Sunday, June 29, 2008

Summer in the Studio

Usually things slow down for jewelrymakers in the summer, but it hasn't for me yet. The pool beckons (boy, does that water look good), the house could use a lot of TLC (those things I always put off until summer because of years of teaching and usually opting not to have classes at that time), and I have new paints and a new easel that I'm dying to use. But I have many, many jewelry pieces that I have got to get listed on the website and other bits of paperwork/office work that I must get done. I also made the mistake of deleting a lot of photos that I had taken that now I will have to retake! C'est la vie.
Here are a few things that I've recently added to the website.
Above, a coral bracelet with lampwork beads by Suzette Celestin. Below, a cloisonne bracelet with cherry quartz and vermeil.

Above, a coral necklace , Song of the Tropics, with lampwork beads by Lynn Nurge. And finally, a unique bracelet with a mixture of turquoise, rhodonite, and lapis accented by vermeil and goldfill.

Another view of the coral necklace from above.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Why I Love Turquoise! Turkoosi, Turquesa, Turkooizen

Turquoise is a wonderful material for jewelry and has been used for thousands and thousands of years. I love to use it for several reasons, not only because the colour turquoise is one of my favorites.
First, I love working with materials that have a sense of history. Not only does one have the sensual appreciation that we who work with gemstones and metals get to experience, but there is the intellectual and emotional appreciation of being linked to those past workers, some in sophisticated workshops, some simply women with a supply of beads and stringing material who made necklaces and bracelets as they watched their children play. We know that turquoise was used as early as 5500 B.C.; bracelets found on the Egyptian Queen Zar tell us this. The Egyptians made turquoise beads. In addition to lapis, turquoise was one of the materials used most often by the Sumerians who inlaid it with gold and precious stones as well. As far as we know, the first mines were in the Sinai region of Egypt.Turquoise probably got its name from "Turkey" although the best turquoise actually came from Persia (Iran), and calling turquoise "Persian turquoise" is still an indicator of high quality. Turquoise was also mined in China and in America and was traditionally set with gold and sometimes other gemstones. In Victorian times it was common to see turquoise set in gold with diamonds; it is recently, probably in the very late 1890's, and in the American Southwest, that turquoise became associated with sterling silver.
I also love the way that turquoise comes in such a variety of shapes and sizes - and that turquoise with and without matrix is considered equally valuable often. Many people value the "spiderweb" appearance of dark veins, while others prefer a clear blue unmarred surface. It also comes in such a range of prices that real turquoise is affordable for almost everyone. Of course, the colour of turquoise can range also from that wonderful "Sleeping Beauty" blue to a dark teal of which I'm fond as well.
Turquoise plays well with others - I love mixing it with lampwork glass, of course - the opaque turquoise and the transparent glass are a magical combination. And we now consider sterling and turquoise to be a classic combination. The second turquoise bracelet is one of my newest creations: a mix of turquoise, sterling, and Swarovski crystals in the new Sand Opal colour. I still like to mix turquoise with gold although most of my customers seem to prefer sterling silver with theirs.All the turquoise bracelets shown here today can be found on the Cluny Grey Jewelry website. Please give me some time to get the prices on them!

Cote de Texas - my favorite decorating blog - check it out!