BEING IN TUCSON during the gem shows in February is magical. Gem lovers, addicts and hoarders descend on the city with great expectations. We are all looking for our fix, and Tucson provides for us all with the perfect gem.
But what does that mean to you?
It’s not like I can’t appreciate a perfectly cut flawless gemstone; they have their place. However, often, something like a flawless piece of Sleeping Beauty turquoise looks plastic to me, kind of like a beauty queen — pretty, but not all that interesting. I like a rock with experience! Some wisdom, fractures and veins. A scar, heartbreak and history. A stone that took an unusual path and carved its own groove despite the setbacks.
For the longest time, I thought I was alone. When I began working with raw crystals, “freeform” cuts, or heavily fractured and included stones, I didn’t get the best reception. Most of the time, people would say, “Oh. Um. Interesting.”
And we all know what that means. I had a handful of clients that sought me out. We were a fringe tribe; I loved them for “getting” what I was doing.
One of my favorite scores in Tucson was a strand of pale blue/green beryl crystals, heavily included with tufts of iron oxide. They were beautiful, simple with interesting natural edges. Each crystal was perfect on its own. Then, I managed to hit a home run! When I moseyed on over to see my favorite Italian cutter, I found he’d discovered the same vein from the same mine in Brazil, only this stuff was beautifully cut. I incorporated them together in a couple of necklaces: one for a special client, and the other one for me!
Things are turning around. Last year, at one of the Tucson shows, an influential buyer took me aside and said, “We are looking for jewelry that looks like it’s been dug from the earth.” Music to my ears!
Speaking of music, the whole raw unrefined thing applies to more than gemstones. It’s instinctual for most of us. Primal. In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. a couple of years before his death, Tom Petty said that after he saw the Rolling Stones, he was inspired to go for it. “They were grittier [than the Beatles]; it was rawer. They were playing blues in this really energetic kind of raw way, but it wasn’t complicated. There wasn’t a lot of beautiful harmony involved.”
Gemstones and jewelry trends are indicators for our lives. The fact is, some of us want to go dig. Down to the primal part of being human. We crave that delicious, raw, watermelon tourmaline crystal slice with the rough edges. Dug from the earth.
Editor’s note: To view the jewelry referenced by Ksionda above, visit instr.us/lydia