Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Celebration of Lampwork

More and more I appreciate lampwork beads and the artists who create these beautiful wonders. Yes, it is pink and blue (no surprises there) but the first necklace celebrates lampwork beads and how lovely they look when combined with other elements, in this case, crystal, silver and moonstones. The lampwork beads in this necklace come from some of my favorite lampworkers: Burt and Scott Gumeson of Gumeson Designs, Jim Reeves of Gonzie and V3 Lampworks, and Lynn of Laffingull. Even the small nearly perfect blue spacers that you see here are lampwork beads from Laffingull as are the exquisite flower beads on either side of the focal bead in the lower strand of the necklace. The "bumpy" beads are from Gonzie and the ;ink beads with zigzags and blue "bumps" are from Gumeson Designs "jewel " collection. This necklace will be first put up for auction on our eBay site under the username chloemarie99.
My next bracelet is a favorite of mine since it features green garnet (also known as grossular garnets). I especially love the large flat faceted green garnet nugget that is the focal gemstone. The rough stone and the smaller lighter green stone are both green garnets in just 2 examples of their endless variation. Oddly enough, with green garnets, it is their inclusions that make them really complex and beautiful. The second silver strand features sterling silver Karen Hill Tribe flower charms and Vesuvianite rectangles (akin to green garnets). The silver-laced lampwork beads are by Lisa Sharik, a glass artist from Texas.
The last 2-strand bracelet here that combines lampwork and gemstones has more beads by Lisa Sharik, showing a more delicate side of her work. The gemstone featured here is chrysoprase, and only chrysoprase, a gemstone that has been considered of great value since ancient times. It is mentioned many times in the Bible when describing the wealth and beautiful possessions of some individual. Here most of the sterling silver accents are from the Karen Hill Tribes of Thailand including the delicate bright silver green leaves that dangle from the chain strand of the bracelet.
All of these pieces may appear first for auction on eBay at a far lower bidding price than they will be on our websites. Check them out by searching for Cluny Grey or by username chloemarie99.

Cluny Grey Jewelry

Studio G Jewelry

Monday, September 26, 2005

Blue Moon

A charm bracelet I made over the weekend while watching movies. I am in love with flashing rainbow moonstone; here I paired it with blue lace agate and a sterling silver textured link chain.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Lampwork and Gemstones

I have been finding a lot of beautiful lampwork beads lately, and it's very hard to resist buying them. The charm bracelet to the left is an example; these wonderful lampwork beads by Flameworks are deep transparent blue and have deep pink roses on them. For someone who is going through a pink and blue phase, I couldn't pass them up. The rhodonite you see here, especially the ovals, rondelles, and long tubes are a beautiful pink - not the mauve you so often see in rhodonite. They were made for these beads - and how better to show them off than in a charm bracelet with a lot of bright sterling silver, both Turkish and Karen Hill Tribe, and vintage lucite flowers in the same deep transparent blue. I doubled the sterling silver chain because this bracelet is heavy!
I kept with the pink and blue theme, only this time I used the more delicate end of the colour spectrum inspirted by the "Jewels" lampwork beads of Burt and Scott Gumeson of Gumeson Designs. Mixed with blue lace agate nugget and rounds, rainbow moonstone that flashes blue, and a blue chalcedony nugget and a sterling silver bead embedded with 2 blue chalcedony cabochons, this is a very feminine bracelet. The second strand has more wire-wrapped rainbow moonstone faceted rondelles, some dangling, and a link chain that has an engraved pattern on it. The little "S" clasp is sterling silver with a rainbow moonstone cabochon bezel set in its middle.
The necklace to the left features Peruvian pink opals, pale pink Biwa stick pearls and more lampwork beads ("Jewels") by the Gumesons and floral beads by Laffingull beads. All the metal components are sterling silver.
Finally, just to prove that I am not totally fixated on pink and blue, my 2 strand fluorite bracelet also makes use of an artist's lampwork beads. These are by Alyson Straley and are the perfect colours to mix with fluorite.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Silver Parrot Speaks: Peyote!

