Stones: The elemental beauty of brut/ Draw winner

The Goddess Flora,
Peter Paul Rubens
 (Swirls of harp music from Flora.) The Passage des Perles Flora Fragrance Pack draw winner is... Patricia

(Patricia, Please e-mail me with your postal address; my e-mail addy is in the left sidebar under "Welcome".)

You can still have the divine Flora Pack! To order it at perfumeniche.comuse this link, or enter Passage des Perles Flora Fragrance Packin the search box. 

The price is $CDN 24 plus shipping and handling ($5 to Canadian addresses and reasonable rates for international orders).

If you prefer a different assortment of spring scents, check the "April Faves" Fragrance Pack, a collection of ten indulgent selections. An insouciant gift for April and May birthdays!

******************************************************************************IIn today's windows, another of nature's gifts, gems.

Gemstones are minerals; when pulled from the ground, they look like chunks of geological history. Among gem lovers, there's a rapidly growing appreciation for minimally polished and faceted stones that bear signs of their ancient beginnings.

Such specimens are called 'rough', 'raw' or in French, 'brut', but they are not set untouched. (They would look like aggies left outside for a winter.)

Manufactured druzy
One popular 'rough' effect is the presence of druzy (or druse), which means the gemstone is covered with minute quartz crystals; drusy is most often found on the quartzes, such as agate, chalcedony, amethyst, and rock crystal, but can also be found on other stones.

The effect can occur naturally (think of the tiny sparkling crystals inside a geode), but many druzy stones are manufactured. (See here for the process.)

If the jeweler does not say, ask if the druzy is natural. Hints that the druzy is man-made: the base stone is a bright colour, the setting is not gold or silver, and the crystals have a 'furry' effect, like they were sprayed on.

Genuine druzy is a beautiful feature, especially in contrast with polished areas; I've included examples in today's windows.

As jewellers Pruden & Smith explain:"'Rough cut' does not mean that the gemstone has not been cut. The gemstones will have an organic look as if they have been found that way or are naturally occurring. This is a created look... 

Our cutter first “cleaves” the raw material into thin sheets and examines the quality of the surface that has been created to check that it is attractive. The shape... is then cut from this sheet and the sides and back are polished...

...Usually the front surface does not need any further cutting, just a lot of care in the making to avoid damaging it. With translucent stones such as the rough diamonds, the rough surface is slightly smoothed off or randomly faceted to enhance its natural features."

Rough cuts should be perfectly balanced between showing the elemental character but also, colour and life. Because they have not undergone labour-intensive faceting and polishing, brut stones command lower prices.

Three pieces by Sussex, UK-based Pruden & Smith:
Photos: Pruden & Smith
Left to right:
30mm onyx druzy ring set in silver and gold leaf; price, £150. Now there is a beautiful druzy stone! Price, £280.
12mm square amethyst studs; price, £99.
Peridot stacking rings, shown as a pair; price, £120 each. Other stones available in this ring, so you could mix.

When setting rough, a precious-metal setting provides the counterpoint. One of the most graceful designers using that approach Santa Cruz, California-based Variance.

Variance rough aquamarine ring; 14mm x 12mm rough aquamarine on rose gold band; price $US 785.

Photo: Variance Objects

Variance sapphire and rainbow moonstone earrings are detachable, so you can wear only the sapphires; they are set in various colours of gold. Very cool, unusual dangles. Price, $US 990.

Photo: Variance Objects

Roughing it on a budget

You can also find pretty rough cuts set in copper, which will be cheaper—but make sure the stone shows good colour. Avoid generic-looking findings.

Rough-cut fluorite can show pretty colour; however, it's soft, so best suited for pendants or earrings. Below, a selection of fluorite pendants set in copper, by Hawkhouse. Price, $US 67 each.
Photo: Hawkhouse

A diamond in the rough

Photo: Sarah O Jewelry
Rough-cut or 'raw' diamonds are sought-after; Patti Hansen wears a rockstar-large raw diamond from Keef.

This 2.18ct grey marquise rough diamond ring with side halo by Sarah O Jewelry shows how the stone exudes earthy elegance. Price, $US 2, 910.

Will rough stones date? There have always been lovers of minimally-cut stones, from ancient times to present. If you choose a relatively simple setting, they have a timeless, laid-back allure.

Be careful with slice cuts.

This stunning and large (nearly 22 carat) tourmaline slice pendant  is from Coastal Jewelers of Kennebunkport Maine, who are tourmaline specialists. (If you're a tourmaline woman, their site will deliver gemmy delight.) The owner will have to treat it with care, because a slice with this surface area demands it.
Photo: Coastal Jewelers

Avoid a very fine slice; if less than 2-2.5mm, they are prone to cracks and chips.

Invest in a well-cut and securely-set stone, because if you love your brut piece, you'll want to "rough it" for many years.


Patricia said…
Wow, thank you Duchesse! I've dropped you a line as requested. I mentioned in my note how much I've appreciated your blog because of what I've learned over the years - that goes especially for jewellery. I used to work for a company in Germany that supplied boxes and displays to the jewellery industry and attended the Basel jewellery fair a few times, so I've long had an interest (but not necessarily the money to indulge that interest). I love reading about jewellery - I've seen drusy jewellery before, but didn't know anything about it until now. Thanks!
Thanks for an interesting post. The stones are beautiful in their brutishness.
Duchesse said…
Patricia: Some of the most striking drusy stones, like the black ring, are cut in Germany. Rough cuts are good value when cut and set expertly. Oooh I would love to attend that fair.

Vancouver Barbara: They are also discreet. I saw a pair of earrings featuring 10 ct rough emerald drops. Not easily identifiable but if you knew what they were, wow.
LauraH said…
I had heard of drusy stones but didn't understand what they were. Thanks for the background and great examples.
Thank you so much for such an interesting post - I learn so much here!

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