Monday, July 11, 2011

Born from a Meteor, and Flashier than a Diamond - that’s Moissanite



I love custom requests from my customers because they quite often lead me in a direction I might not have gone otherwise.  I”m pretty firm on  using only ethically mined natural stones without additional treatments and dyes in my jewelry.  Because of that, I pay very little attention to anything created in a lab, and had never heard of Moissanite until my customer requested it.  It does occur in nature, but so rarely, and in such small amounts that it has never been available for jewelry in its natural form. 

Meteor Crater-2Moissanite was first discovered by Henri Moissan when he was looking at rock samples he had collected from Meteor Crater in Diablo, Arizona back in 1893.  He thought they were diamonds at first, but a few years later, he identified the crystals as silicon carbide.  (Years later, the mineral was renamed Moissanite in honor of Henri’s discovery).

The mineral was controversial for a long time, and many believed it was carborundum contamination from abrasive tools, and until the 1950’s it had never been found anywhere other than a meteorite.  In the late 50’s it was found as inclusions in kimberlite.  Moissanite is very rare, and has now been identified as inclusions in diamonds, kimberlite and lamproite in addition to meteorites.

In 1998, the company Charles and Colvard created a proprietary process to create moissanite in a lab, and it now regarded as an excellent diamond substitute, with optical properties and light refraction that actually exceed those of diamond.   I can vouch for this, it is truly a stunning stone with incredible sparkle!  This Moissanite video from Charles and Colvard shows a bit of the history and what it looks like.

IceFlower5I’m working on several pieces using moissanite that will  coordinate with the Iceflower ring.   Definitely some little silver flower stud earrings to start with, then some more urban linear designs, I think.  Anyway, just excited about a sparkly stone that’s a little more affordable than diamonds, and nowhere near as boring as that old standby cubic zirconia.  My main focus will always be ethically mined natural stones, but sometimes different is good!  (By the way, my photos here definitely do not do justice to the actual sparkle of these, just so you know.)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Garlic and Lemons and Bumblebee Jasper


I love lemon and garlic together, especially when it’s hot outside. Garbanzo beans are good with lemon and garlic, too. Hmm…actually that’s why hummus is so good – lemon juice, garlic and garbanzo beans….but I digress. (hummus also requires expensive Tahini, which is outside my budget at the moment). This is about the inexpensive but very yummy pasta salad I made yesterday. I’m trying to increase the amount of veggies in my diet, and maybe lose some weight, too. And save money to boot - eating on the cheap is pretty much a necessary skill for a self-employed artist. This little salad is simple and quick and a very satisfying summer supper.

Lemon Broccoli Pasta Salad

(makes extra salad dressing, too)

1 cup olive oil

3 large cloves garlic, put through a press

juice and zest from 2 large lemons

1 can garbanzo beans

1 box penne pasta (I use DeBoles rice pasta – gluten free)

2 nice size broccoli crowns, stems chopped and flowerets broken into small pieces (about 2 cups)

1/4 cup of toasted sesame seeds

1. Whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, zest, and olive oil and set aside.

2. Cook pasta according to directions. Put broccoli in the water with the pasta about 3 minutes before it is ready to come off the heat. Drain broccoli and pasta and put in large bowl.

3. Open and rinse can of garbanzo beans, toss with broccoli and pasta. Pour lemon-garlic dressing over pasta to taste. There will be a nice amount of dressing left for your salads, too. Add salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, and enjoy.

For a more hearty version, add: feta cheese, kalamata olives and grilled tuna. Yum!!

Now, about that bumblebee jasper – what a lovely stone! BrightBumblebeeJasper1 true yellow is not something very often seen in jasper, but this stone has beautiful yellow running through it like ribbon candy. It comes from the fumarole fields of the Mount Papandayan volcano in West Java, Indonesia. This particular cab is going to be a ring very soon. Think I’m going to name it “Sun Soul”. I’ve got a lovely little faceted yellow sapphire that might the perfect accent stone for the setting. We shall see, anyway. That’s all for now, time to head down to the bench!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I think I’ve been gone long enough now…..

Rodinthinker Yes,  I needed a break from blogging and some time to think.  It’s been long enough now, and I’ll be easing back into it over the summer with bits about new work, a few of my cooking and eating adventures, news about my sadly neglected garden (which, by the way is thriving without me, just not very neat, ha ha), and maybe even some book reviews.  I listen to audio books while I work in the studio, and I definitely want to share some of those!  It’s time to revive the “Sunday Morning Coffee and Etsy” posts, soon, too.  The new circles feature at Etsy has helped me discover tons of great new artists whose work I’ve fallen in love with. 

Anyhow, I’ve been working hard and contemplating where I’m going to go next with Lavender Cottage – definitely time to grow to the next level.  The first step has been moving away from an all made-to-order business and building up an inventory.  Making everything to order meant that there was never any time to work on new ideas, and my shop was starting to get stale, not to mention all of the “uncreated” ideas crowding my brain to get out!    It’s been hard to work fast enough to catch up so I can start working on new inventory, but it’s finally starting to happen.  I actually listed more than one new piece this week!!  Most are everyday pieces made to coordinate with customer favorites.  I’ve wanted to do that for a long time.

PebbleRoadStackingBangles1 Here are some new Pebble Road bangles made from square wire.  (I’ve got more square wire designs up my sleeve, too. ) These are oxidized for a rustic feel, and go beautifully with the Pebble Road Wrapped Oh pendant and Pebble Road stud earrings.


SummerMeadowRing3There is a new buttercup ring in all sterling silver rather than mixed metals too.  The Summer Meadow ring, along with a cute little pair of earrings that I named Honeydrop are a great little set.  They can both can be set with moonstone to coordinate with the Moonflower cuff, too.



I’m working on a new all-silver buttercup pendant which will be set with a citrine to match these.  It, too, can be set with moonstone for coordinating with the Moonflower cuff.



Torn1 Another new piece made this week is a pendant that continues to explore the  “torn” metal idea that I’ve always enjoyed working with.  Simply named ‘Torn’, it was made to coordinate with with the Pebble Road Posts and the Silver Pebbles ring.  While I was making this one, I almost set it with a diamond as it looks sensational with a sparkly faceted stone instead of the little silver pebble.  One like that one will go with the Ice Whisper ring – methinks I’ll be making myself one of those quite soon!  And if set with a labradorite, it will go great with the Galadriel’s Song ring. 

Plumflower2Crop I’m also whittling away at my pile of unset stone, my very favorite thing to do.  The latest of these is “Plumflower”, a lovely little sugilite cabochon accented with a tiny bloom and swirl of silver.  Had fun making this.  I’m in a swirly mood these days, and am working on great flashy Sunstone ring embellished with a few swirls for this week.  Just have to get the swirlies soldered on and the stone set and it will be ready. 

Soooo, that’s it for now, but stay tuned, because soon every piece in the shop will have at least one other piece that goes with it.   Just trying to get organized  -  I know, it’s about time, lol!

I’m not making any promises about how often I’ll be blogging, but let’s just say it will be more than once every 7 months!  See you ‘soon’!