18 July 2009

Smithsonite Necklaces (Part 1)

Here's the Smithsonite I mentioned earlier, done up freeform into another woven-bail pendant (28-gauge on 24-gauge sterling wire). Sorry for the less-than-optimal photo; I took it at home in poor lighting because I just had to share this tonight. Dean (of Two Cranes) generously gifted this to me recently, perhaps because my eyes bugged out when I saw the amazing crystallization in the piece's center. These calcite crystals often grow in, on, or around Smithsonite, sometimes forming rosettes such as that in this piece (not very well shown here). I'll put this 1.5-inch pendant (yes, it's small) on a necklace of apatite, seed pearls, and small Thai silver cornerless cubes, perhaps with some multi-strand sections but otherwise fairly simple.

Dean has been bargaining for Smithsonite from Magdalena's old-timers, who now seem inclined to pull out at least a few samples from their "back-room collections" that most people never see. Smithsonite is a source of pride, secrecy, and family lore around here; generations-old specimens from the nearby Kelly mine comprise an important part of the mineralogical collection and are sometimes called "copper smithsonite" because their turquoise-blue coloration comes from, yes, copper. Other forms are purple, yellow, pink, or green depending on the minerals that "contaminate" the zinc carbonate (ZnCO3) base. The piece at right (another gift from Dean) shows this gemstone's globular formation that typically grows as a sort of crust on base rock. On this piece, which makes me think of a rain cloud, I'll do a different kind of freeform wirewrap, perhaps with small crystal quartz briolettes to evoke, what else, rain.

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