Let There Be Pearls

Posted by Rebecca Stone on March 2, 2011
Mar 022011

Spring is getting closer. I can smell the blossom scent in the wind — unless, of course it’s a Santa Ana wind that visits from time to time around here and can nearly rip the hair out of your head. But I digress.

pearl and crystal necklace
Cream and rose freshwater pearl combine with fuschia Swarovski crystals and a smattering of sterling silver in this Springy necklace. A wild rose cloisonne bead sits at its heart.
(Want it? Click it.)

For some reason, I recently felt like doing something with pearls — freshwater pearls to be exact. They’re just so darn creamy and, well, Springy-looking. They called to me, saying, “Put us together with some sparkly Swarovski crystals!” (As if Swarovski crystals could ever be anything but sparkly. But these are pearls talking…) Anyway, it sounded like a good idea. So I did.


Pearl, Swarovski, black onyx and sterling silver necklace
This time, I paired the same pearls with black onyx, black Swarovski crystals and sterling silver for a high-contrast look. After all, Spring is full of contrasts! A black cloisonne bead with a mallow type of flower resides dead center.
(Want it? Click it.)

I threw in a touch of sterling silver here, and a touch of gold-fill there. And I had perfect little cloissone beads, that added just the right touch dead center. Each necklace reminds me of a little whisper, a gentle touch, a delicate bouquet from the Spring that will soon arrive (even for those of you in the Midwest, East Coast, and — right now — Pacific Northwest). Take heart! Take a necklace! Be happy! And be sparkly!

Pearls with Swarovski and red
Finally, I had to try the deep red (Siam) Swarovski side-by-side with the delicate pearl shades. Punched up with gold-filled beads and the central cloisonne pink and red “hibiscus,” I think the piece has a kind of noirish playfulness — if that’s possible.
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Let's Wrap!

Posted by Rebecca Stone on December 26, 2010
Dec 262010

Hope you all had a good holiday! It’s been just over a year since I started blogging, and while I continue down the endless path of jewelry design skill development, I think I’ve made some progress over the past 12 months. There are so many things to learn that it’s hard to focus on just one kind of skill, but lately, I was forced to do this due to a customer request (bless her!). She wanted a necklace — one with a pendant — made for a friend. No problem — I thought — until I started to look for one. I scoured the Internet and all of my local suppliers for a small (11-15 mm) trapezoid-shaped lapis pendant in a natural deep shade of blue. At that size I found it tough to find in the pendant category, and the shape was not so easy to find among beads. But I finally hunted a few down and was able to wrap one with a lovely bead cap. It came out quite nice, so she was then interested in having me make another necklace in a similar design, using snowflake obsidian. In this case, the only pendant approximating that size and shape was a cabochon — undrilled, of course.

Sterling silver-wrapped snowflake obsidian cabochon. Square wire made a huge difference!

Sterling silver-wrapped snowflake obsidian cabochon. Square wire made a huge difference!

It had been a while since my last pendant wire-wrapping adventure, so I was kind of glad to get back to it, though unsure if my skills were up to the challenge. I refreshed my memory with a few books and online tutorials (I must say that one of the most helpful tutorials I found is A Basic Pendant Wirewrapping Lesson by Junesse Farley through the San Francisco Gem and Mineral Society). Up to that time, I had only worked with half-hard, round wire. I decided to try square wire.

Really got on a roll with this one, using a finer-gauge sterling wire. So many briolettes, so little time.

Really got on a roll with this one, using a finer-gauge sterling wire. So many briolettes, so little time.

What a difference! I found it much easier to keep in place, and using 20-gauge square, along with 22-gauge round for the cross wraps, I was overjoyed with the result — and so was my customer. I wrapped two for her to choose from and she went for the smaller stone. So, while I still have the larger one for inspiration, I’ve managed to collect a virtual quarry of jasper pendants and cabs to wrap, and am also experimenting with smaller-gauge briolette wraps. Now that the Christmas rush is done, I can’t wait to get started.

Tripping on Stones

Posted by Rebecca Stone on April 21, 2010
Apr 212010

When it comes to jewelry making, silver is stellar, copper is cool and gold is — well — expensive. And, as far as affordable, iridescent sparkle power goes, you can’t beat cut glass crystals such as those made by Swarovski. But as I stumble along the path of jewelry design, I find it is strewn with stones. In fact, it seems that I fall in love with a different stone every week. It’s gotten to the point that I can’t even walk down the street without scanning the pavement for interesting rocks.

A type of cryptocrystalline quartz, or chalcedony, jasper's opacity and many shades come courtesy of other influences such as clay, hematite and goethite. I combined it, here, with silver and crystals, which, I think, really help ignite the colors.

A type of cryptocrystalline quartz, or chalcedony, commonly found jasper's opacity and many shades come courtesy of other influences such as clay, hematite and goethite. I combined it, here, with silver and crystals, which, I think, really help ignite the colors.

I was digging in the garden the other day and ran across some black river stones I had once used in a pot.  One had white streaks running through it (quartz in a basalt matrix? No, can’t be. What the heck is it? Anybody?). I thought, “Hey, this could make a really striking pendant!” Who knows? After I run it through my rock tumbler with a little polishing grit, it might look really spectacular wrapped in a little sterling and accented with colored crystals. Can’t wait to find out.

Same thing on one of my hikes up in the Hollywood Hills last week. The hills here are chockfull of decomposed granite. But you can find chunks of the stuff (also diorite?) still in solid form: black and white, and pink. By the time I got back to my car, my pockets were bulging with booty. I might try tumbling some to see if they stay intact… or not.

The often delicately pale shades of rose quartz can be a challenge in designs, but pairing it with the right combination of colors can help it take center stage. Here, black onyx, sterling silver and fuschia Swarovski crystal lend an assist.

The often delicately pale shades of rose quartz can be a challenge in designs, but pairing it with the right combination of colors can help it take center stage. Here, black onyx, sterling silver and fuschia Swarovski crystals lend an assist.

And has anyone really contemplated gravel…?

Amethyst is lovely in pretty much any form. But faceting lends elegance to this variety of quartz.

Amethyst is lovely in pretty much any form. But faceting lends elegance to this variety of quartz.

I sure do find the study of these natural solids fascinating, and, as stones form a primary component of my jewelry designs, it seems only right to learn as much as possible about them. For instance, I’d never really given much thought before I started on this journey to the fact that rocks or stones are composed of many different minerals.

Minerals, which are endowed with an internal crystal structure, are what tend to captivate jewelry designers. Most gems are cut from these crystals. I say “most” because materials such as opal and obsidian lack the crystalline structure, but because they resemble minerals chemically, they are called “mineraloids.” And then, substances like pearls and amber are considered organic gems.

Basic stuff? Maybe. But for someone whose attention has been fully riveted on the boating world for the past eight or so years, these land-based activities are new and exciting.

In honor of Earth Day, I am (finally) updating my Etsy site over the next couple of days  (http://www.etsy.com/shop/RebeccaStoneDesigns) where I am planning to list the pieces shown here, along with several others. Please stop by to visit, and watch for Earth Day specials through next week.

Serpentine, often known as New Jade, is a member of the phyllosilicate group of minerals. Here, I've paired it with amethyst, freshwater pearls, Swarovski crystals and sterling silver.

Serpentine, often known as New Jade, is a member of the phyllosilicate group of minerals. Here, I've paired it with amethyst, freshwater pearls, Swarovski crystals and sterling silver.

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