Thursday, February 9, 2012

An Update & Review

Gemology: (n) The study of gems. Gemologist: (n) One who studies gems.
Four weeks into the intensive 6 week study of Diamonds and Diamond Grading, with another 20 weeks of Colored Stones and Gem Identification - Identifying a minimum of 1,750 gemstones and detecting whether they are natural, and if not, by which process they were created. ~ We were looking at Synthetics, lab created diamonds. I personally hate synthetics... I told my class, "I feel about synthetics the same way I feel about clip-on bow ties. It looks like a bow tie, is made of the same material as a bow tie, but it's Not a Bow Tie...Phonies!" But hey, If you want to look like you can afford a 4 carat irradiated green diamond to go with your sponge bob t-shirt and m.c. hammer pants, by all means, don't let me stop you. I just wont be the one to sell it to you. I'll find you the best you can afford or a different stone more beautiful than you ever knew existed. Since I began studying gemology 6 years ago, I've seen colors I had never seen before, and constant phenomena...Nature's most beautiful mysteries.
And these beautiful mysteries is how it all began. When I first picked up that polished piece of Lapis Lazuli, questioning its powers, and then its existence. And when I spent what little money I had on craft store beads....the frustrating wonder...What is this!? Is it really aquamarine? At the same time that I was making my beaded designs, I was studying the true craft of jewelry - staring at pictures of goldsmiths with their hammers and stone setting tools...and I began to think...this isn't jewelry. When I was home for Christmas, I went to see a jeweler in town that I had met 4 years ago...I went to thank him for some words of wisdom and the advice that assured me of my next direction. He said, "There's beading and then there's jewelry; beading will only take you so far." So, at the same time that I realized I must know the truth of my gems, I realized that I wanted to design and fabricate real, fine jewelry to best display the gem, my muse.
In the last year and a half I have learned more than I can even comprehend. I have melted gold and silver, casted rings from both; set stones with the pressure akin to doing so with a gun to your head. I've sized rings up and down, re-tipped prongs, and repaired broken chain a millimeter thick. I Know What A Millimeter Looks Like. I know what a tenth of a millimeter looks like. I've engraved in platinum. I don't think there's anything that makes me smile more than a loud blazing torch and the blinding light of molten precious metal....though having every pore of my body sweat at once, sticking my hands in and out of a kiln made me smile was dehydrating, but I didn't need no stinking casting partner.... I know how to design and paint jewelry...under magnification with a tiny bristle of a tiny brush, painting the facets and reflections on black diamonds and the life-like stars of rubies....mixing watercolors to the memorable hues of my favorite dreamed of stones...trapiche emeralds, star sapphires, and demantoid name a few..I can design jewelry using CAD software and send the design to a manufacturer and have a finished piece of jewelry in maybe 2 days, or for the price of a car I could buy a milling machine and have it in 2 hours...the design part is fun, like a video game, but the somewhat lack of craftsmanship still bothers me a bit, it's also rather boring..On the other side of it all..I can carve jewelry from wax, sand it, polish it, sprue it, invest it, cast it, sand the casting, polish the casting, call it a ring, set it with stones, shape the prongs, re-polish, clean, dry, put in a nice box, sell for $1,234.05....ya know, theoretically.
And now, after a year and a half, I am in the midst of where I initially dreamed to be- studying gemology in residence at the GIA. I have a step up since I had taken a few courses through Distance Ed, but those courses were nothing like this....those were bedtime reading. This, this my Exhausting. But, I love it. I am on my path. My brain is fried....Before I sat down to write this...I'd been studying for 5 hours with a classmate....Big test tomorrow.... and then 3 full grades, 10 loupe grades, and then I can rest again.

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