Thursday, 26 February 2015

February 26

When Dix Met Lapis Lazuli

I was aware of lapis but had paid little attention to the stone until a dear friend (you know who you are) brought me some from India. With those gems in my hand, my passion for this elegant blue stone was born. The International Colored Gemstone Association states: "Lapis lazuli is a gemstone of the kind that might have come straight out of the Arabian Nights: a deep blue with golden inclusions of pyrites which shimmer like little stars".

From adorning Egypt's pharaohs to being ground to produce Ultramarine pigment, the most costly paint known to Renaissance artists, lapis has always offered us the bluest of blues.

I had no intention of grinding up my treasures. After studying them for a time, I set two of the teardrops in earrings, hanging them below purple Iolite studs (see photo). The design was intended to be a permanent reminder of the exotic origins of lapis lazuli.

Now and Then, Something for Me.

The earrings were barely off my bench when a friend of my daughter's purchased them ;-)  Not wanting to part with all the stones my friend had carried so far, I turned two more into a pendant for me and picked up a pair of round lapis cabs to make myself a pair of stud earrings. I much prefer the intense color of the stones in the pendant but it makes a nice set.

I wear these often — and with great pleasure. How appropriate that lapis is considered the stone of friendship ;-)

Lapis Revisited

Recently, I picked up another pair of cabs to create more studs. These are for my etsy shop, DixSterling.

This time, decided to use round, hammered silver stud backings. The photos below show the latter part of the step-by-step process.

Build, Fit, Polish and Set.

You might wonder why I chose to finish one earring at a time. The answer is simple. Even machine-ground stones can vary ever-so-slightly in size. I prepared the backings (cutting, annealing and hammering) together, then shaped a bezel to each stone and completed one stud at a time.

I am happy with these but sure wish I could find more of those beautiful teardrop cabochons. Maybe I will have to go to India!