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--------------------------------------------FACTOIDS-------------------------------------------
So... what's a factoid? Anything interesting that doesn't go anywhere else...
Druzy---What is druzy? Well, you might know it as druse, or drusy. Or, just think of the inside of a geode! It is the covering of the parent stone by a very fine sheet of crystals, which when of a good enough quality can be used in jewelry. The benefit of drusy is when worn, and the sun comes out. Every crystal on the drusy surface now catches and dances with the light, rather than only the limited facets that are available on a faceted stone. And drusy comes in so many colors, both natural and artificially enhanced. A real eyecatcher!!! Some drusy is rarer than others. The drusy form of Blue Chalcedony is fairly rare, and the only naturally occurring black drusy is Psilomelane (or so I have been told).
Screaming green- Such an excellent color. Found in gaspeite (from Australia-and not uncommon), and some turquoises. Orvil Jack is a faustite in the turquoise family. What? You haven't heard of Orvil Jack??? Well, it was mined in the------- Orvil Jack mine!! The mine owner-- Mr. Jack, brought out small amounts each year, and it has always been a very desirable find, and very hard to come by. Even more so since Mr. Jack passed away. It varies in its shading, and in the amount of matrix, but it is always an exquisite find. For more information about Orvil Jack and other turquoises click here.
Turquoise- It is usually stabilized, which means it is treated with a resin, or glue to keep it from being chalky. It is commonly done, now-a-days. It is hard to find turquoise that hasn't been stabilized, but the green turquoise I use, and the Kingman mine turquoise I am cutting is of such an excellent quality that it has not been stabilized or dyed. The green turquoise is mined in Nevada and Utah. As a general tendency, the further north from Arizona the mine is, the greener the turquoise is. Dry Creek mine produces some of the most unusual turquoise. Some of it is so pale in coloration as to appear almost white. Howlite is often sold as white turquoise, but it is only an imitation. The real Dry Creek turquoise is often referred to as "Sacred Buffalo" turquoise because of its rarity and beauty.
Opals---- Aaahhhh... one of my favorites... The legend first. Back in the time of Sir Walter Scott, the Queen started importing and purchasing opals from Australia. Sir Walter Scott felt that she should be supporting the British economy and not buying from Australia. He wrote Anne of Geierstein. Anne wasn't very nice. She wore an opal that waxed even more vibrantly red when she was particularly dastardly. At the end, after a time of particular evil, the opal flared bright red, and "swallowed Anne". After the fire of the opal cooled, she was nowhere to be found. Following this story, opals got the reputation of being lucky only if they were your birthstone, or if they were given as a gift. Previous to that they were considered a giver of health and luck. Now, I have worn opals for years and suffered no ill luck (I am a May baby), but if you are superstitious, just have someone present the opal to you as a gift!
Opals---- Part 2---- Opals are considered precious, or semi-precious, depending on their value. A great opal can be worth more than a top quality diamond of the same size. Opals are valued basically on base color and fire. Black opals are generally the most valuable, followed by crystal opals, then white and other colors. The brightness of fire, patterns of fire, and colors of fire all modify this rating. Australia is famous for the fabulous opal varieties as well as the fact that the most stable opals (crazing is a fine hair like cracking that can occur in unstable opals) come from there. There are synthetic as well as man-made opals that are available, but they do not come even close to natural opals in value. Natural black opal is becoming so rare that light or medium gray opal is often called black.
Specific opal trivia- Check out this opal- it is a fossilized clam shell from the Coober Pedy mine in Australia. Coober Pedy is famous for its opalized sea life. In these cases, the fossilizing material is precious opal! The opal in this pendant has been polished, but not so far as to cut away the surface bands that are still visible from the original clam shell. To further bring out the color of the opal, and strengthen the piece, black jade has been mounted behind the opal.
Matrix opal is precious opal that is so evenly dispersed throughout the parent stone that it is difficult to see the fire. By treating the stone in boiling sugar water and concentrated sulfuric acid, the parent stone is darkened. The darker background serves to set off the precious opal and make the stone much more striking.
Mokume' gane is Japanese for "wood grained metal". It is the technique that was used by the ancient Japanese Masters to produce the blades of the Samurai swords. This wedding and manipulation of metals produces some of the most beautiful patterns. The Mokume' gane used in my pieces have between 21 and 29 alternating layers of sterling silver, copper, gold, and their alloys. By layering and forming the layers, many different effects can be generated.
Arthritis rings!-----Well, if you have arthritis, the knuckles swell, but the interspaces may not. It can become almost impossible to fit a ring over the knuckle, and loose once it is over the knuckle. The square shank rings take care of that. Turn the shank 45 degrees as the ring passes over the knuckle. The squaring of the shank gives the enlarged knuckle more room to slide in. Once the ring is past the knuckle, just rotate it upwards and the sides of the shank hug the finger in a normal fashion. And it's unbelievably comfortable!!! Fitting can be difficult. Several blanks must be produced and the best fit chosen, then the correct shank finished to specifications. It isn't for everyone (well, anyone can wear them, and many do) but out of necessity or sheer delight in wearing something so unusual, they make a great choice!

Custom work can be very fulfilling. One of my favorite projects was producing a replacement ring. I was commissioned to make the ring by some lovely ladies who knew of a friend who had lost his ring. It was a skull ring. Once I had an idea what the original looked like, I started out. As it progressed, the owner requested the addition of horns! Now, this is an original ring!!! You can possibly catch a glimpse of this skull ring as it roosts proudly on the finger of the actor Tim Abell. It's not everyday that an artist can claim a piece they created has any tie to fame, so I am thrilled to have had this opportunity. Hopefully the ring shows up in Tim's upcoming films. Here is a picture taken during filming where the ring is just visible. Maybe we will get to see repeat performances of it in the future, but with the ring or without, keep your eye out for Tim.

iceopals@iceopalsjewelry.com

Click on the ring to see a picture of Tim Abell..

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