Semi-precious stones: more complicated than glass to identify

105053-1280213-thumbnail.jpgMore and more often it's fun to use semi-precious stones in addition to the broad range of very cool glass beads in my inventory.  And so I've unwittingly opened up a new avenue for learning. If you held out a blue stone with flecks of white in it, I might be able to come close, suggesting perhaps sodalite or iolite, but what if it were denim lapis? Although I'm beginning to "get" the distinctions between some of the beads I've used, I have so far to go in learning to identify the various stones available for me to use in my jewelry designs. But it's time to learn them. The longer I experiment with the range of textures and colors available to me when I combine beads to complement my unique clay pendants, the more options I want. But you can't go around working with materials about which you have no knowledge, now can you?

I spoke about this challenge to a friend whose former life took her to work every day running one of those earthy shops in Boulder, where she once designed jewelry that was truly impressive. (She's the person who first introduced me to bevels and cabochons.) I expressed some of my challenges. "Look at this stone!" I told her, offering an example, "Doesn't it look a lot like this one?" I'd ordered a strand of one stone online, then needing a quick match, had attempted to find something in a local arts and crafts shop - and may have been successful. Friend said, "And it just might be the same, too. They're often known by more than one name." Oh yay. Nothing like a double layer to your challenge. Never mind - I suppose you can learn the "nicknames" of stones along with all the other identifying properties, as you go along, just as easily as not.

The love for learning works in my favor. It's daunting to think of how much looms ahead but I'm taking a healthy approach. All I have to do (I tell myself,) is be sure I know all about the stones I've already purchased. After I master this? Then I'll buy more, and do the same. Seems a reasonable process - I don't know that you can truly absorb the subtleties that can exist between similar stones in a book or online. Holding them in my hand, though, helps a lot. So it makes perfect sense to start with what I can hold in my hand. I'll let you know!