Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Rocks News: Gold in your Backyard, Balancing Act, and more

In recent rock related news...

photo source: Routers

A trove of rare Gold Rush-era coins unearthed in California last year by a couple as they walked their dog may be the greatest buried treasure ever found in the United States, worth more than $10 million, a currency firm representing the pair said on Tuesday.  More here:

Michael Grab has mastered the art of stone balancing. He explains how he does it. “The most fundamental element of balancing in a physical sense is finding some kind of “tripod” for the rock to stand on.  More here:

On Oct. 30, 1964, a policeman dusts for fingerprints on case broken into
 by a cat burglar who made off with some $200,000 in jewels from 
the Museum of Natural History. (© Bettmann/CORBIS)

How Three Amateur Jewel Thieves Made Off With New York’s Most Precious GemsThe fascinating story of the hunt for Murf the Surf, a criminal who wasn’t quite the mastermind he made himself out to be   Read more: 

'Gemstone' rush brings life to a halt in Madhya Pradesh's Mandla

We don't know what they are but we want some...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Watercolor: Spinel Painting Finished

16 x 20 Watercolor on Arches Cold Press 
These are some of the spinel we picked up in Tucson this year.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

New in the Faceter's Gallery: Jim Kropp

We have added Jim Kropp, carver and silversmith, to the Faceter's Gallery.    Welcome Jim! 

Need a stone cut? Want to see what other cutters are up to? Check out the gallery!
Potential Clients: Please note, you are working directly with the faceter and PrettyRock is not involved in anyway. This is not an endorsement. Always do your research before choosing someone to cut your stone.
Cutters: We would love to have you join the gallery. It's free! The only rule is that you must do your own cutting.  It is just our way of trying to support our faceters. Contact us for details.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Wallpaper: Valentine Tourmaline

Happy Valentine's Day from our heart to yours

These are faceted tourmalines.  The center stone is a 1.57 watermelon tourmaline, and the center is naturally shaped like a heart.  It's a tiny thing, but I love it!

You are welcome to share the image above, and I also made wallpaper for you without the quote.  You can find the wallpaper here:

Here is a close up of the heart stone by itself.  I bumped up the contrast a bit so you could see it better.  As I said the stone is tiny and not easy to photograph! (this is not for's mine! ♥ )

Got any heart related rocks or jewelry?  I would love see them!  Share the photos or a link in the comments.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Bling! Sculptured Jewelry by Jim Kropp

I love seeing what artists do with the stones they purchase from us.  Jim Kropp took a hunk of  CZ and created this amazing work!  I can't decide which photo shows it better, so here are both. Click the photo for a larger image:

What Jim has to say about his work:
Been sculpting wood, metal and stone for over 65 yrs and still do.  Got tired of big stuff and decided to do miniatures that can be worn.  Everybody else does traditional jewelry, so how about sculptured jewelry.  About 10 yrs ago I saw an article by Woods out of Texas and tried my hand.  Again most people use more traditional settings for carved stones, so I added a more sculptured look to my settings.  Now I also design, carve and cast my settings in Argentium Sterling silver.

All of my work has been self taught.  Having previous experience working with stone and metal, it was easy to scale down to jewelry sizes.  One just has to learn the influences of stone hardness, toughness and grain which point to the proper tools to use.  All of my initial roughing out is done with diamond burs on a rotary grinder.  Then small discs of silicon carbide sandpaper is used with stone softer than 7.  Starting with 200 grit and going to 2000 grit.  Then a final polish with 14000 diamond paste usually finishes the task.  Stones harder than 7 require diamond paste all the way.  My current carborundum (hardness of 9) project fits this harder sequence nicely.  The largest challenge is to uniformly polish each curved facet from edge to edge and top to bottom.  All of my shapes are nonlinear and free formed.  They are generally nonsymmetrical concave surfaces and It takes a lot of practice to freehand polish the bottom of a those holes.

The only advice I can give to someone starting out is first to thoroughly understand all lapidary procedures to make a polished stone.  Then to practice, practice, practice.  Start carving the easier soft materials like wood or calcite and work your way to harder stone materials.  In the process, read every published article around.  If at all possible, contact an experience carver and take some lessons.  Don't know of any schools that teach carving.

My favorite materials are any pretty rocks, be they transparent or opaque.  The light reflected is generally from the front surface showing off the curves.  My favorite metal is silver, but gold, bronze and copper work well depending upon stone color and design.  Since all of my stones have original shapes, all of my settings require original designs.  However, the basket cage is favored to grasp the stone itself.

You can see more of Jim's work here:

Thursday, February 06, 2014

On My Desk Today Feb 6 2014

Weighing some of the rocks from Tucson.
A few cat hairs won't make that much difference...

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Back from Tucson!

Here are just some of our treasures!  I will post some more photos of our trip in the next few days..just wanted to give you a sneak peek!