Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Victoria Stone

I recently had the pleasure of designing these two pendants for Mary Ann and Ralph of Stones That Rock. It is absolutely mesmerizing to look at, and by far the most chatoyant stone I have ever seen in person. They cut these stones and have them in their private collection. Designing with these stones was a wonderful experience.Until I saw the stones on their website, I had never encountered this stone before.
cabochon by Stones That Rock
Naturally, I wanted to know more about the stone so I researched it. The most comprehensive information I found on the stone was provided on Daniel Lopaki's website in an article for ROCKCOLLECTOR, the newsletter for the Rochester Lapidary Society, written by Greg Weisbrod, September, 2005.

cabochon by Danial Lopacki Co.
Late in the 60's Iimori Laboratory Ltd. of Tokyo Japan began to market a variety of imitation gem materials. Dr. S. Iimori produced some paste (lead glass) in different colors for faceting, also a cat's eye, "jade," and finally his masterpiece:

The chatoyant Victoria stone in 16 different colors. 
 cabochon by Danial Lopacki Co.
This material was advertised to be a melt of various natural minerals that had reconstructed into a new mineral and cooled for months under 2000 pounds pressure. The melt mass then partially devitrified forming chatoyant fan-like sprays of crystal fibers.
cabochon by Danial Lopacki Co.
 Ideally the fibers would interlock, similar to those that give nephrite jade its toughness. Unfortunately, this did not occur. The glass matrix of the "boules" developed severe internal strains much similar to unannealed glass.

The mass looked like a fat carrot, weighed about five pounds and sold for $20.00/lb. Instructions cautioned you to carefully grind the white rind from the "boule" so as to relieve the strain. You must also take extreme care not to overheat the material in cutting, doping, or polishing. You could also purchase a ready-made cabochon from the company.

cabochon by Danial Lopacki Co.
 To protect his market, the 84-year-old Dr. Iimori did not patent his process, instead preferring to keep it a secret even from his family. When he passed away they did not continue the operation and the company went bankrupt in 1985.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Stones That Rock!

Ralph and Mary Ann Sieler are the heart and soul of Stones That Rock. They started their business just a couple years ago, and do beautiful lapidary work. I met them on Flickr, and they have been so wonderful in helping educate me about gemstones I am not familiar with. Most recently, I made this pendant with a lovely Deschutes Jasper cab they cut. Ralph and Mary Ann live in Arizona and specialize in stones found in the west, such as turquoise and variscite. However, they also work with many types of jasper and agate, lapis, dino bone, and exotics such as mtorolite (chrome chalcedony) and Victoria Stone. Their work is outstanding and their prices are reasonable. I have many cabochons of theirs waiting to be made into beautiful jewelry. All of the cabochons in the previous two posts are from their collection, and I now own. Above and beyond their talents, Ralph and Mary Ann are just lovely folks... two of the nicest people I have met online.
If you are interested in purchasing some cabochons, slabs, or rough from them, visit Stones That Rock.