Thursday, March 17, 2016

Diamonds are a Girls....

Since I deal mainly in untreated gemstones, I have stayed away from using colored diamonds.  Most of them are irradiated and while I make exceptions for heat treatment, irradiation is a no go - it's the reason I don't carry Morganite.

In the last few months, however, I started to increasingly play with natural yellow and pink diamonds, so I thought it might be fun to share some of my insights, and offer out colored diamond melee for custom designs.

There are only a few natural colors of diamonds: yellow, pink, orange and cognac (to browns), blue, grey, and green.  There are very few natural red diamonds, but those are out of all of our price ranges.  All of these colors are ranked by intensity.  The more intense, the more expensive.  The lighter colors have to be used in bunches, and should be set in the right color gold to enhance them (so pink diamonds should be set in rose gold).
Natural pinks are the most expensive.  They are usually Australian, from the Argyle mines.  They cost up to $50,000 per carat in the melee sizes.  Here are a few that are lower priced (meaning $3000-12000 per carat).  The colors are Fancy Light Pink, Fancy Light Pink, and Fancy Intense Pink.

Fancy Natural Pink Diamonds

Fancy Pink Diamond and Tourmaline

Fancy Pink Diamonds, Mahenge Spinel and Tourmaline

Yellow diamonds mainly come from the Argyle mines as well, though some of them can be from India.  Here are the more affordable shades of yellow.  They are $1000-3000 per carat.  They are called Fancy Light Yellow, Fancy Yellow, Fancy Intense Yellow and Fancy Vivid Yellow.  Fancy intense is my favorite.

Fancy Light Yellow, Yellow, Intense Yellow and Vivid Yellow

Fancy Yellow Diamonds, Malaya Garnet and Mahenge Spinel

Fancy Intense Yellow and Mahenge Spinel
My favorite new colors were blue and grey, however.  Those diamonds come from Easy Africa.  The grey of these diamonds is not created by black piques (inclusions) but is actually in the body color of the gem.  I am adding a photo of white diamonds for comparison.  They greys are $2500 a carat, the blues are (sticker shock alert): $23000.  Note that my markup is not my standard, it is a much lower add on because that's how this works.  Diamonds are high priced and thus have lower markups than colored stones.

Natural White Diamonds (F Color)
Fancy Greyish Blue Diamond with Vietnamese Spinel

Natural White, Fancy Greyish Blue and Fancy Blue Diamonds
Fancy Greyish Blue Diamonds with Mahenge Spinel

Fancy Blue Diamonds with Tourmaline

Fancy Greyish Blue Diamonds with Hauynite
I could have taken oodles more photos but this is all there was time for.  The dabs of colored stones are giving you some ideas of how to make designs.

Below is a diamond melee size chart so you can calculate costs.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Stone Carving with Sonny Grant at the Tuscon Gem Show

As I'm sure you know, not many thing are made in the US by hand any more, especially small arts and crafts.  It doesn't pay the rent, things can be made cheaper elsewhere.  So you might imagine my delight when I came across soapstone carver Sonny Grant at the Marty Zinn show in Tucson.  I was just strolling across the lawn of the Inn Suites hotel, where the show was hosted, to get a cup of coffee at the restaurant, when saw this guy busily sawing away at a piece of rock - soapstone, it turned out - and creating enormous amounts of rock dust in the process.  

I got curious and drew closer, and a conversation unfolded.

Here's How I found Soapstone Carver Sonny Grant
I asked Sonny what he was working on, and he told me that the rock I was looking at would turn into an owl within the next 30 minutes.  Mesmerized, I stopped and turned on my cell phone camera (with Sonny's permission of course).  After a couple of minutes, remembering that I was originally going to get coffee, so I went indoors, and then came back.

The little owl was starting to take shape.

Sonny is a Tlingit Indian from Juneau Alaska.  A graphic designer by profession  (presumably the rent paying profession ,that is),  A few decades ago, Sonny became drawn to the Eskimo art of stone carving in the mediums of alabaster, marble, and soapstone.  He studied with various Inupiaq eskimo carvers and has now been making sculptures for 30 years.  Sonny also carves in wood, ceramic, slate, ivory and bone.  His small works of art are exhibited in galleries all over the US, as well as in Canada. 

Sonny's tools are very simple, I took a few shots of them so you could see.  Just a saw, carving knives, chisels and rasps.  After cutting out the basic shape of the owl, he sprays it with a finish that brings out the marbled texture of the stone.  The eyes are cut of the owl at the very end.

The designs are simple as well, but that's just what I love about them.  A few curves and shapes only, but you know exactly what each thing is because its essence has somehow been captured in the stone.

I took a few little films while Sonny was working.  And - of course - I knew from the first moment that the owl had to be mine.  After all, I watched it come into existence.  I am looking at it right now, in fact, and it is sitting in the cabinet of my shelf, proudly staring back at me.

To learn more about him check out his blogspot

Watch the live demo below