Unearthing Gemstones

Leopard Skin Agate


I have mentioned before my growing fascination of gemstones.  As you browse through Karen J Jewellery, you may notice the majority of my designs use gemstones. Gemstones  are part of this precious earth and each gemstone, formed over 1000’s of years, would have a story to tell if they could speak.

Gemstones are formed either of mineral crystals, organically like Amber (tree sap) or Jet (decomposed wood) or as rocks like Lapis Lazuli.

Gemstones are classed as either precious or semi-precious.  Precious gemstones are Diamonds, Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald.  All others are semi-precious.

Before learning to make jewellery, I had never heard of  the “Mohs scale”.   This is a  classification process, which contributes to a gemstones identification process.  Named after the German geologist/mineralogist, Friedrich Mohs,  the Mohs scale measures relative hardness and resistance to scratching between minerals.  For example, Talc is the softest mineral and sits at the bottom of the scale, whereas Diamond is the hardest natural mineral and sits at the top.   The scale helps to determine how the stone is prepared ie for jewellery or carving.

Part of the gemstone journey is preparing that gemstone for sale.  This is where a Lapidarist comes in.  This word dates back to middle ages – lapiderie – which means stone cutter.   Lapidarists  prepare the gemstones by cutting, polishing, drilling and engraving them.  This is a fantastic skill – look at your jewellery – the shape and size of your stone has been created by a Lapidarist.

One skill they perform is creating facets in the gemstone.   Faceting is usually done to transparent stones to show inside the stone and to maximise reflected light which gives the stone its sparkle.  Faceting is a process of grinding and polishing, although cutting maybe involved with diamonds.  You can see an example of faceting on this Red Stripe Agate.

Red Stripe Agate

Another shape the lapidarist is responsible for are cabochons – a wireworker’s favourite type of stone.  Cabochons are flat backed and domed shaped.  They are usually created with opaque or semi-opaque stones to emphasise the stone’s colour or surface properties.  The reason cabochons are popular with wire wrappers are that they have no holes, unlike a typical bead, hence wire is wrapped around the stone to secure its setting.

Leopard Skin AgateSo what gives a gemstone its value?  In my opinion, there are several reasons.

  • they are naturally sourced from earth and are not synthetically produced
  • a lot of work goes into the preparation of a gemstone from mining the stones to preparing the stones for use
  • some stones are rarer than others
  • their natural beauty

Next time you’re wishing to purchase a gemstone, wearing a gemstone or are simply just admiring one, have a think about its story, from being part of this earth to being part of your style.

If you liked this, please share.  Please also visit Karen J Jewellery to see my collection of wirework using natural gemstones.


Is Your Jewellery Making a Statement?

Statement Jewellery

When I was younger, I always heard the phrase “statement jewellery” and wondered exactly what it was.

The word “statement” is quite  formal and not a exactly a pretty word, whereas “jewellery” exudes beauty and style.  So why is this phrase so popular in the jewellery industry?

Statement jewellery goes back as far as Egyptian and Roman times, so its not exactly a new concept.  However, statement jewellery has endured over the years and is big now as it’s ever been.

Look at your favourite piece of jewellery.  What do you like about it?  The colour, its shape, the size, the design?  Now ask yourself this.  What does it do for you?  Does it lift your outfit?  Does it make you feel confident?  Does it make you feel chic or stylish?

This is what statement jewellery is about…it makes a statement…about you!

Statement jewellery doesn’t have to be big or bold.

This is one of my smallest pieces.

Copper wire weave pendant with Grey Agate 2

The intricate wirework pattern flows around the Agate stone.  If you wore this, what would it say to you?  It may not be large or colourful, but it is unique, has character and would look gorgeous on a simple black dress.  It would simply make a statement.

In contrast, this sliced Agate is large, colourful, bold; a classic piece of statement jewellery.

Agate Slice Copper PendantHow would this piece make you feel?  What would it do for you?  What would it do for your outfit?

Karen J Jewellery’s tag line is “Embellish Your Inner Beauty” as it’s my desire for you to express your personality with my jewellery.

Statement jewellery isn’t always about standing out in the crowd.   It is about expression – expression of your style, expression of your character, expression of you.

Do you have a favourite statement jewellery piece?  Please tell me about it and how it makes you feel.

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How Not to Promote Wedding Jewellery

The wedding industry is a big business as there are so many areas within it; dresses, flowers, cakes, cars, photography to name a few.  We also have wedding/bridal jewellery – the icing on the cake to every wedding dress.

To receive requests from brides to create and make jewellery for their big day is very flattering.

One request I received was to create a pendant and earring set for a bride’s  3 bridesmaids.  This resulted after showcasing my (non-bridal) pendants on Twitter.

Jewellery sets arrived safely and they are even more beautiful than the picture you sent.
“Jewellery sets arrived safely and they are even more beautiful than the picture you sent.”

A further request came as a result of this pendant.

Howlite wire pendant

Not very bridal, I hear you say.  This Howlite pendant was purchased as a gift after I did a local presentation talking about Wirework Jewellery.  The gift recipient wore it and her daughter saw it, looked on my website and asked if I could make a tiara for her wedding.  How fantastic and how could I refuse!!

It's so beautiful, I can't wait to wear it. Thank you so much, it really is a work of art.
“It’s so beautiful, I can’t wait to wear it. Thank you so much, it really is a work of art.”

I am so pleased my customers were delighted with their bespoke make.  The key was that I listened to what they wanted; it was their big day after all, and the jewellery had to be right for them.

I know I haven’t exactly got  a large bridal showcase but the truth is I have never advertised myself as part of the wedding market.   The fact is  my jewellery is starting to attract brides and I feel very blessed to be part of the brides very special day.

So if not promoting wedding jewellery has resulted in two happy brides, maybe I should consider promoting as part of my wirework collection.

If you know anyone who may benefit from this post, please share it with them.

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Perils of Making Jewellery with Wire!


I cannot tell you how much I love creating wirework jewellery however, it can come with a health warning!

So I have compiled a list which resonates with myself.  If you work with wire, you may have your own.

  • Working with wire can hurt!  Yes, it can really hurt – stab or prick yourself with the end of a wire can draw blood, but poke yourself in the eye with it, then you know about it.
  • Working with wire requires patience.  Don’t expect to create a piece like this in an hour.

aventurine brooch

  • Wirework can  be frustrating.  That prefect piece requires planning and preparation;  imagine you’re near the end of that time consuming piece you’re making…and snip…you’ve cut the wrong wire.  Say no more.
  • Be warned…wire flies!  Cover the piece you are cutting with your hand to prevent it from either pinging across to the other side of the room, or even worse, in your eyes!
  • Wirework can seriously expand your knowledge.  Not a bad thing, but considering wires, gemstones and tools (to name a few) are subjects in themselves, it can be quite overwhelming.
  • There are so many various types of wires; shapes, sizes, colours.  There is nothing worse than running out of that specific wire you need.


  • Wirework can be expensive when you take into account the tools required, the numerous types of wire, and of course, the beautiful gemstones you choose to use.
  • Finally, a big warning – it can be very addictive.  Take my word for it!

Don’t let my perils put you off though, as I’m sure everything comes with a peril of some kind.

What peril’s do you endure with what you do?

If you want to see the results of my peril’s, please visit my website below.

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