Monday, October 24, 2011

What I Look for in a Stone: Part 4, Unique or Rare

(Part 1, part 2, part 3)

After discussing other qualities of stones, it's time to look at the fun category of "Unique or Rare". Sometimes, you just want something different or special to work with. Once in awhile you run across a really cool stone that you have never seen before and you just have to have it. Rare is usually hard to get; unique need not be. You just have to have a good eye to catch the really unusual ones. Here's an example of what I mean. The regular old agate in the example just happens to be a very unusual picture agate. But, unique can also describe the properties of a stone, like an opals flash of color or a druzys sparkle.

Before I begin showing the pictures, let me tell you that it is NOT easy to get good pictures of some of these juicy gems. Try as I may, I can not capture the flash of opal, the sparkle of druzy or the brightness of ammolite with a camera. You will have to use your imagination with some of these. And, add to this category some of the stones I have already mentioned in previous posts. I don't want to duplicate any rocks. Where would be the fun in that? But, I do want to point out that I have already shown you some rare and/or unique stones in past posts in this series. Lastly- please excuse my hand in the photos. These gems look best at certain angles to the light and not lying flat in my light tent, so pretend I have beautiful, young model's hands. :)

 This is an ammolite, natural freeform. Ammolite has been called the world's rarest gemstone. The best examples have more colors, this one has them all. I wish you could hold this in your hand to see how lively and bright it is. I have wrapped slews of them and though they seem delicate, I haven't had any problems with them.

This beauty is a royal purple, ammolite freeform. It is the rarest of the rare. What you can't see in the picture is the way the sheet of color seems to hover over the surface of the stone. It is very unusual, something I have never seen before. I don't know what causes it, but it is stunning to behold!  This isn't the very best example, but it is one I could get my hands on and I'm more than happy to have it. (The light spot near the middle is just lighter, not a chip.)

Here's another little piece of dragonskin ammolite. This one has different colors according to the direction of the light. Pretty cool, huh? Ammolite, like most light loving stones, needs care in deciding how best to mount it. This one, though, is bright all around and the challenge would be how to mount it to show the color changing properties.

This is a big opal with lots of multicolored flash. Too bad it doesn't photograph well. If I had to guess, I'd say this is from Coober Pedy or Mintabe, Australia- it is definitely Australian. But, I love opals of all kinds!

Here is a crystal based, semi black and gray opal from Lightning Ridge. Blue and green fire roll through the stone. If I were to place this on a black background the color would blind you. As it is in the hand, you can see how clear and colorful it is. This one has always been a challenge for me because it is so clear and really needs a backing to do it right. It will have to wait for me to develop new skills with metal. (A new challenge?)

This is a natural, black druzy. I think druzy looks best on a dark stone. This is sooo sparkly!

This is an astrophyllite. You don't see them very often. I like the ones that are darker. The darker background helps to show off the ribbons of shiny, copper color. It looks like shredded tinfoil in the stone. This is actually a bead. I haven't decided whether or not to treat it as a bead or cab. This stone is soft. I'll have to be careful with it and not tumble it.

Here is a stone that just refused to be photographed. You will have to trust me that this spectrolite's beautiful and rare pattern is bright. It is so glassy that the reflection prevented me from getting a good picture. I love spectrolites. The tricky thing with these is knowing how to orient them to show their colors best.

This stunning stone is a very rare and drop dead gorgeous, rainbow hematite. This is a natural druzy type stone. The colors are like sparkles of crystal oil in water. This stuff is mega delicate. I have only had a few stones that would hold up to a wirewrap. This one will. I ran across a story years ago, that I only half recall, that says that the ancient people of Brazil used to pave their roads with this. I don't know how true it is, but it would be beyond beautiful.

Not rare, but certainly unique, this is the blue goldstone. It is glass. The real stuff is getting hard to get as it is made by monks in one place in Italy. The word is they are the only ones who know the true recipe. However, there are some cheap knock offs coming from some unscrupulous dealers in parts unnamed. This is one of a few "stones" I use that aren't real rocks.

This is a stone that, while it is actually stone, it is not natural stone. This is a Victoria Stone or Imori Stone. It is rare as hen's teeth and very lively. The fern shaped, chatoyant patterns move in the stone with the light. There is a very interesting story about this material you can read here and while your there check out the beauties this guy has. Wow!

