Thursday, October 11, 2007


I must confess, when it comes to all that glitters, I am a total magpie. So, after my little rave about my favourite gemstones yesterday, I decided to share some of my odd assortment of magpie items with you.

I have always been a Silver girl, gold does not suit me or appeal to me, and also I am very big boned, dainty jewellery looks silly on me, so since I first started wearing jewellery, I have always gone for chunky silver styles.

I also don’t particularly like the traditional facetted precious stones, they have always seemed hard and cold and clinical to me. So Max has got off pretty lightly over the years, no glittering diamonds and expensive gold for this girl!

When we got married, I elected not to have a diamond engagement ring, but to rather have a plain chunky white gold ring, that would go with my silver jewellery. (White gold is an alloy of platinum, gold and silver, with different ratios depending on whether it is 9 or 18 carat.)

At one point about 25 years ago, I lost it, and when I had it valued for a replacement, I was shocked at how much its value had increased. At the time we got married, Platinum was worth way less than gold, but that has changed, it is now much more valuable than yellow gold, and because it is such a big chunky ring, we were madly underinsured. So I got a silver ring as a replacement, which I wore for the next 3 years. Then, at the place Max was working, security became an issue, and they bought a metal detector. Max brought it home and tried it on some bags of clay that were waiting behind our shed for re-cycling (I was a studio potter at the time and we lived on a smallholding outside town.) Sure enough, one of the bags started beeping, so we gently broke up the lumps of dried clay, and there was the missing wedding ring, I was so ecstatic to get it back!)

Over the years I have acquired an odd selection of jewellery, none of it particularly valuable in monetary terms, but each one special to me on its own merits, or because of the people and stories attached to them.

Opal has always been a favourite of mine, all opals are stunning, but my absolute favourite is the Black Australian opal, with its intense rich colours that shift and play as you move it in the light. When I was 21 my dad found this ring in an antique shop in Harare. Because the opal had a crack in it, the ring was only Zim $25. (It is meaningless to even try and equate that to current values of Zim $, when most guys are now earning at least a million a month….but that is a sad story for another day!) To this day it is my most treasured ring. Look at some of the wonderful colours that glow from it when you move it around……….

I recently found an art deco pin that has black opals put together in a mosaic. It is in a horrible setting, and I am soon going to have it made into a pendant, aren’t the colours wonderful?

Another favourite is moonstone, I love the blue shimmer of these against the simple silver settings.

This is a less well known stone, although at first glance it is similar to the moonstone. It is a feldspar usually found in Scandinavia, called Labradorite.

At some angles it is just a boring looking grey stone, but it has fault lines running through it, and at the faces of these the light refracts differently, so that, as the light catches it at certain angles, it shoots out a blue glow. The geological term for this phenomenon is schiller.

My friend Julie, knowing my love of these stones, spoiled me rotten last year and gave me this stunning pendant for my birthday, it is one of my favourites, and I wear it often.

Looking at my collection, I have a couple of very different pieces from my mom, and I realise she was probably responsible for my unconventional taste in jewellery, although I wasn’t aware of it until recently. These were designed by her, and she had them made up when I was about 1 or 2.

The stones are blue tiger’s eyes (also known as cat’s eye.)
Over the years she lost one of the earrings, so when she left me these, I had the remaining one made into a pendant.

Another of her designs is this lapis lazuli. These days, genuine lapis is very rare, and there are a lot of fakes around, but this is the real McCoy. I love the simple setting.
You will notice that practically all of my stones are cabochon (rounded) rather than facetted. I am drawn to the soft organic forms.

This Amethyst really appealed to me because it is the only time I have ever seen a stone like this, with a rounded cabochon top, and faceting underneath. The result is an interesting play of light, but softer than if the hard edges were exposed on top. It was a pin, made in Israel in the 70’s, but I seldom wear pins, so I had the bars of the pin rounded to form a ring.

This stunning piece is an Art Nouveau brooch/pendant, and it was given to me by my godmother who turned 81 this year, and is a delightful person and a real character! She is a very successful artist who is still doing sculpture that many people 40 years younger would struggle to produce.

She bought it on a trip to Israel many years ago, in Jaffa, Roman glass.

I have an honorary son, called Vaughn. He has been Ian’s best friend since they were little guys, and got up to all sorts of mischief together. I’ll tell you more about Vaughn (AKA Vo or Weasel) tomorrow, but for now I will show you this turquoise ring. Genuine Turquoise is hard to find these days, and unfortunately the market is flooded with fake stones, made by injecting dye into magesite, which is a common white mineral that has similar looking veins in it.

Vo found a genuine Turquoise, and polished it himself, and gave it to me as a gift, so it is very special to me. I went to a friend and talented jeweller, Madz, who made this ring for me. Her husband David did the scroll design on the sides, which I love.

Another piece made for me by Madz is this pendant. I was given the mock tanzanite, and decided to soften the facetted stone by surrounding it with these lovely pearly mussel shells.

An unusual pendant is this Pietersite one from Namibia.

Max bought it for me as our 25th Anniversary present, when we visited the Mineral museum in Swakopmund. If you are even remotely interested in stones this is an essential place to visit. It houses, among other things, the world’s largest crystal, which is gob-smackingly amazing. Pietersite is a very rare mineral, found in only one small place in Namibia. It is related to tiger’s eye, but has a unique composition.

Finally, not blue or glitzy, but I love malachite, and this ring is an old favourite of mine that I got shortly after we moved to PE in 1978, and as you can see from the tatty state it is in, have pretty much worn to death since then.

I must confess that, with such a collection of beloved stones, I often battle to choose which to wear, so I just wear lots simultaneously, and frequently walk around looking like a mobile Christmas tree. Oh well, who cares, after all, I am an eccentric artist aren’t I?


Ali Honey said...

Wow that's quite a collection. It is nice to have unusual pieces. You do know not to get your opal wet( in dish water or the like ) it makes them go cloudy.

Lucky you - enjoy them!

Suzi-k said...

Ali, I did'nt know that! Thank goodness it has survived all these years of abuse, but i will be more careful in future!

Deb R said...

You and I like exactly the same sorts of jewelry! I especially love that first ring.

Max-e said...

All that bling is a reflection of your sparkling personality

Sheila said...

Sue, you have a fantastic collection here. Very individual, like you I imagine. I don't care for diamonds, cold hard things. I do like lapis, and opals.
The have fire and life within them, and the colours of these pieces are fantastic.
Great taste madam..!!