I've found a new jewelry designer to admire: KJ of Silver Parrot Designs! I checked her website out and fell in love with her tubular peyote earrings and bracelets. KJ is a natural jewelry artist; she started out as self-taught, then took classes to refine her skills and techniques. What is amazing to me is the perfection of the peyote tubes she does - all handcrafted - but, oh so perfect! Their subtlety, the colours she employs make these pieces classics to wear a lifetime, and then pass down to those in the family who treasure one of a kind artisan work.

Her whole Silver Parrot site is not just peyote however; check out the David Christensen furnace glass bracelets that she does - and then everything else (very nice drippy chandelier earrings). Don't you just love beautiful jewelry?
**The elegance of the "Grey Flannel" tubular peyote earrings were the first thing that caught my eye (1st picture above). I love gold and the colours of this peyote bracelet really appealed to me. The peyote earrings and bracelet below illustrate one of KJ's sets done in this painstaking timeless artform.
While you're on the site, check out her Silver Parrot Designs Jewelry Blog also where she posts her newest work!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

A Little About Lapis

Lapis Lazuli is an alternate September birthstone to sapphire.
I have loved lapis lazuli since 1977 when I received a ring with a lapis inlay set in sterling silver from a boyfriend whose sister had crafted it herself. A lovely deep rich blue stone with flashes of pyrite (also known as "fool's gold), it appealed to me instantly.
Lapis also has a rich history. It was used lavishly in ancient Mesopotamia and in Persia, and was favored by the Greeks and Romans as well. The Mesopotamian city of Ur traded in lapis as early as 4,000 B.C. The name comes from the Latin for stone, lapis, and from the Arabic for blue, azul.
The Romans believed that lapis was an aphrodisiac (didn't the Romans think everything was an aphrodisiac?)
In the Early Renaissance, ground lapis was used to colour ultramarine, the paint used by artists to portray seas and skies in paintings (and very often the robes of the Virgin Mary). It is still mined in Afghanistan at ancient sites as well as Chile; there are also a few deposits in Colorado.
The lapis bracelet above contains a large nugget of lapis lazuli, longish pillow beads of fine lapis lazuli with nice flecks of gold pyrite, long rice beads of fine lapis, very blue small lapis coins, lapis cubes, iolite rondelles, and a very liberal use of vermeil - beads, chain, toggle, accents. The wonderful lampwork beads are borosilicate by the talented James Reeves of Gonzie and V 3 Glassworks. This bracelet will be listed for sale on our website Cluny Grey Jewelry.

For those of you interested, here are some of the supposed benefits of lapis lazuli:

  • Protects from physical danger and psychic attacks
  • eliminates of stress
  • helps overcome depression
  • helps symptoms of vertigo and insomnia
  • brings good luck
  • increases love, wisdom, compassion, friendship, prosperity, fertility, spirtuality, mysticism, healing, creativity

Thursday, September 08, 2005

In Praise of Purple

I am not the only person currently in love with purple, a colour I normally stay away from. But purple stones are very much in fashion, not just the amethyst, the purple classic, but lesser known stones such as lepidolite, sugilite, and charoite to name the top 3 that are currently in vogue. I shouldn't forget about purple turquoise, however, although it is actually, according to Dakota Stones, Sleeping Beauty turquoise that has been colour enhanced to look purple. I've been "drunk" (despite amethyst's meaning "not drunk" in Greek) on purple lately.
In the bracelet above and to the left, I've used a luscious faceted amethyst nugget, carved oval and faceted oval amethysts, little amethyst rondelles, and a Cape Amethyst (very light coloured) flat rectangle. To add to the mix, I put in 3 large faceted purple crazy lace agate rondelles separated by Bali-style vermeil and a largish carved flower of mingled purple and light green fluorite. I love the 14 karat gold and vermeil with this. It just wouldn't be as rich in silver!
The large teardrop earrings are lepidolite, a stone that is known for its flakes of mica that cause it to sparkle (and I love anything that sparkles) in the light. The opaque lepidolite does look good with the bright sterling silver. The large slab of lepidoloite in the bangle bracelet shows the sparkle of lepidolite to better advantage. The small lepidolite rounds seem tame by comparison. Once again I've use the very bright, or as some call it "white" sterling silver because it picks up the sparkle of the lepidolite so well.

