Not Flawless Please

January 17, 2012 § 3 Comments

When I tell people what I do, I often wonder what goes through their mind. “Oh, you make jewelry!” they say,  “I love jewelry!” I don’t get excited anymore. Most people think of traditional diamond and colored gemstone pieces that are sold in department stores. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (insert Seinfeld credit here). I have come to terms with the fact that not everyone will like what I make, or “get” it. First, I don’t make anything that you would find in, say, Zales. I like rocks, but, I like them bigger and with scars: fractures, inclusions, imperfections. Stuff that shows personality. I have my personal “rock” favorites, and they usually don’t look anything like the “rock” that most would visualize. Take garnets for example. In particular green garnets. (FYI: garnets come in practically every color, except maybe blue, and there are a wide variety of garnets, including green garnets). When you mention “Green Garnets” to someone I think this is what goes through their mind:

When I think of “Green Garnets”, I make this:

If you go to Zales, they’ll show you these:

I like opaque “damaged” looking rocks, semi transparent rocks, and the ones full of inclusions. That’s just me.

Last spring, I had to go to New Jersey to attend a funeral. We were a 45 minute train ride outside of New York City. I had bought some really cool “rutile amethyst” from a NY gem dealer when I was in Tucson last year, and decided to look him up while I was in the area and see if he had any more. You’d think this would be easy right? Well, it turns out this man’s gem business is his “side” business. “That’s OK” I say,” bring some stuff and meet me on your lunch hour”. To make a long story short, that wasn’t going to work for him, so: I meet him at Grand Central Station and we take a bus for over an hour to his house (also in New Jersey, but on the OTHER side of NYC). It was an interesting experience. Most gem dealers are from other cultures and this adds to the exotic side of the business, which I personally love.

Rutile Amethyst

Here’s what happened:

We arrive at his house, in a nice suburban area. The house is spotless and minimally furnished. We are greeted by his in-laws (who speak no English). They are watching a “Bollywood” movie on a big screen TV. I wait while they get their inventory together. I am invited upstairs, where, in the daughter’s bedroom, a white sheet has been placed over the bed, and I sit down (lotus style) on her bed, and am presented with plastic shoe box after plastic shoe box filled with gemstones. Most of which should just be bought by Zales. “Where is the rutile amethyst?” I ask. They can’t get anymore, it’s rare, hard to find. “Well what about some flawed Apatite? Or Iolite?” (Now I’m essentially wailing). Flawed? This is taking them by surprise. Why would I want flawed gemstones? Because the other stuff looks like plastic to me. Because I love this:

Iolite Earrings (made by somebody else!)

They think I’m crazy. I buy a few things (not much) for extra ornamentation with the really cool rocks that I am hoarding, or looking to find. And then: a two hour trip back to the other side of NYC.

Now to be fair, rutile quartz and amethyst are not considered to be flawed gemstones. They just have the look I’m going for. Technically the rutile is considered an “inclusion” which is a term used to describe flaws.

Here’s what I made with the three pieces I was able to score when I met my man in Tucson:

Green Amethyst, Aquamarine & Rutile Amethyst Earrings

These earrings are available at my etsy shop. Fair warning: They are NOT for the faint of heart!! They hang a good 3+ inches and are more in the “investment piece”  $ category. (

Rutile Quartz & Rutile Amethyst Pendant (with a little pink sapphire).

This piece (above) is now owned by one of my favorite people, courtesy of her husband. They know I’m wacky, and I love them because they don’t care.



Liver Of Sulphur

January 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Living in New Orleans has it’s perks: wonderful music, tasty food, oysters, seafood, oysters, live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, gorgeous architecture, oysters. But it also has a lot of drawbacks: floods, hurricanes, murder, mayhem, potholes you can swim in, backward thinking, racism (from all sides), a “who you know” closed society etc. But the thing that really bugs me is I can’t get stuff. You know, like liver of sulphur. Of course you don’t know. It’s a metal thing. To make it dark. A couple of decades ago, I used it a lot, here’s a piece I made from the 80s (thankfully I kept some of my old jewelry in the attic and it was never damaged by the floodwaters in 2005).

