith Crowe, Firefly Books, 2006

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A few more photos!!!

First we have a stunning necklace made with top quality Sleeping Beauty Turquoise, featuring a a Hill Tribe silver flower...finished with a delicate sterling silver toggle.

Next is an everyday bracelet, something you can wear with just about anything and everything.
I've used black onyx, agate, a large jasper nugget and sterling silver lobster claw...

Another every day bracelet...this is a little more color specific but then you would be surprised what you can wear this with...included is carnelian, red aventurine, orange agate, and a couple pieces of round coral...a mixture !! Finished with a sterling silver lobster claw.

The last is a great necklace and earring set...the lovely lampwork beads are made by a fellow Etsyian...the lovely pendant is wire wrapped and hanging from a delicate sterling silver chain...the earrings are hanging from sterling silver lever back wires...


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Earring Day!!

The first three pairs of earrings are hand crafted, cut, detailed, sanded and tumbled, hanging from handmade ear wires. Each pair is made from Argentium silver, which is silver that has some of the copper replaced with a metalloid Germanium. This silver is highly tarnish resistant, purer, brighter, and eliminates fire scale when using a torch.

The above earrings are handmade from metal, leaf design dangles, on top of which are wire wrapped reconstituted turquoise round beads,hanging from stainless steel
ear wires. Reconstituted turquoise is tiny pieces of turquoise ground with resin added to bind the mixture, dyed and shaped into beads...