04 September 2008

Purple! Sugilite and Tourmaline, a New Twist on Earthtones

As I ramp up jewelry production again, I've been looking around the Web for fall fashion trends, particularly colors, and was just thrilled to see that purple is HOT this year. This being my favorite color, I have plenty on hand in the form of amethyst (of course), sugilite, charoite, and various glass and crystal beads. I also just got in some tourmaline, another addition to my top-five favorite gemstones (a list that probably numbers in the double digits by now; I'm aware that doesn't make sense) and have created this earthy necklace of tourmaline with pearls, sterling silver, and an exquisite sugilite pendant. I used these large tourmaline chips because their rough texture emphasizes the pendant's earthy nature; I think fancy faceted tourmaline beads might have overshadowed the sugilite a bit, or contrasted too much in style. I love tourmaline's color range and drew upon the full spectrum here to pull out this pendant's more subtle hues while emphasizing the sugilite's inimitable royal purple.

The closeup image shows the gorgeous color -- all natural -- in this handcut slide pendant, which also has some interesting tonal variations in the matrix, even a hint of fire red. (To bring this streak out I was tempted to use natural red coral rather than the tourmaline, but I guess I'm not that bold... I like to think of my choices as generally practical, and wearable.) Discovered in 1944 by Japanese geologist Ken-Ichi Sugi and now found in quantity only in one deep South African mine, sugilite is thought to facilitate healing by dissipating negative energy and enhancing creativity. This stone is rare and expensive, but I'll keep seeking it out because it's gorgeous and it's purple. I see it a lot in modern Native American jewelry, especially as inlay, and love the contrast it makes with more "traditional" stones such as turquoise, lapis, and spiny oyster. Larger pieces such as cabochons display sugilite in all its glory. I hope to find more slide pendants like the one I used for this necklace; I see endless possibilities for this stone, and of course I love working with purple.

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