The Rock and Gem show is in town. I like to work with semiprecious stones and the rock show is a great source. I'm not looking for the usual suspects of amethyst, aquamarine, amber, carnelian, citrine, hematite, lapis, malachite, quartz, tanzanite, topaz, tourmaline, and turquoise, though those will be there. I'm looking for the less well known. Charoite is a beautiful opaque purple and white stone only found in Russia. Sugelite is opaque royal purple. Peridot is one of my favourites, it looks like solid drops of olive oil. I'd really like to find some iolite, a translucent blue stone that looks similar to tanzanite but is a fraction of the price. Rhodochrosite and rhodonite are the two non-quartz pink minerals, but pink really isn't my colour. Apatite is my colour, sea green or teal, translucent but fragile. Sunstone is orange and bitty and shiny all at once, makes a good pendant.
The gem quality stuff doesn't match the range and colours of the non-gem minerals. Sulphur is a startling yellow, calcite comes in many shades including soft, sky blue, and pastel orange. Fluorite is a bit too soft to be used in jewellery, but it is pretty, clear with green and purple bands. Optical fluorite grows in precision crystals. Imagine the outside of a matchbox standing on its shortest side. Push, so that you end up with a rhombus shape. Now imagine you can tilt this shape backwards. That's optical fluorite.
The shape of fluorite is simple next to the shape bismuth grows in, a complex square pyramid that has to be grown in a lab. Ulexite is another oddball. Put it on top of a book, and the words will appear to be on top of the mineral, no distortion, no magnification. It's been nicknamed "TV rock."
The difference between a semiprecious stone and a rock seems to be size. Beads of rose quartz are semiprecious, they are nuggests at around 20mm long, and when it's a piece 30cm square, then it's a rock, looking like a candyfloss (cotton candy) that solidified. There's one of those being used as a doorstop in my favourite bead shop.
When I see the colour, the shapes, the sheer extravagant variety of minerals that could all have been boring, clear and cubic, how can I not believe in a God who made it? It's beautiful.
The rock show was great, especially the private collections on display. I finally know what the mineral form of the metal vanadium looks like, and it's a rather pretty red crystal that's surprisingly heavy.
<td><img src="/content/images/wp/sulphur.jpg" width="178" height="108"></td> <td>I wasn't exaggerating about the sulphur. It's more impressive in real life. Very fragile, bits of it break off easily. Got this today, been looking for it for a while.</td>
<td>This is <a href="http://mineral.galleries.com/minerals/carbonat/azurite/azurite.htm">azurite</a> and malachite. Eventually all the blue azurite will decay into malachite, the bright green stuff you can see on part of it. The Romans used azurite as a dye, and to make blue tiles for mosaics. Thousands of years later, the blue tiles are turning green.</td> <td><img src="/content/images/wp/azurite.jpg" width="192" height="221"></td>
<td><img src="/content/images/wp/amethyst.jpg" width="200" height="251"></td> <td>This is what I make with supplies from the rock show. The piece of jewellery I'm most pleased with, the one that consistently gets comments from complete strangers at the grocery store, is this one. Amethyst, shiny black hematite, and a couple of silver bits.</td>
<td>If I was naming the projects I complete, this one would be called "Four weeks hard labour." Well over a hundred and fifty silver links had to be undone and done up again in the correct places to make this.<p>ï¿½</p></td> <td><img src="/content/images/wp/silver.jpg" width="200" height="53"></td>
<td><img src="/content/images/wp/aventurine.jpg" width="200" height="76"></td> <td>This is my latest production, probably called "Winterberry." I'm allowed to be pretentious in my naming scheme. Aventurine cubes, carnelian, hematite and silver.</td>
Now, what to do with that new labradorite pendant I picked up...