This is an unnatural union between a rutilated quartz and a bright blue spectrolite. I doubt if you have ever seen one before and you may never again. The man who made this, made only a few. I'm sure you have seen the lapis/rutilated quartz. Well, this has spectrolite instead of lapis. It is crazy, moving around in the light with the blue flashing and creating a great backdrop for the golden rutile needles. Pictures will never ever do it justice. :)

These two "stones" are cabs that I made when I was doing glassblowing/lampworking. Pretty cool, huh? They definitely fall into the unique category. The top cab has since become one of my favorite pendants. The bottom was sold a long time ago. Every time I wear it, I lament that I can no longer do the work. :(

Last but not least, is this beautiful, antique, carved, malachite cameo. How's that for adjectives? LOL! Seriously, if you ever come across one- grab it!! They are very, very rare and collectible. I only managed to get this because the woman selling it didn't know what it was and posted a real bad, blurry picture. I knew what it was though and paid 20.00 for it. (The moral is- keep your eye out for the good stuff. There are bargains to be had.) There are so few of these because, like lava cameos, malachite cameos are soft and didn't survive the centuries very well. I had to show this because it is a rock, after all, and rare.

This post wasn't so much as how a color or shape inspired; rather, how a property or uniqueness of the stone inspired. Some of these are examples of the showy stones, the ones that make you want to do something special. They are the ones you save your gold wire for or your best wrap. They are for the discriminating client or for your own best bling. Certainly, wearing one of these special stones or ones similar gives you bragging rights.


  1. Hey TelaT, Wow! These stones have blown me away. What incredible beauties you have and your descriptive words along with the photos brought them to life. From fiery intense colors to delicate beauty you have captured the rare and unusual. The ammolites look like paintings. The Victoria stone incredible and the gorgeous malachite words don't do them justice!
    I loved seeing your beautiful hands. The glass blown cabs are treasures!
    Thank you for inspiring me to look beyond the usual stone and shape!

  2. First, you have very beautiful hands, no need to apologize for them. I can't believe you work wire in those nails!! hehe

    I died when I saw the blue grey opal, the rest paled in comparison over that ethereal beauty!!

    The glass cabs were very unique!!

  3. Hi Christine! Of all of them, I don't think I could pick a favorite. But, when I want something special, I look to these. Thank you for always having a kind word to say- it means the world to me. :)

  4. Hi Mary :) You didn't see my thumbnail, I mean tool, I mean thumbnail, LOL! I use my nails a lot as I work. I was blessed with lots of hair and very long, strong nails. :)

    I keep wanting to take up silver smithing just to set that opal. It's a beauty. :) One day I should try and get a collaboration going with someone who works silver.

  5. OMG Tela, now I know where to go if I need to raid someone's amazing stone collection. I think my jaw unhinged when I saw some of these ! I'm seriously re considering my position on crystal now.

    Don't worry about your nails :) I need a bit of nail to work with wire too, but I can never wear nail just doesn't stay on long enough when I'm handling wire all the time to be worth the effort of putting it on :)

  6. OMG! I got to say I'm in awe. I can't pick exactly which is my favorite since all of them are beautiful.I got to say though that the cameo got my eye. You sure had a bargain with it. I can see it as a choker or something.

  7. Hi D, Glad you liked seeing my precious-es. Is that a word? LOL! I like crystals, too, I just don't have very many. My appreciation for them is rather new. I've always stuck to cabs, but I'm getting over that. :)

    Yeah, the nail polish always wears off the tips when I'm working wire. It's easier just to leave the nails naked.

    You don't know this, but you have started a little challenge between myself and a few others to make some earrings. I don't make them very often because my tendency is to make rather plain ones that don't inspire much. Seeing yours recently and after talking about your red beads, you made me want to make some more complicated ones. I was working on them last night. Nothing to write home about, though. :( Thanks for inspiring me. :) I'll post some when I get a decent pair.

  8. Hi Jade :) Funny, I just got a nice Polar Jade in the mail yesterday! I'm glad you like the cameo, she's really special. I can see a choker, too.

  9. I can't wait to see the earrings you (and the others)come up with, Tela!

    I'm the opposite of you. When I first started, all I ever made was earrings (hence the Dearrings) and only gradually got into pendants ( because my mother wanted matching sets LOL)and other jewelry :)

  10. Well, the challenge is a bit difficult. It is to design a pair of horizontal earrings. I was complaining that all mine are like beads on a wire, so simple. I make lots of earrings, just nothing very good, to my mind. Why don't you join in the challenge?

  11. Oh wow these are so pretty, I cant pick the one I like most, I sure love the purple opal from Lighting Ridge.. Thanks for the show.. Lynn

  12. You're welcome, Lynn, it was fun to do. It's a hard pick for me, too. :)


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