Oxidized Copper & Fine Silver Necklace, 1985

Since I have resurrected my jewelry “career”, I have focused on rocks. I think I’ve mentioned that I love rocks, right?  In general, I just use the metal to show off the rocks. No fancy metalwork. Yesterday, I had a message from a woman who wanted to purchase a pair of earrings, but wanted to know if  it would be “possible to have oxidized silver or brass? I’m trying to match a necklace I have”. Sure, I thought, I’ll just get some of that Liver Of Sulphur I used to use. Oh wait. I live in New Orleans.

I remember in school doing an experiment with eggs, but the metal always came out unevenly oxidized. What to do? What to do?  Ahh, use egg “fumes”! (Don’t you just love google?) I boiled an egg, mashed it, put it in a “Tupperware” container, suspended the earrings over the hot “fumes” and covered it. I was expecting to check on it it the morning. They were ready in half an hour.


Before the Egg

After the Egg

Is this cool or what?


January 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

I admit I spend way too much time on Pinterest. I said it. It’s true. I’m addicted to it. I decided to do something constructive about it, something that would promote my business, my baubles. So I stole this idea from someone else: I created a couple of boards for just my jewels. I got a couple of pins, a nice comment, and then…I went back to trolling. Sigh. Then this weekend, I got inspired.

One of the first boards I created was called “Turquoise”. I am in love with the color (and the rock!)

This is one of the first images I “pinned”. Smokey quartz with amazonite; a pretty spectacular specimen.

Now, I have a lot of rocks. I mean A LOT of rocks. I decided it was time to start clearing my stash; I started taking pictures of some of them, to post as loose gems in my etsy shop. I had two giant emerald cut smokey quartz pieces. And then I remembered that picture… here’s what happened:

Emerald Cut Smokey Quartz Turquoise Rutilated Quartz & Sapphire Pendant

I love Pinterest.


January 6, 2012 § 1 Comment

I believe I’m back in the right business. Even though I spend most of my time  NOT making jewelry, but trolling for really cool rocks and beads. I think I almost like this part better. I crave rocks. The Tucson gem shows are still 3 weeks away, and I am getting excited to see what goodies I can find.

This afternoon I drove out to a little itty bitty show outside of New Orleans (look, this ain’t Tucson, but I needed a fix) and picked up a few baubles to play with.

Chrysoprase, rutile quartz, smokey quartz, sapphires, tanzanite.

Last summer I spent a couple of afternoons outside of Montreal with an old roommate, Lucie. She was part of my bohemian life in Toronto back in the 80s. I had just graduated from college (in goldsmithing) and  had joined a cooperative studio. So here we are, 30 something years later, and Lucie pulls out a pair of earrings I had given her back in the day! I was very touched and surprised! Those earrings brought back a flood of memories for me. At the time, I remember being fixated by Ted Muehling, hoping to emulate his ideas in my own way. Of course I was way off, but those earrings were a catalyst for me. I wanted to go back, and get in touch with why I wanted to make jewelry in the first place. Ted Muehling is one of the best. I love his eye and his reverence for nature.

For Christmas (last month) I treated myself to this book:

Lucie is a painter (among other things), and  I remember we stopped by an art supply shop, where she complained about the price of paint. Oh, to be able to have a palette for what she spends. Sigh.

Happy 2012!

January 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

Welcome to my first blog!

Last year I resurrected my jewelry design career, and I’ll say, things sure do change after a couple of decades. I used to sell my baubles in galleries across Canada and in New York City. Now, I’m trying to figure out the online thing. I have a little following in different pockets of the US and Canada (um, that would be friends, and relatives of friends). Plus I put up an etsy shop (me and 2 or 3 million others).

My obsession is actually rocks, and I spend most of my time looking for really cool and unusual stuff. Right now I am in hot pursuit of rose cut anything. But especially tourmalines and sapphires. The downside of doing this (although, really, I shouldn’t be boo hooing) is that when people do decide to buy your goodies, it’s like parting with your children. There are some pieces that are NOT for sale, but I’m not showing those. The minute you say “Not For Sale”, that’s when everyone starts clamoring. However, even when they ARE for sale, sometimes the pangs of regret happen. For my 1st post, I will show a pair of earrings that were actually surprisingly hard to give up. When my friend Missy picked them for her sister, my heart sank. I take solace in the fact that they went to a beautiful woman!

Missy's sister's now!

There’s a blog I enjoy called “The Selfish Seamstress” ( Elaine makes it plain that she WILL NOT share. I love that about her…

Where Am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for January, 2012 at ledajewelco.