This blog post is dedicated to Mohs scale of hardness. We use it frequently with our stone of the month series so we wanted to take this opportunity to dedicate an entire post to explain it. It is important to know the Mohs hardness in order to better care for different gemstones.
The Mohs scale is a way of measuring a stone’s scratch resistance against a harder material. It was invented in 1812 by the German geologist and mineralogist Friedrich Mohs and ever since has been used to test and describe the hardness of minerals. While Mohs was the first one to invent an actual scale, testing the hardness of minerals by scratching them against each other was nothing new to people at that point. As a matter of fact, people had been doing it for hundreds of years prior.
The scale goes from 1 being the softest to 10 the hardest. If you have been following our birthstone blog series, then you know that diamonds are the hardest of all minerals, measuring a 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness. The turquoise on the other hand only measures a 5-7 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which makes this stone soft and prone to scratches.
To give you a better idea of how hard a diamond actually is let’s compare it to common objects. For example a fingernail is a 2.5 on the scale, while a copper penny is not much higher with a 3 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Glass on the other hand is already about a 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness, making it about as hard as quartz.
I hope this helped you understand what we are talking about when we get a little bit carried away with all of our jewelry and gemstone talk!
Considered the “Universal Crystal” all over the world because of its transparent and colorless nature, Crystal Quartz is the perfect alternative to the diamond, the traditional birthstone of April.
The word “crystal” comes from the Greek word “krustallos”, meaning ice. Quartz was believed to be ice formed by the Gods. Since the Middle Ages, crystal balls made of clear quartz have been used to predict the future. The English word “quartz” comes from the German word “Quarz”.
Another theory, by Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder, was that quartz is ice that has been permanently frozen after a great length of time. Pliny supported this idea by the fact that quartz is mostly found near glaciers in the Alps, but not on volcanic mountains which were formed more recently in the geological history of the Earth.
The ancient Japanese theorized that quartz is formed from the breath of a white dragon, and therefore represents perfection.
Pure crystal quartz, which is often referred to as rock crystal, is found abundantly all over the world. Natural quartz can have inclusions and traces of other minerals in it, which is why larger stones are often synthetically enhanced. Because of its hardness (a 7 on the Mohs scale) and its glass-like properties it is often used for hard stone carvings. The crystals of quartz are generally six-sided and can grow either singularly or in groups taking on different shapes according to the temperature at the time of their formation. They can also come in a variety colors that are considered to be gemstones on their own. These include citrine, rose quartz, amethyst, smoky quartz, milky quartz, and many more.
While quartz isn’t permanently frozen water, God’s ice or an object to predict the future, it has been said to have strong healing powers. Quartz is known to give its wearer power, energy and clarity. Quartz can help rid you of negative energy, clear your head, feel harmonious and give you new strength to carry on. The crystal quartz is simply an all purpose stone when it comes to natural healing properties.
Photo Credit: Flickr.com – cliff1066
Today we are continuing our ‘How To’ series with an edition on sawing. Just like the processes described in our earlier posts, sawing is a very important part of how we make our jewelry. In the video below you will see Rebecca saw a round circle, which she then files and will later use to create a Satellite Brooch. (Stay tuned for pictures!)
It is surprising how complicated something as “simple” as sawing can be. There are many little things to keep in mind. First, the direction of the blade relative to the saw frame is key. The blade’s teeth need to be facing out and pointing down. Since the teeth are so tiny, we like to use our fingers to lightly feel the direction of the teeth to make sure. Second, it’s important to make sure to put the right amount of tension on it because if there is too little you won’t be able to saw. You achieve the right amount of tension by pushing on the handle against the bench pin while placing the blade in the frame and tightening it into place.
Once you place the blade in the saw frame with the correct tension and direction you can start sawing. At first it’s a little difficult, but once you find your flow it gets a lot easier… Until you have to make a turn. When you saw around a corner, you have to be careful to slowly move the blade with the curve, otherwise it will break. As you will see in the video below Rebecca uses a technique she calls the “two finger split” to stabilize both sides of the metal over the bench pin to avoid cutting herself. Stabilizing the metal is very important, because if it isn’t stable it can easily slip and cause your blade to break or cut into your metal.
