A Custom Ring Journey: Here Be Dragons … part 2, Selecting a Stone

In thinking about what I wanted to blog about this week, my mind (of course) immediately turned toward the weirdness that is our world right now. And all the shelter-in-place or lockdown or stay-at-home or whatever-you-want-to-call it craziness. It makes sense, because this is our life right now. And it will be our life for the foreseeable future. None of us knows what the coming months are going to bring, and we all feel uncertain and uncomfortable right now. But then I realized I didn’t want to talk about any of that.

And so, I found myself be-bopping through older blog posts in a quest to jog my brain onto some other topic that might be more fun or more light-hearted. It’s not that I don’t take our current situation seriously. It’s not that I’m not scared about it. Or that I’m not tired of what life has become. It’s more that I need to talk about something else to take my mind off of all this, if only for a little while.

That’s when I stumbled across my first post about my dragon ring. (It’s here, by the way, in case you want to refresh your memory: Here Be Dragons, part 1) I realized I never followed up or finished out this little series of posts. Bad blogger, bad!! You can’t see me, but I am swatting my own nose with a rolled up newspaper. This is something I would never do to my dogs. Because, ouch!

In my previous post, I talked about how I decided on a general idea for my anniversary ring.  I had brought my favorite custom jeweler, David Klass, on board, and I sent him some suitably draconic inspiration images. In today’s post, I want to talk a little bit about the stone choice for this ring.

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Awwww. Look how young we were! This was twenty-two years ago, folks! I confess I have not aged even one bit — ha, ha! I thought it would be fun to include this photo as a little chain of continuity from one post to the next in this series. If you recall from the previous post, this ring was to be for our 20th anniversary.

Once I gathered the courage to go against the norm and try a dragon-themed design, I had to figure out what type of stone I would use. I love diamonds, but I knew this would not be a diamond project. For one thing, it just wasn’t in the budget for this ring at this point in time. I knew I wanted a somewhat larger stone. For another thing, I managed to fall down the colored gemstones rabbit hole pretty hard over the last couple of years. I’ve come to appreciate all the beautiful colors and options out there. I even have a small and slowly growing collection of loose gems.

My first thought was Amethyst, because that is my husband’s birthstone. Back when we were dating, my husband gave me an amethyst promise ring, and he has gifted me different amethyst pieces over the years that we have been together. It would have been a good and sentimental choice, and I think that is part of the beauty of using colored gemstones. You can pick a stone that holds a lot of sentimental or special meaning for you and your relationship, and it will give your whole piece another layer of meaning.

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Almost as soon as I thought of it, I knew I had to dismiss Amethyst from the list of contenders. I wasn’t positive about all the fine details of the setting yet, but I knew I was not going to bezel set the stone. I thought Amethyst might be a little too soft for everyday wear.

My mind was still thinking of birthstones, though. So I turned to Tourmaline. This is one of the birthstones for October, and October is our anniversary month. It seemed like a good match. I have a tourmaline in my collection that I love, which is pictured above. It’s an orange-peach-pink color tone, which seemed fitting for Fall and for dragons. You know — kind of like fire. I started looking into Tourmaline a little more, and I discovered it is slightly harder than Amethyst. It’s not in the same realm of hardness as diamond or sapphire, but I thought it would survive in a solitaire setting such as I wanted to design. But then, I started thinking about the setting itself. I knew I wanted to have it cast in rose gold. I was afraid this orangey-peach-pink Tourmaline would make my ring look too one-toned in color.

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Once I moved on from Amethyst and Tourmaline, I knew I had to consider Zircon. Zircon isn’t a particularly sentimental stone for me, my husband, or our relationship, but it is a favorite gemstone of mine. I particularly love the vibrant blue stones, such as the one pictured above. Blue is my favorite color, and I felt Zircon was hard enough to wear well in a solitaire setting. I love the look of blue Zircon in rose gold, and it’s a combination I don’t see often in my internet wanderings. I look at a lot of jewelry online, y’all!! In the end, I decided against Zircon because I already had a beautiful blue Zircon set in a ring I wear frequently on my right hand. (It’s also a dragon setting.) I decided I wanted something completely different and new.