The bangle bracelet below features 2 large sugilite barrels on either side of a lampwork bead made by Gumeson Designs (I highly recommend the work of Burt and Scott Gumeson). The sugilite, too, is usually opaque and is usually described as "violet" although I have seen creamy swirls in both sugilite and lepidolite.
By the way, all the jewelry here will be posted on theCluny Grey Jewelry website within the next week.

The rarest of the purple stones is probably charoite, found only in Russia. I'll save my example of charoite jewelry for the next blog since at present the stones are sitting by my workbench!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Jewelry: Meat & Potatoes or French Cuisine?

Maybe my analogy isn't very apt, but the basic nugget bracelet is what I sell the most of; I think of the nugget bracelet as the "meat and potatoes" jewelry although if you look at the pink rhodonite bracelet to the left with the smooth oval nuggets and Bali white sterling silver, meat and potatoes may not be what comes to mind. But it is a favorite - and even when it is plainer - no sterling silver other than a clasp perhaps. But most designers savour what I am calling the "French cuisine" of the bead jewelry world: the assymetrical piece that may mix colours, textures, types of stones, cuts of stones, and even stones of different quality so that the end result is a bracelet that really is "one of a kind."
First, the ruby and lampwork bead bracelet here mixes genuine natural ruby rounds in a loosely braided strand that curves around forming about 65 % of the bracelet; the artists' lampwork beads are by Burt and Scott Gumeson of Gumeson Designs.

The rubies are a darker purplish colour, so the lampwork with its glowing white bumps on an amethyst colour is perfect. Three Swarovski crystal rondelles in amethyst provide interest on one side of the lampwork (the 3 large lampwork beads are sandwiched between Turkish sterling silver filigree) and a smaller plain dark purple lampwork bead is on the other side. Bali beaded accents join with Turkish silver and Karen Hill Tribe (from Thailand) charms and beads and ruby dangles so that opposite the clasp there is a charm bracelet effect. The clasp, a round lobster clasp latches onto one of a number of links in a large link sterling silver chain, so that the bracelet is adjustable.

Finally, in answer to an "Orange Challenge" the International Jewelry Guild was holding (which I didn't get to enter because of family circumstances), I bought the small lampwork beads in cobalt and orange from Laffingull beads. I still made my bracelet though after the challenge ended. One strand of this bracelet features wirework and sterling silver chain. A couple of Laguna Botswana agates are thrown into the mix of carnelian heishi, rondelles, and little charms - all accented by sterling silver. The larger strand has the lampwork beads grouped together (the cobalt blue really pops!), more heishi, rondelles, a carved rectangular bead, a large unformed nugget, a translucent faceted rondelle, and a great carved round bead - all looking great with groups of sterling silver beads and rondelles around them.
I've been told that you wouldn't want to eat French cuisine everyday (I don't believe it though) and that people would yearn for meat and potatoes after such fine fare (maybe not us vegetarians), so while I love to experiment and mix, I still have a large inventory of nugget bracelets.

Special Note to Jewelry Designers: The Jewelweaver, an online site selling jewelry supplies from precious and semi-precious stones and beads to all kinds of findings from sterling silver to vermeil, tools, wires, etc. is donating 5% of every order they receive to help the victims of Katrina, including our animal friends who are often left behind to fend for themselves as their families barely escape with their lives. You have to do nothing - only order - the donation is automatic and spread amongst the charities. Their quality is superb and I recommend their products anytime, but if you've never been to their site, please check them out. The Jewelweaver