When you are done sawing, you will probably want to file the edges to make them smooth. As Rebecca demonstrates in the video, it is always very important that you stabilize the metal by pressing it against the bench pin so that you can apply maximum pressure to file efficiently. It is also important that you always file from top to bottom of your file in order to keep your file “healthy” and get a nice smooth finish.
Watch the video below for a more in depth tutorial on how to saw! Enjoy!
With Spring upon us, we wanted to share the new custom pieces we’ve been working on this Winter. We’ve been so busy that we realized we hadn’t shown you many new pieces in a while. So here is a glimpse of some of our most recent work.
We couldn’t have done it without our amazing clients whose vision make these designs possible. We always love making our customers dreams come true because it pushes our creativity and skills keeping us fresh and on our toes. For example, we worked with Palladium for the first time, which can be a difficult metal to work with. However, it was all worth it! We are so excited about how it came out because of the contrast it created with the yellow gold inlay. Check it out in the album below, we can’t wait to use it again.
Our newest pieces also include fingerprints engraved onto the inside of wedding bands, a fun wedding ring stacking set and a gorgeous sapphire engagement ring. For mother’s and father of another bridal party we created some custom petoskey jewelry for a destination wedding taking place in Traverse City, Michigan. And the Nebula ringwe created as an engagement ring last year now has a wedding ring which was designed to fill it like a puzzle! Wow, we’re even a little impressed with ourselves Please visit more of our other our custom wedding bands here.
Today we will share with you some insight on one of our most important processes – forging. Forging is the process of shaping the metal using force. Forging can be done either hot or cold, depending on the metal. For our silver and gold jewelry, we use the cold forging process after annealing the metal. Meaning, we hit the metal while it is cold after heating it up to loosen the molecules and then cooling it off so we can hold it while hammering it. Hot forging is when you hit a portion of the metal while it is hot, traditional blacksmithing is done this way with steel.
To forge the metal all we need is a hammer and an anvil. It’s a very “old-school” process, employed for centuries by metalsmiths from all over the world. Now, often times, the forging process is done by big machines that can put a lot of weight behind every strike. However, we love the preservation of the ancient techniques, so for our jewelry we use only the force of our arms and the weight of the hammer. An interesting fact about forging is, that it actually makes the metal stronger. While you might think that hammering metal would make it thinner and therefore more prone to break, it does exactly the opposite. Forging refines the molecular structure, which results in better and stronger physical properties of the metal.
When we forge the metal to create our signature hammered texture, it is important to stay consistent. That means we try to put the same amount of weight behind every hit, and we move the metal carefully, so the hammer hits each part evenly, creating a very nice texture and refined flow.
Watch Rebecca create her signature texture in our ‘How To: Forge’ video below.
For more detail, also check out this video we did with Mark Shale Stores last year.
An alternative birthstone for March is Jasper, a gemstone known for its many colors and its beautiful and unique patterns.
Jasper is often thought to be part of the chalcedony class of gemstones. However, it can contain up to 20% foreign material, which results in the beautiful patterns. This makes Jasper considered a group of its own. The Jasper is a 6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which makes it a fairly hard gemstone.
The Jasper rarely comes in one uniform color. Most of the time these gemstones have streaks or spots of other colors, which results in many names for the varieties of the gemstones, including my favorites “picture jasper“, “ocean jasper” and “nebula jasper“. Because the jasper is an opaque gemstone it tends to be cut as cabochons with a smooth rounded surface. Some versions of the stone can be very inexpensive while other more rare deposits can be very expensive. The patterns and colors are what makes these stones so beautiful, many jewelers go for larger cut stones, making sure to showcase the best aspects. Most jaspers do not need to be treated or enhanced, however some are color-dyed.
Just like most gemstones, the Jasper is also believed to have healing and protective powers. In ancient times, parents often put a jasper in their children’s room in order to protect them from nightmares, snakes and spider bites. Jasper has also been said to instill confidence and courage when touched. This is why some people like to wear a necklace with a small Jasper pendant, so they have the stone close to them at all times.
Photo Credit: Flickr.com – rockman836