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I had to consider Sapphire, too. I have this lovely, lovely Montana Sapphire in my collection. I love this stone. It’s a nice size, and it is unheated. It also has a beautiful cut on it. I very briefly thought about using this stone, but I wasn’t sure how it would look in rose gold. It is a pale stone — a pale, pale blue that tends toward gray with a little touch of lavender. I previously had this stone in another setting, made of white gold, and I always felt disappointed with how this beautiful stone seemed to disappear completely in the setting. I was afraid of that happening again, and I didn’t want to chance any disappointment with my 20th anniversary ring. Now, in looking at this picture of the stone, I think it might have been okay in a rose gold setting. But who knows? In the end, I decided to keep looking.

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Enter Spinel! At the time I was thinking about this ring, I had been on the hunt for a Spinel to add to my collection. I was looking at a lot of Spinel jewelry online — not to buy, but just to enjoy the eye-candy. As soon as I started considering it for my anniversary setting, I felt like I was on the right track. It’s a stone with a decent hardness. It has a nice amount of sparkle if it is cut well. And it is possible to get a nice-sized stone without breaking the bank. Huzzah!!

I looked at several different loose spinels online. I even purchased a couple, but none of them immediately jumped out at me as being the right choice for my ring. After a little more searching, coinciding with a sale from my favorite gemstone cutter, I found the stone pictured above. I knew, right away, that it was the stone for my ring. I love how it has a pink-purple color in some types of lighting, but that it looks like a deeper purple in others. And, sometimes, it even has a beautiful, rich wine color. In particular, the medium purple tone of this stone looks like Amethyst. Which, if you will recall, is my husband’s birth stone. Is that perfect or what?

I’ll just tell you, so you don’t have to guess: Yes! It is perfect! I was able to secure this stone during the sale, and I remember anxiously awaiting its arrival. I wouldn’t know if it was The One until I saw it in person. I wasn’t sure if the coloring in the seller’s photos was going to be the same color I saw in person. Also, it’s an oval stone. I had never had an oval in a setting before, and I wasn’t sure if I would like the look of it. It was an exciting but also an anxious time. It seems silly to be that invested in something like this, doesn’t it? And yet, I was so absolutely invested in it.

I bet you can already guess how it turned out. The stone arrived, and I loved it immediately. The color, most of the time in indoor lighting, resembled Amethyst. This was perfect for me, as this would be the color I would see most often and, of course, Amethyst was my initial choice for the ring. That part almost felt like coming full circle on this project. I loved the cut. The stone sparkled like crazy. Basically, it was love at first sight for me and this stone. At this point, the project was starting to feel real. From here, the real fun of the design process began. And let me tell you: it was a long process with a lot of ups and downs. But, as this is already a fairly long post of many words, I think that will be another post for another day. Perhaps next week, even.

In the meantime, I hope you are all continuing to do well. And I hope you are all staying safe in this crazy world!

 

7 thoughts on “A Custom Ring Journey: Here Be Dragons … part 2, Selecting a Stone

  1. I have a cabinet full of stones, mostly non-gem quality cabs, but still incredible pieces. I’d go to gem shows and struggle not to absolutely break the bank because there were SO many gorgeous pieces. I made a lot of pieces of the years, but I still have a massive amount of stones I need to do something with. At some point.

    • They are so beautiful, aren’t they? I love the variety in colors and sparkle factor. And cabs!! I love those. I don’t have any in my collection yet, but I always look at them. I would be dangerous at a gem show. LOL I would love to see some of the pieces you made. I bet they are gorgeous.

      • I have most of the photos of past pieces posted here… https://tjfox.net/art/jewelry/

        It wasn’t until I started working with stones that I realized that I liked stones with lots of different colors and details in them so much better than a solid, clear stone. That goes against the norm for gems because the things that give a stone that kind of look is what lowers it’s quality in terms of traditional jewelry. I have done some work with faceted stones and those pieces turned out well, but they were not my favorites by a long shot.

      • Beautiful work!! I love them all. I am a fan of dragons (surprise! ha, ha!) and also nature-inspired pieces. Each one of your creations has its own beautiful personality. Thanks so much for sharing that link!

      • You absolutely should! You are very talented and super creative. But I also know how LIFE tends to get in the way of our different pursuits.

      • Part of why I stopped is because what I loved most was creating custom pieces specifically for someone. There was just something about making something while working with someone to bring their idea to life that I thrived on. I was never a huge fan of making something just to make something. I had already made a ton of pieces for myself and I really didn’t want or need any more. Sadly, those are not inexpensive to make and not a lot of people were willing to pay for that kind of service, so I just got really discouraged. I still enjoy it, but it isn’t quite the same when I’m not working with someone on something personal.

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